It's a beautiful January afternoon and I'm looking down at a sparkling blue sea in Scarborough's North Bay as I write this post. We are lucky to have missed most of the snow here; there was a sprinkling last night but just the occasional glimmer of white remaining on some of the footpaths.
Some of you may already know me as Sheila, others as Rosalie. Just to explain - Sheila Glasbey is my 'real' name and the name I use for my proofreading and editing business (and also for my academic work). Rosalie Warren is the pen-name I use for my novels and the name I use on Facebook and Twitter. It's so confusing sometimes that I wish I hadn't bothered with a separate pen-name. Anyway, it's too late to change now and I answer to either or both, and also to Ros, so please call me whichever you like.
What I want to do here is introduce you to my new business model for writing and editing help and advice. I've been running a proofreading and copy editing service online for several years now and recently decided that it's time to expand my services to include writing critiques and also ghostwriting. I have experience of both of these but have not so far included them in my professional portfolio. So that's one change I want to make, and you'll see them included on my website.
The second change is to offer a new way of offering quotes. I've noticed that many aspiring authors find the prices of proofreading and/or copy editing impossibly high - especially if they've written a longish book. This isn't because we're out to exploit you: most editors are fair-minded and honourable people. It's simply that thorough editing and careful proofreading takes time. It's easy to read a book and find some mistakes in it - we've all done that. What takes time and a great deal of painstaking work is to find all the errors, not just some, and to put them right (and, sometimes, to explain to our authors why the changes should be made).
Up to now I've been doing the usual thing - asking for a sample and then supplying a quote. Often, that works well. But if someone can't afford it, that's them stuck. They can get further quotes but they probably won't be much different. If anyone's offering the service at what seems to be a bargain price, be careful. You may be lucky and have hit upon a special offer - or you may get exactly what you pay for - a rushed and unprofessional job by an unqualified person. As always, let the buyer beware.
So my new idea is for you, as my potential client, to tell me what you can afford, or how much you are prepared to spend on getting your book (or story, etc) into good condition in order to submit or self-publish. Anything from ten pounds upwards, there'll be some way I can offer to help. We will discuss this and come to an agreement on what I will do for you and what you will pay. Maybe at some later date, you will be able to come back for further help. Or perhaps I can copy edit and/or proofread your first few chapters, and give you guidelines for working on the rest.
Of course, I'm happy to stick to the traditional model if that's what you'd prefer. I'm just keen to give you a bit more choice. I'm also eager to keep up with recent trends, which have blurred the division between copy editing and proofreading. These terms had very distinct meanings in the days of typewritten copy and traditional typesetting. But nowadays, nearly all written material is produced electronically, even if it eventually appears as a printed book. This means that the distinction has partly broken down. Nowadays we tend to use the term 'copy editing' to refer to matters of style and grammar, while 'proofreading' refers to spelling and other mistakes. There's no longer any clear boundary between the two, however, and many writers would like to have both. Yet many professional editors will ask you to say which one you want, possibly causing you confusion or even unnecessary cost.
I do (almost) all my work online - though if you would like handwriting transcribing into a a computer file, or some other service involving a paper copy, I will happily quote you for that. It may cost a bit more, especially if printing is required. But if your work exists as a computer file (or files), the usual procedure is for you to email it or them to me. I will correct your work online, often using Microsoft's 'Track Changes' programme, if you are happy with that (it's very easy to use). This allows me to suggest changes, often adding comments or explanations. You may then accept or reject these changes, as you wish. If anything is not clear, I'm happy to spend some time, usually by email, explaining the reasons for the proposed changes. But the final decision will always be up to you. My suggested changes will be a mixture of copy editing and proofreading, as explained above.
Of course, if you specifically ask for a copy edit or a proofread alone, I can do this, and the cost will be less than the combined procedure. But the cost of the combined edit (maybe I should call it a 'proof-edit') will be considerably less than going through each process separately.
I hope all that makes some sense. I should probably stop for now. The sun is still shining and the waves are dancing in the bay. The days are getting longer and spring is finally on the horizon (behind the snow clouds?).
Here's wishing you a great writing year in 2015 - and I sincerely hope I might be able to play a small part in helping your writing and publication dreams come true.
Comments and questions welcome - either on this blog, through the contacts section of the website or at email@example.com