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View Full Version : Author Services - your opinions



peloton
02-22-2013, 01:19 AM
I'm not even certain the term is "author services." At any rate, these are the people who edit, polish, fact check and promote your book.

I wonder if anyone here has used one of these "services" and what the results were. I do know they're terribly expensive, particularly if you have a book with a high word count.

Thanks.

MaggieDana
02-22-2013, 01:23 AM
RUN. THE. OTHER. WAY.

Old Hack
02-22-2013, 01:29 AM
I've reviewed quite a few books which have been produced by such companies. The quality of the editing, typesetting, cover design and marketing has been dire in every single one.

stranger
02-22-2013, 01:31 AM
Never heard a good word said about any of them. They seem to range from total rip-off to terrible value for money.

veinglory
02-22-2013, 02:22 AM
I don't think you can make a blanket statement about every provider of "services" to "authors".

Basically you should purchase services from competent people at competitive prices. Some places offer this option, others don't.

peloton
02-22-2013, 02:24 AM
Because my book is so long (173,000+ words), the most competitive price I've seen for just editing services is over $3,000.

veinglory
02-22-2013, 02:29 AM
To my mind "competitive' means "not more expensive than the normal for that quality of service".

Editing is pretty expensive. But self-published books that are not, somehow, properly edited are extremely annoying.

J. Tanner
02-22-2013, 02:34 AM
Because my book is so long (173,000+ words), the most competitive price I've seen for just editing services is over $3,000.

Is this for developmental story editing, copyediting, a quick "proofread" for typos and grammar, or some combination of the three?

If it's all three, that's probably in the bargain range.

If it's for any one of them it's pretty high even for a long book.

But the specifics about what type of editing and what shape the book is currently in matter a lot.

If you're looking at generic editing from a service dishing your book out to some unspecified editor, you'll almost always be better off finding a freelance editor yourself and working directly with them.

peloton
02-22-2013, 04:35 AM
Is this for developmental story editing, copyediting, a quick "proofread" for typos and grammar, or some combination of the three?

If it's all three, that's probably in the bargain range.

If it's for any one of them it's pretty high even for a long book.

But the specifics about what type of editing and what shape the book is currently in matter a lot.

If you're looking at generic editing from a service dishing your book out to some unspecified editor, you'll almost always be better off finding a freelance editor yourself and working directly with them.
Hmm. Good advice. I think it's for a combination of all three. About finding my own editor, I would be open to that if I knew where to start and if they're reputable. Do you guys have any advice toward finding an editor?

kaitie
02-22-2013, 06:06 AM
You might also look into shortening your book. I don't know what genre you're in, but most books these days aren't more than 100k words (some genres allow for a bit more). Generally speaking, and I know this as both someone who is guilty of doing it herself and as someone who has done quite a bit of critiquing, books are usually very long because they're over-written. There is almost always something you can do to shorten them, be it making sure you're not overly wordy, combining a couple of characters, or combining scenes.

100k words is usually more around $1500 to edit, which would be much cheaper. I'd recommend putting a chapter in SYW once you have 50 posts and seeing if anyone finds places it might be shortened. I'd say the biggest problems I've seen with overly long works is in terms of using five words where you only need two and being overly descriptive (purple prose).

If you put it up, toss me a PM and I'll give you a critique. I'm very good at recognizing where things should be shortened from experience.

thothguard51
02-22-2013, 06:19 AM
Author services are great...for the author services.

Old Hack
02-22-2013, 11:57 AM
I don't think you can make a blanket statement about every provider of "services" to "authors".

Basically you should purchase services from competent people at competitive prices. Some places offer this option, others don't.

Agreed: I should have been clearer. I was referring to self-publishing service providers like AuthorHouse, iUniverse and so on. Not to qualified individuals with the appropriate experience and skills.


Because my book is so long (173,000+ words), the most competitive price I've seen for just editing services is over $3,000.

That's very long. Very, very long. If you're hoping to find a trade publisher for it, you're almost certainly going to have to shorten it.


Hmm. Good advice. I think it's for a combination of all three. About finding my own editor, I would be open to that if I knew where to start and if they're reputable. Do you guys have any advice toward finding an editor?

You can't carry out developmental editing at the same time as you copy edit and then proof read: not if you want to do it properly. If you're paying someone who claims to be doing all three for you, then it's likely that they don't know what they're doing.

If you want a good editor then scroll down to the bottom of this page and click on the ad for Dr Doyle. She's very good.

sarahdalton
02-22-2013, 01:55 PM
Here's an extensive list of freelancers who can help with e-publishing. I've not used any of these people but the list has been collated by people who are self-published. Have a browse and a shop around. http://www.christianamiller.com/Christiana_Miller_Site/Ye_Olde_Writing_Blog/Entries/2012/4/21_INSANELY_HELPFUL_LINKS_FOR_E-PUBLISHING.html

I'd be really wary of the kind of places who claim to do everything for you. There are some horrible vanity publisher types who just want to take your money and run.

Keep researching on forums and checking Bewares and Backgrounds etc - it helps you stay clear of the con-artists. Good luck with your book!

stranger
02-22-2013, 05:06 PM
I don't think you can make a blanket statement about every provider of "services" to "authors".


I think the the companies that brand themselves author services are generally bad for authors. But there are some good companies/people where you can contract out editing/cover art etc.

A selfpub author should in general do research and find their best option for each aspect they need.

MaggieDana
02-22-2013, 07:12 PM
Publishing is a complex, somewhat oddball business. For someone just starting out, my advice is to read and learn as much as you can. Spend at least three months reading reputable blogs and forums like this one, then gather a list of questions to ask.

Educate yourself on the different phases a book goes through on its way to publication, be it via one of the big publishers, a small press, or the DIY route.

I've kicked around this business for 30+ years as both a trade-published author and a print book designer/typesetter, but when faced with the task of producing my kids' series last year, I spent three months learning all I could about ebooks, formatting, and cover art. I learned how to code in HTML and produce validated mobi and ePub files. It was a pretty steep learning curve and a bit daunting, but there's a ton of good information out there if you're willing to seek it out.

Very little in the world of publishing comes fast or easily.

peloton
02-23-2013, 03:08 AM
You might also look into shortening your book. I don't know what genre you're in, but most books these days aren't more than 100k words (some genres allow for a bit more). Generally speaking, and I know this as both someone who is guilty of doing it herself and as someone who has done quite a bit of critiquing, books are usually very long because they're over-written. There is almost always something you can do to shorten them, be it making sure you're not overly wordy, combining a couple of characters, or combining scenes.

100k words is usually more around $1500 to edit, which would be much cheaper. I'd recommend putting a chapter in SYW once you have 50 posts and seeing if anyone finds places it might be shortened. I'd say the biggest problems I've seen with overly long works is in terms of using five words where you only need two and being overly descriptive (purple prose).

If you put it up, toss me a PM and I'll give you a critique. I'm very good at recognizing where things should be shortened from experience.
Thanks, Kaitie. I truly appreciate the help. Yes, I do tend to overwrite, and I feel the book can and should be shortened. It's currently up (in partial form) on Authonomy, but I may take it down soon as I'm not yet completely satisfied with it. I only wanted some feedback, most of which was positive.

peloton
02-23-2013, 03:11 AM
You can't carry out developmental editing at the same time as you copy edit and then proof read: not if you want to do it properly. If you're paying someone who claims to be doing all three for you, then it's likely that they don't know what they're doing.

If you want a good editor then scroll down to the bottom of this page and click on the ad for Dr Doyle. She's very good.
Thanks for the Dr. Doyle ref. So, just to be sure, what is developmental editing? That term never even came up in graduate school. (which might say a lot about my graduate school, lol).

peloton
02-23-2013, 03:13 AM
Here's an extensive list of freelancers who can help with e-publishing. I've not used any of these people but the list has been collated by people who are self-published. Have a browse and a shop around. http://www.christianamiller.com/Christiana_Miller_Site/Ye_Olde_Writing_Blog/Entries/2012/4/21_INSANELY_HELPFUL_LINKS_FOR_E-PUBLISHING.html

I'd be really wary of the kind of places who claim to do everything for you. There are some horrible vanity publisher types who just want to take your money and run.

Keep researching on forums and checking Bewares and Backgrounds etc - it helps you stay clear of the con-artists. Good luck with your book!
Thanks, Sarah. The thing is, I was looking into author services to prepare the book for submission to an agent and subsequently, a publisher. I've not been considering e-publishing, though I may if nothing pans out along the traditional path.

veinglory
02-23-2013, 05:54 AM
I have gone to individuals who use the "author services" language for things like formatting. There were no problems and I got what I paid for.

Polenth
02-23-2013, 11:26 AM
Thanks, Sarah. The thing is, I was looking into author services to prepare the book for submission to an agent and subsequently, a publisher. I've not been considering e-publishing, though I may if nothing pans out along the traditional path.

An agent will expect a book to be polished to the best of your ability, but they're not expecting it to have paid editing. That's why people assumed you wanted to self-publish (also because the thread is here, but perhaps it was moved here by a mod?)

At the pre-querying agents stage, people swap their manuscripts with other writers (check the betas forum), post their query to get advice (see query hell in the 'Share Your Work' section) and generally research stuff. Author services aren't something you need right now.

J. Tanner
02-23-2013, 12:46 PM
Thanks for the Dr. Doyle ref. So, just to be sure, what is developmental editing? That term never even came up in graduate school. (which might say a lot about my graduate school, lol).

This short thread covers the different kinds of editing (and gets across there's some gray area from editor to editor and publisher to publisher):

http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=228028

And, as mentioned above, paying for editing is not typical if you're planning to submit to a trade publisher--that's their job, so why pay for it yourself?

Old Hack
02-23-2013, 01:00 PM
Thanks for the Dr. Doyle ref. So, just to be sure, what is developmental editing? That term never even came up in graduate school. (which might say a lot about my graduate school, lol).

I used the term "developmental editing" to mean the big edit: the one where an editor goes through your book and highlights everything that doesn't work, or things that can be tightened. For example, she'll find plot-holes, see if the story arc is working, she'll look at characterisation and setting, see if you've got loose ends which could be usefully tied up, and so on.

Copy editing comes after, and looks at grammar issues, punctuation, spelling, and so on: the smaller things. There's no point doing this until you've done the big edit, because the big edit is likely to introduce more errors which you'll then have to look for with another copy edit.

Proof reading can only be done once you have final proofs, so it's not something you do until you're on the verge of publishing and have laid-out pages.


Thanks, Sarah. The thing is, I was looking into author services to prepare the book for submission to an agent and subsequently, a publisher. I've not been considering e-publishing, though I may if nothing pans out along the traditional path.

Agents and publishers won't expect your book to have been professionally edited: they'll just want it as clean as you can get it. They want to see your work, not anyone else's; and a good publisher will edit your book for you, at no cost to you, so there's no need to duplicate that work at your own expense now.

However, if you're not confident that your work is up to standard and you'd rather seek professional help, there are several good editorial agencies which will help you improve your book. Dr Doyle will do the job well for you, as will others.

peloton
02-23-2013, 03:23 PM
This is all very good advice. Thanks for the help everyone.