What a good editor brings to a piece of writing is an objective eye that the writer has long since lost, and there is no end of ways in which an editor can improve a manuscript: pruning, shaping, clarifying, tidying a hundred inconsistencies of tense and pronoun and location and tone. … An editor’s hand must also be invisible.
William Zinsser, On Writing Well
Whether you are finishing an article, a thesis, or a book one thing is certain: you have invested an enormous amount of time, energy, and labor in the project. Your work is important—to your career and the world of ideas—and should be presented as such. A professional editor can give it the polish it needs and the finish it deserves.
I specialize in assisting scholars—from first-year graduate students to seasoned academics—with their writing and research projects. Additionally, I have copyedited and proofread books, journals, and exhibition catalogues for a variety of academic presses and museums, including Eisenbrauns, MIT Press, New York University Press, Pennsylvania State University Press, Purdue University Press, University of Pennsylvania Press, Yale University Press, the George Eastman Museum, and the Speed Art Museum. (Some recent projects are listed below!)
While I have the most experience with Chicago and SBL styles, I have also worked with AP, APA, ASA, Bluebook, and MLA. If your discipline requires a different style, I look forward to mastering it.
Preserving Your Voice
The writer–editor relationship is built on trust, central to which is the expectation that the finished product will remain authentic to the writer’s own voice. As an editor, my job is not to rewrite your work in my own voice but to help the best version of your writing emerge while remaining uniquely yours. If I encounter an issue that may require rewriting, I will let you know so that we can collaborate on a solution.
Written for an audience with specialized technical knowledge and well-developed critical faculties, academic writing demands an especially high standard of precision and often strict conformity to stylistic guidelines. Drawing on my years working in higher education and editing published articles and dissertations, as well as my own graduate study, I know how to help make your academic publications sound professional and authoritative.
Over the years, I have met many brilliant and confident writers who nevertheless fly into a panic when it comes time to format citations and bibliographies. Conveniently, I happen to derive great joy and satisfaction from this meticulous work.
A careful and thoughtful reader, I have a knack for spotting inconsistencies and questionable claims. I am also a patient and resourceful researcher capable of investigating and verifying even the most obscure references. Finally, my years as a graduate student, independent scholar, and copyeditor have provided me with a readily available store of information that helps me identify potentially embarrassing errors that other readers might easily miss.
Non-native English (ESL) Writers
Over the years, I have worked with many clients for whom English is a second (or third or fourth) language. Invariably I have been impressed by their ability to write so fluently and elegantly in English. All writers, whether native English speakers or ESL writers, can benefit from editorial assistance. I have years of experience in identifying and correcting the often subtle errors in word choice and syntax that ESL writers tend to make. These corrections lend their English writing a more natural and idiomatic tone.
Although specialized monographs will sometimes print terms and quotations in non-roman scripts (e.g., Arabic, Chinese, Russian), many publications require that such content be romanized, or rendered into roman characters. I have worked on articles, books, and dissertations that required the romanization of Arabic, Greek, Hebrew, Russian, and Yiddish according to Chicago and ALA-LC standards, as well as a range of ancient Near Eastern languages according to SBL style. I also have experience working with languages that use expanded and diacritic-heavy versions of roman script, including Navajo, Polish, Turkish, and Twi. My affinity for languages and understanding of linguistic concepts has aided such efforts, making it easy for me to recognize other scripts and render them into Roman characters.
Types of Editing
I offer a range of editorial services, from light copyediting of final manuscripts to developmental editing for authors just undertaking a new project. These service types include:
This level of editing is typically sufficient for manuscripts that already have been reviewed and revised by the author, possibly with the assistance of other readers or editors. Depending on the condition of the manuscript, basic copyediting may include: correcting spelling, grammar, punctuation, diction, and syntax; checking for and imposing a consistent style and format; and reading for overall clarity and sense on behalf of the prospective audience. Learn more.
Early drafts and manuscripts that have received minimal review or revision typically contain more errors and inconsistencies and thus require more intensive editing. Heavy copyediting is slower and demands more organization and experience on the part of the copyeditor, hence its higher cost. Learn more.
First drafts and previously unedited manuscripts may require even more comprehensive copyediting. Substantive editing may comprise: identifying and solving problems of overall clarity or accuracy; reorganizing sentences, paragraphs, sections, or chapters to improve the order in which the text is presented; and writing or rewriting segments of text to improve readability and flow of information. Learn more.
While all published writing must be consistent and accurate, these qualities are imperative for nonfiction writing. Inconsistencies and errors in journalism or academic writing undermine the authority of the content, the writer, and the publication. Even more critically, errors may result in charges of irresponsibility, unprofessionalism, libel, or plagiarism. Fact checking is crucial to catching and preventing such problems prior to publication, thus maximizing the authority and the impact of your work. Learn more.
Proofreading consists of comparing one version of a text—often the final layout, or proofs—against a previous draft to ensure that all the edits have been entered properly. It is the crucial final phase in the process leading up to publication. Learn more.
Not sure which type of editing is right for you and your project? I offer complimentary evaluations to help determine what degree of editorial attention your manuscript requires. For more information, click here.
My 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. In all cases, I can tailor my services to your needs and your budget. Payment plans and other arrangements are available for graduate students, small nonprofits, and clients with limited means.
Paolo Cherchi Usai, Spencer Christiano, Catherine A. Surowiec, and Timothy J. Wagner, The Art of Film Projection: A Beginner’s Guide, foreword by Tacita Dean and Christopher Nolan (George Eastman Museum, October 2019)
Cati Coe, The New American Servitude: Political Belonging among African Immigrant Home Care Workers, Anthropologies of American Medicine: Culture, Power, and Practice Series (New York University Press, April 2019)