Step By Step Proofreading and Editing For American English, Including Prices

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A HubPages Question: How to Edit English in the USA? -- asked by vijeta negi

Revision

Opinions vary on the robustness of the print and publishing industry today, because of the rise of eBooks, but one aspect remains necessary: revision. The only author I have found that successfully wrote books start to finish without a single change is Rex Stout, who created the detectives Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin.

In doing book reviews and helping writers find literary agents, proofreaders, and editors, I find that some individuals see editing and proofreading as synonyms for the same activity, when they are actually different stages of revision.

Many more American individuals in the 2010s are turning to online and off line writing as a source of income and they are considering both print and eBook editions for their works. Some of these persons have never written for income before. A large niche today seems to be, among some newer writers, the life story. Thousands of books and eBooks of life stories exist currently and many more thousands are in the works or otherwise not published. Good writing and careful revisions can bring some of these stories to success from within the large numbers available.

Unfortunately, in America I meet many new writers without knowledge of the levels of revision that exist, nor of the steps to publishable writing. When they look for editing help, what some mean is only the changing of punctuation and spelling, one of many steps

The idea of having an editor is glamorous to some new writers, yet because they do not understand revision, they are offended if anything is suggested to be changed in their work. I wonder if they are looking for a rubber stamp, or what exactly they understand an editor to be.

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Revision vs. Editing vs. Proofreading

A separate course to handle revision, editing, and proofreading might well be added to the required English courses in high schools and community colleges. Since freelance writing is becoming a major online job classification these days, such a course needs to be available on a wide scale.

Unfortunately for freelance editors, a small group of newer writers feel that if they complain about the editing upon completion, then they will receive it free-of-charge. Some ask for free editing at the outset, but editors cannot make a living without charging standard fees and pro bono revision work is usually not a possibility. Using a written fee structure and a contract are the best way to avoid these problems.

Another issue occurs occasionally with friends that edit other friends' work. Friends tending to share likenesses, a wordiness issue in both people, for example, may not be caught while editing a manuscript. The work could become less objective overall than it might otherwise be.

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References and Resources On Revision

Definitions and Actions of Revision; Editing and Proofreading

Revision is the umbrella term that contains all the changes that may be made to a document, manuscript, or other writing. Editing is reviewing and changing a written work and making additions, deletions, and other changes to conform the document to an agreed-upon standard (and to make it publishable).

Below is a good overview of revision for articles, essays, and books; divided into proofreading and editing activities. Not every single element is listed in the activity column, but this chart will give you a good idea about the categories of revision.

Prices for editing services quoted below in Chart I. are from my own experience, from popular Internet sources, and from companies in Ohio in the Midwestern USA.

Chart I. A Chart Of Revision For American English Documents

 
REVISION
 
TYPE OF REVISION
ACTIVITY
USUAL AND COMMON PRICES
Proofreading
Check spelling, punctuation and minor grammar mistakes. This will be done usually more than once in a written work.
From $0.01/word to $10.00/page of 250 to 300 words. Some companies or individuals charge more. Proofreading for term papers can cost a little less than $10.00/page.
Editing Content
Ensure material is appropriate to the slected topic and target audience, makes a solid argument or contributes something worthwhile; well fact-checked, and supported by evidence. Check tables, charts and photographs and sources.
he "Editing" Categories are often offered under a single price listing of $25 to $50 per page. Re-writing an entire 300 page book is priced in the thousands of dollars. Ghost writing a book of 200 - 300 pages at 250-300 words/page ranges from $5,000 - $12,000; higher on the East and West Coasts. Some editors or
Editing Page Structure and Longer Structures
Introduction, conclusion, premise or thesis, logical sequence, clarity throughout the document/book, flow, consistency, reading grade level.
companies use the term Full Edit to mean Substantive Edit, wherein large changes in many of the Categories must be made to make a work publishable. The same editors may charge less if only one or a few categories must be addressed. They may call this a Partial Edit.
Editing Paragraph Structure
Ensure clear topic sentence and supporting sentences that make sense and are logical. Eliminate problems of extraneous or missing information.
 
Editing for Clarity
Check word use, sentence structure, parallelism and other factors.
 
Editing for Writing Style
Check approriate tone: formal, informal; narrative, persuasive, cause-effect, etc.; passive or active voice, person, gender-related wording, wordiness, use of verbs, ostentation, hyperbole, trite phrases, other.
 
Editing for Citations
Choose one standardized style system and maintain it throughout the document from beginning though citations: AP, APA, Chicago and MLA are all good; but there are others.
 
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Some Stories

Horror stories of writing and editing abound, just as they do in "bad first dates", job interviews, and various work situations. Plagiarism can present a big problem, but a reading grade level can create a horror story as well.

Some editors provide an evaluation of manuscripts and a written document detailing what revisions should be completed. This can be helpful to a writer, especially one unfamiliar with revision processes. Sometimes it opens a Pandora's Box of poison pens.

At one time, I was asked to evaluate a nonfiction manuscript for a company before the final edit was performed. What I found were several chapters written for an adult target audience that could read at about the 10th grade level, but written with many trite phrases and grammar errors. Following this were several chapters written at the 3rd grade level, which is legally termed functionally illiterate for special reading assistance in schools and public programs. A complete rewrite seemed in order and the author decided to attempt this himself. It was a large nightmare of a job.

One other time for the same company and another manuscript, I found several surprises. The first chapter of the manuscript contained a few punctuation errors. The remainder was unreadable, because few sentences made sense and nonsense symbols from a special characters collection appeared within each word. Just as I sent in an evaluation, the author begged the company for free editing on the grounds that she was dying. The company investigated, learned that the book had already been published as an eBook in its poor state, and the client was not ill. She was dropped by the company, however.

The world is a big place, and we must accept that we will be approached by a few odd stories in it. This might include either side of the writer/editor partnership.

Check out any editor or editing company you use for American English and ask for references.

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Comments 16 comments

Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

Great information as many of us write the way we talk and don't understand the need to edit our work for the benefit of a reader. Also we can work on a piece of writing to the point we don't "see it" any more, and mistakes that require editing go unnoticed.

Too often, when I ask a friend to proofread something I've written, all they tell me is that they love it. That's nice to hear, but it doesn't help me. I've learned to ask them to note any sentence or paragragh they had to read more than once, or a sentence that ran on for too long. I also ask them if I've left any questions unanswered. That one request triggers a lot of good information beyond just proofing for errors. Once a friend will do that for me, I have a great editor instead of just a proofer.


Joan Whetzel 4 years ago

Thanks for the tips. THis is quite helpful. I have bookmarked this Hub.


healingsword profile image

healingsword 4 years ago from California

Hi Patty,

Very detailed and clearly written Hub on a subject that interests me, as an English Writing Instructor and Writing Tutor. So often, my tutees want proofreading when they really need a deep edit! Additionally, as I teach, I see how much I have to learn as a writer. Thanks for publishing this.


DonnaCosmato profile image

DonnaCosmato 4 years ago from USA

This is one of the best descriptions of the various stages of the editorial process I've ever seen! Kudos on an excellent guide for writers of any expertise level. I also appreciated the information about the Apprenticeship program as I was not aware of it. Voted up!


Stacie L profile image

Stacie L 4 years ago

A nice explanation between the what editing is and a revision is,Patty.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 4 years ago from North America Author

Thanks for all the comments! This write-up might become very useful.

Word for Windows Spelling and Grammar Checker has a longer list of items to check in grammar and writing style, with an option to check grade reading level. It's a good start, but it doesn't catch some things, either. One long time writer said that another good way to proofread is to read a page at a time backwards and from bottom to top, because it offers a different perspective.


GoodLady profile image

GoodLady 4 years ago from Rome, Italy

Writing for publication is an exacting profession, a long process which demands rigorous 'revision' processes which you have so correctly outlined and explained- which many writers may not have been prepared to embrace.

Yours is a very good idea - to suggest courses in proofreading, editing and re-writing at high schools and colleges. I'm sure student's awareness of what goes on after a first draft could excite them. 'Writing' is not easy.

This Hub is such a useful manual of precise 'revision' information, an inside glimpse of the processes.

I hope your idea is picked up by schools and colleges. (Learning how to edit and revise and re-write as a 'skill' is important in our hugely explosive 'communications' world. Even learning awareness of the processes would be helpful.)

Writing online is new to me for example - I respect it's requirements so I've applied for acceptance in the Apprenticeship program.

I also have thought that teaching English students what 'story' is, important.

("the sequence of events described in a narrative", the story arc etc) It too is an exacting art.

Just a great Hub.


sandrabusby profile image

sandrabusby 4 years ago from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA

Thanks, Patty, for this informative hub on the difference between editing and proof reading. I'm sure there is much work out there to be done. (I speak as a retired English teacher who knows first hand the state in which a piece of writing can be submitted as a finished work. Although, many, like me, have tried our best, we seem to be fighting an uphill battle against illiteracy.) As adults, however, some people will learn what's valuable to them as they want others to read what they've written. So, never give up.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 4 years ago from North America Author

I think you'll enjoy the Apprenticeship Program, GoodLady.

One of my favorite authors used to be a news columnist and in one of her novels, she showed the progress from first draft to final column for one article, and it was fascinating. Myself, I cannot get past 10,000 words, so one day perhaps a novella will come forth. I would have jumped at taking a revisions course.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 4 years ago from North America Author

That's good advice, sandrabusby.

Literacy would have a better chance if some cities such as my own did not have certain high schools geared to graduate students that have had behavioral problems, with a 3.5 grade level of reading at age 19. When they do secure a job, they cannot read the paperwork. Thanks for your comments!


stars439 profile image

stars439 4 years ago from Louisiana, The Magnolia and Pelican State.

Very interesting hub. I have learned a number of things good from it. Thank you, and God Bless You.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 4 years ago from North America Author

Hi stars439 - good to see you here. How's everybody?


poshcoffeeco profile image

poshcoffeeco 3 years ago from Cambridgeshire

Well written and interesting article. I am sharing as I believe it will help many who have yet to see it.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 3 years ago from North America Author

It should come in useful, I think and hope your friends like it.


Easy Exercise profile image

Easy Exercise 21 months ago from United States

You found a few surprises - wow! Those were big surprises. Stealing is sad fact of online writing. Obtaining a great editor is hard work. Editing takes allot of effort and knowledge. Your hub showcased the complexity.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 21 months ago from North America Author

@Easy Exercise - "Obtaining a great editor is hard work." - I agree with that!

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