There are a variety of different types of editing, some of which overlap. I do line editing, language editing, substantive editing, and developmental editing. While there is some overlap between what I do and what a copyeditor does, I do not usually do copyediting.
I look at the document as a whole and consider organization, style, register, and tone. When appropriate, I may discuss goals and audience with the writer; if the text is an academic book or article, this will be obvious from the start. Sometimes, I coach the author along. I may reorganize parts of the text, rewrite sections, and change words to ensure appropriate tone or register. I may also flag sections for the author to rewrite, or request more detail or precision. I go over the flow of every sentence and paragraph. I make sure there are appropriate transitions between paragraphs and sections as well as between sentences. I provide alternative phrasing to help the author avoid language that would be perceived as sexist or as disrespectful to the subject or to a writer with an opposing view. I remove redundancies, fix grammatical and syntactical errors, change passive constructions to active ones, eliminate unnecessary details and add necessary ones. When in doubt, I flag questions for the author. I sometimes offer two or three possible rewrites when the meaning of a sentence is unclear. Through all of this, I try to maintain the author’s voice throughout the text.
I generally work in multiple passes. The first pass is at the macro-level and focuses more on developmental issues of organization and flow for the work as a whole. If reorganization is warranted, I do it at this stage. The second pass hones in on each sentence. I always try to wait a few days before doing the final pass, as it requires me to cast a fresh glance over the manuscript, and by that point I generally need to distance myself from the text in order to see it this way. The final pass checks for anything I may have missed. I will not obsess over hyphens versus N-dashes or American vs. British spelling; that is the job of a copy editor. If I notice inconsistencies I may correct or flag them, but this is not my primary editorial focus. I will, of course, correct typos as I see them throughout the editorial process, but some will always slip through and the author should do a final proofreading pass.
I work with both native speakers of English and non-native speakers. Native speakers still need editors! Even professional writers benefit from collaboration with a professional editor. When working with a non-native speaker, I may communicate in either English or the language of the writer; I am a near-native speaker of Russian, and I have a decent command of Hebrew and French; I can also understand writing in a few other languages. If the text is a translation, I may request a copy of the original.
Do you have questions about how I can work with you, or are you ready to start? Please get in touch: