In the not-so-distant past, book, news, and magazine publishing were the only places where editors found work. Exceptional ones sometimes moonlighted as writing professors in schools. Today, a large number of editors are free agents, have their own companies, and doing what they love most: editorial services.
Because of advances in communications, the Internet, and the explosion of devices for communications, the need for the written word (and the people who wrote them) have gone up to unexpected heights.
With writers furiously producing their written work, there also came about the increase in number of practitioners of an adjunct support industry: the editorial services.
What are editorial services companies? What exactly do they do? What are their services?
Editors and their services
Editorial service companies are free-lance editors and writers. They formed their own companies to do editing jobs on a per piece or project basis. (They were under payroll of publishing houses before.)
Today, writers go directly to these editorial service companies to polish their work. One of these is manuscript assessment. Things are discussed thoroughly, including such details as grammar, syntax, flow, style and overall structure.
In works of fiction, there is a review of plot structure, dialogues and characterizations.
Sometimes, enterprising people who have book ideas but are completely clueless come over and work them out. Sometimes, executives have lofty goals to update their company image with nothing but old marketing materials.
The services rendered are more than just editing. They sometimes include supervision of the whole project from concept to products. Ideas are polished, adding inputs from consultants, designers, and experts. Sometimes they include schedules and budget estimates.
Structural editing is actually arranging the logic and flow of the manuscript's content. This makes the document clear, concise, and easy to read.
Structural editing ensures the issues are clear. For fiction, plots move in compelling ways and information are presented accurately in non-fiction materials.
Every writer has a unique voice. The editor enhances this uniqueness. He will help the writer clarify meanings, smooth the language and polish his own personal style.
In non-fiction projects, markets are analyzed to ensure the writer's message is delivered. In fiction, this includes checking (and subsequent correction) of the reading levels.
This is the most common editing work availed of. This is where grammar, spelling, punctuation and other stylistic mechanics are done.
Critical points like consistency and facts are checked here. Lately, this includes design elements work as well – artwork placements, captions, cover copy, front and cover matters, and spot-checking.
This is usually mistaken for copy editing. Proofing is done after the page proofs are finished. While there may be left-over copy errors, proofreading focuses on other elements – design, headers, page numbering, line and page breaks, references and many others.
Does the piece have problems with logic, clarity or style? Are dialogues stilted, wooden? Are facts scanty? There might be a need for a rewrite with additional research and more original materials.
Indexing, fact-checking, references
Additional work like indexing, fact-checking and more references are also serviced if there are needs for them.
All these services are done by free lance editorial services companies that are all over now. The fees may be uneven (free enterprise at work here) but their work had been good to excellent on the average.