Grammarwitch with a heart

Grammarwitch, LLC

professional editing with a heart

How an Editor Works

At Grammarwitch, all editing is holistic editing.

Even though I make my living working with words, it can be hard to pigeonhole what I do. I am a developmental editor, a line editor, a copy editor, a proofreader, a teacher, a coach—but I can’t just do one of them and leave the others alone. The mechanics slide into the aesthetics; the aesthetics rest on the structure; the structure inhabits the flow; the flow weaves the story. And when I am editing, all those elements mingle in the process.

A book is many, many pieces and a single, whole entity, all at the same time. Editing brings all the pieces together into one cohesive, harmonious, vibrant whole. Those pieces include:

  • spelling
  • grammar
  • punctuation
  • structure
  • story arc
  • voice
  • tone
  • cadence/rhythm
  • flow
  • logic
  • consistency
  • keeping characters in character
  • word choice
  • syntax
  • beauty
  • fact-checking

The editing process

They way I work with my clients is unique for each one and can vary from client to client and book to book, but there is a basic process that will apply to your project:

  • You contact me.
  • You tell me what you have written/are writing (nonfiction, fiction/genre).
  • If it is the sort of book I take on (there are things I do not accept), I will have you send me your ms. and I look over it to assess its quality and readiness for editing.
  • If I decide to take it on, we discuss details (timetable, cost, etc.), and if we are in agreement, we set a date to begin.
  • I do a minimum of three full passes—three separate edits—of your book, usually more. But three is my absolute minimum.
  • In between each round of editing, I send the edited version—marked up in Track Changes—back to you so you can accept or reject my suggestions, answer questions, and make any changes or rewrites I have requested. Then you send it back to me for Round Two.
  • While I am editing, I add comments and questions and make changes, and communicate with you—communication is crucial.
  • Once the revised version comes back to me, the second round of editing begins. I usually focus on different aspects of the edit during each round—story arc, voice, consistency—whatever needs work, all the while cleaning up details as I encounter them.
  • We do as many rounds of editing as the book needs, and then we do a “final” (never use that word too confidently, because it is rarely true, at least the first few times you use it) pre-design edit.
  • What happens next depends on whether you are indie- or self-publishing or planning to pursue traditional publishing—whether it goes to a designer or to an agent or publisher at that point.

Editing a book is a collaboration between author and editor—between you and me. I will give you my best advice, help you polish your book until it is as shiny as we can make it and still totally recognizable as your book, and send you on to the next step as prepared as possible. Along the way I will explain what I am doing, answer your questions, listen to your answers and hopes and concerns. I will point out what needs work, correct errors, ask lots of questions, ask you to rewrite portions, delete things, and maybe even write new material.

It is can be difficult to hear that your book, after all the work you’ve done, is not perfect. I am a firm believer in delivering this sometimes-unwelcome news kindly and with compassion. My intent as an editor is to be gently relentless, but never mean. My job is to support, encourage, correct, enlighten, and provide honest feedback--to critique, but not to clobber. And my bottom line is: this is your book. I will try to make it as painless as possible. Everything I do is in the interest of making your book better.

Ready? Let’s get started.

What some of my clients have to say about working with me.

  • Lori works more as a co-collaborator, taking what you have written, and through editing and advice, reveals your greatest potential. —Kelly Nusz, author
  • You can depend on Lori to make your manuscript say what you meant for it to say. —Dale Cramer, author
  • Lori sees the words and the phrases and the sentences, and asks, Is this what you really mean to convey? She will ask it over and over again, until both of you are satisfied that the answer is yes. —Nancy Grant, author
  • Lori gently and kindly told me I needed to write a whole new first chapter, and she was right. —Paul Wesslund, author
  • Lori doesn't edit HER voice into MY work, she just makes MY voice sound the way I want it to.—Lisa Norman, author, publisher (Heart Ally Books)
  • My historical novel Without WarningThe Saga of Gettysburg, A Reluctant Union Hero, and the Men He Inspired was an enormous editing challenge, a huge story that covers 760 pages. Lori edited the manuscript four complete times, with each editing pass focusing on a different aspect of the novel. She spent hours and hours with me ensuring all the timestamps were historically accurate. When we were working together on an editing challenge, she insisted we get it right before moving on to the next editing challenge. —Terry Pierce, author