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View Full Version : Any Reputable Editing, Coauthoring, and/or Ghostwriting Services for Pay?



AHunter3
11-10-2015, 10:47 PM
I am investigating whether I would benefit from the paid services of a professional editor / writer / former agent.

Not looking for: "You have a typo on page 137, you have 'after after the bell rang' instead of 'after the bell rang'"

Not looking for: "Please send me your query letter and I'll advise you on writing a better query letter".

Could benefit from: "In chapter 19 the story bogs down. I think you should consider a subplot woven in while the character is mulling over whether to drop out of the academy. And those scenes with the obnoxious hall monitor: too important to describe as you did, recreate them as actual conversations with body posture and stuff, 'show don't tell' is particularly important here"

What I want, ideally (fantasy dreamworld): "In my long experience as an author editor and lit agent, these are the changes necessary to render your book marketable without making it an altogether different book. Please make these changes then send the modified version and, if you've done it well, I'll see what I can do to help you locate a lit agent or a small independent publisher, I have good contacts throughout the industry." OR "In my long experience as an author editor and lit agent, these are the changes necessary to render your book marketable without making it an altogether different book. It will take me xx weeks to complete those edits after which point I will help you locate a lit agent or a small independent publisher".

I am aware that there are plenty of scams, many listed in the Bewares forum. Are there any reputable paid services of this nature I could be pointed towards?

jjdebenedictis
11-10-2015, 11:44 PM
You sound like you need to find a good beta reader, and those can often be found for free. Have you had a look in the Beta Readers, Mentors, and Writing Buddies (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?30-Beta-Readers-Mentors-and-Writing-Buddies) subforum? You might also find someone to help with a high level edit like you want in the Freelance and Work for Hire (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?199-Freelance-amp-Work-for-Hire) subforums.

It's unlikely you'll find someone who will first help you with edits, then help you do an end-run around the query process. It can happen, if a mentor likes your work enough to recommend you to their own agent, for example. However, they do NOT sell that as a service, and anyone offering that in exchange for money is generally a con artist.

cornflake
11-10-2015, 11:49 PM
What jj said.

You can hire reputable developmental editors, which is what it sounds like what you're looking for, or find a beta reader, which is free but may take more searching for someone who'll work for you, but neither is likely to then help you find an agent. You need to develop a query and send it out.

Old Hack
11-11-2015, 12:12 AM
There are lots of advantages to working with a beta-reader. Not only is it a lot cheaper than paying an editor, it means you provide a reciprocal read for your beta-reading partner and looking for flaws in someone else's work is the best way I know of learning how to make your own work better.

Having said all that, there are plenty of reputable editorial agencies that I know of (mostly in the UK, where I'm based). But they don't necessarily help you find an agent or a publishing deal, and in my opinion you're better off working with a beta reader first.

AHunter3
11-11-2015, 02:10 AM
You sound like you need to find a good beta reader, and those can often be found for free. Have you had a look in the Beta Readers, Mentors, and Writing Buddies (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?30-Beta-Readers-Mentors-and-Writing-Buddies) subforum? You might also find someone to help with a high level edit like you want in the Freelance and Work for Hire (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?199-Freelance-amp-Work-for-Hire) subforums.

It's unlikely you'll find someone who will first help you with edits, then help you do an end-run around the query process. It can happen, if a mentor likes your work enough to recommend you to their own agent, for example. However, they do NOT sell that as a service, and anyone offering that in exchange for money is generally a con artist.


What jj said.

You can hire reputable developmental editors, which is what it sounds like what you're looking for, or find a beta reader, which is free but may take more searching for someone who'll work for you, but neither is likely to then help you find an agent. You need to develop a query and send it out.


There are lots of advantages to working with a beta-reader. Not only is it a lot cheaper than paying an editor, it means you provide a reciprocal read for your beta-reading partner and looking for flaws in someone else's work is the best way I know of learning how to make your own work better.

Having said all that, there are plenty of reputable editorial agencies that I know of (mostly in the UK, where I'm based). But they don't necessarily help you find an agent or a publishing deal, and in my opinion you're better off working with a beta reader first.

I've had some beta readers less than a dozen who gave me actual comments, but more than 8, I'd say, some from AbsoluteWrite WC, some from elsewhere. I found it to be good feedback but most of it was enthusiastic & supportive; very little of it came from anyone with sufficient depth of experience in the agent-and-publisher world to say what, if anything, needed modification.

(Several said they could have been more useful in that regard if my book had been an occult romance-fantasy or a detective mystery or some other mainstream genre, but since it's not all they could say was "well, I enjoyed reading it at any rate")

I suppose (in realistic-mode) I'm not anticipating someone actually promising to call up their lit-agent friends (although that would be nice) but I would (more realistically) hope to land editing services from someone who can tell me authoritatively that "at this point the quality of your actual MS is not a barrier to its publication; it's now a matter of finding lit agent and/or publisher who would have an interest in publishing a niche book, and then them taking a personal liking to what you've got". And helping me get to that point, combination of teacher, coach, and advisor.

PS: jjdebenedictis (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/member.php?41602-jjdebenedictis), thanks for the pointer to Freelance and Work for Hire subforum but unless I'm missing something none of the categories/main subforums thereof appear to be about services that an author would hire someone to perform, but rather pertain to work that an author could do for hire. I could post something there anyway (similar to what I posted here) but I don't see anything approximating a listing of edtiors-for-hire.

Jamesaritchie
11-11-2015, 02:16 AM
You get what you pay for. This is especially true with beta readers. If beta readers really helped, then why are slush piles universally horrible when pretty much every manuscript in the pile has been beta read to death?

The best way to do all this is to learn how to do it yourself. If you have the talent, you can, and should, learn to do it yourself. If you lack the talent, a good book doctor, and there are handful of good ones out there, could do the job, but you'd be in the position of having someone else writing your books for you, just as you would be with a pure ghostwriter.

Many call themselves ghostwriters, but most of them couldn't write a publishable novel if Hemingway's ghost showed up to help them. A real ghostwriter not only can write a publishable novel, but has done so.

What you really need is to keep writing and submitting until you learn how to write well, or you need to go back to school and major in creative writing. Or do the same thing you would do in school on your own.

Writing well requires both talent and, usually, time and experience. Sometimes a lot of it. But do you really want someone else doing all these things for you? And for pay?

AHunter3
11-11-2015, 02:20 AM
You get what you pay for. This is especially true with beta readers. If beta readers really helped, then why are slush piles universally horrible when pretty much every manuscript in the pile has been beta read to death?

The best way to do all this is to learn how to do it yourself. If you have the talent, you can, and should, learn to do it yourself. If you lack the talent, a good book doctor, and there are handful of good ones out there, could do the job, but you'd be in the position of having someone else writing your books for you, just as you would be with a pure ghostwriter.

Many call themselves ghostwriters, but most of them couldn't write a publishable novel if Hemingway's ghost showed up to help them. A real ghostwriter not only can write a publishable novel, but has done so.

What you really need is to keep writing and submitting until you learn how to write well, or you need to go back to school and major in creative writing. Or do the same thing you would do in school on your own.

Writing well requires both talent and, usually, time and experience. Sometimes a lot of it. But do you really want someone else doing all these things for you? And for pay?

Umm, I haven't stopped editing it, exactly, although in terms of sheer improvement to the quality as I perceive it I like where it's at. And I've submitted it around a bit and will continue to do so. I don't know that it needs a substantial facelift but I don't know that it doesn't, either. I wish to find out. I'm probably too close to it to see its shortcomings.

AHunter3
11-11-2015, 02:58 AM
How about Barbara Rogan's service (http://www.nextlevelworkshop.com/html/editing.php)? She's an AbsoluteWrite participant. Anyone have any familiarity with her skills and service, etc?

How about Nikki Busch (http://www.nikkibuschediting.com/rates-and-services.html)? Anyone use her or hear good or bad things about?

More expensively, there's Free Expressions (http://free-expressions.com/pricing/). Sounds very comprehensive. Do they have a reputation amongst you authors and editors and lit agents, by any chance?

Anyone have a specific recommendation?

VeryBigBeard
11-11-2015, 04:05 AM
I think what you're basically describing is the query process, really. It looks daunting from the outside--it is daunting--but it exists purely because it's the most efficient way to figure out if a manuscript is ready for publication or not. Which is exactly what you want to find out. So, query. It's free, and although getting rejected is tough on an emotional level it's not anything personal. The agent figures out if your particular niche (all books have a niche) fits with theirs. If not, better to go with someone else. If they like it, they rep it to publishers.

It is your job to research the agents and what they specialize in. This can take time, but it's an important part of the business of writing and there are no shortcuts. Because think about it: if you wanted a writing mentor, you'd research them, right? You wouldn't get a M/M erotic romance mentor for your hard SF military thriller.

I sympathize with the self-doubt about whether it's ready, but what you said to James is usually the tell for whether a piece is ready: can you see any way to make it better? If not, then sub. Or get betas--we all have different opinions on that, and if there's that specific thing that, in the back of your mind, you're not sure of, they might help you figure out if it's working or not. But you need some sort of hypothesis there. That's where "beta test" comes from--it's testing the finished product to see if there are little polish flaws or anything big that we were too close to see in design. If your betas are giving you positive feedback, consider that maybe this is a good sign?

Of course, the MS may not lang an agent on sub. It can take a long time even for the best books and good books routinely don't get repped for whatever reason. Maybe you've written something that's in a major trough market-wise right now. These things come and go. Keep subbing, or trunk it, and start the next novel. It's very easy to fall into the trap of never parting with a MS. Either sub it, or trunk it. Don't constantly tweak. Remember that your next, no matter how successful this one ends up being, will bear all the learning you got from this MS and will be that much better for it.

Namatu
11-11-2015, 05:03 AM
As Old Hack said, the type of feedback you're looking for is what you get from a development editor, or a good beta reader.

It's hard to get that perspective on your own manuscript, short of letting it sit for several months or more perhaps. A development editor can provide suggestions on how you can tighten up and improve your manuscript, but they don't do any legwork to help you get published. That's still on you.

Best of luck.

DoNoKharms
11-11-2015, 05:12 AM
I've had some beta readers — less than a dozen who gave me actual comments, but more than 8, I'd say, some from AbsoluteWrite WC, some from elsewhere. I found it to be good feedback but most of it was enthusiastic & supportive; very little of it came from anyone with sufficient depth of experience in the agent-and-publisher world to say what, if anything, needed modification.


Is this for the same book you queried in QLH a little while back (The Guy in the Women's Studies Class)? Because if I recall you got an abundance of good advice in that thread on exactly the question you're asking about, and many people confirmed the same key issues: a low-stakes conflict focusing on a niche academic matter, and a pitch that was not quite memoir and not quite novel. Have you addressed those issues?

A query isn't just a hoop writers jump through. It's an excellent diagnostic tool for figuring out exactly what you're asking.

Dennis E. Taylor
11-11-2015, 05:28 AM
You might also check out kboards.com . They have a lot more in the way of editors-for-hire and such, and the forum members have in many cases worked with them so can vouch for quality.

Kylabelle
11-11-2015, 05:43 AM
In general, the Publishing FAQs and Resources (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?233-Publishing-FAQs-and-Resources) subforum is a good place to look for this kind of information.

You might find some good leads in this thread: http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?246884-Publishing-Services-Service-Providers


(http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?246884-Publishing-Services-Service-Providers)

AHunter3
11-11-2015, 09:05 AM
I think what you're basically describing is the query process, really.

I've sent out plenty of query letters; the responses to them can be divided into those who know immediately that they do not want to be an agent for my book (the vast majority) and those who like the basic premise as described in the query well enough to want to see a partial or full but who then decide that, no, it's not for them. I honestly don't think the first number is going to change markedly (it's a decent query letter; it's not their kind of book, though). I could perhaps improve the book itself so as to alter the outcome among the second group. That's what I want to investigate.



Is this for the same book you queried in QLH a little while back (The Guy in the Women's Studies Class)? Because if I recall you got an abundance of good advice in that thread on exactly the question you're asking about, and many people confirmed the same key issues: a low-stakes conflict focusing on a niche academic matter, and a pitch that was not quite memoir and not quite novel. Have you addressed those issues?

No, it's the other one (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?286883-QUERY%97The-Story-of-Q-A-GenderQueer-Tale-(memoir)&p=8773039#post8773039). The one you mention above is book 2 which is currently "back in the shop" for a rewrite.

- - - Updated - - -


You might also check out kboards.com . They have a lot more in the way of editors-for-hire and such, and the forum members have in many cases worked with them so can vouch for quality.

:) Thanks!

Old Hack
11-11-2015, 11:15 AM
Have you put a portion of the book up in SYW, and considered the feedback you got there? It provides an excellent snapshot of the problems you're likely to see throughout.

aruna
11-11-2015, 11:49 AM
I'm not too keen on beta readers. The number one reason is that, because you don't pay them, you are totally dependent on them as to the time they take to read your work and get back to you. You can't really commit them to a time frame, or if you do, and they don't manage it, all you can do is wait.

I don't like the reciprocal critique thing. In fact, I hate it. Time is more valuable to me than money. I would rather pay a professional (ex editor for eg) to have the work done and returned to me in a certain time. I don't want to commit myself to reading a whole manuscript and painstkingly critiquing it; that could take weeks and months, and time is precious. Also, I don't really think I'm good at critiquing the work of others in a useful way. I can say what bothers me, but I can't say why or make suggestions. I'm not a very brainy person! ALso I don't think I could possible be honest enough with another writer if there were really serious problems. I Just could not do it; I would tend to sugar-coat my critique and that's no good..

I used an assessment agency for my first novel. She was Hilary Johnson of the UK. She helped me bring it up to scratch, and then she sent it directy to a top UK agent, who took it on, and sold it very quickly. Some of these people really are scouts for talent.

(The agent she scouted for back then has since retired. She still claims to be a scout on her website however-- but uses many more readers and consultants as back in the day.)

AHunter3
11-12-2015, 09:56 PM
Have you put a portion of the book up in SYW, and considered the feedback you got there? It provides an excellent snapshot of the problems you're likely to see throughout.

I haven't, and I should. Thanks for reminding me of that. I did put up my pitch in the SYW QueryLetterHell section but never posted snippets of the MS itself.

** makes note to self **


I'm not too keen on beta readers....I would rather pay a professional (ex editor for eg) to have the work done and returned to me in a certain time. ...I used an assessment agency for my first novel. She was Hilary Johnson of the UK.

Found her site, thanks! That's the kind of tip I was hoping for!