How to find a good copy editor?

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Editing for authors: because every writer needs a good editor.

biberli

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Hey guys,

I just finished my first real novel (in english) but my first language is french. I've spent my life reading in english so writing in english came more naturally to me. However I KNOW my manuscript is full of spelling and grammar mistakes. So how do I go about finding a good copy editor to help me with that? Many thanks in advance!
 

Woollybear

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I'd recommend first asking other writers for input on a short excerpt (a few pages.) If you are making simple errors, they will spot these and you can learn to improve those aspects on your own.

When you are certain that your work is as good as you can make it, I'd recommend asking for sample edits on Reedsy. You can reach out to five editors at a time and ask for a free sample of their work. They'll sometimes provide that on ~1000-1500 words.
 
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CWNitz

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As a first step, you can run your manuscript through ProWritingAid or Grammarly. You still need to double-check the change suggestions, but it should give you a good starting point.

As for copy editing, it's kind of a last step. How many drafts have you written? Personally, I still had massive structural changes at my fourth draft (granted, I'm not the most efficient writer around). If you're still unsure about your story structure, you should iron that out first, and only look for an editor when you're positive you won't make any more changes.
 

biberli

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As a first step, you can run your manuscript through ProWritingAid or Grammarly. You still need to double-check the change suggestions, but it should give you a good starting point.

Thanks, I'll check them out!

As for copy editing, it's kind of a last step. How many drafts have you written? Personally, I still had massive structural changes at my fourth draft (granted, I'm not the most efficient writer around). If you're still unsure about your story structure, you should iron that out first, and only look for an editor when you're positive you won't make any more changes.

Wow, 4 drafts? Does it change a lot from one to the next? How do you go about it? How do you know what to change? I've made all the changes I thought I needed, now waiting for a few friends I've shared the manuscript with to give me feedback. I guess I just don't realize how long the road is!
 

biberli

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I'd recommend first asking other writers for input on a short excerpt (a few pages.) If you are making simple errors, they will spot these and you can learn to improve those aspects on your own.
That's great, will do!
When you are certain that your work is as good as you can make it, I'd recommend asking for sample edits on Reedsy. You can reach out to five editors at a time and ask for a free sample of their work. They'll sometimes provide that on ~1000-1500 words.
Excellent, thank you. But first, just like you said: make it as good as I can *sigh*.
 

Woollybear

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Wow, 4 drafts? Does it change a lot from one to the next? How do you go about it? How do you know what to change? I've made all the changes I thought I needed, now waiting for a few friends I've shared the manuscript with to give me feedback. I guess I just don't realize how long the road is!


The book in my sig had 42. :) It could probably use a few more rewrites, but at 42 I decided I was done. Hemingway famously rewrote the ending to one of his stories 29 times. He said 'it wasn't right yet.'

Look up Manuscript Makeover for a few ideas. Also, join a critique group. As you critique other people's work, and as they critique yours, you start to see how many ways there are to write weakly and all the myriad aspects to 'craft' to master in order for writing to be compelling.

Your draft might be in good shape as is, and by all means, believe in yourself and your story, but often we make 'rookie errors' without realizing it.
 
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CWNitz

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Wow, 4 drafts? Does it change a lot from one to the next? How do you go about it? How do you know what to change? I've made all the changes I thought I needed, now waiting for a few friends I've shared the manuscript with to give me feedback. I guess I just don't realize how long the road is!
The first draft was pretty rough. There were plotholes, missing pieces of information, narrated scenes that needed to be shown, and so on. The second draft was the one I sent to critique partners, and they pointed out some problems with the characters that had to do with structural issues (I was stuffing too many things in the manuscript). Which led to the third draft.

Then I hired a dev editor, since my initial plan was to self-publish. She pointed out some needed changes--the MC was too passive and the stakes were too low, especially at the start and the 3/4 of the manuscript. That was 4th draft (and I suspect a fifth and maybe sixth are coming, since I rewrote a large part of the story).

The editor who worked on my manuscript, who is also a writer, told me she writes around 6-7 drafts before she sends her novel to her agent.

Looking back, I think I could have spotted some issues myself, especially between the second and third draft, by stepping away from the manuscript and reading it in one go. I think a lot of new writers also notice issues when they write their query letters. I often see feedback along the lines of "your protagonist doesn't do anything/the stakes aren't clear/the motivation is too vague" on query letters, some of which match what the editor told me.
 

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