1. Maveryck
    Offline

    Maveryck New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2008
    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Somewhere between here & there

    Freelance Editors - Are they worth the $$$

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by Maveryck, Feb 23, 2009.

    I need to vent, so here goes:

    I recently utilized the services of a freelance editor. According to her website and our email discussions, she has seven years of experience as an editor for a NY publishing house(s) and has edited sci-fi and fantasy.

    I sent the ms to her, hoping to learn and incorporate suggestions that would tighten the story and make it publishable. I had previous evaluations of the story from the Gotham's writer workshop, evaluations that I took seriously and made the recommended changes. After letting the story sit longer than I should have, I went back and made a few more revisions. I brillantly decided that I should get another eval and thus embarked on a search for a freelance professional editor. I might as well have shot myself in the foot.

    Upon reading her evaluation of the manuscript, a sci-fi/fantasy novelette of just under 10K words, I began to have doubts that she ever read any science fiction or fantasy, let alone gave my ms a thorough read. It may explain why she freelances and now lives in Austin, TX, as opposed to NYC and employed with a publishing house *bangs head against wall, repeatedly* Though, I could be wrong.

    I agreed with a few of her suggestions. Some would say it was worth it. Not at the price I paid. Her evaluation was peppered with inconsistencies and contradictions. The only consistent theme I did see was of her pet peeves about cliches (I use time travel to get my protag into the story, as there is no other way to get a 21st century man to the 19th century); her extreme desire to have every tidbit of character description and detail spoon-fed to her (or to the reader), to include minor and bit characters; her desire for a more spectacular plot twist and her dislike of repeating words, like "her" in sentences that followed. As well as her inference that the reader would be incapable of deducing what was implied, in other words--the reader is ignorant and needs to be explained everything.

    I'm in the processing of drafting my response and comments, and working very hard at not coming across as belligerent or caustic. Though I do understand that no two editors are going to completley agree on a story, I would think an editor would be aware that a short story will not get into the nitty gritty of character details. Most writers will quickly glean over it, then move on, giving just enough to readers without bogging them with superfulous information. This was covered in the writer's workshop. And most readers will usually skim through a long drawn out character description or just quit reading the story all together. Though this may have something to do with gender, as men tend to want only the headlines and women tend to want all the details, and this is evident in books written by men and women. I tend to see more character details by female authors, than I do from males. Not to say that I haven't seen the opposite of this.

    This was a pricey lesson learned. It is doubtfull that I will submit a ms to another freelance editor, at least not without a thorough investigation of his/her experiences and knowledge about the genre. I thought I did this with her, but apparently it wasn't enough. Cavet Emptor.
     
  2. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    I don't believe any unpublished author should be putting forth good money on an editor. Selecting an editor is a painstaking process. You need someone who will make te corrections you would make, and who understands your style well enough to preserve it. First, however, you need to have found your style.

    Editors are for well-established writers who have their work nearly publish-ready, and are working against a deadline. They are for writers who know what the investment of an editor will do to their return on their investment.
     
  3. Maveryck
    Offline

    Maveryck New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2008
    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Somewhere between here & there
    I disagee with your perspective. Who created the "rule?" Editors are for well-established writers who have their work nearly publish-ready, and are working against a deadline. If that editor works for a publishing house, then yes, I can see your point.

    I'm discussing freelance editors and their services. Are they worth it for the unpublished writer? Apparently, from your opinion, only the published writers are worth the time of an editor. IMO, that's an arrogant statement. Oh, I'm so sorry you're not published. I can't help you.

    Granted, selecting an editor is a painstaking process. I went through it for about two months, before deciding which one to utilize. Maybe that wasn't long enough. I asked numerous of questions and requested copies of previous evaluations. Of course, no freelance editor is going to forward their worse. No freelancer editor is going to provide negative comments of their work either. Even when asked for. I did and most were apprehensive to do so. Only one did and that was the one I went with. Hindsight is a bitch. What I should've done was ensure she was familiar with the sf genre and not accepted her assurances. Some may disagree and say editing has nothing to do with the genre. I disagree. An editor editing sci-fi regularly will most likely be biased toward the romance genre and vice verse, because they're not completely familiar with the genre. How can an editor edit a ms in good conscious, if he/she is not thoroughly familiar with the genre and its quirks? Do you honestly believe Jim Baen (may he rest in peace) would've done a thorough editing job on a Nora Roberts or Danielle Steele manuscript, without some bias? It's difficult to answer, but I don't believe it would be as good as the editors both these authors utilize.

    Your left-handed comment:

    They are for writers who know what the investment of an editor will do to their return on their investment.

    implies that I didn't know my expected ROI. Does an editor or publisher know they're expected ROI on a novel? No. They can only guess how well a novel will sell based off current market trends, and the author's previous history, if he/she has one. There isn't much of a ROI to a magazine when it publishes a short story, novelette or novella. Just because a Robert Reed or Eugene Mirabelli short story is published in F&SF or Asimov's, it doesn't necessarily translate to increased magazine stand sales. No matter how well known these two authors are in the sf genre, sales are never guaranteed. It is difficult for anyone to gauge an expected return on any investment. And based off the supporting documentation, I expected the editor to be consistent with her evaluation and actually read the ms. The evidence suggests the contrary.

    If a freelance editor offers his/her services, then all writers, published or not, have the same opportunity to utilize said services. Furthermore, a new writer shouldn't be limited to the opinions of friends, forums, fellow students or workshop instructors. Sometimes, getting an editor's opinion helps more so than it hurts, and sometimes it's a complete waste of money. Just as there are bad writers out there, there are also bad editors. But, the perception of good and bad is in the eyes of the beholder.
     
  4. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    Who said it was a rule?

    A new, unpublished author is generally wasting his or her money paying someone to edit his or her writing. Editing does not guarantee publisher acceptance, and the sad truth is that most unsolicited manuscripts never make it out of the slush pile.

    I was NOT talking about publication house editors. An established author will be very selective about the editor he or she will use. A bad editor, or a good editor who does not mesh with te author's style, will make corrections the author will not be happy with.

    Your experience is not all that extreme. She didn't understand your writing style. Her idea of S/F did not mesh with yours. Does this make her a poor editor? No. Does it make er a poor choice of editor for you? Yes.

    A friend of mine is an award winning mystery author. After years of working wit an editor, she decided to discontinue the relationship, and took another couple of years to select another to take the place of the first editor. She is now quite satisfied withe the new editor. But she never took advantage of a professional editor until after she already had a multi-book publishing contract.
     
  5. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    mav...
    cog was very clear about what he said and meant and you read it backwards, assuming he was saying the writer wasn't worth the editor's time, when what he said was the reverse...

    you and that editor just didn't 'click'... period... consider it a lesson learned and take the time to learn how to edit your own work, which is what all beginning writers need to do...
     
  6. Maveryck
    Offline

    Maveryck New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2008
    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Somewhere between here & there
    Yep...I get it. As for editing my own work. I do. But, sometimes you need a more critical eye. Friends and family just don't cut it when your working on trying to get something polished and praying to the writing gods that it'll be publishable, in the eyes of scrutinizing magazine editor. I'd garner a guess that both of you have had family members or friends tell you that your story was good and left it at that. Kinda leaves you guessing. Friends that have read the story all tell me they like it, one told me she loved it. Great. Thank you, but does it flow? Is it consistent? Is there too much detailed description? Not enough? Does the protag's voice read flat? And the biggie, is the grammar correct? I still catch a few or too many commas or semi-colons and sentence fragments. I've rewritten the story five times already, and revised, rearranged or removed sentences. When is it enough? When is does it stop? Eventually, I will have to stop, kick it out of the nest and let her fly, and pray that she soars.

    As for the editor, I spoke with her and informed her of my agreements and disagreements with her evaluation. I even voiced my concern about her not reading the ms. And during our phone discussion, she admitted, albeit reluctantly, that she hadn't read much sci fi/fantasy and was more suited toward contemporary literature. Something I had already suspected. In the end, as the both of you have stated, we came to the (now) obivious conclusion. Our styles didn't mesh.
     

Share This Page