Professionalism. Respect. Quality
In a previous article, we’ve discussed how an author can work in partnership with an editor to improve a manuscript. Those general guidelines are perfect for helping you decide how to choose an editor, but because you’re here, visiting Dog Ear’s website, you’re probably wondering specifically how you can partner with a Dog Ear editor.
Working with a Dog Ear editor is a little different than working with a freelance editor you find and hire on your own, and definitely different from working with a team of editors at a traditional publishing house.
One thing to remember is that after a Dog Ear edit, you should not expect a manuscript free from errors. It is an unfortunate fact that errors will be involved, but we strive to ensure that as few as possible remain. Editors are people, too, and no matter how good we are at our jobs, we do sometimes miss errors in the text. And unfortunately, errors are also sometimes introduced in the process of making and accepting changes.
In books published by the traditional publishing houses, 25 errors in a book of, say, 200,000 words would be a large—though possibly bordering on excessive—number. In that traditional publishing house, however, the editorial staff would send your text through, at minimum, a copyedit and a proofread, followed by the design and layout phases. Finally, a further proofread would occur. Why go to all that trouble? Because traditional publishing houses know that editors make mistakes and that at least one more set of eyes is always a good thing.
In self-publishing, however, the onus of providing that second set of eyes falls on the author. At Dog Ear, for example, your editor will have your manuscript “in hand” only once, usually for several weeks. Although the editor looks at the manuscript quite extensively in that time, that is still only one set of eyes seeing your text. (The exception is a developmental edit, in which the editor sees your manuscript through three rounds, typically.) After the editor has made suggested changes to your manuscript, the responsibility for the correctness of the text falls squarely on your—the author’s—shoulders. Once you have accepted or rejected the editor’s changes, if you want to ensure that the text is clean, you must review it all again yourself, have someone else (e.g., a personal assistant or an independent editor) do it, or pay for further editing/proofreading services through Dog Ear.
One very important thing to remember when reviewing the text after the edit is that although we are professionals with a wide range of experience in publishing and a wide knowledge base to draw from, we are specialists in written language but typically only generalists otherwise. If you have charts, graphs, figures, or tables in your manuscript, it is up to you to determine if they fit the context. We editors will point out if we are concerned that these do not seem to fit the context, but we do trust you, the author, to be the expert on the subject matter and the best person to judge the appropriateness of such additions to the text.
So really, what can you expect from the editors at Dog Ear?
- Professional, Constructive Advice and Support
Quite often, first-time authors are fearful of the editing process, not knowing what to expect. Their heads are filled with visions of term papers veritably bleeding red ink, sounds of derisive laughter, and the words, “What were you thinking? You’re no writer!”
But after their experience with Dog Ear, first-time authors usually come back saying, “The edit was so good, so helpful! The comments weren’t mean or nasty like I was expecting …” As Adrienne Miller, one of our author representatives, is fond of saying, “Good editors are not grammar Nazis. Good editors are people who are there to help you communicate better, to help you better say what you want to say.”
- Respect for Your Voice and Style
Odds are, you’re considering indie publishing because you want to retain creative control of your book, and you’re afraid the traditional route may not allow that. You probably don’t want an editor to rewrite your book completely but instead want help, someone to enhance your manuscript.
A good editor maintains the author’s voice and respects his/her word choices and tone. I like to think of editors like waitstaff: Just as skilled waitstaff enhance your meal with helpfulness, anticipating your needs without being intrusive, so a good editor will enhance a manuscript without inserting his or her personality into the finished product. You can trust Dog Ear editors to respect your vision for your book, as well as your voice and style, which means that ultimately, the work published in your name is still yours.
Ultimately, you can be assured of quality. You may request an editor with a specific background, and we will do our best to make that happen, but you can rest assured that all Dog Ear editors are professionals who do our very best to help your manuscript be its very best.
Beyond checking the “nuts and bolts” of grammar and punctuation, a good editor notices if a sentence can be misunderstood and then corrects it to prevent any misreading. Part of the process of becoming an editor for Dog Ear is to take an editing test that includes both objective and subjective sections. A prospective Dog Ear editor must score at least a 90% on the objective part of the test before Dog Ear will even consider using his/her services.
Ultimately, Dog Ear hires its editors with a focus on thorough knowledge of English, with all its intricacies and potential confusion, and on a customer-service orientation, because these are the skills most needed in providing indie authors with exceptional service. We don’t care how good an editor is at catching errors and polishing text; if the editor can’t provide polite constructive feedback, that editor will not work for Dog Ear. We want only the best for our authors.