Tag Archives: Peerwith

How do I perform a structural edit?

This post was written for the Peerwith blog in the context of the company launching its new book editing service and was published there first.

A client of mine wrote a book proposal based on her dissertation, sent it to a publisher, and was invited to submit the manuscript for a round of peer review. She contacted me after she had gotten the book back with comments and asked me to help her restructure it based on the feedback the peer reviewers had provided.

I took the manuscript and comments, read it thoroughly while taking notes, and designed three options for a new outline and structure for the book, also noting which parts I thought could be deleted. All three options were based on a different type of structure with a different story/argument buildup. After my client picked her preferred option, I got to work restructuring the book, moving parts around, deleting other parts, and creating six new chapters. She then took it from me, edited it, and sent it back to me for a last pass. The book has now been published!

This kind of editing is what I call structural editing. Structural editing is the most rewarding but also most taxing form of editing. When writers come to me because they need help developing their argument, untangle their main points, restructure their book or article, or anything else that involves the content of their work, I always know that I’m in for a lot of work. In order to do a structural edit well, I have to know what the author is trying to argue. I have to immerse myself in their writing and their thought process.

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I got interviewed by Peerwith!

The academic services portal Peerwith has interviewed me about what it is like working for them. You can find the interview here. Some quotes:

“My work for Peerwith, which consists mostly of language editing, is now part of my business as a self-employed researcher, writer and editor, based in The Netherlands. I love my work and have not regretted my decision to leave academia, not even for one second! And in a sense, I have not left academia, because I am working with academic texts on a daily basis and I still write and publish my own journal articles.”

“Is there anything you want to say to people who are hesitant about getting support, or advice to people who are considering using the Peerwith Platform?

I would of course say go for it! A second pair of eyes makes everyone’s work better, my own included. There is no such thing as an embarrassing paper; almost everyone’s first draft looks bad. Editors want to help you, and I really enjoy improving others’ work. So go ahead and post your request; I’m sure someone will be able to help you!”