Transparency and Accountability. Built-In.

As a small business that emphasizes ethics, our goal is to be as transparent as possible, the only exception being when it comes to data involving individual customers. In light of this, we’ve decided to post our standard contract online and provide a guide highlighting portions over the course of a few blog posts.  First up today is the editing contract. 


The Editor agrees to perform the following on the piece <work title>.

a. Proofreading for grammar, usage, spelling, punctuation.

b. Stylistic editing (clarifying meaning, eliminating jargon, polishing language; line-by-line editing for smoothness and clarity while maintaining author’s voice and style).

c. Developmental editing: critique and feedback via comments using Google Drive features for tracking changes.

Editor agrees to set up a shared file location and make access available to the Author via Author’s Gmail account.  If Author does not possess a Gmail account or experience with the Google Workplace platform, Editor can provide assistance in Gmail setup, configuration, and/or operations for an hourly fee of $25.00, not to exceed 5 hours.  This fee can be waived at the Editor’s discretion.    

These services include two editing passes: the Author and the Editor will work from a single copy of the manuscript in a shared location, using a document format that is compatible with Google Drive.  For ease of editing and/or review, any manuscript over 5000 words in length will be split into multiple documents prior to the start of editing. Only one copy of each document will  be available at the shared location, hereafter referred to as the ‘canonical document.’  The editor will edit/review the canonical document  and alert the author via email or other mutually agreed upon electronic communication that the canonical document is ready for Author review.   Author will either accept or reject changes and answer any of the Editor’s queries, and then notify the Editor via email or other mutually agreed upon electronic communication of their decisions. The Editor will incorporate the agreed upon changes or corrections into the manuscript and clean the copy of editorial markings.  A second pass using the same process outlined here will take place.  No copies other than the canonical document will be considered for editing or critique by the Editor.  

Here we set up the parameters of the editing process. Based on discussions between the author and editor, either a, b, or c above is chosen for the contract. For prices, see our pricing sheet here. Then, we get into the nitty gritty of the editing process. Spelling it out in the contract prevents any surprises. We use Google Workplace as the cornerstone of our process. We’ve collaborated with authors in both Microsoft Word and Google Docs formats using this method. 


Contingent upon immediate signing of this contract and receipt of payment, the edit/critique of the manuscript or first canonical document is to be delivered to the Author by the Editor on or before <due_date>. If the manuscript has been split into several documents, the edit/critique of each subsequent canonical document is to be delivered to the Author every 5000 words edited and/or at agreed-upon intervals of time not to exceed five business days.

The first question we often hear from prospective authors is: “How often do you communicate with the author?” We build the maximum time between contact right into the contract—you will receive feedback at least every five days and often much sooner than that.

Skipping the payment paragraph, which just details the charge per word dependent upon the type of editing chosen for the manuscript and methods by which we accept payment, let’s move on to confidentiality: 


Editor agrees not to reproduce, grant, or show to any party any material sent to them by the Author for editing purposes, unless consulting services from a third party are mutually agreed upon.

Short but sweet—no one gets to see the manuscript, unless they have a reason (e.g. book cover design), and then only with the author’s permission. The expenses and limitations paragraphs are straightforward, clearly showing that any expenses beyond the cost of editing are agreed upon beforehand, and that the author retains all rights unless there is a further agreement for publication.

Wrapping up the editing portion, here is the termination paragraph:


Once the project is in process either party may terminate this Agreement in the event of material change of circumstance. As soon as notice is given, work will halt on the project. If the Editor terminates the agreement, Author will pay the Editor for work completed up to the date of termination, and Editor will refund overpayment. If the Author terminates the agreement, the Author will pay the Editor for the work completed up to the date of termination.

Notice can be done via email or by other written correspondence.  

Since our start in May 2019, we’ve found our best marketing tool to be word-of-mouth. As a fellow small business owner said to me recently, “It’s not just you I have to please, but also the person who recommended me to you.” To sustain our company, we treat every encounter with authors, clients, and readers as the start of a long-term relationship. 

Please share any thoughts you might have about this post and about our contract. We offer a combined editing/publishing contract and both types separately as well. Next post will be about the publishing portion of our contract.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *