Everything You Need to Be Receiving from Your Copyeditor


What is “Industry Standard”?

Industry standard refers to the expectations within the publishing community as to what is appropriate for a service. In this case, what would the industry as a whole think is a fair level of deliverables for a provider offering copyediting. This is not a list of requirements to offer copyediting, but a list of expectations when it comes to meeting a standard that, admittedly, is always changing based on the market.

What Deliverables are Industry Standard?

1.   In text acceptable edits and commentary

Any copyeditor you select should be providing their edits as suggestions within or on your manuscript in a way that is acceptable or rejectable by you the author. Editing is a service, not a produce, and you as the author get final say on any changes made to your book. Part of the service is providing these suggestions to you clearly and easy to read.

In my business, all edits are made within Microsoft Word with their track changes feature. This shows suggested removals as red, additions as blue, and movements as green. The commentary shows to the right and highlights the commentary area and gives authors rights to resolve the comment. See photo below for how this looks.

Other editors may use other programs like Google Docs or Adobe Acrobat’s markup feature. So, make sure to ask your editor what they use.

2.   A style sheet

Apparently, this is controversial, but industry standard dictates that copyeditors complete and provide the author with a style sheet. Style sheets are customized to your book and are primarily a copyeditor’s document for their use while editing a text. This is where they track style changes, technical rules, and story elements that have to be on the lookout for. The design of these sheets vary from editor to editor but should always be used in copyediting.

Keep in mind that because this is an editor’s document not all copyeditors provide this to the author. I provide these to the authors because I don’t provide additional edits and this is something that should be sent to proofreaders if the author chooses to hire one. They can serve as a guide to authors as they edit their manuscript as well as back up editor decisions.

3.   A manuscript/final letter

Finally, your editor should provide you a summary of how to read the notes they’ve sent you, how to contact them, and any information they feel you need to know about your work. This is mostly about providing you with knowledge to access and utilize the edits they’ve provided as you’re likely not a professional editor. If you are, then you should still find summarizing feedback valuable.

The manuscript letter should be tailored to you and should include addressing any questions you may have had or to point any overarching issues that may have come up in the editing of your book. This will generally be short and may even be provided in the form of an email.

Optional Deliverables:

This is a small list of potential deliverables that are less standard and more dependent on your editor and the type of editing you had done, but other things you could expect to receive are:

  • Instructions
  • Tips and Tricks
  • Resource connections
  • Specified resources
  • Additional service offers
  • Comparable
  • Manuscript reports
  • Additional edits
  • Mid-edit check ins
  • Coaching
  • Ghost writing

What if they don’t provide these?

If you have an editor that provides some or none of these deliverables, that doesn’t mean you have to move on. Editing is a diverse field and has a wide range of services offered. The important thing to acknowledge is your level of satisfaction with their service. If you want one or more of the above services you can do a few things.

  • You can ask your editor if they provide the above.
  • You can request the above service(s) and see if it’s something you can pay additional for.
  • You can interview other editors to see if they provide the above.

The important thing with any service is your level of satisfaction, but most editors would like to know how they can better serve their authors, so if you want something on this list, see if your current editor can make it work. If you were unsatisfied all around, that’s another story and feel free to continue your search.

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