Line and copy editing

You’ve spent a lot of time in the company of your writing and know it inside out. But will your readers understand what you mean, or might they be confused? A line and copy edit will refine your style, tighten your prose and improve pace by eliminating redundant language and repetition. It will also highlight plot or narrative inconsistencies and clarify any ambiguous phrasing. 

While developmental editing looks at the bigger picture, this is editing at sentence level. Line editing – also known as stylistic editing – focuses on style, rhythm and flow. Copy editing concentrates on technical accuracy, consistency and clarity. 

I offer a combination of line and copy editing. This involves an in-depth treatment of the text, helping to fine-tune your language and make your writing more elegant. My aim is to help you connect with your readers in an engaging and accessible way, and to enhance your unique style and voice. And hopefully, I can help you to become a better writer in the process. Sometimes imperceptible details can make all the difference between a good and a great manuscript. 

As well as checking grammar, spelling and punctuation, I’ll focus on areas such as:

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  • improving style, flow and rhythm 
  • tension and pacing
  • avoiding repetition, ambiguity and awkward syntax
  • character and plot inconsistencies
  • minor point of view and narrative voice inconsistencies
  • avoiding crutch words and redundant language
  • consistency of tense and detail
  • loose ends and timing issues
  • dialogue: authenticity, use of beats and tags
  • showing and telling, exposition and overwriting
  • appropriate choice of language for your audience
  • conscious language feedback
  • avoiding lazy metaphors and clichés
  • checking for accuracy and correcting basic factual errors
  • flagging up potential legal and sensitivity issues (but it will be your responsibility to check and organise if permissions are needed)
  • adhering to your chosen style guide, such as the New Oxford Style Manual or Chicago Manual of Style, or advising you on the most appropriate style for your work

‘After several years of writing and rewriting my first crime thriller novel, I had reached an impasse. I decided that I wanted to go down the self-publishing route, but before putting my novel out into the world I knew I needed to hire an editor. Finding Nicky helped me achieve that dream. Hiring her to do a combined developmental and line edit of my novel was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Nicky took my novel and constructively and sensitively went through it line by line, providing me with professional and supportive feedback, help, comments and suggestions while keeping my voice and style of writing intact.

‘Nicky’s editorial report and style sheet were exemplary, and I was blown away by how detailed and instructive they were. They have helped show me where I needed to condense and expand my writing and develop my characters further, while at the same time killing my darlings, as the saying goes, who weren’t necessary to the story, and improving upon my spelling, grammar and syntax, to make my novel snappier and stand out.

‘It has been a privilege to collaborate with her, and to anyone out there who is looking for an editor themselves, I say this: you couldn’t be in a better or safer pair of hands. I would highly recommend Nicky to you. I have learned a great deal from her, which I will take with me as I venture into my next novel.’

What's included?

  • two full passes (following a read-through) and a final check of any passages which have been rewritten following my queries and suggestions
  • a personalised, comprehensive editorial style sheet which lists style preferences along with relevant details such as characters, settings and timeline 
  • observations of your writing style and habits, and suggestions to help you improve your craft
  • recommended resources, such as articles, books or website links, tailored to your individual needs
  • editing/proofreading of additional pages such as acknowledgements and forewords (for self-publishing authors) 
  • help and support throughout the process

How does it work?

For line and copy editing, I use Word Track Changes. You’ll receive your work clearly marked up with my suggestions, corrections and queries, which you are free to accept or reject – this way, not only will you see exactly what I’ve done, but you’ll learn about your own writing habits and how to improve your craft. If you prefer, I’ll also send you a clean version with all changes accepted and just my comments showing. If you’re not familiar with Track Changes or other useful Word tools such as Styles, just let me know and I’ll provide you with some clear and helpful resources.

On average, it’s best to allow four to six weeks for a line and copy edit. First, I read the manuscript to get an overview. Then I do two full passes before returning the manuscript to you along with the style sheet. Once you’ve gone through the manuscript, send it back to me so I can check any changes you’ve made and do a final consistency check. 

The end result will be a clean, edited manuscript ready to be formatted and proofread before self-publishing, and in the best shape ready to submit to agents. 

‘After enjoying Nicky’s expertise and support to edit my historical novel Rodanthe’s Gift, I had no hesitation in turning to her for help with my latest project, Explore Kritsa. In this non-fiction guide to a village on the Greek island of Crete, I needed to convey my affection for Kritsa plus historical and cultural facts in my chosen light-hearted style. In the second part of the book I "lead" people on walks in the village and countryside so need to provide clarity. As expected, Nicky delivered well in these areas by checking facts, probing and offering solutions to muddled sentences. However, I hadn’t realised my sketch maps also needed checking, and her attention to detail will prevent me losing readers on hillsides and in olive groves.

‘Nicky added particular value by identifying I’d skipped over places to eat and quite rightly pointed out the importance of food to the success of a holiday. As a result, I rewrote the chapter and now it is one of my favourites.

‘By understanding my aims, and putting herself in my reader’s walking boots, Nicky ensured my book is as good as it can be.’

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How much does it cost?

Professional editing is a significant investment, but remember: you’re not just investing in this manuscript, you’re investing in your future writing. I aim to help you become a better writer through the editing process by showing you how to improve your skills and build confidence in your writing ability.

No two manuscripts are the same, and the time involved depends on the type of editing, complexity of the individual manuscript, and the level of editorial input. There are other considerations too, such as your own writing experience, how many drafts you’ve done, and whether you’ve already had (and implemented) feedback from beta readers, critique groups, or another developmental editor. Once I’ve seen your manuscript and you’ve provided me with some background information, I can give you an accurate quote, with no hidden costs. 

My rates are in line with industry standards and are based on recommendations by the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (CIEP, UK), of which I am an Advanced Professional Member, the Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA, US), and the Association of Freelance Editors, Proofreaders and Indexers of Ireland (AFEPI, Ireland). Please also bear in mind that these recommendations have not been updated for some time (the dates are on the links). As a general guide, for line editing you can expect to budget €35–45 per 1,000 words.

Prices are in euros. You can see more information about payment methods, deposits, cancellation policy and so on in my terms and conditions. And of course if you have any questions, please feel free to ask! 

When should I contact you?

If you’re interested in working together on your manuscript, please drop me a line sooner rather than later! My calendar is usually full three to six months in advance. However, I recognise the need for flexibility, and manuscripts can take longer to write than planned – plus we all know that life has a habit of getting in the way. So, it’s always worth getting in touch to see what’s possible.