A briefing on my editing services

The truth is, rough drafts suck.

I don’t just mean the quality of writing produced, no matter if you’re a writer or not. The thought of releasing any of my unpublished raw material to the world throws me into a melodramatic shame vortex.

I also mean the way the rough draft is often approached: as something that inherently sucks to do. Whether you’re a student struggling to fill out an essay’s word count or a journalist clamoring to meet your editor’s deadline, chances are you’ve experienced the headache of writing under pressure. Many of my college peers seemed to dread The Essay, and subsequently, their solution was to put as little time and effort into it as possible while still retaining some academic integrity (not plagiarizing work and securing an acceptable grade). It’s no secret that essays in non-writing based courses represent a marginal grade percentage, and are perhaps the most lamentable portion of standardized tests. The removal of obligatory essays from the SAT this year is evidence enough.

I received my BA in English and writing, and essays had always been my strongest suit throughout my academic career. I genuinely enjoyed setting aside the time to lay out a framework, create a precise thesis, and argue my points home. I also got a kick out of marking up the daily school newspaper, a task most might consider tedious and boring, with my copy edits before it went to print. What a nerd!

Writing with good form takes time and practice, and editing is inextricable from the writing process. But when you (the writer) lack the experience or the extra hours, that’s where I (the editor) can come in.

So, how can I help you?

  • Line edits: Basic, sentence-level copy editing, usually for articles or other brief clips. I’ll mark up the document with my commentary, as well as spelling, grammar, and sentence changes or variations according to AP or your preferred style.
  • Full revision: For larger documents, I’ll do two separate levels of editing: one for content (identifying problems), and another for structure (enacting solutions).
  • Tutoring: I also offer personal and confidential writing tutoring, working closely to fine-tune your writing until it sings. We’ll deconstruct and hammer out your work, and discuss how changes to the writing can help you improve as a writer.
  • In any case: I will deliver work in a timely manner. Contact me in reasonable advance with your deadline, and I’ll get it done.

What won’t I do?

  • Skim your writing and hand it back to you. Never. Your value to me as a client is worth more than your money. Don’t assume that because you cringe at your writing, I’ll deem it a lost cause. My belief is that every rough concept can become polished with proper editing.
  • Be biased or unbalanced. It’s important to me to provide honest opinions, give you food for thought, and keep your creative vision intact. My focus is on the bigger picture rather than trivial issues. My goal is to come to each project with a fresh perspective, offering both support and critique when necessary.
  • Just do all the writing. Unless you want to legitimately hire me as a ghost writer, I won’t write an entire piece with someone else’s name slapped on it. It’s against my code of ethics.

What are my rates?

That depends. Because I’m still establishing a professional portfolio, my typical rate is competitive at $2 per page. By the hour, my rates are negotiable. Here is a flexible list of editorial rates from the Editorial Freelancers Association. Note:

These should be used only as a rough guideline; rates vary considerably depending on the nature of the work, the time frame of the assignment, the degree of special expertise required, and other factors. The industry standard for a manuscript page, however, is a firm 250 words.

In many ways, I’m still learning my craft along with you. If it’s a short project, I’ll be glad to help you for a testimonial. If the piece you need edited is longer than ~20 pages — a manuscript, dissertation, etc. — my tendency is to forgo a strict negotiation of payment until after I’ve finished my work, for several reasons. Because it’s a long draft, it will be hard telling how long it will take me to finish a thorough overhaul. Manuscripts especially need at least two read-throughs if I’m doing a complete revision of the story (including structure and characterization) and line edits. I want to be sure you’re absolutely satisfied with my constructive criticism of the project, so it’s better to have a fluid idea of payment, leaving it to your discretion once you’ve seen my work.

For my resume and work samples or more information, go to my Editing Services and Qualifications pages above, or contact me at marissabyfield@gmail.com.

Remember: When you have the tools to write well, your writing reads well, and that makes a big difference.

*Note: This post refers to interested clients only. If we’re beta readers or critique partners, obviously no charge is involved!

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