The way I proceed
The editing services that I offer can be a simple proofreading job or one that requires serious comments and suggestions for continuity or structural changes and everything in between. When the meaning of a word, phrase, or sentence is unclear, I provide suggestions of what it might mean so that the author can see possible alternatives and choose one or send the matter back to me with some further explanation.
I work on an hourly basis and always provide clients with an estimate of the project’s cost before I begin so that an author can say yea or nay. I can usually supply you with an estimate within a few hours of receiving a manuscript (unless, of course, you send your document in the middle of the night). As I charge only for the time I actually use, if a project takes less time than I estimate, the cost is correspondingly lower.
You need to give me an honest deadline for when you need the text back. I have never missed a deadline, and, if I can’t meet yours, I will tell you so upfront and either decline the project or tell you when I can get it done and ask whether that will work for you.
I most frequently work in Tracking Mode so that you can see every change, comment, or correction I make along with any questions that I may have. That allows you to get back to me with any questions you have about anything I’ve done. That way we finish the edit together. I do not charge for reasonable time spent clarifying an edit.
I accept payment (by check, in cash, or via PayPal) when the project is done. For very long projects, I often ask for partial payment in advance.