Editing for Independent Writers

Whether you are a budding novelist or seasoned author – you have a reputation to uphold.  You want your writing to be eloquent, clear, and compelling. Any error, no matter how minor, would distract your audience from the message you want to convey, and instantly call into question the credibility of your writing.  Let me eliminate the chance of that happening, so you can concentrate on what you do best – write.


Proofreading is the must-have, last step of the process before you publish your work. It is the minimum that you would want to spend on your project to ensure that it has no embarrassing mistakes, which are possible even with the most seasoned of writers. However, to make best use of any proofreading service, you should ensure that your work has already been edited either by you or somebody else, as proofreading will not make up for awkward wording, rough transitions, or logic errors.

Proofreading includes the correction or revision of the following:

  • Spelling (e.g. American vs. Canadian English)
  • Grammar (e.g. subject-verb agreement, misplaced modifiers, sentence fragments)
  • Punctuation and mechanics (e.g. quotation marks, hyphens, commas, semi-colons)
  • Diction (e.g. word usage, as in imminent vs. eminent)
  • Cross-references (e.g. “See Illustration 23 on page 114”)
  • Consistency in numerals, fonts, capitalization, sequencing in lists, and formatting (following client guidelines if applicable)

Copy Editing
If you are relatively confident in your own writing abilities, this is an affordable way to get the proofreading you need, but with just enough critical input to push your writing from being merely good to highly crafted. Copy editing adds a level of judgment and critical thinking to the process. Note that this service involves the flagging of problems more so than extensive rewriting. However, should you feel that you could benefit from some extra direction for the more difficult passages, I would be happy to suggest some alternatives or options upon request.

Copy editing includes the following:

  • Proofreading (as described above)
  • Changing text and headings to achieve parallel structure
  • Enforcing consistent style and tone (as in a multi-author manuscript)
  • Changing from passive voice to active voice, if requested
  • Enforcing client style guides, if requested
  • Flagging of:
    • Inappropriate figures of speech
    • Ambiguous or incorrect statements
    • Discrepancies in plot, setting, time, and character traits for works of fiction
    • Discrepancies in tone and voice
    • Rough transitions
    • Wordiness, triteness, and inappropriate jargon and acronyms
    • Over-used vocabulary
    • Awkward syntax

Depending on how polished your work is already, the final cost for this service could be very comparable to that of proofreading.

Note: Due to time constraints, I currently do not offer substantive editing, which would involve a greater amount of rewriting, restructuring to improve flow, and provision of alternatives throughout the work, rather than simply flagging problems and ensuring correct usage and grammar. However, if you are still at the substantive editing stage and would like to engage my proofreading services ahead of time, I would be happy to offer a discount for booking early.

Early Stage Critique
An early stage critique can be pivotal to the quality of your work, not to mention a big money saver if it helps you skip the step of having to engage substantive editing services. Issues with flow, style, organization, etc., often can be detected long before you feel the need to hire an editor. Some crucial, insightful pointers throughout your first draft could be just what you need to push your work from ‘just fine’ to stellar and engaging.

The early stage critique includes the following:

  • Brief consultation to discuss your goals for the work
  • A 2-3 page critique and, where applicable, comments throughout your work that address:
    • Clarity, voice, flow, style, pace, and organization
    • Strength of the characters and plot for fiction, content for non-fiction
    • Quality of exposition and dialogue
    • Recurring difficulties in grammar, spelling, punctuation, usage
    • Overall strengths and weaknesses
    • Recommendations on next steps such as minor touch-ups, copyediting, or comprehensive developmental editing

Partial or Combination of Services
The writing process is unique for everyone, and sometimes you might need more (or less) than the packages described above. I understand the need for flexibility and also the need to work within a budget – especially for independent novelists. Therefore, I am happy to offer the following two options:
1) partial proofreading/edits for excerpts of your work that you feel require the extra attention
2) a combination of the above services, specifically tailored to meet your needs

Just contact me  to discuss your project in detail.

Introductory Sample Edit
If you are interested in any of the services above, I recommend that you first request a sample edit. The sample edit allows you to get a feel of how I work, helps me to form an accurate quote for the rest of the project, and gives us both a chance to clarify each other’s expectations. The nominal fee for this sample is $25, which can be applied against the rest of the project cost should you choose to continue with my services.
Here’s how it works:

  1. Email the file (either a completed document or work in progress) and any other questions you may have, with the subject line “Sample Edit”
  2. I will contact you to clarify information and confirm both the size of the sample edit (up to 1000 words, depending on the overall size of the project) and a completion date (usually within 24 – 48 hours)
  3. Once I receive payment, I will proofread or edit the agreed portion of your project
  4. Once you receive your edited sample, we can discuss the edits and any concerns or questions you may have before I send you a quote for the rest of the work

Books and novels typically work best on a flat-fee basis. The final quote will vary, depending on the type and length/size of project, amount of work involved, special requirements, and deadlines.

Here is a guideline of what to expect:
Proofreading                       $1.50-$3.00/page**
Copy Editing                        $2.00-$4.00/page**
Early Stage Critique           $1.50-$2.00/page**
Sample Edit                         $25.00
Partial Proofread/Edit       Refer to rates above (min $50 charge)
Combination of Services    Refer to rates above,
(with 10% discount if more than one service is engaged for an entire project at one time)

After reviewing a sample of your work, I will send you a quote that includes a description of services, special requests, deadlines, project cost, and payment schedule. Please see the ‘How it Works’ section below for more information on quotes and payment.

* All prices are in Canadian dollars, and GST/HST will be added for applicable provinces
** One page is the equivalent of 250 words


Obtaining a Quote
The first step is to e-mail me at vania@bestwordforward.com with the following information:

  • Electronic file of your work, in whole or in part
  • Brief description of your project
  • Length of work (word count)
  • Special style requirements
  • Type of service required
  • Deadlines

Upon receipt of your information, I will contact you for further clarification as required and let you know when you can expect to receive the quote (usually within 24 hours). The quote that I send will detail the scope of work, milestones, price and payment schedule, and final delivery date. If the quote is acceptable to you, I will send you the contract to sign. Once I receive the signed contract and deposit (for flat-fee projects), work will commence.

Submitting Your Work
Electronic Files: I accept files created in Word, PowerPoint, Keynote, Illustrator, Indesign. However, I recommend Word because it is the only format I accept that supports the ‘track changes’ feature, which makes note of every change I make and allows you to either accept or reject each one. For the Early Stage Critique, I use the ‘comments’ feature in Word. All editing is done within the electronic files you provide. I do not accept hard copies of manuscripts.

Payment installments for flat-fee work can vary with the size and length of the project, and all require a deposit prior to commencement of work. For most small- to medium-sized projects, half the balance is due upfront, and half at 50% completion. For rush projects (one week or less), full payment is required upfront.

I accept payments via Paypal and cheque.

Once work commences, I will keep you informed of my progress. Since I may need to contact you for clarification or discuss issues as they arise, I will request that you be available through e-mail or phone in order to avoid delays in the schedule. Of course, you are always welcome to contact me with questions, concerns, or changes along the way.