In an academic context copyediting typically consists of ensuring that the text supplied by the author or contributors conform to the press’s Style Sheet. Much of the work consists of checking the presentation of citations, in notes or bibliographies, setting the structure of the work with tags to indicate to typesetters elements such as headings and subheadings, quotations, and suchlike, all of which will take different design elements. The second most important part of a copyeditor’s duties revolves around stylistic aspects specified in the style guide—punctuation, spelling, and capitalization; numerals and dates; abbreviations; the use of italics, bold, and the presentation of quotations.
Many scholars actively resist other interventions in the text that they have provided. For this reason, most copyeditors may limit themselves to occasional remarks or queries, if a sentence is not clear, and these interventions are commonly visible by “track change” functions in the word-processing package, or by marginal comments.
While the level of copyediting supplied is under pressure in many presses, Arc employs specialists to do copyediting, under the direction of our Production Manager. The same holds for typesetting, and for the overall design of Arc’s books and covers, which follow a set style.
Unlike copyediting, developmental editing is an intrusive activity that will greatly change the entire text of the work. This can be appropriate and requested by authors, or insisted upon by peer-reviewers, series editors, or the press in several cases:
- an author, editor, or contributor may not be a native English speaker. In many cases they may have sought funds to get a translation from their original language into English, but the level is still not of publishable standard in an English-speaking environment and both author and press run the risk of adverse comment by reviewers.
- an author or editor may be under severe work or time pressure and requires additional assistance. In some countries, scholars are able to use doctoral candidates or other researchers to assist them, but that is a rarity. It may be that the author or editor needs particular help in ensuring that contributions to a thematic collection, say, are all brought into the same style for citations (footnotes and bibliography), or assistance in checking the syntax, punctuation, and logical argumentation of one or more articles or chapters.
In these and similar cases, Arc is able to suggest “developmental editors” to work for the scholar in question. Since this work is exceptional it cannot be funded within the usual budgets available for publishing a book. Therefore, the author will need to find resources to pay the editor in question. Normally this is a direct engagement between the scholar and the developmental editor and the press is not a party to the arrangement. Scholars should be aware that this engagement is a form of contract, so they are advised to make very clear what is required, the deadlines, the fees payable, and so on. Equally, it is reasonable for the editors to be paid part of the fee up-front, since they are typically freelancers and there are occasions when they have not been paid. A sensible arrangement might be half the fee at the start of the job and the remainder on completion.
The amount of developmental editing required for a book or article clearly depends on the task description. The editor will need to assess the text as it stands and be told clearly what they are being asked to achieve. As a rule of thumb, it may take one hour’s work for a highly experienced developmental editor to edit 1000 words. So, a book of 100,000 words may take one hundred hours’ work.
Since developmental editors are often scholars in their own right, with a lot of experience and knowledge of the material, the fees payable may be $35 or $40 or $45 per thousand words. Taking the example of a book of 100,000 words, the fee could then be $3500 or $4000 or $4500.
Concessionary rates may be applicable to scholars from countries where higher education funding is significantly lower than the norm in the West or where the scholar is in an institution where research resources do not exist.