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Thread: Why do people think editing services make sense?

  1. #1
    AnneMarble
    Guest

    Why do people think editing services make sense?

    Recently, I watched a lot of episodes of People's Court. (My excuse is that I was recovering from surgery. :b ) One case that stuck in my mind involved a plaintiff who was suing the woman he had hired to edit his short story. Yes, his short story! :wha He paid her quite a bit of money, and he never even got the story or the notes back. She argued that it was because he was a lousy writer and that it was more work than she had expected. (She did not endear herself to the judge.) IIRC she even tried to charge him extra because it turned out to be harder to edit the work than she thought.

    I wanted to shout at the guy, "Join a critique group!" In fact, I probably did shout at the screen, if I was still taking Percocet at this time. I couldn't believe someone who had so little money and had just started writing would hire an editor so quickly. (I think they were brought together by friends.)

    I don't remember how much money he paid, but I'm pretty sure it was at least one hundred dollars, probably more, to edit a short story. Even if he was able to sell the short story, he was unlikely to make as much money from the sale as he had paid to have it edited. And more importantly, even if he found an editor who could help him, he would not be learning how to make those improvements to his own writing.

    If he wanted to become a painter, would he hire another painter to fix his perspective? If he wanted to become an engineer, would he hire another engineer to fix his numbers? Why is it that people think it's standard practice to hire an editor once they've written something? Is it because it's easier than learning to rewrite it themselves, or worse, learning when it's time to leave the story in the drawer?

    To be fair, I don't think the editor was a scam artist. I think they both had a misunderstanding about what the project involved, and she gotmore than she bargained for. I simply couldn't understand why she agreed to the work, or why he hired her in the first place. :head

  2. #2
    aka eraser
    Guest

    Re: Why do people think editing services make sense?

    It might be the same reason that some people, oh...just plucking a fer-instance out of the air here...might think they can install a new faucet in the kitchen sink...or maybe build a nice bookcase out of some expensive oak planks and it all suddenly goes Horribly Wrong.

    In instance A an emergency call to a plumber is a necessity. In instance B a friend who knows one end of a saw from the other would suffice. :nerd

    I can think of a couple of other reasons too. Some folks can tell a good story but can't spell a lick or parse a sentence to save their lives.

    Others might just think they can take a shortcut to writing success; slap something together then pay a story or book doctor in the hopes that person can make it sing.

    It's tough for the average writer to relate to but I'm glad you posed the question. Mulling "howcums" is always an interesting exercise.

    eraser, who has been slapped with a restraining order keeping him away from tools, power or otherwise.

  3. #3
    Nameless65
    Guest

    Re: Why do people think editing services make sense?

    <blockquote><strong><em>Quote:</em></strong><hr>If he wanted to become an engineer, would he hire another engineer to fix his numbers?<hr></blockquote>
    From what I’ve seen, most editors don’t actually fix your work. They tell you what’s wrong with it and let you fix it. Publishers certainly do this in the many rounds of editing. And yes, in the engineering world we do have other engineers review our work to see if there are errors. It helps to have a fresh set of eyes on it. Also, if you make an addition to your home, the city usually requires a professional inspector review your work not just an okay from your next-door neighbor.

    I’ve seen several articles on writing query letters that state that “professionally edited” might get new writers noticed a bit more readily. But I don't necessarily agree with this.

    Personally, I’d jump at the chance to have my material reviewed by a former editor of a major publishing house who is both competent and honest – IF THE PRICE WERE RIGHT. And that’s the big problem I have with professional editors – my observation is that many are overpriced, incompetent, and/or just out to scam an author.

    The following site lists pros/cons and what to watch out for WRT book doctors.
    http://www.sfwa.org/beware/bookdoctors.html

  4. #4
    priceless1
    Guest

    Re: Why do people think editing services make sense?

    From a publishing standpoint, I have suggested many times that an author seek the advice of either a developmental or copy editor. This may be because a great plot and good writing is tripped up by events that are out of sequence or details that don't lend themselves to the story. An editor can help clarify those weaknesses because they are unbiased and have a trained eye to catch weaknesses.

    Same goes for copy editing. They may have a great story, but if it's rife with errors, I'm not going to sign it even though we have no less that three editors pour over every word. But I happen to feel that submitting a properly edited manuscript is akin to showing that the author cares about presenting the best work possible.


    <blockquote><strong><em>Quote:</em></strong><hr>I’ve seen several articles on writing query letters that state that “professionally edited” might get new writers noticed a bit more readily. But I don't necessarily agree with this.<hr></blockquote>
    Neither do I. I've had too many submissions cross my desk that said those very words and I've often thought the author needs to request a refund. In my way of thinking, it's a red flag, as if they're trying to tell me that I don't need to pay that close attention because it's already been dealt with. If it truly has been edited I'm going to know it and, therefore, I pay it no heed.

  5. #5
    vstrauss
    Guest

    Re: Why do people think editing services make sense?

    >>But I happen to feel that submitting a properly edited manuscript is akin to showing that the author cares about presenting the best work possible.<<

    I totally agree, Lynn--but I also feel that if the author can't produce a properly copy- and line-edited ms. herself, she shouldn't be seeking publication.

    Developmental editing is something else again--it's possible to be great on the paragraph-by-paragraph and scene-by-scene level and still fall short in the final analysis. But there are options other than paying people.

    I was on a panel a while back with an agent from a large agency and a couple of editors from major houses. We were discussing the path to publication, and the issue of paid editing came up...I asked them what they think when they see a manuscript that says "professionally edited", and they all came up with some version of "sucker". The moral of that tale: if you do pay to have your ms. edited, don't mention it.

    - Victoria

  6. #6
    James D Macdonald
    Guest

    Re: Why do people think editing services make sense?

    I’ve seen several articles on writing query letters that state that “professionally edited” might get new writers noticed a bit more readily.

    And those articles were all written by "professional editors," right?

  7. #7
    Nameless65
    Guest

    Re: Why do people think editing services make sense?

    Please...

    One in particular was a publisher (and no they did not refer authors to editors) and another was an author.

  8. #8
    veingloree
    Guest

    Re: Why do people think editing services make sense?

    I think getting editing help for a long story is certainbly legitimate. But I do think that a writer should be capable of self-editing a short-story to an acceptable standard -- if only to maintain their profit margin. And with short works reciprocal editing with other writers is very easy to arrange.

  9. #9
    James D Macdonald
    Guest

    Re: Why do people think editing services make sense?

    One in particular was a publisher (and no they did not refer authors to editors) and another was an author.

    URLs?

  10. #10
    Nameless65
    Guest

    Re: Why do people think editing services make sense?

    I'll see if I can dig them up for you... or you can do a search on writing query letters and see if you find any for yourself.

  11. #11
    AnneMarble
    Guest

    Re: Why do people think editing services make sense?

    From what I’ve seen, most editors don’t actually fix your work. They tell you what’s wrong with it and let you fix it. Publishers certainly do this in the many rounds of editing.
    The guy in the show never even got that. I think she had kept his story for months. Either he really wasn't ready for prime-time or she was a really slow editor. Or absent-minded...

    And yes, in the engineering world we do have other engineers review our work to see if there are errors. It helps to have a fresh set of eyes on it. Also, if you make an addition to your home, the city usually requires a professional inspector review your work not just an okay from your next-door neighbor.
    A review process is one thing -- and important. Like peer review at journals. But the product has to be ready before it ever gets to that stage. At least with a plumber, there is a licensing process, so you know the plumber is ready for prime time. But any writer can hire an editor, whether they're ready or not.

    Personally, I’d jump at the chance to have my material reviewed by a former editor of a major publishing house who is both competent and honest – IF THE PRICE WERE RIGHT. ...
    I'd rather attend Viable Paradise. :grin And I'm not just saying that because you-know-who is watching.

  12. #12
    vstrauss
    Guest

    Re: Why do people think editing services make sense?

    Not to hijack this thread with PA, but this discussion is so appropriate:

    www.publishamerica.com/cg...l/1420.htm

    - Victoria

  13. #13
    AnneMarble
    Guest

    Re: Why do people think editing services make sense?

    Not to hijack this thread with PA, but this discussion is so appropriate:
    www.publishamerica.com/cg...l/1420.htm
    :head

    Yes, it is appropriate. I think we can guess the kinds of publishing houses that are giving him this information.

    Isn't there a writing book out now that tells writers they must hire a book doctor before submitting their work? (The book was written by a book doctor, of course.) I've heard that some of the information in the book is pretty good, once you get past that "hire a book doctor" spiel.

    I dunno. A lot of aspiring writers will read that in a book and believe it. After all, it was in a book. Most of them will get scammed -- they can't afford the legit book doctors. Also, some of those "converts" have even butted heads with other writers about this point. I've seen chats and long, stormy threads where an aspiring writer kept insisting and arguing that we're all supposed to hire book doctors. That got extremely frustrating. g

  14. #14
    Nameless65
    Guest

    Re: Why do people think editing services make sense?

    <blockquote><strong><em>Quote:</em></strong><hr>But any writer can hire an editor, whether they're ready or not.<hr></blockquote>Very true. But an honest one should review a ms before accepting it to see if it “can be” edited. Unfortunately, as with many things in this industry, there are probably more dishonest ones than honest ones out there.

    <blockquote><strong><em>Quote:</em></strong><hr>I'd rather attend Viable Paradise.<hr></blockquote>
    Based on what most charge (I’ve seen anywhere from $500 to $4000) one could attend one-to-many writing/editing/proofreading courses at the local college.

    <blockquote><strong><em>Quote:</em></strong><hr>I've seen chats and long, stormy threads where an aspiring writer kept insisting and arguing that we're all supposed to hire book doctors. <hr></blockquote>
    Tara K. Harper wrote:
    Personally, I would not use a book doctor or an editor-for-hire. I might (really outside chance), if I had no other reader or editor resources, consider hiring a professional editor to go over my manuscript before I submitted the work to agents. I wouldn't want to waste my chance for the best first impression of my work with an agent or prospective publisher, but I also wouldn't want to waste my money on a scam.

  15. #15
    gwhurls
    Guest

    Re: Why do people think editing services make sense?

    A second set of eyes is always appropriate.

    I do proofreading on the side.

    In one instance I proofed a script that was in "typical" first draft shape. It had lots of structure, syntax and grammatical issues... but it had been spell checked.

    Then, somewhere mid act two... I found an instance in the dialogue where it read "to" and should have been "too". Obviously I red-penciled it.

    My point being that spell-checkers only go so far, and when the writer has looked at their work for so long, that they have memorized every letter on the page... something will always get missed. That is why editors exist - it isn't a job invented for no reason. :thumbs

    *Edited to add*

    In the case mentioned in the first post, it is just an instance of two people not seeing eye-to-eye on a singular transaction. IMHO, the editor should have done the job anyway (or refunded the money). You quote a price, you stick to it - that's just good business.

  16. #16
    maestrowork
    Guest

    Re: Why do people think editing services make sense?

    There are many types of "editors" doing anything from line editing to book doctoring.

  17. #17
    tfdswift
    Guest

    Re: Why do people think editing services make sense?

    As a newbie and definitely in the learning stage-- I ask: How and where do you find a critique group???

    Just curious!!!!

  18. #18
    Stephenie Hovland
    Guest

    Re: Why do people think editing services make sense?

    I went to my local Barns & Noble and voila! I found one. You could also check at libraries and with organizations like SCBWI (for children's lit. writers.)

    Stephenie

  19. #19
    HapiSofi
    Guest

    Re: Why do people think editing services make sense?

    The response of every editorial professional I know to "This manuscript has been professionally edited" is, roughly speaking: "Ach, poor sucker. Hope they didn't mess up his manuscript too badly."

  20. #20
    veingloree
    Guest

    Re: Why do people think editing services make sense?

    In person is best -- but there are also online critique exchange systems like critiquecircle.com critters.org

  21. #21
    RealityChuck
    Guest

    Re: Why do people think editing services make sense?

    Note the links at the top of this thread.

    The use of an editing service is just another manifestation of the "magic solution to getting published" issue. People tend to think that if they try one little shortcut, then they'll get their work accepted.

  22. #22
    DaveKuzminski
    Guest

    Ad content

    Maybe we should add clowns into the mix? Whenever anyone mentions using an editing service, they should also state somewhere in the text the word clowns. That might cause the content-driven ads to show something else instead.

  23. #23
    jmhcreativesolutions
    Guest

    Re: Ad content

    Seems to have worked . . . today, I see ads for DC Comics and something about Bobble Heads. :b

  24. #24
    Tish Davidson
    Guest

    Re: Why do people think editing services make sense?

    I occasionally do freelance development editing of nonfiction books for a publisher. Often an expert in the field has a lot of knowledge about the book's topic but not the writing ability to make the information flow logically and clearly without redundancy or gaps. My job is to smooth things out and rearrange them so that the book reads well for the intended audience. One big difference, however, is that I'm hired and paid by the publisher, not the author. I know a lot of you are against paid editing, but I think what I do is both legitimate and helpful to the author.

  25. #25
    James D Macdonald
    Guest

    Re: Why do people think editing services make sense?

    Heck, Tish, I do paid editing too.

    It's just that I wouldn't put the fact that I'd paid to have my novel edited in a cover letter, and the idea that a book must be "professionally edited" before anyone will look at it is ... nonsense.

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