Over 3.5 Million Words Served


Over 3.5 Million Words Served

The other day I summed the word counts on my books-edited spreadsheet and saw that in the last two years I’ve edited over 3.5 million words.

That’s a big number, the kind of number that’s impossible to fully imagine. Most of the books I copy edit or proofread range from 70,000 to 100,000 words, so the number starts to come into focus when you realize that editing ten 100,000-word books will get you to your first million.

Before I devoted myself full-time to Castle Walls Editing around two years ago, I’d worked for nearly fifteen years as an editor for Recorded Books. During that time I ran Castle Walls on the side, doing occasion freelance work, so I’d have to do some digging to attempt a guess at a lifetime number for words edited.

A word, however, is not a word is not a word is not a word. By that I mean that, while most editors base estimates for jobs partially on word count (noting that the number of pages is not a reliable indicator of word count because of variations in font, margins, and line spacing), word count alone will not let you estimate how long a job will take.

With new authors, editors need to see a sample of the work to determine the level of editing required. An author might ask for a simple “last check” proofread but need a developmental edit.

Or a job might be riddled with typos and punctuation errors or tangled grammar. Or require fact-checking. Or have time-consuming notes and reference lists. Or be remarkably clean.

But whatever the case, if the level of edit does not match what’s needed, neither the editor nor the author is well served. As with anything in life, a calm assessment of the work ahead is a good first step for ensuring everyone is happy. 


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