You Are the Writer
First and foremost, I am the editor, not the writer. My goal while editing is not to rewrite your work into something I would write. Instead, I aim for a cleaner version of what you’ve written–the best version of itself, not my version.
Frequency of Changes
I don’t make changes just to make changes. If a few paragraphs or a page or two have gone by with very few corrections, that means one of two things: I am tired and need to take a break (which I do, coming back to reread those pages afterwards) or those sections didn’t need corrections. I don’t feel like changes have to happen in every sentence for me to “prove” I’m doing my job. I’m carefully considering every sentence (in fact, sometimes the ones without changes take me longer to consider as I make absolutely sure no change is needed).
Changes in Dialogue
I usually don’t change much within dialogue. Because it’s someone speaking, perfect English (which most of us don’t speak) doesn’t need to happen. Changes within dialogue are usually related to punctuation, although if clarity and readability are issues, I may suggest other changes in dialogue.
Rules of Grammar
I have a solid background in grammar. I know the rules. I understand the rules. I also know how and when to break them. I’m not going to be pedantic and insist on a change just for the sake of correctness if it is going to cause a problem with readability. Fiction is flexible–sometimes sentence fragments are useful, for example.
Editing for the Sake of the Reader
I’ve been a reader longer than I’ve been an editor. I was that child (and adult!) who much preferred to curl up with a good book than to play outside. I love getting lost in a book. So when an error pops up on a page (especially multiple errors), I’m taken out of the story. It’s not a good experience. So as much as I edit because I want you, the writer, to look good, I also edit because I want to help the reader be able to stay lost in your book.
Copy Editor, Not Developmental Editor
As a copy editor, I am focused on the details of the story–the sentence-level concerns. Although I do check for consistency (making sure Sally doesn’t suddenly change eye color, for example), I don’t make global comments about your book. I’m not going to give you a list of plot problems or places where characters/scenes should be more developed. That’s the job of a developmental editor (and something that should be done before sending the manuscript to me). If there’s something that really jumps out at me, I sometimes make a comment about it, but I’m not reading your book at that level. If that’s the kind of feedback you are looking for, please work with a developmental editor first. Then come back and let me clean things up at the sentence level.
Damn Fine Fiction
Finally, I love my job. I love working with indie authors. I love watching you grow and watching your success. I’m sad when success doesn’t happen right away but cheer you on and hope it will find you and your books. There’s some damn fine fiction being written these days by indie authors, and I’m proud to be part of that in some small way.