What is the editing time line for a book? Once the editor gets the book, how long before it is polished?
No one can give you a definitive answer to that question. Here are some factors to consider.
If there is little need for rewriting, you will be in publication much faster than if there are major revisions.
Beware editing services that give you a price before seeing your book. No one works for free. If your book really needs a great deal of work and the editor has quoted you a one-time low price, at some point he will have to stop working on your book and move on to another paying client. How polished will your book be at that point? You may have a short editing time line, but a weak book.
An exception would be a copy edit, which is often quoted per word. This does not make your writing powerful, only correct. If it is important, ask about the copy editing time line before you sign a contract. The time line should usually be relatively short.
Editors can work on more than one project at a time because there can be many exchanges between the writer and the editor. While one writer is revising, the editor can be commenting on another manuscript. But everyone has a limit. If time is an issue for you, ask the editor about the time line before you sign a contract.
The editor is not the only one with control over the time line. If an editor returns a manuscript and asks for a rewrite, it will be up to you when you begin the next round of revisions.
Some material falls easily into an outline. Other material needs more thought. Some problems take more time to solve than others.
By nature, some people solve problems in flashes of insight while others need to move carefully step by step. Neither type of personality is better or faster. This is just a factor that may have an impact on a particular project. If the flash of insight comes earlier on, an intuitive editor will be faster. If the flash doesn't come as quickly, the step by step editor will be faster.
Every time a person solves a problem, that solution becomes a basis for other solutions. The more material an editor works on, the more easily she will be able to make suggestions on new material.
I always begin with a sample edit. Once the writer has the sample there is a choice of what level of editing to use and how much work to do before submitting the final draft for editing. At that point, I set a time line with the writer. In the case of rush jobs, I offer the services of other editors that I ultimately check. There is an additional fee for the rush jobs.
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