1. Tea@3

    Tea@3 Senior Member

    Dec 18, 2015
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    Paying for professional editing prior to submission

    Discussion in 'Editing' started by Tea@3, Dec 31, 2016.

    How common is this nowadays? I hear a lot of talk about betas, but a quick search returned very little on authors hiring professional editors.

    Bayview mentioned hiring one recently but that was in reference to her self-pub experiment. I'm wondering if paying an editor is something to consider before one submits traditionally, as well as how the process works, vetting, what the price range is, etc.

    Anyone want to chime in?

  2. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

    Sep 6, 2014
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    Conventional wisdom is that you shouldn't hire an editor. If you get a good one they're really expensive (and you have no guarantee that your book will find a home, so it's quite a gamble) and if you get a bad one they can do more harm than good. I've never hired one for anything I've submitted to publishers.

    That said... I've learned a lot from working with some of my editors (paid for by publishers) and have been able to take this education with me to future projects. Lots of people pay a lot of money for writing courses and other educational opportunities, so why not pay for an editor instead, and get your learning that way?

    I'm cheap, so from that perspective I'd suggest trying at least a few agents/publishers with the un-edited MS - if it sells, yay, you save money! If it doesn't sell? Well...

    You can find suggested rates at http://www.the-efa.org/res/rates.php. In my experience these are a bit high, but I'd be wary of going too much below them because there are a lot of people out there calling themselves editors and competing wildly for work but who don't really have the relevant training to do the job well.

    When I look for an editor I want someone who has industry experience as an editor, not someone with an English degree or whatever else. A lot of what a good editor will be looking at isn't SPAG, but content - a good editor should know the genre and hopefully the sub-genre in which you're writing well enough to be able to pick out overused ideas, cliches, and also market trends. Again, though, you have to pay for this expertise...
    Tenderiser, jjwiggin, Malisky and 2 others like this.
  3. TWErvin2

    TWErvin2 Contributor Contributor

    Nov 30, 2006
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    Ohio, USA
    When submitting to publishers, you obviously want to have as clean and the best quality manuscript that you can. However, there is the expectation that, if your manuscript is accepted, your publisher will assign an editor.

    You've looked up beta readers. They are the folks who will read your manuscript with a critical eye, and tell you both what works and what needs work. They'll point out character inconsistencies and plot holes, for example. They'll tell you what parts were wordy and dragged, and what parts were too sparse, and need clarification. Things like that.

    The best beta readers are well-read, especially in the genre, and are willing to be honest with you, and not be concerned about potentially hurting your feelings.

    One thing I tend to do is to have several readers. I don't take every suggestion each of them makes, because, in the end it's my writing and my vision. Nor am I bullheaded, thinking my writing is near perfect, and I only need the readers to possibly spot a typo here and there. Often, since they're not writers themselves, they don't always have suggestions, they're just able to point to an aspect of a scene or a character that isn't working, or is flawed. If two or more readers independently observe a concern, it's something I really take a close look at.

    Finally, finding good beta readers is very difficult. It takes time, and they have to be the sort that can and will point out concerns. You may ask and some will volunteer, but in the end they don't follow through. Whatever you do, don't hold that against them or resent them for not helping you out. There are a number of reasons they didn't finish the task, but just accept that it didn't happen and move on. Maybe they'll help with a future manuscript. Maybe not. Just move on.

    I have seen where authors on forums trade manuscripts to assist each other. This can be great, or it can be a disaster. Just as an editor is there to improve the work, but not put their spin or slant on it or the characters, that is what a beta reader is supposed to do. What I have observed is that some authors, especially those early in their career or working to get that first novel published, read and make suggestions directed toward 'how they would do it' or what they think a character should do, if they were writing the novel. It's probably not intentional, but often the result is not very helpful to the author of the piece being beta-read and commented on. That doesn't mean it can't work. It's just a pitfall that I've observed over the years, and doubly so, having been a member of and moderated several online crit groups.

    If you intend to trade with an author for mutual beta reading efforts, I'd do a couple of things:
    Trade the first three chapters and beta read for each other this sample. This way each has an idea what to expect from the other, and determine if it's writing or a storyline they care both comfortable with and can assist with. Say it's urban fantasy. Some are fairly 'clean' while others border on erotica. If you're bored with the former or very uncomfortable with the latter, you might politely pass. The writing sample you received might be a horrible mess (it happens), and there's no way you will be able to help, not in a reasonable time frame. You will also find out what kind of assistance you'll be getting from the potential crit partner. If there's no quality there, it's time to pass on the project. In addition, you may be sending the potential partner an 80,000 word novel, and they hope for you to read their 350,000 word epic. That could be a major problem.

    Thus, actually this trial is of benefit to both potential partners.

    What has happened is that two crit partners that initially help each other, continue to do so for years to come, even as their careers advance. Obviously you'd want to screen and feel comfortable with your beta reader before a full exchange of manuscripts. Often they are online strangers. You might, for example, uphold your end of the deal and they do not.

    The beta route may not pan out or be a viable option, so if you determine that hiring an editor is the better (or only) option, definitely give careful consideration to what BayView said above.

    Okay, that's my two cents and a little off topic. Hope it helps.
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2016
  4. ToBeInspired

    ToBeInspired Senior Member

    Jul 16, 2013
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    It's dependent on how much work the editor has to go through, but $30 - 60 p/h is common, or some such as $1.75 per word. Around every 55k words tends to cost around a $1000 for decent quality.

    For shorter books, it can be helpful too hire a professional editorial service if you believe the potential gain offsets the initial cost. I would recommend considering a professional cover artist as well if you decide on that route.

    For larger books, such as high fantasy, it could well cost over $4000. I feel it would be better to wait for an acceptance letter from a publisher or use Beta readers and self-editing if deigning to be a self published author.

    Sorry if this was almost a month later, I was actually just looking at options myself. I would suggest using a search engine. There are sites where you can hire a staff member based upon the job. Many forms of communication available, so you could specify certain aspects to be focused on as opposed to the novel in entirety. Specific chapters, pages, or lines that are an issue. These people are normally paid hourly.

    If you simply need a cleanup there are software programs available. Of course you may always use a full editorial service, but I would wait until a few rounds of editing before spending your money.

    Good luck.

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