Don’t send a first draft
This seems obvious but it does happen. If editors have to wade through multiple spelling errors, missing commas and numerous typos, it slows them down. Worse – they might misinterpret what you are trying to say. Yes, it’s their job to find such errors, but help them out by providing them with a clean(ish) MS. It helps to read your work out loud – especially when it comes to those pesky commas that can alter your meaning if they are placed incorrectly.
Don’t forget to number your pages if submitting in hard copy
Imagine returning to your desk to find a 300-page manuscript scattered across the floor from a lone puff of wind. You scrabble around, collecting the errant pages to discover said pages haven’t been paginated. Precious time is wasted trying to work out their order. If there’s one word of advice to keep your editor happy, it’s paginate!
Paragraph confusion and line spacing
Please indent paragraphs. That way your editor knows for sure where you want new paragraphs to start. If your editor has to guess where you intended your paragraphs to start, it wastes your editor’s time and your money. Remember to set your document to double spacing too. This practice is most important for hard copy editing, so the editor has room to write between the lines.
Microsoft Word Track Changes
Some editors still edit on hard copy but the trend is to edit in digital format and the tool of preference is Word with its Track Changes feature. Become familiar with this feature as it saves time and money, as well as trees.
Editing takes time – especially fiction editing. Be realistic about timeframe when asking for editing and/or proofreading. They are tasks that require high levels of concentration and if editors don’t take regular breaks, they might miss something important. It always takes longer to edit a book thoroughly than you think. Ask your editor how much time should be allocated to the editing process.