Ordering the Right Level of Edit – Part 1

In much the same way that there are different sizes of coffee at Starbucks, there are different levels of editing: word-level, sentence-level, paragraph-level, and big-picture. However, unlike a cup of coffee that gets you more delicious coffee as the cup gets bigger, the levels of edit are targeted toward different stages in the writing process and focus on specific aspects of the document. Depending on your specific needs, you may opt to hire an editor to perform one or more levels of edit on a single document.

Over the next couple weeks, we will dive deeper into what exactly is included in each level of editing; but, in order to determine what level of edit is needed or appropriate, there are some initial questions that we need to ask to ensure you get the level of service you are expecting.

  • Where are you in the writing process? Are you just starting and struggling to organize your thoughts, or do you have a fully formed draft?
  • What is your deadline? When do you need to send your project to the printer, client, or team member?
  • When do you feel comfortable bringing an editor into your process? Do you like talking through your ideas and organizing your thoughts before you start? Do you only feel comfortable bringing someone in to review a full draft?
  • What are your strengths/weaknesses as a writer? This can be an uncomfortable question, but if you know you struggle with consistency or transitions, letting your editor know these things can help narrow their focus.
  • What are your goals in hiring an editor? Do you want someone to work with you throughout the writing process or are you only looking for someone to make your document “look pretty?”
  • What is your budget? Knowing how many pages you expect your document to be can help your editor give you a firm estimate for their services. In editing, the bigger the cup does not always equate to a higher price tag, as long as the goals and expectations are shared early between you and your editor.

In addition to answering these questions, having early conversations with your editor and showing them a sample of your document can allow the editor to evaluate what might work best for you and your document.

Now that we have answered these basic questions, we can take a closer look at each level of edit. Stay tuned for Parts 2 through 5 of this series.

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