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How To Pick A Good Editor.

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I submitted a sample of my book to an editor. The person made changes to my story that just did not fit my voice, things I thought were rather amateurish.
It left me a bit skeptical. I am a new writer, book wise. I don't know, with any experience, how the process should work. I assume that editors are a necessary part of the process, but how do you pick one that is not going to change your story?
Honestly, I made me wonder how come that editor didn't have their own book published, and what was that result? What if you pay someone a couple grand and they turn your story into something it was not meant to be?
Grammer and the like is one thing, but how many times are you going to have to pay a couple grand for someone to go through your book until someone gets it right. 
I suspect that because of my ignorance I am over reacting, right?
 

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I will leave the answers to the people who have experience with editors.  I am however very interested to know how people go about picking the best editor for their book, and their individual needs.  

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6 hours ago, Jeff Flaig said:

I suspect that because of my ignorance, I am over reacting, right?

 

It's a setup question, Jeff.  

 

So to approach it from a different angle, years ago I was riding up in an elevator with a few other writers I hung with and one or two that I didn't know.  My friends and I had just met with a very well known editor who graciously extended his time and had evaluated our manuscripts which we had forwarded to him in advance.  None of us were happy with what he told us, and we were complaining about it on the way up to the meet and greet room.  I was the most vocal.  I'd written what I thought was the perfect thriller and I thought the editor was an idiot- famous or not.  

 

One of the others in the elevator asked me to explain the editor's criticism of my manuscript.  I told him that the editor suggested changes to the story that I thought were rather amateurish.  I wondered who the editor thought he was, and, if he was so smart, why he hadn't sold a lot of books of his own  (By now this might sound a bit familiar).

 

To my horror, the man who had asked me to explain the editor's criticism of my work actually agreed with the editor.  I basically told him he didn't know what he was talking about and that it was my story and I knew what was best.

 

The elevator bell chimed, the door slid open and the man got off.  I won't tell you what name I called him when the doors closed.

 

One of the other men I didn't know gave me a pitying look, and said, "You do know who that was, don't you?"

 

"No, and I don't care."

 

"It was David Morrell," he said.  "You know, the guy who wrote First Blood."

 

"So?  I never heard of it."

 

I got the same pitying look just as we arrived at our floor and the elevator doors opened.

 

"It was the book they based the movie Rambo on." he said.

 

He didn't bother waiting for a response, but turned and left me staring after him.

 

Later, I told this story to my first real mentor, who was a well published writer, and told me you could divide writers into three camps.  "The first, are the self important, the second are the self indulgent, and the third is a group too small to bother with."

 

I had to ask him what the third group was, so I did.

 

"They're the craftsmen," he said.  "They don't complain, they don't explain; they just write and get better. You won't meet a lot of them."

 

And yes, both of these are real stories.

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Whoa! Red face for sure! All the way down to the toes! I had one experience with an editor and it was a good experience. I won't go into why. Long story and the company went kerflooey...in a fire of hell.

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6 minutes ago, lynnmosher said:

Whoa! Red face for sure!

 

Oh yeah.  I met him again later, and we got to start all over again.  By then I'd learned a little humility.  He is a gracious man.

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Well, I am not arrogant nor do I think that I am special. I appreciate anything that helps me make the book better.  At 3 cents per word for editing services, which amounts to 2,680.00 for my book, I would like to be confident, not accusive.

Just from advice I have received on this site, I have rewritten the first chapter of my book. I wasn't told what to write, like that first editor did, but It was pointed out that it was too slow, sleepy. There was a lot of good imput. So, I am not set in my ways nor do I think I am beyond learning. I don't even mind giving my book out for free to anyone who wants to read it. 

I am not trying to come across as bashing editors. I am certain that editing is a good business for many.



 

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26 minutes ago, Jeff Flaig said:

2,680.00

The print is so small I managed to misread your price.  I had to do a double take when I thought you wrote 2,680,000.  o_O

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Posted (edited)

 

10 hours ago, Jeff Flaig said:

I appreciate anything that helps me make the book better.  At 3 cents per word for editing services, which amounts to 2,680.00 for my book,

 

3 cents per word is a little on the low side for a quality editor.  But it is a good example of why publishers pay editors instead of writers.  Good editing costs a lot of money.  And it's a rough business to be in, because in the end, no book doctor can guarantee a writer will be published by a real publisher, and no writer is happy with that result.   

 

If you don't mind me asking, what results did you have when submitting the book to publishers?  Did you get any encouragement at all before looking at spending money on a book doctor, or were you just trying to polish it before trying to get published?  If an in house editor sees the talent in your work, it's their job to work with you on your book- and you don't have to pay anything at all for that service.

 

More and more self published writers are considering paying someone else to improve their books before self publishing, but that business model is sometimes awkward considering the payback for self published books is so small.   However, there are so many people self publishing that the overall industry concern is that the quality of books overall is declining due to the lack of quality editing. and I think that the costs of quality editing are a big reason it is getting pushed aside in favor of writing communities trying to help each other.  We all pitch in a little to lower the cost burden.

 

Writing communities such as this are a big help in another way, and that is the sense of community itself.  Many writers falter and give up simply because of the isolation and lack of encouragement.  Nothing spells frustration better than the writer who has sent the same manuscript to twenty publishers without receiving one encouraging word back in return for months and years of work.

 

Whether or not a writer is working to be traditionally published or chooses to publish their own work, writing communities are a lot cheaper and often more supportive and less demanding than editors.  

 

 

Edited by suspensewriter
yet another hideous comma faux paus
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17 minutes ago, suspensewriter said:

 

 

3 cents per word is a little on the low side for a quality editor.  But it is a good example of why publishers pay editors instead of writers.  Good editing costs a lot of money.  And it's a rough business to be in, because in the end, no book doctor can guarantee a writer will be published by a real publisher, and no writer is happy with that result.   

 

If you don't mind me asking, what results did you have when submitting the book to publishers?  Did you get any encouragement at all before looking at spending money on a book doctor, or were you just trying to polish it before trying to get published?  If an in house editor sees the talent in your work, it's their job to work with you on your book- and you don't have to pay anything at all for that service.

 

More and more self published writers are considering paying someone else to improve their books before self publishing, but that business model is sometimes awkward considering the payback for self published books is so small.   However, there are so many people self publishing that the overall industry concern is that the quality of books overall is declining due to the lack of quality editing. and I think that the costs of quality editing are a big reason it is getting pushed aside in favor of writing communities trying to help each other.  We all pitch in a little to lower the cost burden.

 

Writing communities such as this are a big help in another way, and that is the sense of community itself.  Many writers falter and give up simply because of the isolation and lack of encouragement.  Nothing spells frustration better than the writing who has sent the same manuscript to twenty publishers without receiving one encouraging word back in return for months and years of work.

 

Whether or not a writer is working to be traditionally published or chooses to publish their own work, writing communities are a lot cheaper and often more supportive and less demanding than editors.  

 

 

Wow,  A couple thousand dollars, according to the OP,  can take a long time to recoup while making $2-$6 dollars per book self published.  I realize it's worth it as far as quality word smithing goes but I don't see how a self-published individual could survive.  I'm willing to pay for services but that much would kick me out of the game at this point in my writing.  I'm glad there are communities such as this that help each other.  

 

Related question (OP not trying to hijack).    How does one find a quality editor, just through word of mouth?

 

steve

Edited by SEHatfield

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19 minutes ago, SEHatfield said:

How does one find a quality editor, just through word of mouth?

 

Joining professional writers organizations such as the SFWA are a great place to start.  

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37 minutes ago, SEHatfield said:

 I realize it's worth it as far as quality word smithinggoes but I don't see how a self-published individual could survive.

 

The vast majority of self-published writers don't, and in fact don't make enough money to pay for groceries.  Writing is a tough business.  The common response to this is that they don't do it for the money, but from a certain standpoint the difference between a writer and an author is that an author makes enough from their writing to eat.

 

But there are other considerations, such as love of the craft and the need to be heard that really do count as well.

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That is the problem Steve.  What if you select an editor and they turn out to be bad editors, and then you are out thousands of dollars. I have heard from a number of writers who have not recouped their investments after a long period of time, and they were happy with their editors. One editor might be good for one person and bad for another. 


 I know that a lot of those who offer their services list their accomplishments. For example, Reedsy has a number of them. 
Most of them don't work in Christian genre. I hit that wall hard. 
I am being honest when I say that I am not bashing editors. I know that is probably a necessary evil at some point, although
I can't comprehend that an editor is going to give the kind of feed back this site does/did.
I appreciate that, and am saying so to all who have responded to my posts, and I hope to get more involved responding in like kind, to see if my 2cents is worth 2cents. 


  It makes me think that the editors are the ones making money. We all want our picture taken and we all pay for it, good or bad we all pay for it. 

Quote"If you don't mind me asking, what results did you have when submitting the book to publishers?  Did you get any encouragement at all before looking at spending money on a book doctor, or were you just trying to polish it before trying to get published?  If an in house editor sees the talent in your work, it's their job to work with you on your book- and you don't have to pay anything at all for that service."

I have not submitted my book to a publisher yet. I have a couple that are after me and hounding me, but neither have read my book or any part thereof, which makes me suspicious and the reason I'm expressing all this uncertainty. 
I had a couple bata readers and got some good feedback. I didn't know one of them and one I have only known for a short while. 
I got the response I had hoped the book would generate. 
I always thought that was the way it was supposed to be suspensewriter. I have two friends who have both been published. Each one received advances on their books and never mentioned paying for editing services. 

Ok, unless it hits the best seller on the NY list, and comes with a movie deal, I am having none of it!!   LOL
 

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14 minutes ago, suspensewriter said:

 

But there are other considerations, such as love of the craft and the need to be heard that really do count as well.

I Agree!

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49 minutes ago, Jeff Flaig said:

I have not submitted my book to a publisher yet. I have a couple that are after me and hounding me, but neither have read my book or any part thereof, which makes me suspicious and the reason I'm expressing all this uncertainty. 

 

Yes, you should be very suspicious. For they are likely seeking your payment of thousands of dollars. ALWAYS seek advice first here before you sign up with anyone.

 

Also, I think in services offered, there is a list of editors. You might want to check it out.

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36 minutes ago, lynnmosher said:

For they are likely seeking your payment of thousands of dollars. ALWAYS seek advice first here before you sign up with anyone.

 

Absolutely great advice.  Never, ever pay a publisher anything.  Real publishers pay us, not the other way around.

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I don't want to step on anyone's toes, but I feel the need to point something out.  If you intend to make money/a living on your books, then you need to think of your writing as a business.  I know the argument is always that I love to write, and I'm not doing it for the money.  By think of it like this; your pursuing a job that you love.  Don't we all want that?  So if you are thinking like a small startup business, then you need to know a few things.  First, it takes roughly five years for a business to turn a profit.  Why because all the money you make is placed back into the business to help it grow.  Second, there is a lot of money and work you will place into the business before you have your grand opening, or in this case first book release.  It sounds hard and intimidating, but it helps you to focus on the big picture and not your momentary frustrations.  After all, this too shall pass.  I hope this helps a little!  :)

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25 minutes ago, Alley said:

I don't want to step on anyone's toes, but I feel the need to point something out.  If you intend to make money/a living on your books, then you need to think of your writing as a business.

 

I'm with you on this point, Alley, but most writer's don't think of it that way, primarily because they either lack the self-confidence or for some reason feel that making money writing taints the "selflessness" of what they're doing.  But, in fact, most of the writers I've met and worked with over the years don't want to think of the business aspects of writing this way because it is a "metric" whereby others can judge their success as a writer, and writers loathe being judged- most would rather be "misunderstood" or "under-appreciated."

 

For example, writers have an almost phobic aversion to being asked: "What are you book sales to date?"  This is especially hideous if the writer is expected to respond in dollars and cents.  Writers intuitively know that business metrics easily destroy the illusion that they are "real authors."

 

I've said this before, but this is the reason there is such a large market for "how-to-write-books."  It is also the reason that most writers I know spend more on "how-to-write-books" than they make off of writing.  

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As a reader:

 

I get a book from Amazon or Google and it's a mess with four star reviews. Typos and grammatical mistakes that are laugh-out-loud funny. Continuity errors. "If I wasn't so busy with my own stuff, I could fix this."

 

As a writer who has already paid for a service: "Can you give me a clean copy with spelling and grammatical mistakes corrected, leaving only notes about pacing and word choice? I value your opinion, but I'm paying you to perform a service and I'm not happy with the result."

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52 minutes ago, Alley said:

If you intend to make money/a living on your books, then you need to think of your writing as a business. 

Having operated three home-based  businesses in my lifetime, I don't think I could ever look at writing as a business or a job. But I still think I could make a living or at least buy a chocolate bar once in a while. Chocolate is my goal😂

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8 minutes ago, EClayRowe said:

"If I wasn't so busy with my own stuff, I could fix this."

 

I sense an editor in the making, EClay!😉😉

 

10 minutes ago, EClayRowe said:

As a writer who has already paid for a service: "Can you give me a clean copy with spelling and grammatical mistakes corrected, leaving only notes about pacing and word choice? I value your opinion, but I'm paying you to perform a service and I'm not happy with the result."

 

If you don't mind me asking, what were the payment terms?  If they didn't do the job (the book doctor service), did you pay them up front?  Progressive payments?  Or was there a clause negating the final payment if you weren't happy with the final product?

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12 minutes ago, Woman-of-Hope said:

Having operated three home-based  businesses in my lifetime, I don't think I could ever look at writing as a business or a job. But I still think I could make a living or at least buy a chocolate bar once in a while. Chocolate is my goal😂

 

Unfortunately, writing is a business just like any other business. Depending on the amount, you still have to report the income from your work to the IRS, unless you give everything away or make very little. And it's always best to set up a DBA (or other). And a separate bank account is good as well. 

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2 minutes ago, lynnmosher said:

 

Unfortunately, writing is a business just like any other business. Depending on the amount, you still have to report the income from your work to the IRS, unless you give everything away or make very little. And it's always best to set up a DBA (or other). And a separate bank account is good as well. 

oh yes the part of operating a business I understand. I doubt as a poet I will ever generate enough income to matter. 

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