Hi. I'm Steve Viau, and I have a very pointed view.
I am a believer in social justice playing a more dominant role in how we approach improving our day-to-day lives. This could mean helping people less fortunate than ourselves, working toward a new, more inclusive, educational-system paradigm, or recognizing that our system of government is broken and needs to be changed. And I've always been a proponent of the "words matter" philosophy. What better way to be part of shaping the change I want to see in the world than helping shape the words that can do it.
This means that I understand that your words matter to you, and you want them handled with care. Bringing your manuscript to fruition was a labour of love, so now you would love nothing more than to see it published as soon as possible. This is where I look forward to helping; after all, every writer needs an editor—let's be honest, even editors need editors!
Author Toni Morrison says: "Good editors are really the third eye . . . Sometimes it's uncanny; the editor puts his or her finger on exactly the place the writer knows is weak . . . But within the relationship, if there is some trust, some willingness to listen, remarkable things can happen." This hit the proverbial nail on the head for me. When working with an author, if I can put forth ideas and suggestions that resonate, if I can help shape the text while staying true to the intent, message, and voice, then I consider it a successful collaboration.
My role here is to work with an author to build the framework and goals for the project, even from the outset while still in a conceptual stage. Together we ensure that the content is presented in the best way possible, from the vocabulary to style and structure. Clear, coherent writing is the desired outcome.
This the stage where I help an author correct problems of grammar, style, repetition, word usage, and jargon. It is an iterative process that relies on my having an understanding of why the author has chosen to phrase things a certain way or use a specific vocabulary. The goal is to improve the flow for the reader.
The final editing stage—and the area where the lightest touch is applied—is proofreading. This is where I help an author by fixing errors such as improper or missing punctuation, spelling errors, incorrect word choices, verb tenses, and more. My intent is that the reader not get distracted by simple mistakes.
When doing substantive editing I consider the book's content, organization, and intended audience. This level or type of editing is almost entirely analysis-based, from the top down at the document level to the paragraph, sentence, and even word level.
Working together, the author and I strive to have a logical flow to the ideas and concepts being presented. It is possible that during this stage of editing there would be significant rewriting or restructuring of the text, ensuring that key ideas aren't missed or inadequately presented.
When copy editing a manuscript I am focused on the middle ground. By this I mean I'm not editing in way that impacts the general content the way that substantive editing does, but sentence-level rewrites often occur to improve clarity. In this stage of editing it is also about ensuring accuracy of information.
I look for continuity errors and issues of consistency, be that in hyphenation, vocabulary, or the content in general, and of course there is also the more obvious elements of what people perceive a copy editor as doing: checking for grammar, spelling, style, and punctuation.
This stage of editing occurs when the manuscript is essentially a finished product. It is done on a document that has been laid out / designed and part of my edits are looking for typographical errors, inconsistent spacing between words, and formatting errors.
There is a cross-over with the copy editing process, in that I still look for issues such as spelling, punctuation, and capitalization, but at this stage they should almost all have been caught. The goal here is to polish the book before it gets printed.