copy editor

‘You made it all completely painless and improved the book no end while you were at it’ – Damien Owens

Good editing will make your work better and more saleable, and make you look more professional. I can do that for you – and I’m easy to work with, as my testimonials below demonstrate!

I’m a very experienced editor, providing copy editing services to self-publishing authors and to traditional publishing companies, including Unbound, the Bodleian Library, SRA Books, Hawker Publications and more. I’m a Professional-level member of the Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP).  I have been the editor of several magazines over the last 25 years, as well as a freelance sub-editor on many others. I have been the editor of Discover Your Ancestors magazine since 2011. Unusually for an editor, I’m also a typesetter – this means I can bring form and content together, and help you get your book into whatever format is needed for publication.

This page will help you decide whether I am the right fit for you and your book.

Click here if you’d like to hire me.

What is copy editing?

There are many different definitions of the various types of editing: for more information, see my ‘Guide to the types of editing’. But in brief, copy editing focuses on:

  • Style: helping the author to express their story or their ideas clearly and engagingly
  • Accuracy: ensuring the text is grammatically correct, properly punctuated – and that the facts in it are accurate
  • Consistency: making sure there is consistency of tone, point of view or argument; and of technical issues such as when phrases are hyphenated, capitalised and so on.

Your book is unique

Although a lot of copy editing work is about ensuring the text meets common standards, it is also about understanding the individual needs of the author and the specific nature of the book. Every book is different, and every author has their own route to the marketplace. The level of editing required is affected by the context: an informal self-help book, a business guide, an academic monograph, a young adult thriller, a detective story, a literary novel all require different approaches. A good editor will know when a light touch is needed as much as an in-depth intervention – and will collaborate closely with the author to establish which is called for.

Specialist or generalist?

There are different views on whether editors should be specialists or generalists, and again it depends on what the author and what the book require. Personally, I have edited books of many kinds, fiction and non-fiction alike, and I am by instinct a generalist. But of course there are some types of writing I am more familiar with than others. I’m not an academic or educational editor, for example; nor do I edit poetry or children’s books. I tend to work on books for a general readership (including ‘popular academic’ ones). Here are some reasons why you might hire me in particular:

  • As a specialist: I am the editor of a British social history magazine, so have a great interest in and experience of both historical fiction and history-related non-fiction. I have also edited numerous books about social care, health-related matters and self-help or self-improvement, approaching these topics with sympathy and care. And as a reader, I particularly enjoy mystery and thriller fiction, so those are also genres I bring familiarity to.
  • As a typesetter: another thing that distinguishes me from many editors is that I have many years’ experience of typesetting, so I can format your book as well as edit it, if required.
  • As a generalist: I am interested in many different subjects and, as a keen pub quiz enthusiast, I bring a strong general knowledge to bear on what I read and edit. (For example, when editing a novel set in the 17th century recently, I knew enough about architecture of the period to sense that a description of a building’s ceiling construction was incorrect.) And I actively enjoy fact-checking as there’s always something new to learn. Plus, sometimes, even if your book is on a specialist topic, you want to know that it is clear and accessible to a general reader. As one of those myself, I can alert you if something doesn’t seem clear, from the perspective of your intended audience.

What my clients say

I have had many lovely testimonials from my clients. Looking through them, I think that two key themes emerge:

I’m easy to work with

  • ‘I’ve really enjoyed the editing process!’ – Amy Lord
  • ‘It has been a fun process, as well as educational’ – Andrew Grumbridge & Vince Raison
  • ‘I’ve really enjoyed the editorial process’ – Daniel Piper
  • ‘It’s been a pleasure working with you. Thanks for the notes, which are a lot of fun. Thank you, for a thorough and entertaining job’ – David Quantick
  • ‘Thank you so much for boosting my confidence’ – Elfan Jones
  • ‘Andrew Chapman… helped me find overdrive’ – Hilary Gallo
  • ‘I’ve found you both fun and reassuring to work with’ – Sue Richardson (SRA Books)
  • ‘You are a joy to deal with. Thank you!’ – Alison Swift (Max Press)
  • ‘Thanks for your positive approach!’ – Richard Hawkins (Hawker Publications)

I’m thorough and diligent

  • ‘Thanks so much for your diligence and creativity. I’ve taken a look through your summary of the editorial points, and they are an absolute treasury! Great to have someone with your interest and passion involved’ – Jake Lynch
  • ‘I’m blown away by your feedback. You’ve pinpointed the MS’s weaknesses with surgical precision and I’ve already learned heaps! As a debut novelist I can’t ask for more.’ – James Vella-Bardon
  • ‘Thank you for your very perceptive comments, and for spotting some real clangers’ – Julie Anne Lambert
  • ‘Lovely to see the book look immediately more professional and to spot my own bad habits!’ – Daniel Piper
  • ‘I commend you on your incredible attention to detail!’ – Michael Ritchie
  • ‘Andrew has been brilliant and my book is now in much better shape than it was’ – Robin Hanbury-Tenison
  • ‘You were brilliant’ – Trevor Eve
  • ‘I can’t thank you enough. Your suggestions are indeed very helpful and it’s always good to get another perspective, as I’ve been living and breathing it for a couple of years!’ – Sheila Lamb
  • ‘Thanks for a very thorough job’ – Andrew Gant

Click here if you’d like to hire me.