1. Aster
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    Aster Member

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    Your Attitude towards Professional Editors

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Aster, Jan 30, 2016.

    “Anyone can check spelling and grammar. Why waste money on a professional editor? They don’t do anything a friend or family member can’t do.”

    Is that a common attitude? The Australian print media industry certainly believed it when, about five or six years ago, a number of outlets made a large percentage of their editors redundant. They decided that having the journalist self edit their work would be just as effective.

    As writers, especially those of you aspiring to be published, do you believe it is important to have your work looked over by a professional editor before you start submitting to publishers, or self publish your ebook? Why?

    Have any of you used an editor before? Good experience? Bad experience?
     
  2. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I always use an editor before I self-publish, but never use one before submitting to agents/publishers.

    I think it's very important that a professional editor look at my work before it's available to the public. But I'd rather not be the one paying, so if I'm putting the work out through a publisher, I'm happy to use theirs.

    I do know people who swear by having their work professionally edited prior to submitting to agents, so I would never recommend that anyone not do it. But it's not necessary for me and my writing.
     
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  3. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Personally? No, I don't think I need a professional copy editor, mostly because I am one. I know that a writer isn't able to edit their own work as effectively as an external professional, but I know I'll catch enough mistakes to avoid having my manuscript rejected because of SPAG issues.

    Very, very few non-professional-editors can copy edit as well as the professionals. Being able to spell doesn't make you a good editor, like some people seem to think.
     
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  4. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    I'm going to echo Bay on this. If you're submitting to agents and publishers, no you don't want to have your work edited by a professional prior. This is a very simple thing. If you go trade and get a publisher - they should be doing the editing. And considering that good editing of a novel costs thousands of bucks and that advances from publishers are getting smaller - you could actually lose money being trade published.

    If you are self publishing then yes, absolutely you need to have your work edited by someone competent. And beta read too. And yes this does come out of your own pocket. But you can't put out work to the public that is less than your best.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
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  5. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    IDK. From some of the e-books I have on my kindle, I am embarrassed for the authors on some of them. I ain't no editor, but really some of the stuff coming out these days could use a half-assed decent going over before getting thrown into the grinder. Maybe that is what is to be expected with the new age of self/e-publishing world we live in.

    As much as I would like to get traditionally published, I am fairly certain that is a dream that will never become a reality. But I digress...:p

    I am honestly going to recommend doing what ever you think is best as far as editing goes dependent upon whether you go publisher or indie.
     
  6. HistoricalScience
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    HistoricalScience Active Member

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    I believe having someone besides yourself read and help you edit is incredibly important. It's amazing the things I miss but are so painfully obvious when someone else points them out. I've never hired someone or even looked into it but I certainly don't have a particular attitude toward it.

    If it helps you reach a better end product and don't mind spending the money then why not?
     
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  7. MichaelP
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    MichaelP Active Member

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    The least of an editor's worries will be spelling and grammar. You need a second pair of eyes to critically examine many, many things, including:

    character development

    plot/conflict

    setting

    narration

    pacing

    POV

    dialogue

    consistency (in tone, voice, character personalities, details, etc.)

    prose/style

    general quality of storytelling (proper scene and chapter transition, coherence, emotional satisfaction, etc.).
     
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  8. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    I lucked out in that my wife is an editor. Professionally, she does non-fiction, but the same principles apply: SPAG, tight writing, staying on point, etc.

    She took it upon herself to learn about those things peculiar to fiction (those things talked about by Swain and Snyder, for instance) and now there's no stopping her.

    Bottom line: Yeah, I use one all the time and she gives me a big, fat discount. :)

    This is one of the few times in my life I get to say 'eat your heart out' so please bear with me.
     
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  9. AASmith
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    AASmith Contributing Member

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    I guess this question is more relevant if you plan on self-publishing as I cannot imagine any publishing company taking your work without them having it edited by a professional. Its one thing to be able to edit for typos and grammatical mistakes, its a whole other beast to copy edit. I personally wouldn't publish a book without a pro looking at it.
     
  10. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I wouldn't use an editor for two reasons. One, a writer should be able to edit his or her own work. Two, they cost way too much; it's money the writer is most likely never going to earn back.

    For issues with plot, characterization, etc., consider getting beta readers or join a critique group. Just my opinion.
     
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  11. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi Third,

    It's perhaps a truism but almost no one can edit their own work. It's not about skill levels or anything like that. It's simply that as a writer you usually don't read what you wrote but what you intended to write, or what you meant.

    Look when it comes to issues like plot and continuity you're at the wrong end of a beating to nothing because you'll be sitting there saying this sounds reasonable when someone new to the work will be saying how did this happen? And you'll tell them well that's because this happened earlier on and they'll say maybe it did five drafts ago or in your head but not in what I'm reading.

    As for the money, yes good editing costs. But if you're self publishing you have to simply have faith in your work. If you don't have the money or you don't want to spend it, trade is the way to go. But if you go indie you always have to put out your best work.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
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  12. Elven Candy
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    Elven Candy Contributing Member

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    I hope to find an editor/critic (I think they're called copy editors) when I finish my book, but I'm a novice writer working on my first book/novel.
     
  13. AASmith
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    AASmith Contributing Member

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    Are you planning on going through an agent and/or publish company? if so don't pay to have it edited because that's the publishers job.
     
  14. Elven Candy
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    Elven Candy Contributing Member

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    Right now, I don't know how I plan to publish it. I'm not a very fast writer, so if a publishing company said, "Fix this by this time," I don't know if I could do it. On the other hand, I don't really do social media, so self-publishing could be difficult to do correctly. I'm basically just trying to wet my feet, learn writing, and write a book I can be proud of. If that costs me a little extra for an editor, then so be it. With this being my first book, as long as I'm happy in the end, I'm not really worried about it.

    Edited to add: I appreciate the tip, though. I'll keep it in mind!
     
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  15. Youssef Salameh
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    Youssef Salameh Active Member

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    Thanks so much for this important subject. Yes, sometimes its recommended to have our wok being checked by an editor. However, I prefer to send the work to a person whom the writer is familiar with; a person who is confident with. Still, the writer should carry the responsibility for sending his work to an unknown editor and to have full self control and be prepared to any negative remark put by the editor. Patience and tolerance should be put in mind always.

    Of course, am generally speaking. Am not referring to anybody whomsoever. Love to all.
     
  16. Rickey D. Clay Jr.
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    Rickey D. Clay Jr. Member

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    Good points of view for a good and popular topic. I'm not surprised to see the differences in opinion.

    As adept as I am (or feel I may be) at SPAG or general editing, I'm smart enough to know I need a professional editor. I look over my current manuscript, think about the amount of time I've nurtured it and still find mistakes here and there.

    Those casual finds come from my constant combing through and happenstance of doing revisions and edits. As much as I my try to be a syntactical overseer my eyes aren't as prone to catching what an editor's would. One thing I've noticed when catching my own mistakes...I know what I'm TRYING to say or write already--as I should since it's my creation. Knowing what I'm trying to say sometimes can make me gloss over an error several times instead of seeing it the first time like a professional can.

    Of course it's all opinion. But going to self-publishing route I think editing is vital. Spending money on the most expensive editor, however, is another story. There's lots of qualified editors out there to help finalize your product.
     
  17. Fullmetal Xeno
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    Fullmetal Xeno Protector of Literature Contributor

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    I'm going to echo Thirdwind on this, you might as well edit it yourself if you want a real chance in profit. Unless you're super rich and want to save time, but the chances of that are almost zero. The lazy side of me would just hire an editor and be done with it but i'd much rather do it myself so it's artuculiated exactly the way i want. Many writers lose some sort of their idenitity when they hire a profressional editor because they totally rearrange and cut out things the writer would want to keep.(I could be wrong about that, but that's happened a few times in the past)
     
  18. Samuel Lighton
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    Samuel Lighton Contributing Member

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    I personally think of writing in ways that make sense to me, but make no sense to others. Having someone else read your work, even a friend, is critical. Purely because in the flurry that writing can be, you forget to mention things that you know, because you know them. The reader doesn't.
     
  19. Rickey D. Clay Jr.
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    Rickey D. Clay Jr. Member

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    Exactly. Editing on your own can be a financially prudent move but also can be blindly arrogant (I don't direct this comment at anyone in particular). If there have been beta readers...then self-editing can definitely be done with confidence and saving yourself form the "blindly arrogant" move.
     
  20. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I think the difference in opinion is mostly because some of us (like me) see beta reading as critical but not editing. Other posters seem to use the terms synonymously--counting betas as editors?

    I know I can self-edit for SPAG. I know I can't identify problems with actual content, because it's impossible for me to know what others will think of the characters I love so much or the plot that makes complete sense to me.

    But beta readers point out all that stuff, I edit it, then new betas confirm I've fixed the problem. I see that as very different from hiring an editor.
     
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2016
  21. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    There's also something to be said for being edited by someone who knows the market really well. I can see some self-publishers not wanting this set of opinions, as many self-publishers are self-publishing because they're already been told the market isn't likely to appreciate their book, but I think it's valuable information all the same.
     
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  22. Catrin Lewis
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    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'd have a high opinion of professional editors as a class, if I could afford one. But the money simply isn't there and I have to edit my novel myself. Yes, it scares me to think what I might be missing when I come across typos I've overlooked repeatedly. But I'll have to comfort myself that even if I don't catch them all, my book still won't be one of the wet SPAGgy messes I've previewed on Amazon.

    Ironically, last year a local pro editor offered to look over my WIP for free, if she had time between paid commissions. Kind of her--- then I found out she doesn't touch my subgenre. Oh, well. So it's down to me and the fine-toothed comb.
     
  23. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    There are developmental editors and editors who are doing SPaG checks. The developmental editor will look for problems with plot, story structure, characterization, and the sorts of things that make your story an effective one.
     
  24. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I know.
     
  25. LostThePlot
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    LostThePlot Contributing Member

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    I tend to agree. It's very strange to me to think about hiring an editor to essentially just give me one other human beings opinion. If there's big issues I don't need a pro, someone is going to see them sometime. If there aren't then one persons opinion on the project as a whole is just one person's opinion; an editor can't give me a stamp of approval saying 'This will now get published' so it doesn't feel like I'm getting my money's worth here. Paying might get me a more well fleshed out opinion but that's still an opinion and doesn't say anything about how successful my work might be.

    Essentially; I don't see what I'm paying for here. I trust myself to make my work good. That says nothing about it being to anyone elses taste (Do you like bleak, harrowing tales of people wrestling their inner daemons and having desperate, doomed romances? Then consider becoming a beta reader for me!) but an editor isn't going to help that either. I don't want to say I think editing is a scam, but I do think that a lot of what's happening here is people being lead to believe that they can't be published without spending on an editor when the inverse is true. Being well edited helps sure and you never want to give a publisher another reason to turn you down but if your book sucks no-one will care no matter how well edited it is. If you have a strong idea that is unique and interesting then someone will notice that and (presumably) you can make it readable enough that you'll get there.
     
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