1. mumblecrust
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    mumblecrust New Member

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    Editing / Proofreading Services

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by mumblecrust, Nov 22, 2009.

    I'd like to have someone proofread and edit my manuscript, but before I drop $700+ on it I want to find the best place to use. Anyone have any recommendations? I was going to use Scribendi, but I can't find much in the way of reviews for it. A lot of the other top Google hits seem vaguely scam-y.

    What I'm looking for is a basic grammar/sentence structure/etc check, but also recommendations for improving sections of the text, suggestions for which parts work and which don't, etc. To my understanding, a basic edit.

    Any help is much appreciated
     
  2. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    A writer should be able to edit and revise his or her own work. So, my advice is to go over your work again and again until it's as good as it can be. If you need help with things like grammar and sentence structure, then go over those things until you feel like you have a good grasp of them.

    You can also ask a friend or family member who knows enough about reading/writing to look over your work. Just make sure their opinion is not going to be limited to only positive comments. You need some constructive criticism.

    I would also advise against paying anyone to edit for you. Like I said, a writer should be able to edit his or her own work.
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Thirdwind beat me to it.

    Editing services are costly, and are a poor investment for an unpublished author. Authors with multi-book contracts use them in order to meet deadlines, but invest considerable time and effort to find an editor who can conform to their style.

    For a new writer who has yet to even establish his or her own style, such an investment makes even less sense.

    You need to be able to submit a clean manuscript all on your own. Sure, a few minor errors will undoubtedly slip through, but all in all, you need to be your own best editor.
     
  4. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    tw and cog both beat me to it!

    while i do all that for shorter works and even take on a whole book on rare occasions [all for free], i have to repeat what's touched on above, that if you want to be a writer, you'll have to learn to and be willing to do what all writers do... which is edit their own work...

    sure, the rich and famous bestselling authors have their own editors, but you can be sure they didn't pay anyone to do it for them when they were just starting out...
     
  5. bluebell80
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    bluebell80 Contributing Member

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    Self-Editing for Fiction Writers! The best book out there for learning how to edit your own work. I've read through that book a good 20 times now. Also pick up a pocket grammar/punctuation books, Mariam Webster is the one I use, but I also have some websites that I use as well for basic grammar fixes.

    After you have written something it is probably best to leave it alone for at least a week before you start trying to edit. It's hard to edit something after you have been working on it for months or years and it is fresh in your mind. Spend a little time reading through some books aimed at writers for the purpose of editing and crafting of fiction. Then go back with fresh eyes on your manuscript and edit the crap out of it, yes I mean that in both senses of the context.

    It's pointless to pay someone to edit your work for you. If you make it the best you can by yourself and then start trying to find an agent/publisher editing advice will be given by them for free if they think it is something worth investing time and money in.

    You could plop down $1000 on an editing service, but all you'll get is cookie cutter editing jobs, basic grammar and spelling, you won't be getting much else. To me that's a waste of money.
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    besides which, regardless of how good/poor an editing job you paid for, the vast majority of first novels are never sold, so it'd be a total waste of money...
     
  7. Arch
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    Arch New Member

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    I know that some people will tell you that a writer can't find their own mistakes, but I disagree. I believe that if a writer takes their time, they can find all their errors. It takes patience.

    Most people use editors, because they think that editors know more about grammar and I disagree. An editor doesn't know everything there is to know about grammar and just like a writer can overlook errors, so can an editor.

    If you take five books that's on your bookshelf and sit down with them and compare them to the grammar rules, you will find errors in every last one of those books.

    I could be wrong, but I honestly don't believe paid editors go through every sentence in a manuscript to make sure a grammar rule hasn't be broken.

    Editors are looking for certain errors.

    A grammar book covers so much information. A lot of stuff aren't being taught in school.

    Grammar books and dictionaries come in handy, when you are writing. I think that all writers should own an old grammar book. One that's at least dated back to the 1940's, as well as own a few up to date grammar books. You'll be surprise what you'll learn from them.
     
  8. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Most of those "errors" are done on purpose for effect. Not to say that an occasional error doesn't happen, but a grammatical error in a book doesn't mean that it's a typo or something that was overlooked. The author had some kind of intention and purpose in writing the way he/she did.
     
  9. Arch
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    Arch New Member

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    A lot of readers are hard on authors, when they see errors or what they think is an error. I find that a lot of readers that are hard on authors, are people that don't even write.
     
  10. writewizard
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    writewizard Contributing Member

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    If you feel as though you must, I use craigslist for the majority of my writing needs. However, I'd be happy to glance over it for you if you wanted. Also, if you are really planning on spending $700 on it, unless you are needing someone to majorly edit the book, I would not. I don't know how much you're expecting from this book, but I would not expect much. Then again, I've never published before, so I can't say much.

    Also, if you do use a website like craigslist, never pay up front. Ask for samples of the work and make sure you like their style before agreeing to pay anything.
     
  11. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    if you want to know whether your work is ready to be submitted, you can send me the first couple of pages and i'll give you detailed feedback, with suggestions on how to correct the flaws and upgrade the overall writing quality, if needed...
     
  12. thewordsmith
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    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    The biggest problem most writers have with proofing their own work is familiarity. You know what you wrote (whether it comes out that way or not!) and so it is more difficult for you to actually see your own errors and typos. Also, the more literate a person is, the more likely they will not see typos. The literate brain tends to mentally correct the misspellings as you read.
    Solution? Be prepared to take a little longer with your ms before you start sending it out. Put it in a drawer for a few months, try to forget about it and get on with another project. Stay focused on your new project. Then, next summer, pull out the old lms and give it a careful read. You know reading an electronic page vs a hard copy page is immensely different - print it out and keep the red pen handy.
    Next, to avoid getting too involved in the story itself and not the words that comprise that story, (a little hint from an agent) toss those printed pages up in the air and pick them up completely out of order, then read them for proofing and typographical errors. You're more likely to read the words and not the story this way.
    As far as grammatical errors, there is no secret panacea. You just have to learn your syntax and structure and be a careful reader.
     
  13. roadkilraven
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    roadkilraven Member

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    I started really focusing on writing as a career about two years ago, previous to that it was just a hobby. I finished a 40,000 word novel (my second), and thought it was a goldmine. I thought everyone would love it, and I'd be the next Stephen King! I did recognize that it needed editing, but didn't know where to begin. I figured I could just hire someone to edit it. I was wrong.

    I put the first few chapters on forums like these, and got overwhelming negative feedback. "But my novel is amazing!" I thought. WRONG! It was nothing but pages and pages of info dumping, miss-placed words, run on sentences, and just appalling grammar. I would have cost hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars to pay someone to edit it for me, but then it really wouldn't still be my work would it?

    Since then I've written several new books, not all of which are finished; but I've also spent a year focusing on editing. My work has improved dramatically. I recently opened up a book I wrote years ago, and laughed at how bad it was. I've also spend time in this forum, helping people edit their own work (which really helps me in the long run, as well as them).

    My overall point is to keep practicing, then keep practicing some more. Everyone thinks or wishes that they're some sort of prodigy, but the truth is the real prodigies have just spent more time and effort into getting where they are than the amateurs have. Lastly, I haven't focused on editing my novels and short stories alone. When I post on forums like this I try to edit the grammar in my posts as well (I editing this one and found ten mistakes, probably missed a couple though). I also laugh when someone posts about how they don't think their grammar needs work in their manuscripts, but in their threads it's just appalling.
     
  14. ojduffelworth
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    ojduffelworth Contributing Member

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    It appears the overwhelming response to using an editorial service is negative. I do not entirely agree.

    Having others read over your work is clearly valuable. Otherwise we would not use this web sight for such a purpose.

    I would divide an editorial service into two aspects.
    1/ Proof reading: spelling, gramma, punctuation.
    2/ Critiquing: suggestions for time lines, characterization, consistency, etc.
    (I may not be using proof reading and critiquing in their proper manner, but I think you’ll get my drift)

    Different editorial services vary widely in what they offer - in which aspect they focus on. Try to be clear with what you want.

    Sure I think an aspiring writer needs to learn to edit their own work. If an editorial service assists one to learn how to do that, I think it’s valuable. If it is merely used as a lazy writers touch-up brush, and contributes nothing to their writing skills, then I would say it’s a waste of time.

    As for the money, you don’t need to fork out a big lump sum. Don’t fork out anything to begin with! An editorial service should run through a sample of your work for free. If you find their input useful, and wish to continue with the service, then simply send a chapter at a time. Pay as you go. That way you are not handing over hundreds, not knowing what you’re going to get.
    In the end, only you know what a good investment is for yourself, and what you are happy to pay. I wouldn’t let anyone make that judgment for you. Maybe $700 is your life savings; maybe it’s your afternoon salary...

    If you use such a service, remember your work will probably still not be published. Does that mean it was a waste of time and money? Not necessarily. If it assisted you to become a better writer, great!
     
  15. love2listen
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    love2listen Member

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    my manuscript editor is my best friend from church. she is my mom's age and retired after years of teaching college English. you know how English teachers are - can't get anything past them. it is staggering how bad my use of language can be lol. I had no idea-I've been writing all my life!! she does mine for free because she is retired and has the time, loves to read writing, and my book is a memoir and she gives me a lot of advice and thoughts on the bad situation I got out of

    I would tell you to find a retired teacher
     

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