How I edit: paper vs. electronic formats

Ever since I went freelance and started critiquing manuscripts directly for authors, I’ve had people submit their manuscripts to me via email. It’s easier, and I don’t have to worry about publishing my home address on the internet.

However, I’ve always been an on-paper editor when it comes to the first developmental edit. When I’m reading on screen, I’m parsing out the sentences and paragraphs–I’m line editing and copyediting. It’s a completely different editing mindset. So trying to do big-picture developmental edits on screen was trying at first. And now I’ve realized why–that’s part of my process. It helps me to separate the early developmental edits from the line and copy edits–and it also allows me to physically be moving from page to page more quickly, and to page back more quickly, and so forth.

So from now on, for full manuscript critiques (which are full developmental edits, with notes in the margins, line edits in the text, and an editorial letter addressing big-picture issues), I think I’ll give people information on how to mail the manuscript to me after we’ve agreed to work together. That is, you’ll email me the first three chapters (three chapter critiques will remain electronic), then I’ll decide whether I’m the right editor for the job and give you an estimate if it looks promising. If we agree to the estimate, I will give you the mailing address for sending the manuscript–which will also give you the option to pay by check, for those who don’t want to deal with Paypal.

Hopefully this will be an improvement in the process for both you and for me. It will organize and make the process more efficient so that I won’t have to enter my changes into Word (which is time-consuming), and for most people it doesn’t matter whether comments are hand-written or in Track Changes. And it’ll make things easier for those who don’t have Word, as well.