Every writer works differently—there are a lot of similarities between many writers, but no two work the same way or come up with the same end products. Similarly, every editor works a little differently. Even when it comes to copyediting, different editors do things differently. When you, as a writer, are looking for a freelance editor to help you with your work, it’s important that you find one that fits you.
In the spirit of giving you all the information you need, allow me to give you a rundown of the Looseleaf editorial philosophy. There are three main principles: editors exist to help writers be better writers, words need to communicate to and capture a reader, and books belong to their writers.
Editors Exist to Help Writers Be Better Writers
There are some services out there that exist to help make books better. However, Looseleaf isn’t about taking a manuscript and making it into an awesome book. It’s about working with a writer on a manuscript to help make that writer a better writer. The manuscript will become a better book as a result, have no doubt about that, but my primary focus as an editor is to help writers do what they want to do, only better.
This means that when it comes to changes bigger than commas or colons, I’ll be writing comments to you, the author, so you can understand why I thought a change was necessary and why what I did fixes the issue. I’ll expect that if you don’t understand my comment (or if I made a change you don’t understand because I forgot to comment on it) you’ll ask me to explain myself. I expect to be available for questions during and after an edit.
If you want to hand your manuscript over, have it polished, primped, primed, and packaged into perfection by someone else, Looseleaf may not be for you. Make no mistake: I’ll be digging in and doing as much tinkering, tweaking, and fixing as I can to make your vision a reality. As it says on the Looseleaf home page, “We’ll help you achieve the clarity, credibility, and style you need to reach your audience.” But my primary goal will be to help you be better, not just your book.
Words Need to Communicate to and Capture a Reader
Looseleaf editing is very reader-centric. If there’s something you like to do in your writing that isn’t strictly correct but will still communicate and carry your credibility to a reader, I’m not going to touch it. If it’s something that will make a reader think you don’t know what you’re doing, or that will force the reader to read your words more than once to understand them, I’m going to recommend a change.
This means that many “rules” are flexible. For a hyper-formal, scholarly audience, I might recommend that you don’t split your infinitives (i.e., “to boldly go” would be changed to “to go boldly”); in a young adult novel, I won’t touch your slang unless it’s so heavy I think it will make your book sound dated in two or three years, or that you won’t be able to get any crossover audiences with it. I will always be considering your reader, not just the rule book.
Books Belong to their Writers
Some writers fear editors: this minority considers editors to be a group of people who meddle with a creative individual’s work and take it away from the creative source and beauty it originally had. However, I subscribe to the mentality described by legendary editor Maxwell Perkins:
I believe the writer … should always be the final judge. I have always held to that position and have sometimes seen books hurt thereby, but at least as often helped. The book belongs to the author.
Everything I do to or suggest for a manuscript exists to help you and the reader communicate more effectively. You have ideas you want to communicate; your reader wants to engage with and receive those ideas. I will make suggestions and explain the reasoning behind them; I’ll tell you why they should be made. But the final decisions always belong to you. Because you’re the one with something to say; I’m just here to help you let that idea loose.
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