Nicky Leach, Writer/Editor
Perfecting the Art of the Possible
How I Work
Thank you for your interest in my writing and editing services! Please feel free to contact me. For your information, here is how I typically work:
Subject Matter: Send me a brief letter or e-mail briefly summarizing what your work is about, along with the table of contents and a sample chapter or two. Please wait to hear back from me before sending the whole manuscript. I work exclusively on nonfiction materials and specialize in book-length projects, although I am open to shorter texts.
Schedule: In your inquiry letter, please clearly indicate the total manuscript page and word count. (Note: a double-spaced manuscript page has roughly 250 words per page, and the total can be figured out using Microsoft Word.) Please set up the book as one long document without formatting and with page breaks for chapters, rather than lots of individual files, for ease of editing. Indicate the deadline for completion of the edit, so that I can be clear about the time frame you have in mind for the project and whether I can fit it into my schedule. For book-length projects, it works best if you contact me three to four weeks in advance, preferably longer; smaller projects require less notice, but I would really appreciate adequate notice of the work. From time to time, I have windows in my schedule, where I can accommodate a last-minute larger job, but this is the exception rather than the rule. I give my full attention to each project, and the schedule fills quickly, so setting dates and sticking to them is good for all concerned.
Level/Type of Edit Needed: It is usual to copy-edit or proofread material at the point that it is complete and ready to go into final production for publication. Many books I work on require more than a quick copy edit for spelling and grammar. Be prepared, therefore, to allow time in your schedule for addressing any substantive editing suggestions and queries. These include going through the manuscript line by line and reviewing the edits, as well as possibly reworking the material, which can include reorganizing, cutting or adding material, making adjustments to tone or voice, and other improvements that involve whole-book work.
After we have determined that your project, schedule, and editing requirements seem to be a good fit for me, and you have completed your writing to your satisfaction, I will ask you to e-mail me a few pages. I'll edit a page or two and e-mail it back to you, along with an estimate of how long I think the whole project will take to edit and how much it would cost (usually a range). I can also do a stand-alone review of the entire book and a short sample edit, for which I charge a flat fee for the time involved.
Editing Programs: I work with the Track Changes editing feature in Microsoft Word, which allows you to see edits and accept or reject each one (or accept or reject them all as a whole) and margin comments. It is in your interests to familiarize yourself with the program before working with a professional editor, so that we can work on the same page back and forth with ease. Nowadays, I proofread electronically in Adobe PDF format, using the simple "sticky note" markup system in that program.
A Note About Websites: I am familiar with WordPress, but I prefer to edit website copy when it is still in Word (before it's placed on your site). This is by far the most effective (and least costly) way for me to edit and make suggestions for editorial changes to you.
Cost: Each project is unique, so cost will vary each time. But as a ballpark estimate, I typically work at a speed of 4-6 manuscript pages an hour (1,000 to 1,500 words an hour) for copy editing; 1-2 pages per hour for substantive editing and rewriting; and approximately 10 pages an hour for proofreading.
I charge an industry-standard fee of $30/hour for straightforward copy editing (grammar and punctuation review and little reworking of text) and $40/hour for substantive editing (reworking and reordering text and addressing any issues affecting the book and its execution as a whole); for manuscripts that require a lot of writing on my part, I charge $50/hour. Note: it's rare for manuscripts to require only basic copy editing; the majority of manuscripts need substantive editing and some rewriting, and this is where I can be of greatest assistance. I typically do a very rapid turnaround at a very high level of editing, based on more than three decades of experience. Bottom line: A good editor will save you time and money; I encourage you to discuss your budget with me. Please note: I charge a minimum fee of $150 for editing.
As a guideline for book authors, an average 250-page printed book is typically 60,000-80,000 words in length, and a professional copy edit usually takes about 40-80 hours. It's a substantial but worthwhile investment: Good copy editors bring a great deal of experience, technical skill, and, in my case, a vast amount of life experience and general knowledge of many subjects to the project. You will end up with a polished and professionally executed final publication that will not only make you look good but impress your readers and allow them to focus completely on reading your words - not your mistakes. (Please see testimonials page for feedback about my work.)
I write a variety of materials for clients under contract (also known as writer-for-hire). My particular specialty is interpretive writing, educational publications, essays, and guidebooks on the natural and cultural history of the American West, particularly US national parks. My writing fees are negotiable depending on your publication type, budget, schedule, and how fast the project must be turned around. Per-word rates are typically $1/word for magazine articles and interpretive writing, and a somewhat lower fee for guidebooks and website articles. Please contact me to discuss the project you have in mind.