1. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    What to expect from a professional editor?

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by jannert, Apr 28, 2017.

    I've noticed quite a few threads and posts regarding payment of fees to a professional editor to edit your work before you send out queries or self-publish. People aren't sure what these editors actually do, or what to expect of a good one. Do they look at story issues? Do they deal with SPAG issues? Do they simply proofread for typos and formatting errors? Do they do all three?

    Here's a blog entry by a professional editor that I ran across this morning. It explains some of what an editor can do, and the different ways an editor might work with you—and a few pitfalls to avoid.

    http://lisapoisso.com/2016/03/11/error-rate/

    -------- (Useful links Jannert added later in the thread, copied below)

    Ah. This different page from the blog I quoted in the OP answers a lot of my questions. At least about how this particular editor chooses clients. Seems like a lot of preliminary work goes into selecting her clients, including a face-to-face (or telephone) conversation.
    http://lisapoisso.com/editing/how-does-editing-work/

    The links in the blog are informative as well. Here's one, by another freelance editor, that deals with how to know if your MS is ready for a professional edit. http://theeditorsblog.net/2011/12/07/why-i-would-decline-an-edit/
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 30, 2017
  2. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll "It's a messy business." :P Supporter Contributor

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    Screw writing for a living, become an editor they make bank.
    $800 for 80k, that is not too shabby. Though at that price they
    better make it bloody pristine. :p
     
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  3. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I have a writer friend here in Scotland who took on a paid editing job for a writer in the USA who contacted him about the work. My friend was well paid at the end of it, but it sucked up a couple of months of his time, and he said it was the hardest work he'd ever done. It also interfered mightily with his own writing.

    I do a lot of beta reading, and while I find it enjoyable, it does really cut into my own writing time. Not so much the time itself, actually, but the energy. Instead of solving my own writing issues, I'm working on solving somebody else's. I find I can't do both at the same time.

    So be careful what you wish for! My friend said he'd never do that kind of work again. That's how hard it was.
     
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  4. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    Editors have a tough job and are paid next to nothing if you break it down to how long it takes to do the work.

    Of course, if you're a writer making nothing off your work then anyone who makes anything must seem like they're doing well, but by most standards? Yikes.
     
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  5. Mckk

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    to be quite honest, I don't think I'd ever wanna be an editor. Sorry but having to trawl through 80k words' worth of well... what is usually trash? Think of the sheer amount of slush agents have to go through - except now the freelance editor gets that same slush in an even worse condition. The agent, though, has the choice to ditch the trash after the first chapter or two. The editor, since he is being paid? No chance. You gotta trawl through it - and then you probably get some pretty ungrateful responses too, I imagine. Writers who can't take critique, writers who won't change what you can see is a major flaw "because that's their style" or some other vanity, and you know none of that work you've done would make any difference. At all. With no power to force any change either. I imagine it's a pretty thankless task.

    Editor at a publishing house perhaps - because at least the quality has already been vetted. But even then, I actually just loathe having to read anything that doesn't interest me. But as an editor, you don't have that choice.

    Nah I'll stick with being a writer :D
     
  6. Robeey

    Robeey Member

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    Professional Editing.
    Sorry
     
  7. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I wonder if professional editors get to look at a MS before they agree to take it on as a paid project? Does anybody know? It seems only fair. If you're wanting somebody to fix your roof, you'll ask them to come by and give you a quote. They'll either quote you a price based on what they think needs to be done, or they'll say no, they don't think they can tackle it. Seems only fair that a would-be editor would be able to do the same thing. Dunno.

    If you were able to choose your projects, then maybe it might not be so awful.
     
  8. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    I think it depends on the publishing house. I know that at smaller houses the acquiring editor job and the developmental editing job are often done by the same person. But at larger houses the jobs are separate, in my experience.

    I mean, I assume there would be some flexibility--like, if a developmental editor was absolutely morally opposed to something in the book, or something like that, I'd hope there'd be leeway? And I'm pretty sure they're able to sort of built reputations for themselves in the genres they prefer, so that'd help. But I don't think they generally get to pick and choose between projects.
     
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  9. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I think I'm talking about a different kind of editor. One that a writer will pay to edit their book before submitting it to agents or self-pubbing. Lots of people seem to want one. I know of two people who recently have hired editors ...with differing degrees of satisfaction. I was hoping one of them would chime in to this thread.

    I just wondered if it's ethical for a freelance editor to ask to see a manuscript before they agree to take it on as an editing project. Because if not ...woooo.
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2017
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  10. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    I assume self-employed editors could turn down any project they didn't want to work on? Who's going to stop them?
     
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  11. Mckk

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Yeah I'm pretty sure the editor will quote a price according to how much work they think they'll have to do on the MS, so it's true that a trashy MS would have a larger monetary reward as motivation. A lot of editors also give sample editing - in this sense, they'll definitely get to see at least Chapter One before committing. But I honestly haven't seen any editor who would be like, "Show me your work first and then I'll decide if I want it."

    For me, I just don't find it attractive when I have an obligation to finish a book. I don't like the idea of not being able to put it down should my interest dwindle.
     
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  12. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView Supporter

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    Most of the freelance editors I've seen advertising offer a free edit on the first 1k words or 2k words. I assume this is partly a marketing tool and partly so they can see the state of the manuscript and how the author takes criticism before they agree to the job.
     
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  13. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I meant do they get to look at the whole MS before they agree to the project and offer a contract?

    I just wonder what the procedure is. You contact them, they tell you to send them the whole MS and then they give you a quote? Or you only send them a chapter and they give you a quote on the basis of that chapter? Or what?

    I've seen quite a few ads for editors in Writers' Digest, etc, and I don't remember them implying they pick and choose their clients based on whether or not they like your writing. So if they don't—if they take on anybody willing to pay, as the ads imply—it must be difficult work, as @Mckk suggests.

    I'm not advocating anything in particular here. Just asking the question. Has anybody on this thread hired an editor before? Just wondered how the contract works from that angle.

    My friend who got inveigled into editing that one time (he's not a freelance editor) took a look at part of the writer's MS, read the prospectus for the book, and agreed to take it on. He gave the guy a flat quote, based on word count, and the guy accepted it. As my friend worked his way through, he realised he'd severely underestimated the time it was going to take him. To make matters worse, the author kept sending him more chapters that he'd 'thought of' during the edit period. My friend isn't a dunce, and he said he'd have to charge more for extra chapters beyond what they'd originally agreed to ...but the guy cheerfully paid him the extra. So the project, which was only supposed to take about a month, took nearly three! And it was hard going, because the writing wasn't very good from lots of different perspectives.

    I do a lot of voluntary line-by-line critiques and beta-reading, and I've had several people suggest I should charge for it. Uh ...NO! :eek: I'd have to be an expert, which I'm definitely not.

    .................

    Ah. This different page from the blog I quoted in the OP answers a lot of my questions. At least about how this particular editor chooses clients. Seems like a lot of preliminary work goes into selecting her clients, including a face-to-face (or telephone) conversation.
    http://lisapoisso.com/editing/how-does-editing-work/

    The links in the blog are informative as well. Here's one, by another freelance editor, that deals with how to know if your MS is ready for a professional edit. http://theeditorsblog.net/2011/12/07/why-i-would-decline-an-edit/
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2017
  14. Pinkymcfiddle

    Pinkymcfiddle Banned

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    I had a mate who sent a screen play to a professional editor... after a few pages he sent it back saying it was crap and a waste of money and time. I then read it... it was all music scores and massive battles and AWFUL dialogue. It was crap.
     
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  15. Mckk

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    @jannert - i think it would have been wiser for your friend to say, "Due to obligations to other projects and limited time, I am afraid i cannot agree to work on any additional chapters you may have." :crazy: Tell the guy that every new chapter counts as one new project, and you are no longer taking new projects until further notice. I do not think just because you have agreed to editing an MS that it means it can go on indefinitely - most writers would certainly love that lol. A lot of editors also specify how many revisions they are willing to read, number of skype or email consultations they will engage in after the final edit. It's only wise.
     
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  16. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Well, it was his first and only time playing 'editor,' and he didn't quite know what the best way of proceding was—and the adding-in of more chapters was something he didn't expect. (He's a writer, who simply agreed to do this as a one-off, because the author approached him with the proposition.) It was a case of biting off more than he wanted to chew. He did get paid for his extra effort—the client was genuine, and wasn't trying it on—but it was much more time-consuming than my friend thought it would be. Live and learn, eh? He said he'd never do that sort of thing again.
     
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  17. Pinkymcfiddle

    Pinkymcfiddle Banned

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    Honesty is always best imo. Sugarcoating is harmful.
     
  18. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    My self-pubbed stuff goes to a professional editor, but it's someone I worked with at a publishing house before she went freelance, so she already knew what my writing would be like. There was never any discussion of her refusing to work on my projects based on her not liking the MS.
     
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  19. Pinkymcfiddle

    Pinkymcfiddle Banned

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    Oh my God, were you blackmailing the poor woman?
     
  20. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    She knows better than to mess with me.
     
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  21. Mckk

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    @jannert - I edited your OP to include the two links you added later, as I thought they were really informative. I've also stickied the thread so perhaps in future people can refer back to these links and the discussion when it arises again :)
     
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  22. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Oh, good. I thought both blogs were excellent references for many writer issues, not just the one I originally brought up. I've bookmarked them on my computer, actually. These people really seem to know their stuff.
     
  23. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Yes. The first blogger I quoted, Lisa Poisso, says she has repeat clients, and she gives them a discount.
     
  24. Soapbox

    Soapbox Member

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    Hey guys! I'm a developmental editor and I hope I can add a little to your thread here. Basically I can let you know how I work and how a few of my colleagues do it.

    The first step most of us take is to do a sample. It's not only to see if they want to 'take on' the project (more on that later) but to make sure you and your editor can work well together. Everyone has their different style and personality, and for a great working relationship to start, you need to know what your expectations are. So, the sample is as much for you as the editor. Don't like her using the phrase "I think" or "we could" then move on. No harm no foul.

    Most editors I know won't turn down a project. Sometime we run into manuscripts that aren't ready yet, though. In my opinion, this should be handled delicately. A quick few polite paragraphs explaining why the work isn't ready yet is what is needed with an offer to look at it again after revisions are made. An editor should never, never tell you that your work is crap. Ever. It's rude, unprofessional, and just plain untrue. I think of it as not ready.

    Someone mentioned getting an edit of 80K words for $800. That's damn good deal! There are a lot of hours that go into it and the faster you are the more you can make. Really great editors can cost up to thousands of dollars for the same 80K. If you can find a good editor for that price, hold on to them tight! Usually they are newer and need the experience, too, so if you can help each other out, even better.

    If anyone has any questions about anything, feel free to hit me up. I don't have all the answers, but I could sure help ya find em.
     
  25. EFMingo

    EFMingo A Nefarious Flamingo Contributor

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    Thank you @jannert.

    I understand this is an old article and post, but it was very insightful.
     

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