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Thread: CHOOSING AN EDITOR: A RUSH (OR RASH) DECISION

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    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin Noman's Avatar
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    CHOOSING AN EDITOR: A RUSH (OR RASH) DECISION

    I've been in touch with countless freelance editors and gotten sample chapters. Some are of better quality than others.
    I'm left with a major question. Most list books they worked on that were published. The more, the better they look. Looking more closely, however, many are Indies (which I consider padding their page). Some have been with specialized publishers: Christian presses, special interests, etc.
    Other than a single, sample chapter, how can you judge how well an editor does developmental/substantive work?
    I also contacted EFA and asked what qualifies their members. No reply. Just sent a second email.

  2. #2
    Now is the winter of my discontent. haunted's Avatar
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    It takes time to find a good one, and usually several bad experiences to find one as well! good luck in your search.
    Last edited by haunted; 12-01-2012 at 06:38 AM.

  3. #3
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin Noman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by haunted View Post
    I went through 2 editors on EFA , wildly different in their abilities as it turned out. The third one I tried is fantastic. She knows her stuff, and is also good to bounce ideas off--and can point out where something needs added or fixed. It's taught me a lot. She also does quick work for her price, which was a problem with others...I now believe it takes time to find a good one, and usually several bad experiences to find one as well! good luck in your search.
    Care to share the name? Trial and error is costly and I've been through one egotist already.

  4. #4
    crazy mean SuperModerator Old Hack's Avatar
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    Norman, WHY ARE YOU SHOUTING AT US ALL?

    Quote Originally Posted by Noman View Post
    Most list books they worked on that were published. The more, the better they look. Looking more closely, however, many are Indies (which I consider padding their page).
    It's not padding to list books they've edited, no matter where or how those books have been published. Self publishing is an increasingly valid choice for writers now.

    Having had your book edited doesn't automatically mean that it's good; just as editing a bad book doesn't automatically mean that you're a bad editor.

    Some have been with specialized publishers: Christian presses, special interests, etc.
    True. But again, this doesn't indicate the skill of the editor concerned.

    Other than a single, sample chapter, how can you judge how well an editor does developmental/substantive work?
    You can't. And you can't tell from reading the books they've edited how well they do this either, as it's up to the writer to decide whether or not to impliment their editor's suggestions.

    I also contacted EFA and asked what qualifies their members. No reply. Just sent a second email.
    EFA?

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    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin Noman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Old Hack View Post
    Norman, WHY ARE YOU SHOUTING AT US ALL?



    It's not padding to list books they've edited, no matter where or how those books have been published. Self publishing is an increasingly valid choice for writers now.

    Having had your book edited doesn't automatically mean that it's good; just as editing a bad book doesn't automatically mean that you're a bad editor.



    True. But again, this doesn't indicate the skill of the editor concerned.



    You can't. And you can't tell from reading the books they've edited how well they do this either, as it's up to the writer to decide whether or not to impliment their editor's suggestions.



    EFA?
    Old Hack,
    Not intentionally shouting, just hit the CAPS. BTW, it's Noman.
    Good points.
    EFA=Editorial Freelancers Association.

  6. #6
    resident curmudgeon
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    Self-publishing means absolutely nothing when choosing an editor. Self-publishing may be valid, but no matter how lousy the editor is, the book will still be published, even if the editor has no knowledge at all about grammar, punctuation, storyline, or anything else.

    If you want a good editor, you must find one who has edited books sold to major publishers. Such editors do exist, and they are expensive. This is one area, however, where you really do get what you pay for.

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    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin Noman's Avatar
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    Thanks James.

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    volitare nequeo AW Moderator veinglory's Avatar
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    A freelance, versus staff, editor is most likely going to work on self-published material at least some of the time. Rather than padding I would call that: making a living.

    An obvious quality check would be to go to Amazon and look at the sample chapters. These are works the editor is actively offering as examples, so they should be close to flawless in terms of the actual prose.

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    Quote Originally Posted by veinglory View Post
    A freelance, versus staff, editor is most likely going to work on self-published material at least some of the time. Rather than padding I would call that: making a living.

    An obvious quality check would be to go to Amazon and look at the sample chapters. These are works the editor is actively offering as examples, so they should be close to flawless in terms of the actual prose.
    good idea, veinglory. Thanks.

  10. #10
    crazy mean SuperModerator Old Hack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noman View Post
    Old Hack,
    Not intentionally shouting, just hit the CAPS. BTW, it's Noman.
    Good points.
    EFA=Editorial Freelancers Association.
    Sorry, Noman: I knew that was your name and as I was typing it I was thinking to myself, "Don't call him Norman!" Fat lot of good that did, eh?

    Typing in all caps is considered shouting online, just so you know for future reference. It's a bit in-your-face, and you might like to not make a habit of doing it as you will irritate people without intending to do so if you're not careful.

    I second the suggestion to look for a freelance editor who has worked with good publishers. Whatever you do, avoid the editing services offered by vanity presses like AuthorHouse: I've seen several of the books they've edited, and the work is not good.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Old Hack View Post
    Sorry, Noman: I knew that was your name and as I was typing it I was thinking to myself, "Don't call him Norman!" Fat lot of good that did, eh?

    Typing in all caps is considered shouting online, just so you know for future reference. It's a bit in-your-face, and you might like to not make a habit of doing it as you will irritate people without intending to do so if you're not careful.

    I second the suggestion to look for a freelance editor who has worked with good publishers. Whatever you do, avoid the editing services offered by vanity presses like AuthorHouse: I've seen several of the books they've edited, and the work is not good.
    What is your take on Whitaker House Publishers, David C. Cook Christian publisher, and Thomas Nelson publisher of Christian books?

  12. #12
    crazy mean SuperModerator Old Hack's Avatar
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    I've not worked for or with them; Thomas Nelson has a vanity arm, I believe, but is otherwise good. But this isn't the place to discuss the pros and cons of various publishers: we have a whole room for that called Bewares, Recommendations, and Background Checks. I'm sure there's a long thread about Nelson there.

  13. #13
    Tell it like it Is Susan Littlefield's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noman View Post
    What is your take on Whitaker House Publishers, David C. Cook Christian publisher, and Thomas Nelson publisher of Christian books?
    Noman!

    According to Preditors and Editors: Thomas Nelson: Not recommended. A vanity Christian publisher.

    David C. Cook is not listed at P&E, but according to their website they are not accepting unsolicited manuscripts or proposals.

    Thoams Neslon is not listed at P&E. They say they traditionally and self-publish, but prefer agented manuscripts.
    Susan

    Please visit my website: http://www.susanlittlefield.blogspot.com/


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    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin Noman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Susan Littlefield View Post
    Noman!

    According to Preditors and Editors: Thomas Nelson: Not recommended. A vanity Christian publisher.

    David C. Cook is not listed at P&E, but according to their website they are not accepting unsolicited manuscripts or proposals.

    Thoams Neslon is not listed at P&E. They say they traditionally and self-publish, but prefer agented manuscripts.
    Thanks Susan.

  15. #15
    Travel biologist, piss-poor fluffer quicklime's Avatar
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    I'm just going to address the elephant in the roomo, as the answer may have ripple effects in how your other question is best answered:

    Why hire an editor instead of learning the craft yourself?


    that's not a slam against editors, or anything else, just an inquiry. your needs and spending may be different for light-proofing versus "I have no idea what the hell I'm doing, beyond a really good story" for example
    Three words that convey the meaning of six will always look better than twelve...


    a' traveling:
    --June 15 week: Chicago

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    Quote Originally Posted by quicklime View Post
    I'm just going to address the elephant in the roomo, as the answer may have ripple effects in how your other question is best answered:

    Why hire an editor instead of learning the craft yourself?


    that's not a slam against editors, or anything else, just an inquiry. your needs and spending may be different for light-proofing versus "I have no idea what the hell I'm doing, beyond a really good story" for example
    A valid question.
    As someone who has published non-fiction, I have certain skills that I apply in writing and self-editing. When you get editing-related replies from agents and publishers on your ms, it's time to seriously consider their services. I'm too close to the work and can't get the distance to "see" what is needed to condense and enhance the work. Betas can only go so far.

  17. #17
    Travel biologist, piss-poor fluffer quicklime's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noman View Post
    A valid question.
    As someone who has published non-fiction, I have certain skills that I apply in writing and self-editing. When you get editing-related replies from agents and publishers on your ms, it's time to seriously consider their services. I'm too close to the work and can't get the distance to "see" what is needed to condense and enhance the work. Betas can only go so far.


    I'm not sure I agree on the betas part, and consider the learning distance a skill every writer should have, but skip all that--elaborate on the bit in bold:


    What sort of replies, and what editors/publishers?

    Bear in mind there are scammers out there who do this to send authors to "their" editing services, and in contrast big publishers and agents usually give those in need of editing a form letter rather than comments on the work. Not always, but in general...
    Three words that convey the meaning of six will always look better than twelve...


    a' traveling:
    --June 15 week: Chicago

  18. #18
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin Noman's Avatar
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    Yes, I've gotten a couple of form letters with positive comments and recommendations, but no referrals to editors. Shortening it by 10K has been a recurrent theme. But where to cut? That's where I'm too close.
    In contrast, betas loved it as it was, so I have a disconnect.

  19. #19
    Travel biologist, piss-poor fluffer quicklime's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noman View Post
    Yes, I've gotten a couple of form letters with positive comments and recommendations, but no referrals to editors. Shortening it by 10K has been a recurrent theme. But where to cut? That's where I'm too close.
    In contrast, betas loved it as it was, so I have a disconnect.

    "form letters" don't include recommendations, fwiw.


    Cutting, etc., I'd suggest you spend a year here, browsing and contributing, to learn about distance, cutting, etc., but that relies on my own inclinations--I'm fine with someone telling me something doesn't work, they do all the time, but i'm not as fine with having one single person do it, or the notion of spending the amount of money a good opinion is worth, when I can learn the skill myself.

    That said, I'd still check the folks who sent you these recommendations out (we have a Bewares section here, even) and perhaps look for better betas (there are lots of threads here on good and bad betas).

    Others, like Hack, with more industry experience should be along to offer their 2 cents soon, i'd take that over my thoughts if they disagree in any way....

    Good luck,
    Quick
    Three words that convey the meaning of six will always look better than twelve...


    a' traveling:
    --June 15 week: Chicago

  20. #20
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin Noman's Avatar
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    Thanks for the wise suggestions.

  21. #21
    Travel biologist, piss-poor fluffer quicklime's Avatar
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    haunted,

    if you don't know then how does one judge the quality of an editor in the first place?
    Three words that convey the meaning of six will always look better than twelve...


    a' traveling:
    --June 15 week: Chicago

  22. #22
    crazy mean SuperModerator Old Hack's Avatar
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    In my experience, if an editor or agent likes your work enough to give you specific editorial suggestions they'll ask you to resubmit when you're done.

    If they say general things like, "this is too long!" or "this is too wordy!" then you need to work harder at your craft. Hiring an editor is unlikely to get you where you need to be.

    Without seeing your work, or knowing who told you what, I can't be very specific (and no, that's not an invitation or request, I'm afriad); but I second the suggestion to concentrate on developing your skill rather than paying for an editor at this stage.

  23. #23
    Now is the winter of my discontent. haunted's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by quicklime View Post
    haunted,

    if you don't know then how does one judge the quality of an editor in the first place?
    I wasn't very succinct in that last post-I know enough to know it's probably not perfect.
    Last edited by haunted; 11-30-2012 at 04:26 AM.

  24. #24
    crazy mean SuperModerator Old Hack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by haunted View Post
    Personally, I want mine to be perfect-but- I'm also extremely busy and don't have the time to learn all the things I should know to be an editor. In my own life, I've learned my strengths and my weaknesses, and also learned that some things interest me and some don't. So I don't want to waste time on what doesn't interest me really...it would be like doing math. (which doesn't interest me! LOL) Writing does interest me at the moment, so I'm happy to hire a pro to take care of the fine points for me. I want it to be perfect, and I don't personally want the learning curve involved in perfecting it. That's why I use an editor anyway.

    PS to Noman-i sent you a private msg with my editors name, if you're looking for a good one who is affordable.
    Part of writing well is learning to revise your own work.

    If you get a publishing contract, your editor isn't going to make those changes for you: she'll just point out the problems with it and in some instances, suggest solutions. It'll be up to you to resolve those problems and implement those solutions, and if you've been too busy to learn how to revise your own work you'll be in trouble.

    Revising isn't wasting time: it's an essential part of writing. And if you find a "pro" willing to be hired to do it for you, you'll be wasting your money. Good editors don't do that; bad editors can't.

  25. #25
    crazy mean SuperModerator Old Hack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by haunted View Post
    I wasn't very succinct in that last post-I know enough to know it's probably not perfect. My publisher also has in-house editors, and I also believe they all look more kindly on a manuscript that has had the heavy lifting done already. But I guess I'm just kind of anal about that sort of thing.
    Who is your publisher, haunted?

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