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  1. Garball
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    Garball Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand. Supporter Contributor

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    Editing professional editor before agent.

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Garball, Apr 26, 2013.

    I read on another site (much less trustworthy than this one) that you should have your manuscript professionally edited before submitting to an agent. I was under the impression that editing occurred after the agent. Can somebody please list the correct chronology of getting your work published using an agent assuming everything goes well.
     
  2. TechnoGoth
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    TechnoGoth Member

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    An agent will provided editing services after they've accepted your finished manuscript since they want to get it the best position they can to sell it. That being said if your work is riddled with errors and reads like an unpolished first draft then they agent probably wont sign you. An agent wants to sell your work to make a profit and competition is fierce for unknown authors. It is easier for the agent to move on to the next manuscript then invest time and money getting one up to scratch.

    So you need to think about the quality of your own work and eye for revision to decided if you need to go to the expense of paying for an editing service.
     
  3. Thornesque
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    Thornesque Contributing Member

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    You should never pay for professional editing. If you don't have the skill to read your own work and bring it up to par than you need to review your own skill as a writer. Improve your own grammar, rather than relying on someone else to get English right for you.
     
  4. joanna
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    joanna Active Member

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    Yep, it's agent --> editor --> publisher.

    The writer is the initial editor. People who can't do their own editing believe they need to pay for editing services first. Personally, I don't think they have much of a chance at writing something salable if they can't edit.
     
  5. swhibs123
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    swhibs123 Active Member

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    The chronology is:

    1. You write your book
    2. You submit your book to agents
    3. Agent signs you
    4. Agent pitches manuscript to editors at specific publishing houses.
    5. Editor likes your book and takes it to an acquisition meeting where they discuss how much they'd be willing to spend on it
    6. Editor makes offer
    7. Agent reviews contract and discusses it with Author
    8. Negotiations ensue
    9. Contracts are signed
    10. First round of edits begin on the manuscript.
     
  6. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I'd say agent --> publisher --> ... --> multi-book contract --> editor.

    You cannot do a good job of selecting an editor until you have an established writing style, and can evaluate how well a prospective editor does at preserving your style. And you don't need to spend the money on a skilled editor until you're making enough money to afford one, and have a tight enough schedule that you need some help meeting a deadline.
     
  7. swhibs123
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    swhibs123 Active Member

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    If you self publish, you need to find and pay for an editor.

    If you traditionally publish, your publisher will provide one for you.

    Your agent will not likely send you to an editor or edit your book for you.
     
  8. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Your assumption is that an editor is necessary. What is necessary for every author is that you become your own best editor.
     
  9. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    this is not standard practice... agents want polished mss that don't need to be edited further before submitting them to publishers...

    legit agents will not offer/require you to pay an editor of their choice... any that do should be avoided like the plague they are on the profession...

    see all above re writers needing to be good enough editors on their own...

    IF you are lucky/good enough to get an agent and if the agent is good enough to get you a publishing contract, THEN the publisher will assign one of their editors to your ms... but not to do any major revisions, only to make sure any minor goofs and glitches you may have missed are dealt with before going to print... and, if necessary, to deal with plot holes and such...

    finally, for the writer to pay someone else to edit their work is money down the drain, since even the best edit possible will still not guarantee the book will be published... or, even if it is is, that sales will allow the writer to recoup the high cost of an edit... that's what i tell everyone who comes to me for editing services... and i never take on an editing job unless the writer can consider the cost justified, due to what s/he'll learn about how to edit their own work, in the process...
     
  10. lettuce head
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    lettuce head Active Member

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    This makes the most sense to me.
     
  11. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    lettuce head...
    some of the first paragraph doesn't make sense to me... i don't know of any agents who would pay an editor out of their own pocket to fix up a client's work...

    technogoth...
    which agents do you know who actually do that?
     
  12. lettuce head
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    lettuce head Active Member

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    What? I don't follow.
     
  13. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I'm confused - at first glance it read like you're saying an agent will take you on, and *then* send you off to a professional editor to edit your work. But on reading it the 3rd time, I believe you simply meant the agent will help you edit your work to a publishable standard before sending it off (but in that case, the agent is investing time, and not money, unless you're going for the old cliche that time is money lol)

    As for a professional editor - if you find the right editor, I think it could potentially be invaluable. Problem is, it's hard as hell to vet out the good from the bad, and getting a bad editor is worse than no editor at all. I've seen agents say it's good to get your MS professionally edited beforehand - but then again, the more your write, the more easily you can tell when something works or not. Essentially, it's mostly skill you can learn without forking out a fortune. Beta readers, esp if they're writers themselves, will likely be able to point out similar things an editor can, albeit perhaps in less detail. One of my writer friends said a professional editing service helped her improve her MS by about 300%, or so that's the way she feels about it. I was also with an editor, who turned out to be utter crap - thankfully he made no direct changes into my MS so there's no damage to my MS, which is the most important thing, but it is a lot of money wasted and I'm still fuming over it.

    Long story short, if you go for an editor, check them out thoroughly, via google, via the books they've edited, any books they've published themselves and check the writing quality, check what kinda contacts they actually have if they claim to help you find an agent, and definitely get a sample edit as well as references before you pay even a penny.

    As for the submission process:

    1. Write and finish your manuscript

    2. Write and finish a query letter (brief intro on how you found the agent, why you want her, genre and word count of your book and, of course, an intro on your book.) This should be no longer than 1 page, single spaced.

    3. Depending on the agent, you may or may not be required to send the following with your query letter:
    - a sample (1-3 chapters or first 50 pages, depending)
    - and/or a synopsis (1-3-page summary of your entire novel - some agents permit even 5 pages, but the shorter the better, of course)

    4. Send everything either by post or by email, depending on the agent. If by email, always send everything in the body of the email - agents never open attachments (at least the ones I've checked out)

    5. Wait patiently while you work on your next book.

    Professional editing prior to submission is optional.
     
  14. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    you said, 'this makes the most sense to me' in re the previous post... but part of that post did not make sense to me... and i was explaining why... and asked the poster to provide backup for the claim...

    mckk...
    ...yes, many agents do offer advice on further editing a submitted ms, before s/he starts shopping it around to publishers... and they should be doing it as part of what their 15% commission covers... if any so-called 'agent' charges a fee for that, they're not legit...

    ...that's true... and it's hard to impossible for many new writers to be able to tell the difference... plus, the good ones will cost far more than most new writers can afford and as i have to point out in all of these 'hire an editor' discussions, the odds are heavily against that fee ever being recouped from book sales... even the best possible edit is no guarantee an agent will take it on, or the book will ever be published...

    ...sadly, too few new writers nowadays seem willing to do the work it takes to learn how to edit and polish their own work...

    ...in re 'damage' one should never turn over an only copy of one's ms to anyone... there can't be any damage done if you have a backup copy on your computer and a printed copy on hand, for additional insurance...

    ...as for the wasted money, at least you learned a valuable lesson... had you gotten a free edit sample first?... if so, were you not able to tell that their 'editing' wasn't up to professional standards?... if their fee was less than most, you found out the hard way that choosing 'cheap' over highly-recommended 'costly' is never a good idea...

    ...all good advice, but for one item... editing service providers do not necessarily have connections in the agent world... and i don't see how the could 'help you find an agent'... nor is that a normal part of editing services... people who do that call themselves 'marketers' or 'managers'... a newish breed that seems to have sprung up in the last decade or two...

    ...and the most important thing to know about editors is that they cannot and will not guarantee that your ms will ever interest an agent or publisher... all they can do is provide you with a submission-ready polished ms... sometimes that can be accomplished with a simple edit for typos and minor grammar goofs and sometimes serious rewriting is required... those are two ends of the fee spectrum... most new writers' work i've seen falls in the area between, but the upper end forms a close second...
     
  15. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Maia - yup definitely learnt the hard way. I'd definitely say either save up and pay for an expensive but truly excellent editor or don't bother at all. The best way to find an editor is probably through personal recommendations - but hey, that's why you want references in the first place right? I was silly enough not to ask for a sample edit - anyway, when the edit came through (he was doing it in bulks, a few chapters at a time) it was very general. It's not that his points were necessarily bad, they weren't, but just oh so unhelpfully general such as, "Need more description here" or "Don't understand why he did this" - but without further comments, explanations or suggestions, the whys and hows, what *kind* of bloody description. But I had faith in this guy, somehow. I thought that perhaps he's keeping the comments general because he knows it was a rough draft - we'd agreed on 2 edits - and so it'd make sense to keep your comments general on the rough draft, and only later when it's more polished to go into the details, right?

    Anyway, second edit came through, and based on what I thought was happening, I expected it to be more detailed. Nope. There were perhaps 3 comments per chapter, out of those, 2 would be sarcastic comments basically saying, "He is stupid". (Wait, actually, the best one was "She's a bitch! Run away!" Yup, he wrote that. I'm paraphrasing, but he wrote that) It was all too clear he was utterly unprofessional and essentially he lost patience with his work, and decided to simply insult the work instead. I don't deny there were still little logic goofs where my characters acted a little stupidly, which will be changed, of course, but I do not expect that sort of comment from an editor - and if you're gonna make such a comment, at least explain why.

    When I finally pulled out of his services (I stopped paying him - since there was never a contract between us, that was simple at least), he apologised and said, basically, his pride couldn't take the fact that I had mentioned I have some beta readers lined up to read my work and give feedback - he said it's "never happened" to him before and he couldn't believe I'd ask somebody else for an opinion and it showed I didn't "trust" him, so he felt it no longer mattered what he said. (What kind of a grown-up baby is this? Essentially, he threw a tantrum.) I have the email to prove this - he said this all himself.

    He promised to find me an agent at the end of the editing process - he promised this at the beginning of our deal, and reiterated it again half way through our deal. Towards the end I started pushing for contacts - who did he have in mind? Upon which he said, "I do not have agents lined up just waiting for your book. My expertise is in non-fiction Christian books for the Christian market, so I will need to research into who would take your book."

    Seriously. WTF. He knew from the beginning that mine was a fantasy novel. Yet he promised to find me agents, claiming he had contacts? Like I said, I was insecure, and very ignorant and well, a little foolish and I didn't check him out properly. I took him at his word. I knew he had worked on Christian books but I didn't think that would matter and if he's supposedly worked in the editing industry for over 20 years, or so he claims, that he would have some relevant contacts in the fiction side of things. Yes yes, stupid. Nonetheless, he essentially KNEW he couldn't deliver but promised the service anyway, which makes him a scam and a cheat.

    And yep, he was "cheap", but "cheap" by editing standards was still roughly £400 (perhaps $350 or some such?) - I paid him just under that because I pulled out, but unfortunately I'd almost finished paying him by that point.

    He later offered to do the rest of the edit for free, which I accepted but I didn't expect anything from him. He re-sent a section he'd already "edited" - all he did was delete his sarcastic insults, which meant the number of comments went down from 3 to just 1 per chapter or so :D Then he emailed me and my husband, again, to say he's gonna do the rest of it for free. I'm not sure why he did that because he's said it once before and I'd already said ok. I never replied to his second email. I haven't heard from him since, and I don't actually believe he's doing anything at all.

    But as for legit editing agencies offering to find agents - yes, some do offer that. They never promise that they would find you an agent, but they say that if by the end they think your book is of publishable quality, they may put it through their marketing guys to help you snatch an agent, or in other instances, sell it to a publisher themselves on your behalf. That's not every editing agency - I don't think it's the norm - but it does happen.

    EDIT: to add to my rant, on 2 or 3 occasions he suggested rewrites of certain sentences. I'll never forget this. I wrote something on the lines of "Will brought out an apple." And he "edited" it and rewrote it into, "Will brought out a red, round, firm, juicy apple." When I read that, I thought I'd written that horrid sentence - seriously I did, because, well, an editor wouldn't actually think a sentence like that was good, right? So if something this ugly is in my MS, surely it was me who made the mistake! I thought, "WOW this is so bad, did I really write this?"

    On a second look, nope, I did not. HE did. I started worrying then, to be honest.
     
  16. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ...'find' seems to imply 'get'... couldn't you see it would be nonsensical to make such a claim?...

    ...can you give me the names of a couple?... is this 'normal' in the UK?... it's not, in the US, as far as i know... it wouldn't make sense to promise any edited ms will interest an agent, no matter how well edited it might be...

    ...that goes way over the editing line into 'marketing' and 'managing' and 'packaging' which is another game altogether... and would most likely involve an additional fee...

    ...if they do that, they should be up front about being a 'marketer' or 'manager' or 'packager' not just present themselves as an 'editor'...
     
  17. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Nope, at the time, I didn't see it as nonsensical actually because he only said he'd recommend my MS to agents he knows, he never promised that it'd actually land an agent. The scam part, for me, is the fact that he knew no one in the relevant sector. I thought that it'd give me a slightly better chance at being looked at if someone the agent trusted and respected recommended an MS for them to read. Problem is, he knew no one, so his "recommendation" is about as good as trash.

    Mind you, of course, now that I'm a bit more knowledgeable, I realise that even to promise a recommendation before seeing the final product (for that's what he did, he promised a recommendation) should have been a red alarm. I was insecure and ignorant and stupid, what can I say? Will never happen again, that's for sure! I probably won't ever hire an editor again to be honest.

    As for other editing services - you make it sound like they're trying to scam you. They're not - they're saying they'll help and make a recommendation for you to an agent, or even sell it themselves to a publisher, if they happened to think your MS actually has potential, and books have been published this way before. As for additional fee, now that I can't say, as I was nowhere near finishing my MS so I didn't look that far (and also means I never bookmarked that site and I've now forgotten the name unfortunately)
     
  18. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    You need to get your work up to the best possible standard you can before you submit it to an agent. How you do that is up to you. However, while I agree that the gold standard would be for you to become your own best editor, I doubt that that is truly possible for most of us. Certainly not me. Fresh eyes are more likely to pick up mistakes than most writers because they come from a new perspective. They will read what you wrote, not what you think you wrote, or what you thought you wrote.

    My advice would be to avoid paying for editors if you can. Good ones cost money and there's no guarantee that your work will be picked up leaving you out of pocket. Use your friends and family if you can, people you trust, and if none of them are experts at grammar etc, then use several and hope that between them they will pick up all the problems.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  19. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ...sorry, that wasn't what i meant... only that it crosses the line between 'editor' and 'marketer/manager'...

    ...it's just that this isn't within an editor's normal purview...
     
  20. lettuce head
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    lettuce head Active Member

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    Thanks for that.

    Those who write in hopes of being published are at various stages of development. Some might have a great concept for a novel, but lack the talent to present their idea. Should they throw in the towel? NO! There are a variety of solutions, the best one being to learn to become a writer and to become their own editor. That is important. But not everyone is that good at it, or even wants to be. Editors can be helpful here.

    As to cost, if someone wants to pay an editor to help them, then do it. It isn't against the law. Will you recoup your money? Who knows. Will it increase your chances of being published? It couldn't hurt. It is up to you what you want to do. There isn't a manuscript out there that wouldn't go through an editor before going to press, unless you self publish. Then, it is up to you.
     

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