1. Rita M Gardner
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    Rita M Gardner Member

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    Book editing services

    Discussion in 'Self-Publishing' started by Rita M Gardner, Jul 18, 2016.

    Hello all! For those of you who have already self-published, did you hire a professional book editor? If so, what criteria did you use to choose the best one for you? What company/contractor do you suggest using and why? How did your editor perform? Was he/she worth the money spent?

    I believe I want an editor, but because I am meticulous about editing my work as I go along I don't want to pay someone a lot of money.
     
  2. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I use an editor who started as a beta reader for me and did such a fantastic job I decided I should be paying her. Now she beta reads for free and gives me large-scale suggestions, then puts on her editor hat for pay and catches the nitpicky stuff.

    There are also a lot of freelance editors who have done work for reputable smaller publishers. I don't know what genre you're working in, but if you're looking for fairly light edits it probably doesn't matter, in which case... Samhain Publishing has let a lot of its editors go and at least some of them are now freelancing. If you want a name I can connect you with my old editor there who is now working on her own. She's good, but I don't know what her rates are.
     
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  3. Rita M Gardner
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    Rita M Gardner Member

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    @BayView that would be amazing! Please, and thank you so much. I am writing fiction. I'm not sure what subcategory my novel belongs in truthfully, I'm hoping to figure that out before I've completed it.

    Also, where do you find beta readers? What's the purpose? To determine how your book would be on the market? Do you have a beta reader for each book?
     
  4. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    If you don't wanna pay good money for an editor, then don't get one at all. A cheap editor is cheap for a reason, and even £100 down the drain is still £100 you could have spent elsewhere, say on holiday. And besides £100 is hardly nothing.

    If you decide you want an editor, then take it seriously and find yourself a good one, and then invest the money. But don't fool yourself into thinking you could get editing worth having cheaply. Because the truth is a bad edit can seriously ruin your manuscript - like paying someone loads of money for bad critique, which you then follow. Disaster, naturally, ensues. And by the time you realise it might be too late, or too hard, to back-pedal and fix your manuscript again.

    I say this because I got a "cheap" editor without knowing what I was looking for - I just wanted an editor for not a lot of money. A guy who claimed he was an editor took the job. I wasted something like £400 and btw, my manuscript is still a mess, 5 years later. Not entirely because of him - the primary fault lies with me and my poor story structure - but his comments did not help. He said many things that were unnecessarily insulting (such as telling me how he'd prepared himself to be reading the next bestseller and found himself disappointed - wtf, seriously?). His comments were few and far between, lacking in any detail or good reasoning, and any reasoning he ever gave was wrapped up in those back-handed "compliments". I didn't know what I was looking for and didn't know what questions I should have been asking.

    So anyway:

    1. Find someone who edits/reads your genre. Seems obvious but this slipped my mind when I forked over my own cash. Don't get someone who edits romance to edit your fantasy novel, or a non-fiction editor to edit your sci-fi.

    2. Be clear about what type of editing you're after - as each type costs differently and will have a different focus, different level of detail. You don't wanna pay thinking you're gonna get a line-by-line edit and then all you got is a general 1-page summary, or vice versa. Educate yourself on what each type of edit involves and if unsure, ask the editor to explain.

    3. I don't know if this is the norm but personally I'd ask if the editor would do a sample edit - I guess either for free or for a very small symbolic fee? From the sample edit you can see if you can work with this editor, if he/she is any good.

    4. Get a contract stating the terms and conditions.

    5. Be wary - or rather, run like hell - from any editor that promises to find you an agent afterwards. Mine did that, as if anyone could guarantee agent representation! (btw, at the end of our cooperation, he rudely told me how he has better things to do than to send my story out and he did not know any agent to whom he can recommend my manuscript - not that my manuscript was publishable yet, but that's besides the point. Why would you guarantee finding an agent for your client when you don't know any literary agents!? He then proceeded to send me an outline for writing a book proposal - a bloody book proposal for a fantasy novel)

    So, yeah, seriously, if you're gonna get an editor, cough up the cash. It's worth getting an actually good one. Cheap ones are cheap for a reason, and I wouldn't call a couple hundred quid "cheap" by any measure.
     
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  5. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Holly Atkinson is my ex-Samhain editor - her page is https://evileyeediting.com/services/

    A beta reader is generally a non-expert who looks at the big picture and gives general impressions. You can find them almost anywhere - go to places where readers go! And, yes, I try to have at least one beta for each book.
     
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  6. Lew
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    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    I lucked out with my free-lance editor, recommended to me by a friend's editor (he's published, I am not yet) I will share her contact info via message if anyone is interested, and if she is taking on new work. She is also a published author herself. I have a massive 242K work that she thinks is sellable, or can be broken up in two. Her comments were extremely helpful, and in fact spot-on. She is expensive for full edit and a long book at $2/page but I found her worth it. She offers a reduced rate to edit the first 40 pages and then chapter synopses @2 chapters/page for about $150. I chose that option first, because neither of us knew the quality of each other's work... she didn't want to accept a lot of money to wade through crap, and I didn't want to lay out a lot of money for someone to run spell and grammar checks, or tell me I was far from ready for prime time. I found her comments very helpful, she identified several chapters that seemed to be dead spots, which I fixed (One chapter I found when I synopsized it, came out sort of...."They got to Myos Hormos, the weather was terrible, the accommodations awful and nothing much happened." After those changes were incorporated, I contracted for a full edit, less what I had already paid, and found that also included pre-publication support. She continued to make good comments and observations. We are now up to revision five.

    She has assisted a number of first time authors get published, including one who launched a 165K word historical fiction, so she has a track record, but also makes no promises. She has a long list of agents, knows when the good times are to approach them, and when your query letters will get flushed just because they are not taking new work, who pushes what genre, etc. She was very helpful in doing the query letter and the synopsis, and gave me the 165K HF synopsis, which like mine, is a complex story with a lot of characters. That was very helpful in doing mine.

    She pointed me toward writers' conferences where agents are likely to attend. I will be going to the Pennsylvania one in a few weeks, with an opportunity to get The Eagle and the Dragon some attention... I can present five pages for $5. I will have my query package in hand, and the manuscript which will probably remain discretely out of sight, and a handful of my author's business cards to hand out.

    So yes, a good editor can be very helpful, but get a recommendation from someone, be cautious, and see if you can get a cheap overview of the quality of their work (and yours) before you lay out the big bucks. And find out if anyone they edited actually got published.
     
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  7. M. Ibrahim
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    M. Ibrahim New Member

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    I think hiring an editor is important to get your copy clean of any mistakes and also get some advice on any issues in structure, organisation of ideas etc.

    You can look online for affordable proofreading and editing services...some of them offer free samples...like the the Ultimate Proofreader
     
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  8. JLT
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    JLT Active Member

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    Does anybody know of editors who specialize in non-fiction ... travel guides, memoirs, and the like? It seems to be a totally different discipline from fiction writing.
     
  9. Rita M Gardner
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    Rita M Gardner Member

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    @Mckk what exactly do you mean by good money? $500+? $1000+? Forgive me, but I really don't know the average rates. Also, outside of reviews (which could be paid), if I don't get a contact from someone, yet the editor has good prices no samples and no sample offers, how will I know I'm spending my money the right way. What type of questions should I ask? How many questions should I ask?
     
  10. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Do you really wanna hire someone who has no samples and no sample offers? I wouldn't! Just find someone else who does :p

    I'd say $1000+ is not unreasonable. Taking the editor @BayView recommebded, she charges 0.014 or so per word for her most comprehensive package. Let's assume your novel is 80,000 words. That makes $1120.

    As for what other questions - perhaps testimonials from past clients, any published works the editor was involved in :)
     
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  11. Lew
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    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    Mine charged $2/doubled spaced page, but that include pre-publication support, which I have been getting in abundance. She also charged $150 initially to edit the first forty pages, then chapter synopses. I elected that first and it was deducted from the full edit when I engaged her.

    Questions:
    1. Has the editor published anything themselves?
    2. How many people have they edited?
    3. How many of them got published?
    4. Have they edited your genre?
    5. Will they edit for SPaG or structure/continuity/flow? (Don't waste money on the former)
    6. Are they offering help with query letters, synopses, locating agents, etc.?

    Get recommendations from published authors you know: plenty on this site. Get quotes from several before you choose one. Though I didn't and it worked out... mine came recommended to me and I took her.

    As for SPaG, your product should be clean as a hound's tooth going to the editor, to allow them to concentrate on the story. If it's not, make it so before you spend money. Ditto structure. If you have problems with structure or parts of the story, and you know you have them, get them fixed first... the editor is not going to write the story for you, but help you write it better.
     
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  12. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I disagree that #1 is a useful qualification - I wouldn't consider it necessary or even advantageous for the editor to be a published writer - I think the two skills are quite different, and I'd prefer to have someone who devotes herself to editing, not writing.

    And I disagree with #5 and #6 too - having an expert look over SPaG issues before the book is published is really important - most writers can't effectively catch their own errors because we're too familiar with the work and see what we expect to see rather than what's there.

    And I don't think it's really an editor's job to do the things in #6 - well, actually, I think there's a fundamental disconnect here, because the OP was asking about editing prior to self-publishing, and that's the only time I would really recommend using an editor. Editing prior to seeking an agent or publisher is--controversial? There are some successful writers who get blue in the face and yell about Yog's Law and I wouldn't go that far, but in general I don't think authors should consider it necessary to pay an editor in order to get an agent/find a publisher. I think writers should mostly only pay editors for self-published works.
     
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  13. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    And always remember that your story is YOUR story.

    Yes, an editor is a fabulous way to pick up on things you may have missed and even things that you have made research or timeline mistakes with, but they can sometimes become too big for their boots which will lead them to changing massive chunks of your work so it no longer resembles something of your style. (and they then try and change a whole character's family to suit their own ideas when your characters were they way you made them for a specific reason!)

    The editor's suggestions are just that, suggestions.

    So if you do get one, make sure you grow a thick skin and stick to your guns on certain points.

    Good Luck.
     
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  14. Laurin Kelly
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    Laurin Kelly Active Member

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    I agree. My publisher gets a share of every book I sell, and I consider that their payment for providing me with certain services at no cost - thorough editing (both SPaG and big picture), commissioning a graphic artist for the cover, marketing the book by offering ARCs and giveaways, etc.

    I certainly tried to make it as clean as possible on my own, and I must have done a pretty good job as I got accepted. Certianly I wouldn't recommend anyone send an absolute first draft with no attempts at self-editing or at least getting free beta reader input; I think it's very important to put one's best foot forward. But at least with the publishers I know, complete editing services are part of the package when accepting work for publication.
     
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  15. Laurin Kelly
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    Laurin Kelly Active Member

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    I probably went with about 90% of my editor's suggestions, because even if I didn't 100% agree with them personally, she was able to explain her concerns in a way that convinced me that making the change would be useful and make the story better. After all, that's the real purpose of getting objective feedback - readers don't live inside our brains.

    But the other 10% were hills I was more than willing to die on. For example, she questioned the realism of some of the TV production aspects I included, but my husband has worked in the industry for over 20 years and he vetted everything I wrote regarding that.
     
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  16. Lew
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    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    #1 is more of info thing... it establishes to me they understand both sides of the coin. But agree it isn't necessary
    #5 I certainly agree that after working on mine for 20 years, I can be blind to my own errors. My wife has picked up most of the SPaG I missed. And my run-on sentences, through five revisions. But my work is 240K words and at $0.014 per word, as @BayView quoted, am I going to pay someone $3360 to spell check it? I have plenty of friends that will do it for free or for very much less. Or just use MS Word spell check and filter out the intentional misspellings in dialogue. I do extensive technical writing professionally, so I come off from a pretty clean start on a first draft, so that would be a real waste for me. Structure, arc, these are all new to me, learned as I wrote, because I never took a creative writing course, and don't intend to now. These I found most helpful... she didn't find much to change, but it was reassuring to this novice to hear that.

    As for #6, I am a first timer in this business, and I found that part the most intimidating. Not only that, but I have a major ding on length, and I need to get a selling point for that to be even considered in the first two sentences of the query. And you don't have to go very far on this forum to find ten different opinions/formats on how queries and synopses should be written. It is nice to have actual samples for a work of a similar length to mine that actually sold, to use as a model with the intent of targeting that same agent. I also have several other samples of different works to different agents, so I can have more than one arrow in my quiver.

    If you had success going it alone, I salute you, but I really appreciated the unexpected help as a first timer. I have sought it from every source, this forum, other published authors, my editor, my friends who want me to get published so I can quit talking about that damned book... I am not choosy.
     
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  17. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    SPAG issues would be caught by the line edits at $.005/word - $1 200.
     
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  18. Lew
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    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    Still too little for the price. Though my wife will be more than happy to do that for someone

    And she is really good
     
  19. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I wasn't trying to sell you on her, just trying to correct the misinformation.

    I think you're trying for the agent/publisher route, right? In which case I agree you shouldn't be paying for this sort of thing, no matter the price.
     
  20. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    Good on you for sticking to your guns. My editor questioned something about my character's reaction to something that happened to her child (a similar thing happened to my own child and I acted in a way not that different to my character), the editor wanted to take it out as to her it was unreasonable and unrealistic. She was basically saying that what I did in real life was unrealistic. Also, as she never had children, I don't think she's in the best place to comment on such things. She also doesn't like "messy" things (when a character cries and I mention snot on her face) but hey, we've all had one of those moments where we couldn't give a toss about the snot on our faces regardless of our age. And as I write contemporary fiction, it has to have a feel of realism in it.

    So well done for knowing what to take on board and what to fight for!
     
  21. Catrin Lewis
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    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

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    I take it she catches the nit-picky stuff after you've had time to digest and maybe implement the large-scale suggestions?

    But regarding @Rita M Gardner's question, a lot depends on the kind of edit you want. A substantive/structural/content editor, so you can get your plot and characters straight? A copy edit for wording, sentence flow, and style, and accuracy of facts? Or do you want a line editor to comb out the spelling and grammar errors? (Note that you'll often see these last two terms reversed, which makes things more fun.) With any editor you approach, you need to know which kind of work you'll be getting.

    They can't happen all at once. If you agree with your structural editor that a certain plot line makes no sense and you're going to rewrite it, any style or SPaG edits she's done on that part will be a waste of everyone's time.

    I haven't hired an editor yet. But I can recommend you go to the website of any you're considering, and see if they've posted links to books they've worked on. Check out the Look Inside feature for those books on Amazon, and see what the finished product looks like. If it's a mess, it may be that the author chose not to take the editor's advice. But why, then, would the editor post that book as a reference? Makes ya wonder.
     
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  22. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yeah - the beta essentially functions as a substantive edit, and then I send it to her for line/copy edits.
     
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  23. Catrin Lewis
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    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

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    That's ideal for us broke people, because apparently the substantive edit is the most pricey.
     
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  24. Sydney Shaw
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    Sydney Shaw New Member

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    I'm on the path of self-publishing too. I decided to work on the second book before publishing the first book. My editor was a miracle worker. She's relatively young, but boy, she is very good at what she does. She's edited my first book already, and I'm going to be sending her my second book shortly. I do think she has slots available for this year's editing, though I'm not sure.
    I can send out her contact if anyone's interested.
     
  25. Lew
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    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    I had some excellent substantive beta edits on this site for mine, and that works. Have also edited for others.
     
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