"Your changes really make the writing sparkle--making it more like music--taking it up another octave." Alex Jack, accomplished author and ghostwriter of The Mozart Effect

"Janet Benton has been a most efficient and rigorous copyeditor. Her dedication to precision and clarity has been pleasantly balanced by her willingness to adapt to occasional peculiarities of my style. I have learned much from her and appreciate her skill and patience, with thanks." Gerda Lerner, women's history pioneer, on her autobiography Fireweed

EDITING

I have sharpened thousands of book manuscripts and other texts, written style sheets to guide communications, and helped enrich and clarify clients' sense of purpose.

When the words in a text aren't skillfully honed, or when the larger structure of the work isn't organized rationally or paced well, readers become fuzzy headed, often without realizing why. Instead of pushing on, they stop reading or listening, and the text fails to achieve its purpose. I aim to give every work a natural force that compels attention and achieves its intended impact.

Multiple authors and jargon can also get in the way of effectiveness. Large groups tend to involve multiple authors in single works, which sometimes leads to weaker writing; they may also use in-house phrases that don't resonate in the wider world. And a gulf sometimes grows between graphic elements and text that only increases an audience's confusion. To help groups reach and motivate their audiences, I work to make their written language and their graphics function smoothly together to create an accessible, informative, and appealing message.

When I edit a client’s work, my job is to take turns being dense and clever. I make sure that everything is clearly stated, that the language use makes sense, that the words really communicate. I remain alert to the possibility of confusion rather than giving the text the benefit of the doubt. I don’t help the text tell me what it means, at first—I see if it does. Then I become clever, figuring out how to make the text say what it needs to say, clearly, vividly, and succinctly.

Texts that contain supporting data require a particular focus on clarity. Are statistics being cited clearly and accurately? Are charts clear? Are they consistent with material in the text? Does the table of contents match the document in structure and in wording? Does it offer the best way to organize the document, or might some reorganization help? By making sure the parts match, make sense, and are consistent, I help ensure that an audience gains the intended meanings instead of turning away.

In addition to enhancing clarity, I improve style and fix errors. I have over thirty years’ experience at editing and copyediting books, magazines, newspapers, newsletters, annual reports, journals, and more and have taught grammar, copyediting, and writing for many years, so clients can be confident that my work is highly accurate. I aim not only to fix and improve but also to guide editors and authors in ways that increase their skills for projects to come.

In addition, I supply ideas that improve the overall approach and manage projects, moving them in a disciplined way from start to finish. For recent projects, see "About Janet" tab to right. A small sampling of books edited can be seen under the "Books Edited" tab.

FROM UNIVERSITY PRESS EDITORS

"I wanted to tell you how much I appreciate all you have done to make my author happy and confident that the press has done right by him. You'll now become an adjective in my transmittal memos--as in, 'This book needs a Janet Benton edit.'" Janet Francendese, senior editor, Temple University Press

"The author is pleased with your work, as well he should be. I spent quite a bit of time going over the manuscript before I sent it to him and was impressed with your thoughtful insights regarding content and the general quality of your work." Despina Gimbel, managing editor, New York University Press

FROM AUTHORS, SOME OF WHOSE BOOKS WON PRIZES (see "Selected editing" tab to right of page for more information on some titles)

"Thank you. Your editing is remarkable." 

"I am deeply appreciative of the care and thoughtfulness of your editing of my manuscript, and I'm in awe of your skills. [You've improved] the book tremendously, line by line, making it easier to read, more clear and compelling."

"I've published books with Oxford and Princeton, and the work you did is light years better!"

"Though it has been a bit humbling to work with someone who is at a whole different level of language and professionalism . . ., your tact and care have made it easy for me. . . . I'm going to be a better writer the next time out."