The Editing Process: Addenda 3: Editing Contracts

The Editing Process: Addenda 3: Editing Contracts
By Norma J Hill (aka Pen and Paper Mama) © 2021

In our previous series for writers, we discussed and provided worksheets for “Self Exploration For Writers,” “Your Writing Life,” “Author Considerations Beyond Just Writing,”  “Planning Your Writing,” “Editing Levels,” “Self-Editing and “Time for an Editor”.  In this new series, “The Editing Process: Addenda,” we will explore:

  1. Sample Edits
  2. Editing and Publishing Timeline
  3. Editing Contracts

At the end of each post in the series, there is a link to a downloadable and printable PDF copy on which you can write your thoughts. Put them in a binder or Duotang-type report folder (you can continue to add to your binder from the previous series). Then, periodically along your writing journey, return to your answers, read what you noted previously, and add new thoughts and experiences. Through this process, you’ll end up with a wonderful record of your writer’s journey.

Editing Contracts

What Is In an Editing Contract?  

Usually, the editor and writer work together to create a contract they both agree on (starting with a standard editing contract template). An editorial contract may have points a writer might not have thought of, but which will protect both persons. These may include:  

– the editing levels and other details of the process, including self-editing, help from critique partners, an estimate of the number of drafts, etc.
– the manuscript formatting the writer is to use and how the manuscript will be submitted to the editor
– how the edited manuscript is to be returned to the writer (e.g. email, snail mail, courier, on an e-memory device)
– the editing method to be used—for example, Microsoft Word with Track Changes and margin comments (or other editing software), or the manuscript printed out and standard editing marks and comments used
– a projected time schedule, including the editor’s work (possibly with multiple levels and drafts) and the writer’s self-editing after each editor’s draft
– cost estimates, usually including a range and sometimes with a “cap” price; the way cost is determined (by the page, word, hour, or flat fee); and what will happen if unexpected costs arise
– how administrative costs will be handled, including postage, long-distance phone calls, extra tutoring or coaching the writer asks the editor to provide, and so on
– how editing payments will be made (e.g. cash, cheque, e-transfer, PayPal) and at what stages in the editing process (perhaps a down-payment, followed by payments at various points in the editing process, with final payment due within a set time period)
– if the writer wants to credit the editor, how that will be done and where it will appear in the book; also, the editor’s right to decline editorial credit; and permission (or not) for the editor to add the writer’s work to the editor’s published list of completed projects
– indemnity issues—which usually indicate that while the editor will do his or her best to ensure an excellent editing job, the final responsibility for the content of the manuscript, including the text itself and any alleged libel or copyright infringements, lies with the client
– laws (for example, by the province or state of the writer and/or editor) by which the terms of the contract agreement will be interpreted
– an appendix with definitions of terms used in the contract (such as editing level terms and legal terminology)
– a process for the author or editor to pull out of the agreement if major disagreements occur, or unforeseen situations occur. This includes payment up to the point at which the agreement is cancelled, including all completed editing, and how much warning time is required to cancel.
If you have multiple editors and/or other professional helpers:  

If you have different editors do various levels of editing for you, and if other professionals such as designers are involved, it is an excellent idea to share contract information from each professional, so everyone understands what the others are doing, and everyone has a picture of the writer’s overall process.  
Note on unexpected costs and other problems:  

Book writing, editing, and publishing is, in my experience, like renovating a house. Estimate your time and costs and then add about 30% to your estimates for both. You may end up with the original amounts, or even less, but by recognizing things sometimes go awry, you will be prepared if unexpected situations develop. Pay close attention to the steps in the editing process, and if any concerns arise, bring them immediately to the editor’s attention and try to resolve them together. If you can’t, either terminate the project according to the terms of the contract or ask to temporarily pause the project until a way can be found to sort out the problems.