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I sent my first edits back to my first editing client this afternoon.

The author is a healthcare practitioner and the piece falls generally into the category of a diet book. Editing it is very different from editing fiction written by a writer. It's also very different from editing non-fiction (for certain values of "non-fiction" that include training documents) written by me.

After spending hours slogging through the manuscript, mapping its concepts, trying to figure out exactly why it wasn't working, and not knowing the best way to proceed, I think I've developed the skeleton of an editing process:
  • Start a fresh document
  • Mine the source document a few paragraphs at a time
  • Rewrite them
  • Ruthlessly cut bits that are redundant
  • Ditto bits that just don't have a home
  • Store the cut bits in a parking lot document
  • Show expertise by doing a little fact-checking
  • Tread a fine line between adding whole missing concepts and asking the author to add them
  • Lather, rinse, repeat until I can't stand it anymore
  • Send it off with a cushiony email begging the author to understand that no original manuscripts were harmed in this process, and that everything in the edit is my opinion (leaving elegantly unstated the fact that my opinion is superior to hers when it comes to grammar, punctuation, sentence structure and clarity because that is, after all, why she hired me), and that all I really want to do is provide exactly the level of support the author feels she needs

It seems to have worked. She just replied with "This is great, you are so good at this, I like your writing style [ed note: whoops--it's supposed to be her writing style], I agree with your comments, and here are a couple of counter-suggestions."

Now, a few more rounds of this, and we should have a diet book!

Crossposted from Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comments.



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