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AussieBilly
11-17-2014, 02:43 AM
I have finished the story, have had a number of people read and comment. Have revised numerous time, each an improvement and am satisfied it is as good as I can make it. Queried a few agents and rec'd no response from any.
I'm now considering paying for a professional edit and possibly pay for a manuscript assessment. All with the goal of making my story a product that will interest an agent/publisher. Is this a good idea?
I've always thought any final editing or polishing would be done to fit the needs of a publisher. If I have the professional work done will that appeal to most agents or will the story, from her POV, still need 'polishing'?
As with most writers, money doesn't grow on any of my trees, but...
What do other writers, those who are published, do? Who edits their work... their agent's favorite editor? the publisher's favorite editor?
Any help with these questions will be appreciated. Don't forget Christmas is coming!

Maryn
11-17-2014, 02:54 AM
I'm not a fan of paying for editing unless there is a valid reason you cannot do it yourself. It might be well worth the price for someone writing in a second language or someone with a condition which makes it impossible to learn and remember grammar rules.

What I try to do is write something and edit it until I see no way to improve it. Then I seek beta readers. As a long-time member, I can usually blackmail convince someone to tell me what's not working.

Often the problem is not with the writing itself but with plot or character development. It's difficult to address either without scrapping that draft I was pretty pleased with and starting over, lifting some big sections and overhauling them, plus writing new material. But I do it, because it's not correcting my grammar which makes the novel the best it can be, but thinking it through in light of its present weaknesses, then tackling it as if I hadn't already written the damned thing.

Of course, what works for me may not be what works for you. I believe strongly in writers who need edits in writing mechanics--sentence structure, punctuation, using the right word, like that--taking the time and making the effort to learn this stuff themselves rather than paying someone to fix up each manuscript.

So I guess what I'm asking is this: what kind of edits do you believe your manuscript still needs?

Maryn, rambling on as she too often does

Unimportant
11-17-2014, 02:59 AM
I have finished the story, have had a number of people read and comment. Have revised numerous time, each an improvement and am satisfied it is as good as I can make it. Queried a few agents and rec'd no response from any.
I'm now considering paying for a professional edit and possibly pay for a manuscript assessment. All with the goal of making my story a product that will interest an agent/publisher. Is this a good idea?
I've always thought any final editing or polishing would be done to fit the needs of a publisher. If I have the professional work done will that appeal to most agents or will the story, from her POV, still need 'polishing'?
As with most writers, money doesn't grow on any of my trees, but...
What do other writers, those who are published, do? Who edits their work... their agent's favorite editor? the publisher's favorite editor?
Any help with these questions will be appreciated. Don't forget Christmas is coming!

Commercial presses will invariably assign an editor to work with the author for every contracted novel. No manuscript is ever going to be word-perfect when it's submitted, and presses often will want little changes to conform to 'house style' or to make the story fit a particular line/market. So, yes, final editing will be done to fit the needs of the publisher.

However, the publisher isn't going to contract a work unless they think it's commercially viable. Part of that means that they feel confident the author could, if needed, edit/revise/rewrite sections of the book. This means the quality of the prose in the submitted work has to be of a certain standard.

As for hiring an editor yourself.....there are as many schools of thought on this as there are writers in the world. Things to consider:

1. You will always need to be able to edit your own work, so you'd better learn to do it now rather than rely on a paid editor.
2. Since less than a tenth of one percent of manuscripts end up being contracted by big publishers, investing thousands in an editor is unlikely to pay off.
3. Nearly every writer has to write their 'million words of crap' before they write something publishable. Very few authors sell the first book they write. Usually their first published novel is the third or fifth or tenth book they write.
4. Some writers learn better with one-on-one tutoring, so they'll progress in their craft faster if they hire an editor who will work with them scene by scene, paragraph by paragraph, sentence by sentence, on their own manuscript. This makes hiring an editor not an investment in that manuscript so much as an investment in their career.
5. Some writers learn better by editing prose that they aren't attached to. Critique groups are great for this: you get to find the mistakes in other people's works, and that makes it easer to see the same mistakes in your own.

So, obviously, there's no right answer. Certainly there is no guarantee that investing a hundred dollars, or a thousand dollars, or ten thousand dollars, in an editor will automatically get you a publication contract with a commercial press. For many authors, it will further them in their craft; for others, it will give them a more marketable manuscript but will teach them nothing. Only you can tell what's right for you.

Osulagh
11-17-2014, 03:02 AM
Manuscript assessment/appraisal for a novel is, IMO, worthless.
Editing is not as bad, but still pretty useless if you're going agent -> publisher route.

Why? Because nearly everything you can do in terms of revision and editing can be done for free. Gather a ton of beta readers, post excerpts in the SYW section. Edit to the best of your abilities. You don't need a professional editor to pass a MS past a agent--they already know nothing they get is going to be perfectly edited, but if it doesn't appear like the writer doesn't have a clue how to edit it's likely a problem.

Although, this works into a few problems. What kind of editing are you wishing for? You can't just throw a MS to an editor and say, "Edit this" and expect to be returned a polished product. There's different types of editing. And certainly, you shouldn't be walking into this area without a clue--especially if you should be prepared to drop $2000 minimum on a single round of editing from a good editor.

And, how sure are you that you need your work edited?

My last question is my biggest point: You queried a few agents--what's a few? How long ago? No word at all? Because not getting word back from two or three agents isn't bad. If they haven't rejected you, you might still be going through their system. If you haven't gotten any personalized rejections stating their reason for not choosing you, then you have nothing to go on--how can you tell you need a professional editor? How do you know it's your work and not your query, or your opening pages, or even your choice of agent? Have you had this work in the SYW section? Both the opening and the query?

shadowwalker
11-17-2014, 03:04 AM
Personally, I would never pay for any kind of editing before submitting, mainly because there's no guarantee that an independent editor is going to suggest changing the same things a publisher will see as "problems". They could even have you change things that make the publisher say no. So listen to the above advice, learn to do your own editing, and make it the best you can. If it has potential, a publisher will see it.

Unimportant
11-17-2014, 03:07 AM
Queried a few agents and rec'd no response from any.
Adding: that may have nothing to do with the manuscript and everything to do with the query letter. Good queries are fiendishly difficult to write and require quite a different skill set to writing a good novel. There's a query section in Share Your Work where you can get input on your query letter.

Dennis E. Taylor
11-17-2014, 05:12 AM
First, let me say about your avatar: Ew.

Maybe you should talk to Cassandra about that... :tongue

Second, it's not clear from your post whether you've gotten beta readers to go through your entire MS ("read and comment"?). If not, do so. Potential benefits far outweigh the effort.

Unimportant
11-17-2014, 05:31 AM
I have finished the story, have had a number of people read and comment. Have revised numerous time, each an improvement and am satisfied it is as good as I can make it. Queried a few agents and rec'd no response from any.
I'm now considering paying for a professional edit and possibly pay for a manuscript assessment. All with the goal of making my story a product that will interest an agent/publisher. Is this a good idea?
I've always thought any final editing or polishing would be done to fit the needs of a publisher. If I have the professional work done will that appeal to most agents or will the story, from her POV, still need 'polishing'?
As with most writers, money doesn't grow on any of my trees, but...
What do other writers, those who are published, do? Who edits their work... their agent's favorite editor? the publisher's favorite editor?
Any help with these questions will be appreciated. Don't forget Christmas is coming!

Also adding: It will depend to some degree on the genre/subgenre you write in, and who the target publishers are. Frex, if you write lesbian erotica, a subgenre that is published pretty much exclusively by a few niche-market small presses, paying an editor is probably not advisable, and neither is seeking agent representation. If you write YA SF/F, you'd be more likely to target the Big Publishers and need an agent.

Aggy B.
11-17-2014, 06:34 AM
I used to post chapters over in SYW until I got a good handle on the basics of writing. Then, once I finished a novel I found a good beta-reader. ("Good" here meaning someone who was familiar with my genre, provided clear feedback on the story structure in ways I, personally, could apply, and didn't feel the need to be overly critical or full of praise.) It took me a several heavy rewrites to get to a point where I felt like the story was where I wanted it.

When I signed with my agent he talked with me for an hour and a half discussing where we could make the book stronger and spit-balling ideas on how to make it stronger. But I did all that work myself. It also meant that the next novel I wrote needed only tiny revisions before he was satisfied with it because I already knew (and had learned how to apply changes to) the areas that he would be concerned with. (Things that I was concerned with as well, once they were brought to my attention.)

IF I were at a point where I were going to self-pub a novel, I would get an editor and a copy-editor. (I don't have the money for that, which is one reason why I'm not pursuing a self-pub route.)

However, if you think that your work isn't getting agent attention because it needs better content/line edits, then I might suggest that your work isn't ready for an agent yet and just paying someone else to show you where to cut out the dead wood and beef up the story and clean up the writing, etc won't serve you very well in the long run.

I'd also like to point out that it took me close to a year and almost 180 queries before I found my agent. Persistence is key there. "A few" agents may not be indicative of the quality of your book (or query) at all.

Treehouseman
11-17-2014, 10:51 AM
The strength of the query has a lot more to do with it at submission stage. I had almost no responses 15 queries in before changing it.

Also I find 50--60% of agents do have a no response policy or rejections, so it may be that you lucked out on who you chose to query first!

Old Hack
11-17-2014, 10:15 PM
I have finished the story, have had a number of people read and comment. Have revised numerous time, each an improvement and am satisfied it is as good as I can make it. Queried a few agents and rec'd no response from any.

That suggests there's a problem with your query, not necessarily with your book (although both could require work).


I'm now considering paying for a professional edit and possibly pay for a manuscript assessment. All with the goal of making my story a product that will interest an agent/publisher. Is this a good idea?

I don't think it's a good idea.


I've always thought any final editing or polishing would be done to fit the needs of a publisher.

Editing should be done by the publisher, not "to fit their needs".


If I have the professional work done will that appeal to most agents or will the story, from her POV, still need 'polishing'?

Good publishers will edit your work regardless of how many times you've had it edited by anyone else.


As with most writers, money doesn't grow on any of my trees, but...
What do other writers, those who are published, do? Who edits their work... their agent's favorite editor? the publisher's favorite editor?
Any help with these questions will be appreciated. Don't forget Christmas is coming!

Good publishers edit the books they publish. They employ editors to do this (I used to work as one). Some agents edit their clients' books before sending them out on submission; some don't.

I would advise against paying for your book to be edited before you send it out. When I get submissions in I prefer to see what the writer is capable of alone: not what they can produce with help and guidance. If writers can't produce high-quality work without professional help they're going to be difficult and time-consuming to work with, which would cause me (as editor) difficulties in the future.

However, if you've written a few books and haven't placed them then you might gain from paying for a good editorial consultant to advise you on how to improve. So long as you can learn from that advice and apply it to your other works, it might be money well spent.

AussieBilly
11-18-2014, 06:30 AM
Thank you one and all... and I agree. My beta reader, my one and only (I live in a small village...no writing groups to rely on) says it's wonderful the way it is. I agree, but what do I know? This is not a first novel, I have had a few published but my London publisher (I like to say that) doesn't accept any crime fiction over 65,000-words! That has to do with his company's structure. (???) So there I am... with my 82,000-word ms sitting on my computer along with a few others. Looking so forlorn...
But thank you and I'm back in the camp of 'no paying for an editor'. Guess it's back to working on the query.........
Billy

Old Hack
11-18-2014, 10:43 AM
Who is your London publisher, Billy?