Lynette M. Smith understands your world. Not only has she been working with book authors for decades, but she is an indie (self-published) author herself. See GoodWaysToWrite.com for a list of her published works, and visit the Testimonials page here to see what other authors have said about her work. You may enjoy viewing this 32-minute video podcast interview that tells you more about copyediting, as well as this 26-minute video podcast interview that tells you more about formatting of manuscripts (also known as document scrubbing) and proofreading of PDF book layouts.
When you're ready (or nearly ready) with your best effort at a final draft of your book manuscript in MS Word, that's the time to involve All My Best. Here's your step-by-step action plan:
- Save money (optional). To further strengthen your writing and reduce your copyediting expense, search the Writing Tips section for any corrections you can make in your writing, on your own. You can also reduce your manuscript-formatting costs if you study and apply the MS Word formatting tips on the Manuscript Formatting page.
- Request an estimate or quote. If your manuscript is smaller than 35,000 words, request an estimate for manuscript formatting (document scrubbing) and copyediting. If your manuscript is at least 35,000 words, request an estimate for manuscript formatting and a binding quote for copyediting. Do this by sending five random but representative sample pages from the latter 90% of your MS Word manuscript, as the first 10% tends to be overpolished and therefore not representative of the manuscript as a whole.
- If you don't know how to isolate the five random but representative sample pages into their own file, send the entire manuscript and just state which five pages you consider representative.
- Lynette will time herself at copyediting those five pages and calculate a binding quote per 1,000 words for copyediting, applicable to your entire manuscript. At the same time, she will send you the copyedited work sample and an estimated turnaround time based on her then-current work schedule.
Note: Copyeditors who routinely read a manuscript twice must be compensated for their time. At All My Best, Lynette instead performs a single but thorough reading of your manuscript, which should save you money.
- Reserve time. If you like the estimate or quote and work sample and the turnaround time works well for you, you can reserve time in Lynette's schedule by remitting the start-up deposit she cites, either by check or PayPal payment.
- The deposit will be approximately 75% of the total copyediting estimate or quote (exclusive of manuscript formatting time, which is billed separately from copyediting).
- If you send a deposit check, it will not be cashed until the work begins. If you remit via PayPal, the funds will not be used until the work begins.
- Receive the copyedited files. When the formatting and single-reading-pass copyediting are completed, you will receive two copyedited files:
- A Track Changes version, in which all suggested additions and deletions, as well as queries/comments (shown in the margin), are marked; and
- A Clean version, in which all suggested additions and deletions have been "accepted" and all queries/comments have been deleted.
- Remit the remaining balance. At that time you will also receive a final invoice with balance due upon presentation. The invoice will itemize the formatting time (billed by the hour), the copyediting time (billed by the hour if less than 35,000 words or billed per binding quote for the lengthier books), and any additional consultation time or other unexpected tasks (billed by the hour) and will have the prepaid start-up deposit deducted.
- Process the revisions. You may work with whichever version of your copyedited manuscript (as described in Step 6) you prefer, as you judge which of the suggested revisions you approve of, and which you reject, either individually or a paragraph or page at a time. (Telephone consultation to train you on this process can be arranged upon request, and the first 5 minutes is free.) If you decide to work with the Clean version, though, it's essential that you at least review the Track Changes version so (a) you see what changes were made in the Clean version (if you see something you don't like, change it back) and (b) you read the queries/comments in case you decide to make further revisions as a result.
- Have your rewrites and other revisions copyedited (recommended). If you want Lynette to copyedit any passages you rewrite or otherwise revise, yellow-highlight those passages and then return the entire manuscript to her. She will copyedit only those highlighted passages and return updated Track Changes and Clean versions to you, along with an invoice for the nominal time typically expended. Repeat Step 8 and remove all highlighting.
What's next? Now your clean, copyedited, and approved-by-you manuscript is ready for layout. Send it to a graphic design professional who specializes in creating book layouts. (You'll want that person, and potentially a separate illustrator, to design a book cover as well.) Your designer will eventually send you a PDF file of your book's interior layout, and another PDF of your book's cover spread (back/spine/front).
Isn't it exciting? Your book-layout professional has sent you those two PDF files (book interior and cover spread), and you think they look gorgeous! Then your professional says, "Let me know if any corrections are needed, or if you approve it for publishing."
Uh-oh. Now what? It's definitely a good start for you to read it one more time to see if you find any errors. But face it: You've read your book's contents so many times by now that you're likely to be blind to some types of content errors, as your mind simply invents what it wants to see.
Also, it's unlikely you're familiar with best practices for book layouts (though it will help if you read Lynette's 40-page handbook, 80 Common Layout Errors to Flag When Proofreading Book Interiors). You may neglect to notice:
- Errors in repeating headers,
- Inconsistencies in the treatment of various heading/subheading levels, line spacing, font sizes, or paragraph indents,
- Lines that look too stretched out,
- "Widow and orphan" problems (whereby the first or last line of a paragraph stands alone on a page),
- And so on.
That's where All My Best comes in. Here's the workflow Lynette follows:
- Schedule project. As with copyediting, a start-up deposit will reserve the time. (See Step 4 earlier on this page for how that process works.)
- Review layout. Lynette first reviews (but doesn't yet read) the two-page spreads of the book's interior to spot and flag all these problems.
- Read carefully. Returning to the beginning, she carefully reads the content to detect and flag any lingering content errors: two periods (or none) at the end of a sentence; misspelled, missing, double, or run-together words; inappropriate end-of-line hyphenations, and more.
- Assuming the book was professionally copyedited and professionally laid out, Steps 1 and 2 together take about as long as a light copyedit and are billed by the hour.
- For budgeting purposes, Steps 2 and 3 together average about $12.75 per 1,000 words.
- Send corrections to layout professional. Lynette will return the annotated (flagged) PDF to your layout professional to have all flagged errors corrected.
- Receive revised PDF. After those corrections are made, the layout professional sends a revised PDF to Lynette for approval.
- Compare new PDF to previous annotated version. She verifies that all corrections were made properly and that no new layout errors ensued. She flags any remaining problems in the new PDF and returns it to the layout professional.
- "Rinse and repeat." Steps 5 and 6 are repeated until the layout is as error free as practical. (Note: The billable time involved for Steps 5-7 can vary greatly, depending on the experience and diligence of the layout professional.) Once that stage is reached, the author can approve the book for publication, although some authors at this point prefer to request a hard-copy proof of the book to personally examine (or have Lynette examine) one last time before granting approval.
- Bill the remaining balance. Lynette will send you a final invoice for all time involved, less the start-up deposit, with remaining balance due upon presentation via either PayPal or check.