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View Full Version : Why do people think editing services make sense?



AnneMarble
07-23-2004, 04:00 AM
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

aka eraser
07-23-2004, 05:54 AM
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.

Nameless65
07-23-2004, 06:37 AM
<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

priceless1
07-23-2004, 07:36 AM
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.

vstrauss
07-23-2004, 07:46 AM
>>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

James D Macdonald
07-23-2004, 09:25 AM
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?

Nameless65
07-23-2004, 10:39 AM
Please...

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

veingloree
07-23-2004, 02:40 PM
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.

James D Macdonald
07-23-2004, 05:15 PM
One in particular was a publisher (and no they did not refer authors to editors) and another was an author.

URLs?

Nameless65
07-23-2004, 09:47 PM
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.

AnneMarble
07-23-2004, 10:20 PM
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. ;)

vstrauss
07-23-2004, 11:29 PM
Not to hijack this thread with PA, but this discussion is so appropriate:

www.publishamerica.com/cg...l/1420.htm (http://www.publishamerica.com/cgi-bin/pamessageboard/data/general/1420.htm)

- Victoria

AnneMarble
07-24-2004, 12:35 AM
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. :bang

Nameless65
07-24-2004, 01:26 AM
<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.

gwhurls
07-24-2004, 04:56 AM
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.

maestrowork
07-24-2004, 05:20 AM
There are many types of "editors" doing anything from line editing to book doctoring.

tfdswift
07-25-2004, 02:00 AM
As a newbie and definitely in the learning stage-- I ask: How and where do you find a critique group???

Just curious!!!!

Stephenie Hovland
07-26-2004, 03:32 AM
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

HapiSofi
07-26-2004, 09:33 AM
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."

veingloree
07-26-2004, 08:04 PM
In person is best -- but there are also online critique exchange systems like critiquecircle.com critters.org

RealityChuck
07-27-2004, 01:10 AM
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.

DaveKuzminski
07-27-2004, 01:23 AM
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. ;)

jmhcreativesolutions
07-27-2004, 06:55 PM
Seems to have worked . . . today, I see ads for DC Comics and something about Bobble Heads. :b

Tish Davidson
07-28-2004, 12:00 PM
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.

James D Macdonald
07-28-2004, 06:14 PM
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.

HapiSofi
07-28-2004, 06:53 PM
Tish, this is about editorial services that the authors hire before the book is sold. Freelance editing that's commissioned by the publisher is a wholenother thing. Scammers tell wanna-be authors that nobody'll look at a submission that hasn't been "professionally edited", then bunco-steer them into the hands of expensive book doctors who pay the scammer a kickback. The line about how "Nobody will look at a manuscript that hasn't been professionally edited" is practically a genetic marker for "fraud in progress".

maestrowork
07-28-2004, 09:22 PM
I worked as an editor, too. Mostly non-fiction (business/technical stuff). Like Tish said, most SMEs are very good with their subjects but don't know a thing about writing. A few months ago I helped an IT expert on his 100-page book on global outsourcing. He had really great ideas, but he couldn't write. He knew it. That's when editing services are invaluable.

angelwriter4u
07-31-2004, 09:31 AM
I'm a freelance editors. I never intended on doing that, but while doing book reviews I noticed very poor editing, especially among those that publish with a publishers that charge for editing. I agreed with what one person said; wanting their writing to look good.

Just because someone can't edit their own manuscripts doesn't mean they aren't a writer. I just finished editing a ladies manuscript. She's already published a book, written screenplays and won awards. But, it was always recommended that she get her work edited, and she was even in a critique group.

I'm not saying she's an awful writer but I did understand why she needed her work edited. She had a great story line and she was really in tune to her characters, but her weakness was shifting from writing a screenplay to writing a novel. That's what made it so difficult. :head

I do understand about those unscrupulous book doctor's and/or editors. When I researched my market, I was amazed at how much some charge and how much publishers charge for in house editing. And, I guess that's when I decided to offer editing and proofreading, and at an affordable rates. I'm not like other professionals that just want to make money, I actually want to help them improve. When I edit, I also offer critique and suggestions on how to improve.

One more thing, a lot of people can't edit their own work to save their lives. It's really difficult to be objective on your own work. Even seasoned authors tell you that. Myself, I'm a perfectionist and its a weakness when it comes to my own writing, as than I over edit and never get anything substantial accomplished. :smack
Just my thoughts
Kim

mammamaia
07-31-2004, 08:50 PM
...but you overlooked some pretty basic goofs in your post!:o

...go back and take a good look, and see if you can find 'em all... or, i'll mark it up for you, if you want... we're none of us perfect, are we?... darn it all!:bang :head :cry

love and consoling hugs, maia

HapiSofi
08-02-2004, 09:06 AM
Ipse dixit!

Nameless65
08-02-2004, 11:41 PM
Hapisoft,

I must say, with complete sincerity, that I found your post wonderfully apropos.

Editrx
08-03-2004, 05:20 AM
As a long-time freelance editor and copy editor (Jim and Victoria, among many others, can vouch for me), I have to say that post from the "editor" above was embarrassing. Please, folks, she's not a member of my tribe.

That said, I must respond to something Victoria said, upstream, though:
<blockquote><strong><em>Quote:</em></strong><hr>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.<hr></blockquote>
Um, ever heard of Andre Norton? :) I have a secret for you: She's never been able to write a coherent sentence. Does she write kick-ass books? Yes. But can she copy- or line-edit herself (or even spell correctly)? Hell, no. She can't write a sentence that can find its own butt. But her novels, her characterization, her plots are fantastic. They're well worth having someone like me dig through them and make them into English. (Ask TNH about this sometime; she's line-edited Andre, too.)

I could name about half a dozen other top-notch authors who can't spell or edit their way out of a paper bag, but whose books are so well crafted otherwise that it's well worth it to the publisher to have them heavily copy- or line-edited. Just sayin'.

I might add that in the last ten years I've taken on a few mss. to edit pre-publication, working for the author rather than the publisher. I can also count those mss. on one hand -- they were special pieces that would clearly sell (and did), but with new authors who were in the same boat as the established authors I noted above. Less than five in ten years' worth of inquiries from authors who wanted me to "fix" their books, mind you. I talk the rest of them out of it, and hope they really listen to me and don't go off to find a less scrupulous person to "edit" their mss.

Scammers galore live out there, alas. My favorites are the ones whose claim to fame was that they once proofread their high school literary magazine, and now, ten years later, they have decided to be "editors" because they're stay-at-home-whatevers and have time on their hands. Puleeeze. Some of us have crafted our talents and hard work in this industry professionally for several decades and still hope that we are somewhat good editors.

(Please forgive any typos -- am writing with a wrist brace on and some pretty bad nerve pain in my left hand. Long story.)

vstrauss
08-03-2004, 06:19 AM
>> I could name about half a dozen other top-notch authors who can't spell or edit their way out of a paper bag, but whose books are so well crafted otherwise that it's well worth it to the publisher to have them heavily copy- or line-edited. Just sayin'.<<

Yeah, I know it's true. And I love Andre Norton--her books are among the first sf/fantasy that I ever read. But call me a Puritan--I still think that writers should be able to spell and write coherent sentences without outside help.

- Victoria

Editrx
08-03-2004, 06:59 AM
I'm with you, Victoria. I think writers should be able to spell and have a clue with grammar, too. Alas, it is a talent that doesn't always come with the same touch of the wand that the writing-talent fairy confers. (And if only a touch of a magic wand would do it for both talent and spelling! whoohoo! I'd be out of a job, but that might be a happy day.)

TNH and I have had conversations before about spelling and grammar: We both believe, with long experience, that it's only partially taught. If you don't have the "spelling gene," all the classes in the world won't teach you how to spell. Same for grammar. Some people can look at a sentence and tell you exactly where it's wrong and how to fix it, and yet can't necessarily tell you the exact mechanics or grammatical terms involved; but they can fix it, almost naturally. In spelling, some people can look at a word and tell you it's wrong. For the people to whom this talent is foreign, they may be taught to a degree, but they'll never make really fantastic proofreaders, copy editors, or line editors -- it's the "natural" ones who excel in the field. I'll make a bet that someday we'll read an article in Science News telling us that Harvard found the gene sequence for Spelling and Grammar.

maestrowork
08-03-2004, 07:06 AM
Would you hire a plumber who doesn't know how to use a wrench?

Or a doctor who has no idea what a stethoscope does.

Or a police officer who don't know how to use a gun.

Or a cook who has no idea what 1 tsp. means.

Or...

You get the idea. It's a craft people. Talent alone does not make you a writer.

reph
08-03-2004, 09:22 AM
"In spelling, some people can look at a word and tell you it's wrong....I'll make a bet that someday we'll read an article in Science News telling us that Harvard found the gene sequence for Spelling..."

There's no mystery about that. The ability comes from eidetic imagery, which is indeed inherited. I don't know the gene sequence, though.

If you can't tell whether a word is wrong by looking at it, how do you tell? Surely you don't have to look up all the words on a page because one of them might be wrong?

Editrx
08-03-2004, 10:30 AM
<blockquote><strong><em>Quote:</em></strong><hr>If you can't tell whether a word is wrong by looking at it, how do you tell? Surely you don't have to look up all the words on a page because one of them might be wrong?<hr></blockquote>
Most copy editors look up:

1. Words they know they always spell wrong (everyone, even the best spellers, have one or two of these), and

2. Words they don't know absolutely, positively (without a doubt, could spell in their sleep with one hand tied behind their backs ... you get the idea).

The trick is teaching copy editors to not assume they know how to spell a word, just because it's a "familiar word." Many mistakes get by authors and editors because someone assumed.

And we know what assumption gets ya. :)

As regards eidetic imagery (which is better known as "photographic memory," though that's a misnomer), I would argue against your note about it. Eidetic memory/imagery is indeed helpful in what I call "innate" spelling and grammar, but it's not even close to the same story. Innate spelling and grammar can be applied to words the reader has never seen before; obviously, memorized words can only be attributed to eidetic memory.

reph
08-03-2004, 11:37 AM
Editrx, I have (1) eidetic imagery for words, (2) many years' experience as a copy editor, and (3) no words in your category 1.

You wrote: "Obviously, memorized words can only be attributed to eidetic memory." That strikes me as strange and intriguing, because I think of spelling ability as having two possible sources: knowing the word by sight, without effort, and having had to memorize it. These are alternatives. Eidetic imagery removes the need to memorize.

With my original question, I was trying to get at how people identify misspellings by any other way than noticing that a word "looks wrong." But all this is probably a digression, given the purpose of the board.

absolutewrite
08-03-2004, 05:38 PM
Please, digress away.

I was just going to add my 2 cents about the original post, and that was:

You're assuming the writer is trying to make a profit. Think of this situation instead:

The writer is someone who just desperately wants to have a story published. He has a great imagination and has always loved writing, but the mechanics of writing elude him. He sends out a bunch of stories and gets form rejections or criticisms of his poor grammar or half-baked plot or... whatever it may be.

A critique group's not necessarily appropriate for him. I just met a guy (mildly retarded) who got kicked out of his critique group because he wasn't interested in writing professionally and they were. They didn't want to spend too much time babysitting his stories, and that's legitimate, too. If your work needs real, fundamental help, you shouldn't burden a free critique group with that.

Hiring an editor, however, could help. An editor is paid to show you what's wrong and how to fix it. And if the editor's good and the story had any promise to begin with, that writer may get that dream come true-- a published story, somewhere, to rest on his coffee table and feel proud of.

And as for the PA thread, I see that as a somewhat positive step-- sad that they'd think they need to hire editors first if they want to submit traditionally, but if they're going to go with PA again, getting the book edited before publication is wise and a gift to their readers. I'm angry when I read a book that hasn't been edited. It's half the reason POD books got a bad reputation to start with. Again, it may not make financial sense, but don't assume that's every writer's goal. Some of them just want to be proud of their work and know that a few people are going to read it.

I'm not the world's best singer, but if you ask me what my true dream is, it's to stand up on a Broadway stage and sing my little heart out. Music-- and performing in general-- has been my greatest passion since I can remember. Nobody would have to pay me to get up on that stage, and I'd probably pay the director to let me have the opportunity... maybe better singers would hate me for it. Maybe reviewers would pan my performance in the next day's paper. That would make me sad. But it wouldn't stop me from having that dream.

Oh, and P.S. I hired a singing coach for many, many years. I have indeed been paid to sing occasionally, but nowhere near as much as I paid for that coach. Until this moment, I never even thought about that fact. Didn't make any difference to me.

mammamaia
08-03-2004, 09:48 PM
...tight 'n tidy, and right on target, imo...

...and i'd pay b'way prices to see you up on that stage singin' your heart out, sweetiepie!... i'd even pay to get to wherever, for the privilege of hearing your dream come true... loveya, m

HapiSofi
08-04-2004, 12:31 AM
Editrix said:
"Um, ever heard of Andre Norton? :) I have a secret for you: She's never been able to write a coherent sentence. Does she write kick-ass books? Yes. But can she copy- or line-edit herself (or even spell correctly)? Hell, no. She can't write a sentence that can find its own butt. ... I could name about half a dozen other top-notch authors who can't spell or edit their way out of a paper bag..."Imre Thornton, Abe Louverton, Max Stocker, Lemuel Ardalaneigh ...

As I've heard it explained, the weird thing about Andre Norton's sentences is that they aren't genuinely incoherent. You can always tell what sentence they were supposed to be. It's like there's a consistent level of garbling going on. With genuinely incoherent writers, you get some normal sentences, some fixable ones, and some where it's impossible to tell what the author meant.

If you want an example of the disconnect between writing fiction and being able to turn out a tidy paragraph, you can't do better than Steve Brust. He's your canonical dyslexic. On the one hand, he can't spell to save his life, and he's forever leaving words out. On the other hand, he's intelligent, articulate, extremely verbal, and a born storyteller. His dyslexia is purely an interface problem.

A good edit isn't cheap. The important point is that in both those cases, the text is worth fixing.

Editrx
08-04-2004, 05:54 AM
Reph -- Just a few replies to your note to me.

I'm honestly fascinated that you have no words that you never, ever misspell or misremember. In more than twenty years as a managing editor/production manager, I've never found a copy editor or proofreader who had absolutely perfect recall of spelling. More power to you!

(I do, however, have a backlog of ex-freelancers who thought they never spelled anything wrong and so never double-checked words, thus violating the rule of "never assume," on my list in the post above. Just sayin'. I honestly am sure you have perfect recall of words, as you say -- I'm sure it must exist out there. I've been unlucky not to ever have anyone on staff with it at any of the houses. But as long as my freelancers don't assume, and double-check their dictionaries and style books, we're cookin' with gas.)

However, while spelling eidetic seems flawless in both our posts, the definition of eidetic seems to differ greatly from what you have noted.

Websters defines eidetic thus:
"marked by or involving extraordinarily accurate and vivid recall especially of visual images [an eidetic memory]."

Recall is memory of something you have seen or heard (or experienced). In this discussion, spelling, recall refers to words you have seen spelled. It differs in no significant way from any other form of memorization, only that you recall something you may have seen only briefly. It is still memorization.

(Recall, for those keeping score here, is defined in short as "remembering." Remembering implies memory. Memory means something was placed into our memories. The only way to place anything in memory is through "memorization" -- defined as "to commit to memory." Memorization doesn't necessarily mean sitting down with a poem and repeating it to yourself until you can say it in your sleep; it is any act that stores things learned and retained through many different mechanisms, including the prized "eidetic" technique/talent, which stores things by a mostly subconscious act.)

At the risk of repeating myself, here it is again: This form of spelling knowledge, for "innate spellers," does indeed work for words they have never seen before. (I won't bother to cut and paste my post here; it's just a few posts above this one.) In other words, it doesn't necessarily depend on recall, on memorization.

And eidetic memory (what you call imagery) is recall -- memorization. Even if done subconsiously.

I know quite a lot about eidetic memory: I have it. I also, originally, specialized in language and information acquisition for one half of my undergrad double major, lo these decades ago. Handy to also have it for the spoken word; it made writing up verbatims, when I was playing with one of my degrees (psychology), much easier. And it makes handling book schedules and meetings almost tolerable. ;)

I must say, also, that having an eidetic memory doesn't mean a person never, ever forgets anything, or that it is flawless. It happens on an subconscious level, and if the subconscious is distracted by anything at all, the eidetic memory may not function at 100% capacity. (How can you tell your subconscious was distracted for a few seconds? You can't. Thus the danger inherent in depending entirely on eidetic memory. Note I used the word entirely here as an important qualifier.)

It's a delicate talent to depend on for important things. Double-checking never hurt anyone, and any copy editor who refuses to double-check automatically breaks the "assume" rule. And then we start on down that slippery slope of small errors in books which lead to bigger errors which lead to dogs and cats sleeping with each other and next thing we know it, the world is ending. :)

Euan Harvey
08-04-2004, 06:35 AM
>This form of spelling knowledge, for "innate spellers," does indeed work for words they have never seen before.

One theory of second language learning states that people learn a second language in two different ways. The first is through internalization of discrete rule; for example, regular verbs take an -ed ending for the past tense. The second way is through memorization of individual cases; for example, the past tense of 'go' is 'went' and not 'goed.' If you use MRI (I think, might be PET) to examine someone's brain while they conjugate verbs, placing regular verbs in the past tense activates one area of the brain, placing irregular verbs in the past tense activates another.

This is the kind of difference I think you're talking about. If someone can spot a word that is spelled incorrectly, and this is the first time they have ever seen that word, then all they are doing is applying their knowledge of spelling conventions in English to the word (i.e., restrictions on consonant clusters, conventions for certain sounds (ie vs. ei) etc.). Of course, that doesn't mean that the word *is* actually spelled incorrectly, just that it doesn't fit the standard conventions of written English. So this kind of spellcheck is application of memorized/internalized rules.

You can also, of course, have memorization of words (and phrases), where the word is memorized as a whole. Often I find mis-spelled or mis-typed words in my work because they *look* wrong, which I guess is simply me matching the visual shape of the word against what I remember it to be. So this kind of spellcheck is memorization of wholes.

IMHO, you're talking about two different routes to the same destination.

Cheers,

Euan

reph
08-04-2004, 07:09 AM
Editrx, I make a distinction between memorizing something and simply adding it to one's memory store by becoming familiar with it. American Heritage Dict., memorize: "To commit to memory; learn by heart." Webster II has almost the identical definition. Funny that we have words for the process by which something becomes available from memory with or without effort – remember, recall – but not for the process of putting things into memory unless it's effortful. I suppose learn covers many instances. I learned my name at an early age without having to memorize it.

I still don't understand how children learn to spell who don't have eidetic imagery. (To me, that means seeing things that aren't there – in my case, seeing words set in type when I hear or think them. You may be using the phrase differently.) If they aren't reading their spelling words off a mental screen in front of their eyes, are they using auditory thoughts for every word? That is, have they memorized the sequence of letter sounds for each word, so that they say to themselves "Dog. Dee, oh, gee," and then write down those letters on the spelling test?

Editrx
08-04-2004, 12:06 PM
As regards wholes and parts -- yes! A good way to put it, indeed. Which is why, when confronted with a new word in English that follows non-romantic and/or non-germanic language rules (or follow archaic rules), we tend to think the spelling looks wonky. And why we can look at other words and tell that they're spelled "right" or "wrong," but can't quite tell why -- it just does.

Reph,

Eidetic memory is the unusually accurate recall of visual memory (again, see the definition above -- it's a commonly used definition for eidetic memory [or what you call imagery]).

If you're seeing words that aren't there, there's another name for that, and there is treatment for it, too. Just kidding.

Seriously, some people report "seeing" memories of material that was acquired eidetically, while most people simply remember the material the same way everyone remembers things (but they don't physically "see things that aren't there," so to speak). It's not unusual for people with eidetic memory, for example, to be able to tell you exactly what page and where on the page a line of text occurs in a given book -- the page is "visualized" when the person is asked to recall the text. Others can recite the text, but can't remember where it occurred in the book.

With strong eidetic memory, the first example is reported more often in circumstantial cases, but I'm not positive that it's prevelent across the board -- I'd need to pull up scientifically accurate studies on it, and it's far too late at night for me to do that now and still get up in time for work in the morning.

Maybe someone else here has that information at their fingertips?

reph
08-04-2004, 12:40 PM
Editrx: We seem to be using words in disparate ways. You speak of "material that was acquired eidetically." To my understanding, eidetic phenomena concern retrieval, not acquisition. The person receives visual information the same way as anyone else but has a different kind of access to it later.

Anyone: I'd still like to know how people can spell correctly if they don't see a word in their mind's eye and read the spelling from the mental image.

Stephenie Hovland
08-04-2004, 06:21 PM
Can't help you with that one. I have to see it. When I am introduced to someone new, I often have to visualize their name (spelled correctly) or I don't have a chance of remembering it.

I can't memorize music, because I can't visualize the pages of notes. With music, you can hear and feel the music, not just see it. Words are more visual.

I have a horrible memory but can spell fairly well. As a kid, when my memory was better, I was a great speller.

I think my brain is evaporating. I forget everything!

After one of my recent forgetful episodes, I asked my husband if he knew that genius if often accompanied by absentmindedness.

He looked at me and said, "You just keep telling yourself that."

:nerd (I may forget my cell phone every day, but I can still spell better than him.)

hautdesert
08-04-2004, 08:25 PM
I'd still like to know how people can spell correctly if they don't see a word in their mind's eye and read the spelling from the mental image.

By sound, of course. In the couple of decades since I've learned to read I've had lots and lots of experience associating certain sounds with certain spellings, and a good enough memory to know that particular spellings apply to particular words (particular combinations of sounds). Kind of like knowing that a note is B flat, which can also be written A sharp. After years of reading music I don't have to ask how to write that note when we're in the key of B major--I don't have to think about it, because after years of reading music it's habit to notate it that way--but I didn't know what pitch it was by seeing music, I knew what pitch it was by hearing it.

I guess I'm saying the same thing as the poster above who talked about rules of English spelling--I've internalized "spelling theory" and interpret sounds of words according to that. There are a few words I've had to flat-out memorize to spell correctly, but I still do that by sound, sometimes warping the actual pronunciation of a word to myself so that I can remember how to spell it.

Since I've learned to type I've also got a whole other set of "how to spell" that involves finger movements. It's tied to sound--I occasionally catch myself typing "ov" for of because my mind insists that v=the sound at the end of "of." But it's very much a physical memory, the same way that I remember instrumental music "in my fingers" as much as in my ear.

I learned to read by sounding out, but like doing scales on an instrument over and over eventually reading most words becomes an unconscious process. You know when it's off the same way you know when you hit the wrong note in a scale--it sounds off.



I can't memorize music, because I can't visualize the pages of notes. With music, you can hear and feel the music, not just see it. Words are more visual.

I can't help but memorize music--I only have to sing something a time or two for it to start digging itself in. With instrumental music, it takes much longer. It's as much a physical memory as a memory of sound, although the two are still very much tied together. I have to admit, I find needing to see notes to memorize music a bit bewildering. It's odd how differently some people's brains are put together, isn't it.

HapiSofi
08-04-2004, 09:07 PM
No infallible speller spells by ear. Not in English, at any rate.

hautdesert
08-04-2004, 09:17 PM
No infallible speller spells by ear. Not in English, at any rate.

Well, that's how I experience it when I do it, at any rate. I do agree that "by ear" isn't going to work without a lot of "spelling theory" to assist it. But I wouldn't discount spelling by ear entirely, even for English--there are not a few words in my vocabulary that I spell by deliberately mispronouncing so I can get the sound I need for the correct spelling.

How infallible I am is another matter, but I think I do pretty well.

reph
08-04-2004, 10:39 PM
Very interesting. People experience words differently. So far one visual person and one auditory/kinesthetic person have reported in.

maestrowork
08-04-2004, 10:52 PM
I'm not the best speller in the world and I can't really tell you how I spell, but I think I use both sound and sight in helping me, perhaps also memory. When something doesn't look right, sound right, it's usually misspelled.

(Of course, I also use spell checkers but they can't check misused words like "it's" or "its" or "there" or "their.")

HapiSofi
08-05-2004, 02:38 AM
If you "think you do pretty well," you may be good by any reasonable standard, but you're not in the same category as Editrix and Reph.

This isn't a personal judgement. It has no moral dimension. It's just a matter of hardwiring.

Editrx
08-05-2004, 07:12 AM
<blockquote><strong><em>Quote:</em></strong><hr>Editrx: We seem to be using words in disparate ways. You speak of "material that was acquired eidetically." To my understanding, eidetic phenomena concern retrieval, not acquisition. The person receives visual information the same way as anyone else but has a different kind of access to it later.<hr></blockquote>

Any good (scientific) article on eidetic memory will tell you that the predominant theory is that people with eidetic abilities don't actually have any better memory than anyone else -- they can organize and access the memories better. Note it's both organization (storage) and access (retrieval). So, no, it's not just a retrieval phenomenon, it's also how the memory is stored when it is acquired.

I won't insult your intelligence by posting links to articles here. A quick Google will come up with dozens; just be sure to sort out the chaff (Mary Sue Whipple's Eidetic Webpage) from the wheat (articles in The Lancet or the New England Journal of Medicine). :)

Personally, I'm one of the "seeing" people, but I don't see letters of the word; I see the gestalt of the entire word, the pattern. If the pattern is broken compared to my memory-pattern, I know the word needs double-checking in a dictionary. I also read in gestalt blocks; many people do. When I do the rare copyediting job nowadays (mostly I'm retired from that, working more on full prepress - I sort of miss it, really), I have to remember to switch modes, looking at the words letter by letter. It's my copyediting hat, which hangs over my desk next to my proofreading hat. We won't mention the production whip.

reph
08-05-2004, 07:52 AM
"If the pattern is broken compared to my memory-pattern, I know the word needs double-checking in a dictionary."

So, I take it, sometimes a word looks wrong to you in a general way, but you're not sure, for example, which letter has been replaced/omitted? Or is it more like "I can't remember whether it should be 'defendent' or 'defendant' "?

This is how I experience wrong-looking words: A word that I'm familiar enough with from reading is like the face of someone I know. If the letter sequence is incorrect, the word looks deformed.

I'm not sure of the relation between being able to spot spelling mistakes in print and generating visual images of words. I do both those things, but that doesn't prove that the latter accounts for the former. That is, I can't say with confidence that I identify a misspelled word by comparing it against my mental template. For one thing, I don't visualize words when I'm looking at real ones, unless my mind wanders off to an imaginary text.

Is anyone out there an excellent natural speller who never sees print on an imaginary screen? If so, how do you do it?

hautdesert
08-05-2004, 07:52 AM
If you "think you do pretty well," you may be good by any reasonable standard, but you're not in the same category as Editrix and Reph.

This isn't a personal judgement. It has no moral dimension. It's just a matter of hardwiring.

No doubt. I don't take offense, I assure you--I don't think I'm anywhere in their league at all. But it was this I was answering:


I'd still like to know how people can spell correctly if they don't see a word in their mind's eye and read the spelling from the mental image.

I spell correctly. I don't see a word in my mind's eye and read the spelling from the mental image. I thought I'd explain how I manage to spell correctly without doing that. If I implied that I'm copyeditor material I sincerely apologize--that wasn't my intent.

Editrx
08-05-2004, 08:42 AM
"... the word looks deformed."

Exactly, reph! Deformed is a great way to describe what a "wrong" word looks like to me, if it's misspelled. The pattern is wrong, and so it looks weird, deformed.

Great description for what we both seem to experience. :)

(For words like "defendant," if I saw it spelled as "defendent," it would be a simple, "Oh, I know how that's spelled, and the writer got it wrong." For the odd word I've never, or rarely, see [and it better be odd for me to not see it regularly], then the pattern recognition kicks in and I depend on the "does it look deformed" call. Granted, if I'm proofreading or copyediting, if it's an odd word, I look it up, regardless.)

Man, seeing "defendent" up there makes my teeth itch.

DaveKuzminski
08-05-2004, 08:46 AM
I suppose that's fine until you encounter a manuscript where the writer felt obligated to invent new words for the sake of the story. What do you do then, especially if you're unaware that took place?

Editrx
08-05-2004, 09:02 AM
I run across that all the time, working in science fiction & fantasy.

Production editors (copy editors, line editors) create a style sheet for every book edited. This style sheet includes all sorts of information, including all created or oddly spelled words that the author uses. Sometimes the author is inconsistent about their own spelling of created words; that's what querying is for (depending on the publishing house's wishes, written on tags, in the margin, or [most often] on a separate page). These queries are returned with the edited ms.

Querying is safer than going with "most predominantly used spelling," unless it's obvious that the word in question is only "misspelled" in one or two places and is spelled the other, correct way hundreds of times throughout the ms.

Authors who want to make brownie points, and the undying devotion of the production staff, provide their own style sheets of these created words, as well as character names, place names, etc. It is only used for editing purposes, but it makes everyone's life so much easier.

reph
08-05-2004, 12:04 PM
Dave, experiencing a word as looking deformed happens only for familiar words. I have no mental template for a word that's new to me. If I see it enough times, however, I'll start visualizing it correctly. Another class of such words, besides authors' neologisms, is obscure foreign place names.

An anecdote. For quite a while, up to maybe age nine, I thought faucet was spelled "fossit." It was literally a household word: I heard it in conversations around the house, and my inner typesetter would create fossit every time, working phonetically because it didn't know any better.

I also used to read (subvocalize) etc. as "ectic," like "hectic" with a Cockney accent. I knew what it meant, though.

absolutewrite
08-05-2004, 02:31 PM
Is anyone out there an excellent natural speller who never sees print on an imaginary screen? If so, how do you do it?

Me. And I don't have a clue.

Part of it, I think, comes from a high need for perfectionism-- I get seriously embarrassed by my (rare) misspellings and typos, so if I've ever made a mistake in spelling a word, the very mean bully in my head ensures that I don't do it again. I once came in second place in a spelling bee in the second grade-- I forgot the first "h" in rhythm. I really did know how to spell it, and when the judge spelled it correctly, I could have SWORN that's how I had spelled it. But I was humiliated by the experience.

I can think of only one or two times when I've had to sit down and memorize a spelling ("embarrassed," funny enough, is one of those times), and that's because someone I respected had taught me incorrectly. (My dad taught me that you get embarrassed if you have a "bare ass"-- one R, two Ss.) That's still what I think of when I write the word, so it's one of the few I have to consciously spell correctly. I don't know how the rest of them found their way to my brain.

I hear myself speaking the words in my head as I'm writing or reading them-- so that's my first method-- then I see the words and determine if anything looks disappointing.

It is very, very difficult for me not to judge other people's intelligence based on their egregious spelling and grammar mistakes. I know you can be wildly intelligent and still have no clue how to spell "defendant," but I'm still shocked that it's so. My mom was an English teacher, and she placed a high value on words. I felt abusive if I mishandled them.

My sister, on the other hand, grew up the same way, is very intelligent, and can't spell for squat. She also puts extra spaces at the ends of sentences sometimes, or forgets punctuation. And she can reread her work several times without noticing. It's not a matter of not caring-- she had me proofread her essay for her law school application, which was about the most important thing in her life, and it was full of these seemingly-careless mistakes.

So there you have it-- my long-winded answer that can be summarized by my first statement: I don't have a clue.

absolutewrite
08-05-2004, 02:36 PM
Oh! And what do you make of this?:

Let's say I've read a book, and I remember there was a part in it about how to cure the hiccups. I won't remember the page number or the exact wording, but I'll almost always know which side of the page it was on and whether it was on the top, bottom, or middle. Is that eidetic memory?

HConn
08-05-2004, 02:46 PM
For the latest on how people learn to spell and remember words, I recommend people read Overcoming Dyslexia by Sallye Shaywitz. Get if from your library.

Interesting book.

reph
08-06-2004, 01:00 AM
Jenna, my memory for the location of text works the same way as in your hiccups example, especially if I've read the book recently (later this "sense of place" fades). I believe that's pretty common.

Editrx
08-06-2004, 05:20 AM
Jenna, it is a form of spatial memory.

Euan Harvey
08-06-2004, 05:59 AM
>It is very, very difficult for me not to judge other people's intelligence based on their egregious spelling and grammar mistakes.

I teach writing to ESL students. Most of them are almost at college-level English -- almost but not quite. A lot of them seem to think that if you can understand their writing, then it's good enough and they don't need to go over it again to find all the tiny mistakes that creep in.

I wish I could get them to understand what you said above. When people see those errors, they're not going to think 'Oh look, they write English really well for a Thai', they're going to think 'Clumsy and careless, and probably dense as well.'

Ah well.

Cheers,

Euan

childeroland
07-29-2005, 01:22 AM
I am new here and haven't seen a thread on this, so forgive me if my question is redundant. How does one go about finding a good professional editor for one's work? Is there a list somewhere with warnings and recommendations? Any help appreciated. Thanks.

CaoPaux
07-29-2005, 02:25 AM
There are several in-depth discussions on this topic, which are listed in the Index at the top of the page. Generally speaking, though, it's Not A Good Idea to pay for editing.

childeroland
07-29-2005, 02:43 AM
Thank you for your reply. I'm sure I will find those topics as informative and useful. (My browser acts up which is probably why I didn't find them at first.)

What about well known editors like Jerry Gross of the Independent Editor's Group and Patrick LoBrutto? Is paying for their services a bad idea, do you think, or are professionals like those exceptions?



There are several in-depth discussions on this topic, which are listed in the Index at the top of the page. Generally speaking, though, it's Not A Good Idea to pay for editing.

CaoPaux
07-29-2005, 03:06 AM
For the answers to that, I suggest reading this (which also has a list of reputable editors): http://www.sfwa.org/beware/bookdoctors.html

In short: You need to know what you want to get out of a paid edit. Also, consider what you expect from a paid person that you can't get from a crit group for free, and understand that the best editor in the world cannot guarantee acceptance for publication.

brinkett
07-29-2005, 03:26 AM
There are several in-depth discussions on this topic, which are listed in the Index at the top of the page. Generally speaking, though, it's Not A Good Idea to pay for editing.
According to some. Not everyone is an unbeliever.

But yeah, there have been several discussions about this recently so search the forums. Ask people for recommendations, think about what you want to get out of it, and then make up your own mind. There isn't a one size fits all answer.

childeroland
07-29-2005, 03:38 AM
Great advice, from you and CaoPaux. And CaoPaux, thanks for the link. I was going to jump into this quickly -- I see a lot more research is needed!




According to some. Not everyone is an unbeliever.

But yeah, there have been several discussions about this recently so search the forums. Ask people for recommendations, think about what you want to get out of it, and then make up your own mind. There isn't a one size fits all answer.

James D. Macdonald
07-29-2005, 09:05 AM
Is having your manuscript professionally edited always a mistake? Prior to submission -- probably yes.

aruna
07-29-2005, 10:42 AM
I am new here and haven't seen a thread on this, so forgive me if my question is redundant. How does one go about finding a good professional editor for one's work? Is there a list somewhere with warnings and recommendations? Any help appreciated. Thanks.

Just for the record, I'd like to say that opinions on this topic are very divided in AW. Some beginning authors have had very good experiences with freelance edirors, myself included, and I would only add that it is imperative to look for a good one. Generally speaking, you can get good quality for money from a British editor, many of whom gave actually worked in big publishing houses and know their stuff. In the US the subject seems more controversial; apparently there are more scammers in the US. You can get adivce on good editors on a British writers' forum such as www.writewords.org.uk (http://www.writewords.org.uk/).
But as the others said, search the archives for the many discussions we have had, and all out pro and con views.

reph
07-29-2005, 11:50 AM
Much depends on what kind of writing you do. If it's fiction, you need to be able to do to your manuscript most of what a copy editor would do to it if you hope to produce professional-quality work. For nonfiction, there's sometimes a better case for hiring an editor. You might be the best person in the world to write Book X because you know the subject, but correct, effective, and graceful prose might not be your strength. Then an editor could help. As a side benefit, what you learn from having a manuscript edited can improve your next work. Normally, however, publishers, not authors, bear the cost of editing. Unless you know your writing needs lots of help, don't pay someone to edit a manuscript before you submit it anywhere.

Some writers hire editors because they know they themselves miss details.

Full disclosure: Copy editing accounts for most of my work history. Usually I've worked for publishers, not individuals.

aruna
07-29-2005, 12:14 PM
Much depends on what kind of writing you do. If it's fiction, you need to be able to do to your manuscript most of what a copy editor would do to it if you hope to produce professional-quality work. .

But perhaps she/he is not looking for a copyeditor, but someone to help with the actual content. Getting this right is particularly important for fiction writers. You may have the best story in the world but if it is not properly handled it can be a dud.
Apart from that, I agree with you that the copyediting is best done, and in fact MUST be done, by the author.
The poster did not say exactly what needs editing, and why,

reph
07-29-2005, 12:58 PM
But perhaps she/he is not looking for a copyeditor, but someone to help with the actual content.
When I edit something, I help with the content if necessary. Maybe, where you are, copy editing is defined more narrowly.

Ideally, a person who makes extensive changes and suggestions of a nonroutine sort would be a developmental editor or even a coauthor. Unfortunately, some manuscripts reach copy editing and still need major work.

JennaGlatzer
07-29-2005, 01:05 PM
2 cents: Actually, I think many beginning writers could benefit from hiring an editor. The challenge just becomes finding a good one. In short, you want someone who specializes in your genre/subject and has plenty of verifiable credits. Don't settle for "I've published 6 YA novels." Find out the titles of those novels and who published them (make sure they're not vanity presses!). Don't settle for "I've edited for Random House." Get titles of books and e-mail the authors to ask if they were happy with the editing job.

If you can Google and find an editor's clients on your own, all the better, because most editors can give you a couple of "references" who will say glowing things... you'll probably get a more candid look if you can find the clients on your own and ask what they thought of the person's work.

I'd also be remiss if I didn't mention that we have an editorial branch at AW. Basic info and some of our editors' bios are here: http://www.absolutewrite.com/site/editorial.htm.

aruna
07-29-2005, 01:14 PM
When I edit something, I help with the content if necessary. Maybe, where you are, copy editing is defined more narrowly.

Ideally, a person who makes extensive changes and suggestions of a nonroutine sort would be a developmental editor or even a coauthor. Unfortunately, some manuscripts reach copy editing and still need major work.

Ideally, yes. Ideally, a first novelist produces a work that is so well stuctured and well written that it finds a publisher right away and then the author can work with a developmental editor.
How many first time novelists are this good?

I am talking about first drafts here; the first drafts by someone who is inexperienced and desperate for help. It's no good talking about developmental editors at that stage, because her book, as it is, will never find a publisher. It needs work.

Yes, I know that an unpublishable book won't be made publishable by an editor. But what about a ms that is a diamond in the rough? Such a book CAN be helped by a qualified editor, and I think it's a shame when newcomers here are constantly not just discouraged and dissuaded from this option - even when they have not asked for advice as to whether but only as to how - when for some writers it has proved to be an excellent way to improve their work and to prepare it for submission.

And even if it still isn't publishable - there is so much to be learned from working one-on-one with a good editor that the next book might very well be the one that works.

JennaGlatzer
07-29-2005, 01:36 PM
Wait, wait, I think we're just confusing terms here. "Developmental" editor doesn't have to mean an editor hired by the publisher. There are plenty of developmental editors who work freelance for individual writers as well as for publishers.

To simplify:

A developmental editor (also known as a content editor, story consultant, or just plain editor) works on the storyline, the characters, etc. It's her job to help the writer figure out what's working and not working and make suggestions for improvement.

A copy editor typically does not make many suggestions on the plot, characters, etc. The copy editor's job is to spot spelling and grammatical errors, clarify or ask the author to clarify vague or confusing language, spot inconsistencies (like unexplained time jumps, or a character's name spelled one way on one page and another way on another page), do some degree of fact-checking, etc.

A proofreader takes a look at the manuscript once it's been formatted and does a final check for things like typos, misspellings/grammatical errors, formatting mistakes, and missing info.

Some editors can fill more than one role. It helps to figure out exactly what you need help with so you can tell the editor.

JennaGlatzer
07-29-2005, 01:44 PM
P.S. Here's one ad that's bugged me for a long time:

http://www.lulu.com/ahooperediting

I can't tell you if she's any good at developmental editing. What I can tell you is that her own bio contains so many grammatical errors that I'm horrified she's offering copy editing and proofreading services, and that people are actually hiring her. I feel bad for the people praising her. They obviously don't know what it's like to get an edit from someone who's truly qualified. Makes me sad.

maestrowork
07-29-2005, 02:14 PM
Before I hire someone, I'd ask for references, credentials, and editing samples.

aruna
07-29-2005, 03:37 PM
By coincidence, the Writewords website published an interview with an editorial service (British) today. This service also has funding from the British Arts Council so that low income authors can get a free critique.
Here's the interview:
http://www.writewords.org.uk/interviews/literary_consultancy.asp

brinkett
07-29-2005, 03:47 PM
So you only do this for already submitted works, then?

http://www.sff.net/people/doylemacdonald/editing.htm

aruna
07-29-2005, 04:00 PM
Is having your manuscript professionally edited always a mistake? Prior to submission -- probably yes.

I disagree with you - I think it is prior to submission that it's the most helpful.

aruna
07-29-2005, 04:04 PM
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?



Most painters go to art school and have teachers/coaches. Musicians the same; their education is highly specified before they can really consider themselves professional. Opera singers have voice coaches, even after they turn professional. Hiring a good professional editor to help you with your manuscript is not a bad thing for some beginning novelists. How else are they to get help? Creative writing school can't help you with your unique manuscript.

aruna
07-29-2005, 04:06 PM
So you only do this for already submitted works, then?

http://www.sff.net/people/doylemacdonald/editing.htm

This seems to be a neverending topic, doesn't it! They should make a sticky and we post everything on the subject there, whenever it comes up!

brinkett
07-29-2005, 05:34 PM
This seems to be a neverending topic, doesn't it! They should make a sticky and we post everything on the subject there, whenever it comes up!
That would be helpful, yes. I'm all for warning people about scam artists, giving people guidance about how to find a reputable editor, and discussing the pros and cons of hiring an editor. What I don't understand is why so many pounce on the idea of hiring an editor, saying it's always a bad idea and never leads to an improved manuscript, yet sing the praises of beta readers and critique groups. I suspect it has to do with the fact that you pay for an editor, as if a writer should never pay for any service. That's silly, IMO. As I've said before, if you can afford it, know what you want to get out of it, and hire a qualified editor, what's the big deal? There's nothing like one-on-one attention and mentoring from a pro.

Roger J Carlson
07-29-2005, 06:02 PM
That would be helpful, yes. I'm all for warning people about scam artists, giving people guidance about how to find a reputable editor, and discussing the pros and cons of hiring an editor. What I don't understand is why so many pounce on the idea of hiring an editor, saying it's always a bad idea and never leads to an improved manuscript, yet sing the praises of beta readers and critique groups. I suspect it has to do with the fact that you pay for an editor, as if a writer should never pay for any service. That's silly, IMO. As I've said before, if you can afford it, know what you want to get out of it, and hire a qualified editor, what's the big deal? There's nothing like one-on-one attention and mentoring from a pro.The difference is that critique groups and beta readers do it for free or for the return favor of you reading their book. This is not to say that all fee-charging services are bad, but the concept of fee-based editing lends itself perfectly for disreputable people to make quick money.

Here's an analogy: I NEVER buy anything over the phone unless I initiate the call. This includes all tele-marketers, charitable organizations, and so forth. Now, not all tele-marketing calls are scams. Many are reputable businesses, selling legitmate products at reasonable prices. But many more are either scams or bait-and-switch tactics. (You get one month FREE credit card protection -- of course it will cost you $20 a month after that if you forget to cancel...)

Now I have probably missed out on some very good deals by this practice, but it is virtually certain that I have avoided many scams too. I feel sure that on balance, I am way ahead.

In the same way, I have probably missed opportunities to improve my writing by not using a good paid editor. On the other hand, I will never be taken by a editing scam.

Roger J Carlson
07-29-2005, 06:07 PM
Three seconds ago, I posted my thoughts about this here:

http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?p=282412#post282412

brinkett
07-29-2005, 06:12 PM
The difference is that critique groups and beta readers do it for free or for the return favor of you reading their book.

Yes, as I said, I suspect the reason people pounce on editing services is because you have to pay for them. Personally, I don't think money exchanging hands is always dirty.



This is not to say that all fee-charging services are bad, but the concept of fee-based editing lends itself perfectly for disreputable people to make quick money.

You can say that for anything you have to pay for. There are scam artists in every field. Are you out there telling people it's always a bad idea to hire an electrician? Always a bad idea to pay a dentist to work on your teeth? Of course not. Yes, you can be scammed. But it's easy to avoid if you just do some homework.



In the same way, I have probably missed opportunities to improve my writing by not using a good paid editor. On the other hand, I will never be taken by a editing scam.
Well no, but I think that's cutting off your nose to spite your face. Telling people never to hire an editor because they might be scammed is silly. Instead, educate people on how to differentiate between scam artists and reputable editors and then let them decide what they want to do. There are lots of agents who are really scam artists, but I don't see anyone telling people not to look for an agent so they're guaranteed not to be scammed. If you take that approach, you'll never hire anybody to do anything.

victoriastrauss
07-29-2005, 06:26 PM
Yes, I know that an unpublishable book won't be made publishable by an editor. But what about a ms that is a diamond in the rough? Such a book CAN be helped by a qualified editor, and I think it's a shame when newcomers here are constantly not just discouraged and dissuaded from this option - even when they have not asked for advice as to whether but only as to how - when for some writers it has proved to be an excellent way to improve their work and to prepare it for submission.At the Writer Beware link quoted above, I give some examples of times when hiring an independent editor may make sense--one of these is the example you gave, of a nonfiction writer who has a marketable book idea about something in which she's an expert, but doesn't have the writing skills to write the book herself. There are some other circumstances as well. My wish wouldn't be to absolutely discourage people from hiring an independent editor, but to make them think very hard and do a lot of research before they do hire one.

However, I do think that in general, and certainly for most people who've written a novel, hiring an independent editor is more likely to be a bad idea than a good one, for three reasons:

- Most writers haven't written a publishable book. That's the hard truth. Most of what's out there isn't publishable. Since even the most diligent editing won't turn an unpublishable manuscript into a publishable one, or even a mediocre manuscript into a great one, paying for editing services is going to be a waste of money for most people.

- Scammers are rare--that is, genuine conmen or conwomen whose specific goal is to rip you off. Unqualified editors, however, are a dime a dozen (and my research and the complaints I've gotten over the years suggest that this is a problem in the UK and Australia as well--not as much as in the US, but certainly something to worry about). Without some basic knowledge, or a little tookit of tips like those provided on Writer Beware, your average new writer is not going to find it easy to judge who's qualified and who's not. Again, there's a grave risk of wasting money.

Often, unqualified or marginally qualified editors are very well meaning, and may even do a good job of ridding a manuscript of things like typos and basic punctuation and grammar errors (though if you need help with these things, you should probably not be thinking about publication--see below). Their skills, however, are lacking--as is their industry knowledge--and if they did get their hands on that diamond in the rough, they wouldn't be able to give it the TLC it needed.

- If you are a novelist, you need to be able to do your own editing. Maybe it's puritanical of me. But I believe very strongly that a serious writer should be able to produce a publishable manuscript on his or her own, and if it takes an unpublished manuscript or three to get to that point, so be it. No one can be totally objective about their own work--other readers are essential--and I think that nearly every writer needs help with the big-picture stuff. But if you aren't self-sufficient at the line-editing level, you shouldn't be submitting.

Line editing, however, is one of the main reasons why writers seem to want independent editing. Too many writers regard hiring an independent editor as a kind of crutch--"Oh, I don't need to worry about grammar mistakes, I can just get an editor to fix them for me"--i.e., they don't really need to work to improve (or make the effort to learn something from their editor) because they can always pay for a quick fix. I cringe when people say "I've got the greatest story idea, but I need an editor because I don't know how to write all that well." Uh-uh. It's a total package, or at least it should be. If you're serious about writing, you need to cultivate the full skill set.

- Victoria

Roger J Carlson
07-29-2005, 06:31 PM
Well no, but I think that's cutting off your nose to spite your face.I would only be cutting off my nose if there was no other way to improve my writing. But there are other ways. Critique groups and beta readers are a couple. Just plain submitting manuscripts and receiving rejections is an education. Why take a chance on being scammed if there are other alternatives?

To use the electrician analogy: I never hire an electrician. My brother-in-law is a general handy-man kind of guy. He doesn't do it for a living, but he's pretty good. Am I getting work as good as a professional? Maybe, maybe not. I DO know, however, that it works and he's not going to over charge me. (I can barely get him to take any money.)

Ok, so you don't have a brother-in-law like that. In that case, you DON'T have a choice and must hire a professional. Same is true of editing. If you don't have a critique group or beta readers, you might have to pay for editing advice. But why do it if you don't have to?

Roger J Carlson
07-29-2005, 06:47 PM
Line editing, however, is one of the main reasons why writers seem to want independent editing. Too many writers regard hiring an independent editor as a kind of crutch--"Oh, I don't need to worry about grammar mistakes, I can just get an editor to fix them for me"--i.e., they don't really need to work to improve (or make the effort to learn something from their editor) because they can always pay for a quick fix. I cringe when people say "I've got the greatest story idea, but I need an editor because I don't know how to write all that well." Uh-uh. It's a total package, or at least it should be. If you're serious about writing, you need to cultivate the full skill set.

- VictoriaHow many of us would take a carpenter seriously if he said, "I'm a really good carpenter, but I just don't know how to use that circular saw-thingy. It doesn't matter, though, because I can sub-contract all the cutting." Ridiculous! If a carpenter can't use the tools of the trade, he isn't a carpenter .

So if you don't know how to use a circular saw, how do you learn? You read books on carpentry. You ask advice of other carpenters. You could get a job working for a carpenter or go to some carpentry workshops. You might even have a friend or relative who knows more about carpentry than you do help you develop your skills.

After that, you work at it. You practice cutting stuff. You might have to throw a lot of it away, but each time you do, you'll get better.

brinkett
07-29-2005, 06:51 PM
If you don't have a critique group or beta readers, you might have to pay for editing advice. But why do it if you don't have to?
Why have beta readers if you don't have to? Why join a critique group if you don't have to? There's nothing inherently better about critique groups or beta readers over a professional editor, and that's the assumption you seem to be making, with nothing to back it up. The only difference is that you pay for one and not the other. For someone short on cash, that may be the deciding factor. For someone with the money, professional editing is a valid option that can be considered along with the others, and many people who hire a professional editor do so in addition to using beta readers or a critique group.

Your number one concern seems to be not getting scammed. I say it's easy to avoid that; that it's an overreaction to tell people never to pay for a particular service because they might be scammed. Treat editing services the way we treat agents--warn people that there are scammers, and then educate them in how to differentiate between the good ones and the sharks.

Roger J Carlson
07-29-2005, 06:54 PM
Why have beta readers if you don't have to? Why join a critique group if you don't have to? There's nothing inherently better about critique groups or beta readers over a professional editor, and that's the assumption you seem to be making, with nothing to back it up. The only difference is that you pay for one and not the other. For someone short on cash, that may be the deciding factor. For someone with the money, professional editing is a valid option that can be considered along with the others, and many people who hire a professional editor do so in addition to using beta readers or a critique group.

Your number one concern seems to be not getting scammed. I say it's easy to avoid that; that it's an overreaction to tell people never to pay for a particular service because they might be scammed. Treat editing services the way we treat agents--warn people that there are scammers, and then educate them in how to differentiate between the good ones and the sharks.No, my main point is: Why pay for something that may be no better than you could get for free?

brinkett
07-29-2005, 07:01 PM
Too many writers regard hiring an independent editor as a kind of crutch--"Oh, I don't need to worry about grammar mistakes, I can just get an editor to fix them for me"--i.e., they don't really need to work to improve (or make the effort to learn something from their editor) because they can always pay for a quick fix. I cringe when people say "I've got the greatest story idea, but I need an editor because I don't know how to write all that well." Uh-uh. It's a total package, or at least it should be. If you're serious about writing, you need to cultivate the full skill set.

I'm sure there are writers who hire an editor to correct their bad grammar or as a crutch, as you 've described. That's not a reason to tell writers not to use a service, though. For those writers who do want to learn from their editor, it can be a positive experience. I also think we need to differentiate between the different types of editing. You seem to be talking about a writer throwing a mess at an editor, the editor cleans it up, returns it, and they submit it. Perhaps that's what some writers do and I can see your point for that situation, but it's not how many writer/editor arrangements work.

Cathy C
07-29-2005, 07:05 PM
While I'm not a big fan of paid editing services, because I agree with Victoria that an author is going to have to figure out how to do it, someone raised an interesting point on another board. The person in question was a good overall writer but was missing one or two key elements to their manuscript that made the difference between sold and not sold. But the author didn't know WHAT was wrong, and the rejections weren't being specific enough for her to know.


In this case, for a one-time shot, a paid editor found that missing element. Admittedly, it was a REALLY good editor, one from a major house who donated a critique to an auction to raise money. But after the review, with the knowledge in hand of what was missing, the ms. was sold. (No, not to the same editor. It wasn't their genre.)

So, I've altered my view a bit. If the goal is to find the ONE OR TWO problems in an already good manuscript, and the author isn't fortunate enough to be surrounded by people who will recognize the problem, then perhaps paying an editor is a good thing. However, then it becomes critical to find a REALLY good editor, which is a whole other thing. After all, that brings up the problem of looking up a word in the dictionary. If you don't at least SORT OF know how it's spelled, you'll be looking for a good long while. If you don't sort of know what is wrong with the ms., how will you know when it's fixed?

But I'm still of the opinion that if the book isn't close to shelf ready, it's actually unfair to the author to pay an editor to correct it, because it's like having crib notes on your pop quizzes and then being stripped of them when it's final exam time. Publisher edits are the final exam. You can either write, or you can't, and there are no cheat codes at the end.

brinkett
07-29-2005, 07:09 PM
No, my main point is: Why pay for something that may be no better than you could get for free?
Because it might be better than what you get for free. Because time is an issue so you can't join a critique group. Because you can't find beta readers. Because you've gone through the beta reader and critique group scene and now want an opinion from someone who edits books for a living. Lots of reasons. If your only objection to professional editors is that you have to pay for them, then you really have no business telling people not to. What people choose to do with their money is their business. You may choose not to spend your money in that way and think people who do are silly, but ultimately, it's their decision. Believe me, I see people spending money on things I think are silly, but it's their money. I wouldn't presume to tell them what to do with money they've earned.

brinkett
07-29-2005, 07:16 PM
So, I've altered my view a bit. If the goal is to find the ONE OR TWO problems in an already good manuscript, and the author isn't fortunate enough to be surrounded by people who will recognize the problem, then perhaps paying an editor is a good thing. However, then it becomes critical to find a REALLY good editor, which is a whole other thing.
Absolutely. I posted a quote from Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Browne and King in another thread, where they say that you do a lot of editing first, THEN if you're so inclined, you hire an editor. Basically, you get the manuscript to the point where you think it's ready to be submitted (through several drafts, and may have involved working with beta readers and/or a critique group), and then, if you feel like it (or if you're receiving a lot of rejections), you might at that point hire an editor. I'm sure there are writers who throw a mess at an editor and expect them to turn it into a diamond, and I agree that's a waste of time. What I object to is the notion that hiring an editor is never a good idea, and that beta readers and critique groups are always a better way to go. As always, it depends.

Roger J Carlson
07-29-2005, 07:24 PM
Because it might be better than what you get for free.It also may not be. How will you know?


Because time is an issue so you can't join a critique group. Because you can't find beta readers. Because you've gone through the beta reader and critique group scene and now want an opinion from someone who edits books for a living.I already admitted this might be a reason to do so.


If your only objection to professional editors is that you have to pay for them, then you really have no business telling people not to. What people choose to do with their money is their business. You may choose not to spend your money in that way and think people who do are silly, but ultimately, it's their decision. Believe me, I see people spending money on things I think are silly, but it's their money. I wouldn't presume to tell them what to do with money they've earned.Please don't put words in my mouth!

In all of this, I have not said one word about what what people should or should not do with their money. Nor did I ever say people who use paid editing services are silly. I have talked specifically about what I do and why.

On the other hand, YOU have called people silly for believing a writer should not have to pay for any service. "...as if a writer should never pay for any service. That's silly, IMO." Please don't chastise me for actions you yourself are guilty of.

brinkett
07-29-2005, 07:43 PM
It also may not be. How will you know?

Agreed. It's a chance you take, as you do when you pay for any service. You increase the chances of it being a positive experience if you do your homework. So let people do their homework and make up their own mind, rather than saying that hiring an editor is always a bad idea.



On the other hand, YOU have called people silly for believing a writer should not have to pay for any service. "...as if a writer should never pay for any service. That's silly, IMO." Please don't chastise me for actions you yourself are guilty of.
I wasn't chastising you for thinking people are silly, but for telling people what to do with their money. You're right--you haven't told people what to do with their money. However, your only objection to editors seems to be that you pay them, when you could get an equivalent service for free. We're quibbling over that last part (beta readers and critique groups might not be better, and sometimes time is more of an issue than money), and we aren't going to agree.

I believe in allowing people to make up their own minds after weighing the pros and cons. I have no problem when people post and give reasons why they think hiring an editor is a bad idea--others are posting why they think it's a good idea. I have a problem when people post that hiring an editor is always a bad idea and is always a waste of money, because it's not true, as you can see from the example Cathy C posted in another thread, and from aruna's experience, and from the experiences of others we don't know about

I've hired an editor (after having beta readers go over my manuscript), but I can't say if it's a positive experience yet--I'll receive her report in 2-3 weeks and will reserve judgement until then. I can say that she pointed out something to me after looking at the first 10 pages of the manuscript that resulted in significant improvement after *I* revised it accordingly. None of the beta readers picked it up, and they all gave me great feedback, so I already feel like I've benefited.

CaoPaux
07-29-2005, 08:00 PM
Great discussion, IMO. Personally, I tout the "not a good idea" line because 99% of those who ask are beginners who think paying for editing is an easy route to publication. At the very least, I hope to get them to slow down and consider the ramifications.

I believe those who benefit most from a professional edit are those who already have a good skill set in place, and can thus assimilate the suggestions. :idea:

aruna
07-29-2005, 08:13 PM
Agreed. It's a chance you take, as you do when you pay for any service. You increase the chances of it being a positive experience if you do your homework. So let people do their homework and make up their own mind, rather than saying that hiring an editor is always a bad idea.

.

If I were starting over again, and knew everything I know now, and had the choice between a good, experienced editor and beta readers or a critique group, I'd stil take the editor and pay for it. Bakc then I didn't have much money but somehow I scraped the fee together (which by the way wasn't all that much) and what i got back in return was well worth it. More importantly - I saved time.Sure, going the route of trial and error might have got me there in the end. I might have spent years sub,itting and resubmitting. Instead, i was passed on to an agent and them oney I had invested came back several hundred fold within a few months.

I have never been someone to avoid something just because "something (bad) might happen". In this world you have to take risks; this seems a very minor one to take, especially as it's easy to check up on an editor's expertise. Just like with an agent, I would for instance ask to see a list of published authors she has worked with; I would like to see if these auhtors recommend he, what they say.

brinkett
07-29-2005, 08:37 PM
Great discussion, IMO. Personally, I tout the "not a good idea" line because 99% of those who ask are beginners who think paying for editing is an easy route to publication. At the very least, I hope to get them to slow down and consider the ramifications.
You can do that by sending them to the site you posted earlier and warning them about scammers; also by asking them what they hope to get out of it so you can determine if their expectations are realistic. Telling them flat out not to do it is a disservice, IMO. It might be just what they need, depending on where they're at.

Christine N.
07-29-2005, 08:44 PM
You can say that for anything you have to pay for. There are scam artists in every field. Are you out there telling people it's always a bad idea to hire an electrician? Always a bad idea to pay a dentist to work on your teeth? Of course not. Yes, you can be scammed. But it's easy to avoid if you just do some homework.




No, it's not the same. Not at all. An electrician has to have some sort of training. He went to electrician's school, and has a license. Same thing with a dentist. These people also have professional organizations to answer to when misconduct is reported or suspected. They can also lose their license and never be allowed to practice again, in the case of doctors/dentists/lawyers.

There's no license to be had to be an editor, and they answer to no one. It's pretty much a shot in the dark.

The other thing about paid editing is that it really boils down to one man's paid for opinion. Granted, if you can't find readers/crit groups, etc.. this may be an option for you, but just as it's not a good idea to change your ms. based on the notes one agent may give you with your rejection notice, it may not be a good idea to change your ms based on one editor's opinon.

I like to have at least two readers. Two opinions, more if I can get them. Then I sift through the comments to see where the commonalities lie. If three people say they don't like such and such, I consider changing it, moreso than if one person does.

My first book, for example, currently in production. It went through Critters. Four people said the same thing about one character, so I changed it. With another character, one loved it and one hated it. I loved it, so I left it.

That's really my reason, I suppose, beyond the money thing. It's still only one opinion.

aruna
07-29-2005, 09:01 PM
I believe those who benefit most from a professional edit are those who already have a good skill set in place, and can thus assimilate the suggestions. :idea:

Absolutely; and because this is the way it happened for me, I can't help thinking of others in the same situation.

The thing is, even experienced authors can oversee some things. I finished a new ms in December and, since I am starting over from scratch, sent the partial to a really big agent whom an author friend of mine recommended. he was so kind as to call me up and chat with me for half an hour as to why he was rejecting it; it was too slow, he said, and he only does highly commercial, blockbuster-type books. He complimentd my writing but said it just wasn't his thing.
His words "too slow" got me thinking. And after a while it hit me: the first three chapters were absolutely dispensible. A lot of character development and dialogue, but nothing really happening. I cut them out and started much later in the story, and that did the trick; after that it buzzed. I'm not sending it back to him as I have another agent reading the full right now, but it was a mistake i was able to spot and correct myself; the sort of thing that is so easily corrected, and could mean the difference between an agent/publisher requesting the full, or chucking it away. A first time author would not have seen that error. Maybe beta readers or a critique group could spot it; I personally would prefer choose more professional, every time.

I agree with brinkett: don't throw put the baby with the bathwater. Fpr the right person, a good editor can make al the differnce. It did for me, and quite a few others. Perhaps those freelancering editors need a regulating body, just as agents and publishers have; but there's no reason why it shouldn't be a perfectly honouable profession.

brinkett
07-29-2005, 09:04 PM
No, it's not the same. Not at all. An electrician has to have some sort of training. He went to electrician's school, and has a license. Same thing with a dentist. These people also have professional organizations to answer to when misconduct is reported or suspected. They can also lose their license and never be allowed to practice again, in the case of doctors/dentists/lawyers.

Okay, it was a bad analogy. The point is that you take a chance whenever you pay for a service. No matter what you pay for, whether it's a service that licensed professionals do or not, you can avoid being scammed by doing your homework. Then it doesn't become a shot in the dark at all. Because you might be scammed is a poor reason for not doing something that might benefit you, IMO.



but just as it's not a good idea to change your ms. based on the notes one agent may give you with your rejection notice, it may not be a good idea to change your ms based on one editor's opinon.

And you don't have to.



I like to have at least two readers. Two opinions, more if I can get them. Then I sift through the comments to see where the commonalities lie. If three people say they don't like such and such, I consider changing it, moreso than if one person does.

I had four beta readers and did exactly what you did. I hired an editor in addition to them. Of course, an editor's opinion is one opinion, but if they're qualified, it's an informed opinion. As I stated, the editor I hired has already pointed out one thing that all the beta readers missed. It had nothing to do with the writing per se. It was something subtle, but important. As of this moment, I'm pleased with my decision and the interaction so far, but I'll reserve judgement until the entire process has been completed.

The point remains that there's nothing wrong with choosing to hire an editor, and nothing wrong with not hiring an editor. It's up to each writer to decide how they want to prepare their manuscript.

aruna
07-29-2005, 09:14 PM
oops, I deleted a post of mine by mistake!

I wanted to say that a freelance editor canalso be an option even if you DO have readers and crit groups. It would always be my first choice.

AnneMarble
07-29-2005, 09:20 PM
Line editing, however, is one of the main reasons why writers seem to want independent editing. Too many writers regard hiring an independent editor as a kind of crutch--"Oh, I don't need to worry about grammar mistakes, I can just get an editor to fix them for me"--i.e., they don't really need to work to improve (or make the effort to learn something from their editor) because they can always pay for a quick fix. I cringe when people say "I've got the greatest story idea, but I need an editor because I don't know how to write all that well." Uh-uh. It's a total package, or at least it should be. If you're serious about writing, you need to cultivate the full skill set.
I've seen this attitude in some aspiring writers -- and I truly can't understand it. Storytelling and characterization and the like are the most important skills, of course, but so are skills such as spelling and grammar. I've even come across writers who say they don't like grammar or spelling, etc. That, to me, is like visiting a dentist who says "I can't stand anesthesia, so you're going to feel every thing I do to you during this root canal."
:Shrug:

Before the days of computers, some writers used to hand their marked up final drafts over to a typing service for a "final final draft." In a book on writing, I read a warning about relying too heavily on this sort of service because it meant the writer was missing that last chance to polish the manuscript. The author gave an example of a writer whose first three books were very polished (because she didn't have the money for a typing service yet and had to do the typing and final polishing herself), but whose later books were a little less polished because she had hired a typing service to do the final final drafts. While few writers are hiring typing services now, I wonder if some of them are relying on line editors instead?

AnneMarble
07-29-2005, 09:30 PM
The thing is, even experienced authors can oversee some things.

Unfortunately, so can professional editors. :( Several years ago, Writer's Digest did a detailed article about "book doctors" where they sent an SF manuscript to several companies and then compared the results. Most of them picked up on some thigns, but the article pointed out that none of them noticed that one of the SF terms (the name for the planet, I think) changed in the first paragraph. Eek! And these were, as far as I know, the professional editors.


... Perhaps those freelancering editors need a regulating body, just as agents and publishers have; but there's no reason why it shouldn't be a perfectly honouable profession.
That might be a good idea, although I don't know if it would be possible to implement it. There are a lot of freelance editors who are quite skilled and edit manuscripts (both fiction and nonfiction) all the time, but who aren't really associated with the other editors who do this sort of work. I'm not sure how they could all be "gathered."

Maybe if you put up a giant billboard with typos, they would all gather to correct it out of habit, and then we could tag them like birds. ;) (Can you tell I'm an editor? :D )

aruna
07-29-2005, 10:11 PM
And again: there's no-one who can convince me that even the best beta reader or critique group is as good and detailed as a good editor who has had the professional training. If that were the case then publishers would not use developmental editors; they'd simply pass the manuscripts around their staff (beta readers) and ask for opinions, or get some outside "critique groups" to look at it and comment, and the opinions that were unanimous would be the ones that decided the shape of the novel. We all know that the quality is just not the same.
I say it's up to the writer to decide. Even if she is never published. It's her money. If writing is her passion, then let her spend it on a good editor. Even if she's a bad writer. So what? At the very least she'll learn a whole lot about the craft. People spend a lot more on expensive hobbies that are less good for them than writing.

I personally am more wary of bad writers of the "never touch a comma of mine" persuasion. At least the writer who seeks out an editor has the will to learn and improve, and the humility.

CaoPaux
07-29-2005, 10:18 PM
Maybe if you put up a giant billboard with typos, they would all gather to correct it out of habit, and then we could tag them like birds. ;) (Can you tell I'm an editor? :D ) :roll:



Telling them flat out not to do it is a disservice, IMO. It might be just what they need, depending on where they're at.It certainly wasn't my intention to tell childeroland flat out not to do it, which is why I said it was "generally" not a good idea, and pointed him/her to further discussion.
:flag:

victoriastrauss
07-29-2005, 10:19 PM
I've merged the two threads on paid/professional editing, since it didn't seem to make sense to have two simultaneous discussions of the same thing.

- Victoria

Christine N.
07-29-2005, 10:29 PM
Yes, aruna, and that's why publishers have developmental editors, and pay them. I guess it's obvious which side of the fence I am on this one, but I also say that if a more experienced writer feels they can benefit, then so be it.

But for a newbie writer fresh off the turnip truck, probably not the best idea. They need to learn their craft, first and foremost. And I also concede cultural differences - apparently Brits have the market cornered on this sort of thing - meaning they have ins with agents and whatnot. Most of them here don't.

brinkett
07-29-2005, 10:31 PM
But for a newbie writer fresh off the turnip truck, probably not the best idea.
Why? If a new writer has the money, knows what they want to get out of it, and hires a qualified editor, why isn't it a good idea?

aruna
07-29-2005, 10:33 PM
I still don't understand how children learn to spell who don't have eidetic imagery. (To me, that means seeing things that aren't there – in my case, seeing words set in type when I hear or think them. You may be using the phrase differently.) If they aren't reading their spelling words off a mental screen in front of their eyes, are they using auditory thoughts for every word? That is, have they memorized the sequence of letter sounds for each word, so that they say to themselves "Dog. Dee, oh, gee," and then write down those letters on the spelling test?

reph, I found this post reading through the whole thread. My daughter was taught to spell in school using phonics - in Germany, where the language is very phonetic. She was terrible - couldn't spell at all, in fact, severly dyslexic. Then I taught her using the method developed by Jeffrey Freed in Right-brained children in a left-brained world". I taught her to LOOK at a printed word in its entirely, and then spell it - backward and forwards. She did it - perfectly - every time. Even with words she had never seen before, long words, difficult words. It was amazing. And gave her a whole lot of self-confidence.
I once interviewed Jeffrey Freed for a magazine, I'll see if I find a copy of the article and post in in the Novels thread.

HapiSofi
07-30-2005, 12:13 AM
What about well known editors like Jerry Gross of the Independent Editor's Group and Patrick LoBrutto? Is paying for their services a bad idea, do you think, or are professionals like those exceptions?
I don't know anything about Jerry Gross, but Pat LoBrutto is unquestionably an industry professional, and has been one for decades. How much is he charging these days, if I may ask?

Some notes on professional freelance editing:

1. Most of it isn't all that professional. Amen to Victoria saying that unqualified editors are a dime a dozen. I once had a job where we hired them freelance, so we were forever getting queries from prospective freelancers. Our rule was that if there were three or more errors in the opening paragraph, you didn't have to keep reading. I've run into copyeditors who've been working professionally for years who in my opinion don't know their own trade. There's less ambiguity and indeterminacy in copyediting than there is in editing proper, what Jenna Glatzer calls developmental editing, but both are a lot more art than they are science.

You know how there are a lot more writers who think they're good than who are good? Same goes for editors. Editors who know what they're doing worry a lot about saying the wrong thing to an author, leading them astray. As far as I can tell, editors who don't know what they're doing worry about that a lot less.

Are you sure you can spot bad advice?

2. Paying for your own editing can distort the process.

An inexperienced editor once told Charles Durden to take the manuscript of No Bugles, No Drums and put it all into standard English. I heard this story from Durden himself. It has a happy ending: at that moment, he suffered a catastrophic loss of faith in the editor, and consequently didn't take her advice.

Of course, he could afford to do that. He hadn't paid for the edit. If you'd paid thousands of dollars for what turned out to be the wrong advice, could you bear to ignore it?

3. The editorial tasks it's easiest for an inexperienced or untalented editor to perform are not the kind of thing you should hire an editor to do. Learn to run your spellchecker. Learn grammar. Do your own research and fact checking. Which leads into ...

4. A lot of people who think they want to hire a freelance editor would do much better to buckle down and become better writers.

5. A real edit by a real editor is expensive. If you're not planning to be a professional writer but you have a book you want to get out, it may make sense to hire an editor for the occasion. But if you're a newbie fiction writer, a real edit by a real editor might conceivably cost more than your advance. And if you're planning to be a professional writer of any kind, what are you planning to do -- hire an editor every time you write a book?

6. I know of three successful authors who've repeatedly paid to have editorial work done on their books before they go to the publisher. In all of those cases, the problems being addressed are or were neurological in origin. The authors knew how to write, and were very good at it, but because of their health problems, their books needed a consistent level and type of cleanup work throughout -- eminently doable, but more hard-slogging text work than their in-house editors had time for. That, I think, was a legit use of a paid freelance editor.

childeroland
07-30-2005, 12:23 AM
In the mid thousand range ($5-6000) for a content (developmental) edit, I believe.




I don't know anything about Jerry Gross, but Pat LoBrutto is unquestionably an industry professional, and has been one for decades. How much is he charging these days, if I may ask?

Some notes on professional freelance editing:

1. Most of it isn't all that professional. Amen to Victoria saying that unqualified editors are a dime a dozen. I once had a job where we hired them freelance, so we were forever getting queries from prospective freelancers. Our rule was that if there were three or more errors in the opening paragraph, you didn't have to keep reading. I've run into copyeditors who've been working professionally for years who in my opinion don't know their own trade. There's less ambiguity and indeterminacy in copyediting than there is in editing proper, what Jenna Glatzer calls developmental editing, but both are a lot more art than they are science.

You know how there are a lot more writers who think they're good than who are good? Same goes for editors. Editors who know what they're doing worry a lot about saying the wrong thing to an author, leading them astray. As far as I can tell, editors who don't know what they're doing worry about that a lot less.

Are you sure you can spot bad advice?

2. Paying for your own editing can distort the process.

An inexperienced editor once told Charles Durden to take the manuscript of No Bugles, No Drums and put it all into standard English. I heard this story from Durden himself. It has a happy ending: at that moment, he suffered a catastrophic loss of faith in the editor, and consequently didn't take her advice.

Of course, he could afford to do that. He hadn't paid for the edit. If you'd paid thousands of dollars for what turned out to be the wrong advice, could you bear to ignore it?

3. The editorial tasks it's easiest for an inexperienced or untalented editor to perform are not the kind of thing you should hire an editor to do. Learn to run your spellchecker. Learn grammar. Do your own research and fact checking. Which leads into ...

4. A lot of people who think they want to hire a freelance editor would do much better to buckle down and become better writers.

5. A real edit by a real editor is expensive. If you're not planning to be a professional writer but you have a book you want to get out, it may make sense to hire an editor for the occasion. But if you're a newbie fiction writer, a real edit by a real editor might conceivably cost more than your advance. And if you're planning to be a professional writer of any kind, what are you planning to do -- hire an editor every time you write a book?

6. I know of three successful authors who've repeatedly paid to have editorial work done on their books before they go to the publisher. In all of those cases, the problems being addressed are or were neurological in origin. The authors knew how to write, and were very good at it, but because of their health problems, their books needed a consistent level and type of cleanup work throughout -- eminently doable, but more hard-slogging text work than their in-house editors had time for. That, I think, was a legit use of a paid freelance editor.

brinkett
07-30-2005, 12:51 AM
1. Most of it isn't all that professional.
<snip>
Are you sure you can spot bad advice?

The same issues can arise if you use beta readers or a critique group.



If you'd paid thousands of dollars for what turned out to be the wrong advice, could you bear to ignore it?

Yes (not that I'm paying thousands of dollars).



The editorial tasks it's easiest for an inexperienced or untalented editor to perform are not the kind of thing you should hire an editor to do. Learn to run your spellchecker. Learn grammar. Do your own research and fact checking. Which leads into ...

Agreed. Nobody's suggesting hiring an editor to fix grammar and spelling or to do research.



4. A lot of people who think they want to hire a freelance editor would do much better to buckle down and become better writers.

We're doing that too. It isn't an either/or situation.



And if you're planning to be a professional writer of any kind, what are you planning to do -- hire an editor every time you write a book?

Probably not. Since it's my first crack at it, I wanted someone else to have a look. I can also see my reliance on beta readers decreasing as I gain confidence.



That, I think, was a legit use of a paid freelance editor.
They're all legit. The question is whether it's worthwhile. Only the author can decide that after going through the experience.

Christine N.
07-30-2005, 01:01 AM
Why? If a new writer has the money, knows what they want to get out of it, and hires a qualified editor, why isn't it a good idea?

Quite honestly, because it's cheating. I don't mean that how it sounds, but it's the only thing I can think of. They're cheating themselves, mainly. A new writer needs to learn from mistakes, not be told what to fix. I think it goes back to the thing about editors not turning an unpublishable manuscript into a publishable one. New writers, in general (not making an assumptions on anyone in particular) don't write publishable material.

I just think they need to figure out certain things on their own before they go throwing money at someone to "fix" their work. They might get more for their money with a writing class or workshop. Lots of professional organizations host workshops with editors and agents, and offer critiques. If I had a choice between the two, I'd take the workshop, b/c not only would I be getting instruction, I'd be able to put my work in front of known industry professionals.

This isn't coming out how I mean it to sound. Sigh. Maybe what I mean is that a new writer shouldn't learn bad habits right off the bat. Not saying that who they get to edit will teach them, but they may be more likely to take the editor's word as gospel, and fall into bad habits.

Ok, here's one. I recently copy edited a novel. I know this author paid a professional editing service. And it still needed work. It wasn't my place to say anything, so I didn't. I fixed the more grevious errors , all of the spelling and grammar (which you think someone would have pointed out already) and moved on. I know this author and like him very much, his characters and story were fine, but he needed instruction on construction and style. There were passages that were very difficult to read and with a few minor changes it would have been a whole lot better. His money may have been better spent on a writing class.

I'm with Victoria. You need to learn your craft. End of story. If you know your craft, and still want other opinions on it, and understand what to do with the editors advice, well then you pretty much know what you're getting yourself into. Many new authors won't.
That was way longer than I wanted it to be.

PS - I would listen to Hapi's advice. He IS an industry professional. By that I mean he works for a publisher you've heard of.

Aconite
07-30-2005, 01:21 AM
As weird as it is for me to discover this, I see brinkett's point. I have to agree that under certain circumstances, hiring an editor could be a good choice for a new writer.

I used to board at a stable where there were some amateur-going-pro riders. A few times a year, a riding clinic would be offered with some top rider or instructor. These were always breathtakingly expensive, and there were always some people who just didn't get their money's worth for one reason or another (they weren't ready for that level of instruction, the instructor could ride but not teach, etc.), and who would have done much better to use the same amount of money to buy ten lessons with their regular instructor. But some riders needed to be shown something small and subtle that made a huge difference, something only people at the top levels could teach.

Of course, if you do this, you have to go into it understanding that in terms of return on investment, you're probably not going to come out ahead for a very long time, if ever, and so you're doing it for your craft and not your pocketbook. Being in it for both, I wouldn't go that route.

reph
07-30-2005, 01:47 AM
One problem not yet mentioned: a writer who needs editing won't be qualified to evaluate the service. If you can't spot grammatical errors in your writing, how will you know the editor has fixed them and not introduced new ones? For the same reason, you may not know whether your beta readers are doing all the editing your work needs.

Please don't hire an editor just to fix typos and similar minor problems. If nothing's wrong with your manuscript but typos, the publisher will have them fixed, not at your (direct) expense.

If you decide your work needs an editor, protect yourself against those who think they can edit just because they know how to read. The editor's previous clients/employers should be publishers, not (or not only) individuals. Publishers screen and train editors. You needn't have heard of the publishers – there are many small ones – but you should find them listed in Writer's Market and similar compilations, and they should have professional-looking websites with no English errors. They should not be vanity presses.

If the editor's experience comes from editorial work in advertising agencies, for example, or large nonprofit organizations, that's all right, too. Check such references the same way as for publishers. The point is, look for major institutional experience where standards would have applied. Avoid someone who's merely edited the newsletter of her local garden club.

brinkett
07-30-2005, 02:04 AM
I just think they need to figure out certain things on their own before they go throwing money at someone to "fix" their work. They might get more for their money with a writing class or workshop. Lots of professional organizations host workshops with editors and agents, and offer critiques. If I had a choice between the two, I'd take the workshop, b/c not only would I be getting instruction, I'd be able to put my work in front of known industry professionals.

You're making the assumption that writers throw money at editors to "fix" their work. That's unfair. It's certainly not what I'm doing. I worked extremely hard on my manuscript before I hired an editor. And then even after I'd hired someone, while waiting for her (she's good and in demand so she has a waiting list), I scrutinized it even more, kind of like cleaning your house before the cleaning lady arrives so you won't be embarassed. To be frank, I see NO difference between working with an editor at a workshop or through a class, and working with an editor one on one. In fact, I prefer the one on one, where someone is focused on my manuscript only.



This isn't coming out how I mean it to sound. Sigh. Maybe what I mean is that a new writer shouldn't learn bad habits right off the bat. Not saying that who they get to edit will teach them, but they may be more likely to take the editor's word as gospel, and fall into bad habits.

Again, you're making assumptions.



Ok, here's one. I recently copy edited a novel. I know this author paid a professional editing service. And it still needed work. It wasn't my place to say anything, so I didn't. I fixed the more grevious errors , all of the spelling and grammar (which you think someone would have pointed out already) and moved on. I know this author and like him very much, his characters and story were fine, but he needed instruction on construction and style. There were passages that were very difficult to read and with a few minor changes it would have been a whole lot better. His money may have been better spent on a writing class.

It sounds like he hired a crap editor. You can't take one case and then say all manuscripts that have been edited will contain grievous errors.



I'm with Victoria. You need to learn your craft. End of story.

Agreed. As I said, it's not an either/or situation. And unless you agree that a writer can NEVER learn anything from their editor, then one way to learn and improve is by working with an editor.



PS - I would listen to Hapi's advice. He IS an industry professional. By that I mean he works for a publisher you've heard of.
I have respect for Hapi's opinions and advice, but you must know by now that I'm an independent thinker. I'm not wowed by people's positions in life, nor do I make my decisions based on generalizations by people who don't know me or my situation from a hole in the wall. I do a lot of research, weigh what people say, and then make a decision based on my goals and circumstances. Nothing I've read in this thread has caused me to question my decision. As I said, at this point, I'm pleased with how it's going. I've already learned a few things that I'm applying as I write my WIP.



As weird as it is for me to discover this, I see brinkett's point.

Perhaps I should reconsider what I've been saying. ;)



Of course, if you do this, you have to go into it understanding that in terms of return on investment, you're probably not going to come out ahead for a very long time, if ever, and so you're doing it for your craft and not your pocketbook.

Exactly (yikes!). Working with an editor can be part of honing one's craft. It's an option, along with critique groups, beta readers, classes, workshops, books, etc.

reph
07-30-2005, 02:45 AM
grevious errors
...or grievous ones.

Christine N.
07-30-2005, 03:43 AM
LOL Reph, thank you. Sometimes when I type quickly I don't see those things. Of course, brinkett, if you had paid attention, you would have seen that I was making a fairly large generalization, not pointed at you specifically. I think I even said that. It seems to me that you are NOT a newbie writer. By that I don't mean "never been published" but rather those people that woke up one day and decided to write a book, then send it to publishers.

Those people do exist - read any amount of slush and you will see that they do. You seem to have done your research, and honed your craft to a point where you DO understand. Therefore, my statement about editing services being a Bad Idea to newbie writers was NOT really intended for you. You seem to want specific guidance, and I can understand using a credible editor for such a reason.

brinkett
07-30-2005, 03:48 AM
By that I don't mean "never been published" but rather those people that woke up one day and decided to write a book, then send it to publishers.

People like that probably wouldn't bother to hire an editor. They'd just go ahead and start submitting because they assume the work is great as is.



Those people do exist - read any amount of slush and you will see that they do.

I'm sure they do, but I'm not prepared to accept that they represent new writers who hire editors.

reph
07-30-2005, 06:07 AM
People like that probably wouldn't bother to hire an editor. They'd just go ahead and start submitting because they assume the work is great as is.
Some of them do hire editors. They believe cleaning up the bitty technical details will make their novel salable or get their doctoral dissertation accepted.

Caty
07-30-2005, 10:42 AM
My friend (God bless her) is an editor for a small publishing house in Scotland. She gets most of her freelance work from students doing their dissertations and is highly sought after by them.

She very kindly looked over my m/s and spotted a couple of minor things in the first few chapters that had been missed by my writers group and anyone else I'd dragooned into reading it.

It was amazing how it tightened up the m/s. Now I'm not sure if I'd use an editor again because when she pointed out the obvious (and it was obvious) I was able to go back to previous projects and fix them myself.

I'd fallen into bad habits without professional criticism which would have hindered the success of any future work.

aruna
07-30-2005, 10:50 AM
reph:
I agree with you 100% that a writer should not hire an editor for grammatical and spelling errors, That IS a waste of money. That's why i ALWAYS refer to this kimnd of editing as copyediting. If you've a good story but a bad speller, then get a friend who'se a good speller to help you for free. That's simple. I wish we'de keep the issue of spelling and grammar out of this discussion!!!!

JennaGlatzer
07-30-2005, 11:20 AM
Now I'm not sure if I'd use an editor again because when she pointed out the obvious (and it was obvious) I was able to go back to previous projects and fix them myself.

That's a good point and it's one of the reasons I don't understand the "new writers shouldn't hire editors" school of thought. I took writing courses in college, and had one professor in particular who made a huge difference in my writing because of his detailed critiques. Reading books and learning theory is good, but having someone with experience go through your work and show you where you're messing up can help you make major progress. I had the same experience as Caty-- once the professor red-lined my essays and demonstrated where I was telling instead of showing, using unnecessary words, etc., I could then see those same problems in my earlier work.

If I hadn't taken those writing courses, I might not have figured out my weak spots. So my professor was actually functioning as an editor for me, and I paid for the course... I don't see how that's very much different from hiring an editor.

aruna
07-30-2005, 11:26 AM
Quite honestly, because it's cheating. I don't mean that how it sounds, but it's the only thing I can think of. They're cheating themselves, mainly. A new writer needs to learn from mistakes, not be told what to fix. I think it goes back to the thing about editors not turning an unpublishable manuscript into a publishable one. New writers, in general (not making an assumptions on anyone in particular) don't write publishable material.
No, it;s not cheating, not at all. We cant learn from mistakes unless we can see them, and as a first time novelist you can't see mistakes because you don't even know WHAT is a mistake! My first editor was an agent who liked my very first novel. I put into her hands a huge 700 page ms which was an absolut mess - it was my first work and I didn't know a thing about the techniques of novel writing. Well, how am I supposed to know it?

I remember my horror when she went through page after page, saying cut - cut - cut. It was flab, unnecessary; but I didn't know that. And many, many other things she told me. I rewrote that book three or four times from scratch; and every time I was a much better writer, more aware of the subtelties of novel writing.

Tell me, HOW IS THIS CHEATING????

The next novel I wrote I already "knew" there were things wrong with it but I stil didn't know what exactly. That's when I used a paid service. I got an excellent report and I knew the editor was spot on with her comments. I did the work; the result was a publishable novel, that did get published.

I wrote three other novels since then and have never again felt the need for a published service. In other words, I have learned my craft.



I just think they need to figure out certain things on their own before they go throwing money at someone to "fix" their work. They might get more for their money with a writing class or workshop. Lots of professional organizations host workshops with editors and agents, and offer critiques. If I had a choice between the two, I'd take the workshop, b/c not only would I be getting instruction, I'd be able to put my work in front of known industry professionals.

How on earth can you fix things on your own if you are a beginner? One needs practice for this; and practice comes only through working closely with someone who knows how to do it. otherwise it's like telling someone to learn to play the piano on his own. He can't; he needs someone to sit beside him and TELL him where the mistakes lie. Later on he can do it himself.

Workshops simply can't do the job. Workshops give generaised advice; but your manuscript is unique and has it's own pecific rules. Generalised advice just can't do it. I would never have even considered going to a workshop or writing class after I'd written my first novel. I needed someone to read this particular manuscript. I needed someone to say "this is absolute crap" or, "this is terrific but it needs a lot of work". I needed someone who would show me what work it needed, because I couldn't tell; I was a beginner!

And that is exactly what i got. As it happened, the person who helped me was an agent and she did it for free. But I learned so much from her that afterwards I had a guilty conscience; I seriously considered approaching her and offering to pay her for what she did (this was after my second novel sold, through a different agent.)

Not everyone is lucky enough to have an expert's help for free. Are you saying she should not have helped me but simply given it back and said "fix it yourself, it'll do you good?" Yet this is what you seem to be suggesting.
You are basically saying I became a published author through cheating!



I'm with Victoria. You need to learn your craft. End of story.

I agree. But there are different ways of learning this craft. I choose to one-on-one. Others may choose a writing class, or books. Different strokes for different folks.


I would listen to Hapi's advice. He IS an industry professional. By that I mean he works for a publisher you've heard of.

It's still only an opinion. And I am also an industry professional, in that I have had three books published by a major publisher, worked with a very senior HarperCollins editor on those three books (the same editor as Tracy Chevalier, Amitav Ghosh, and, way, way back, Jeffrey Archer), and had them translated into several languages. I learned my craft mainly through one-on-one work with editors. I think Hapi could also listen to me, for a less one-sided view! (I'm sorry if that sounds arrogant but sometimes i feel I'm speaking into the wind! I've said again and again that this method can work wonders, it has worked wonders, published British authors do it all the time and are not ashamed to say so, and still everyone here insists how terrible it is, what suckers we are, we are cheating, etc etc etc.)

I am sorry that America is in such a downwards spiral as regards independent editing. I am sorry there are so many fakes and money-grabbers around in your country, so that it's hard for the really good ones to be taken seriously; so that the latter have to almost apologize for doing what they do, feel shame about it, or not even admit to it.

I am glad that I live in a country where I could get the help I needed to turn professional without being made to feel a cheat, a fake, lazy, a sucker, and everything else such authors have been named on this thread! And, believe it or not, in Britain there are many, many others like me. Published authors. Bestselling authors. I can list them if you like.

aruna
07-30-2005, 11:29 AM
That's a good point and it's one of the reasons I don't understand the "new writers shouldn't hire editors" school of thought. I took writing courses in college, and had one professor in particular who made a huge difference in my writing because of his detailed critiques. Reading books and learning theory is good, but having someone with experience go through your work and show you where you're messing up can help you make major progress.


......
If I hadn't taken those writing courses, I might not have figured out my weak spots. So my professor was actually functioning as an editor for me, and I paid for the course... I don't see how that's very much different from hiring an editor.

exactly my point! Thanks!

aruna
07-30-2005, 11:42 AM
5. A real edit by a real editor is expensive. If you're not planning to be a professional writer but you have a book you want to get out, it may make sense to hire an editor for the occasion. But if you're a newbie fiction writer, a real edit by a real editor might conceivably cost more than your advance. .

My editor, before submission, cost me £300, about $600. A few weeks later, through her contacts, I signed a contract with HarperCollins for an advance of £50000 - about $100000 at today's rates.



And if you're planning to be a professional writer of any kind, what are you planning to do -- hire an editor every time you write a book?

No, I never used an editor again, and won't. I can now rely on my publisher's editor to spot any errors. the whole point of the exercize was to get a manuscript up to scratch, and thus get a foot through a very closed door. Also, with every book I become a better writer. A good writer learns as she goes.

reph
07-30-2005, 11:49 AM
reph: I agree with you 100% that a writer should not hire an editor for grammatical and spelling errors, That IS a waste of money.
It's nice to be agreed with, but that isn't exactly what I said. I said not to hire an editor just to fix typos.

A writer who's weak on grammar might benefit from having a copy editor go over a sample of his work and identify the areas of grammar he needs to learn. In this case, the editor acts as a tutor or consultant. There are special situations, too. A dyslexic writer who can't detect misspellings might need an editor to make a manuscript more presentable, although nonprofessional readers who can spell would do pretty well. Foreign-born writers often (by no means always) need help with idiomatic English.

Reminder: nonfiction is writing, too.

aruna
07-30-2005, 02:12 PM
Just wanted to add one thing. Beta readers and critique groups keep being recommended. And the insinuation persists that most people looking for help are anyway bad writers, with unpublishable books.
Personally, if I were a beta reader or in a critique group I wouldn't want to read such work. If I got a bad manuscript from a stranger, it's bad enough. But getting a bad masnuscript from a friend can be just plain embarassing. What on earth do you say?
Well, to the stranger, I'd say thanks, but no thanks, i don't like it, and excuse myself from the task. Life is just too short. I expect other readers are like me. They won't want to waste their time.
For a friend, it's more difficult. Once, a friend's boyfriend asked me to read a manuscript and give my comments. I hated it from from the first page. Mind you, comments weren't needed so he could improve it, but for a blurb on the cover (it was self published)! A very embarassing situation. I somehow managed to give a blurb that didn't say much but it was very tricky.
What I'm trying to say is that the bad author is unlikely to get much valuable help from unpaid readers. Better to find a good editor and at least pay him/her for the waste of time.

Wasted money against wasted time is not a bad bargain.

Christine N.
07-30-2005, 04:18 PM
And I've already conceded that there are cultural differences, so aruna, your experience is probably going to be different from those in the states. It sounds like Brits at least have a good reputation, don't charge someone's life savings and are able to contact others who can move your career along if you have a good book. That doesn't exist here, not really.

Sigh. Whatever. I wrote my first book, got some crits, learned about writing queries and researched publishers, got rejected by agents, found a small publisher, got it published. Learned something along the way. If I could go back and fix a few things, I would. I've learned with experience. I notice the difference in my writing between then and now. My publisher's editor did help me out, and I learned fromt that. I hang out on boards like this, and I've learned even more. Haven't paid a thing.

I've never said that people who are looking for help are bad writers with unpublishable books. The average new writer (of the hundreds of thousands out there) doesn't write publishable books. Before my book went through the Critters grinder, it wasn't. I know that now. The one helpful soul who took on the whole book and not just a few chapters taught me more than anyone. I guess I got lucky. But that particular group is filled with serious writers and people who just know what they like to read. It was VERY helpful, and free. I learned a ton from reading other people's work in that group as well. Learned by doing. Others learn differently, I suppose.

If I had a couple of hundred extra, and could get my hands on a good British editor, I might consider it, at this stage of my writing career, since I've got the basics. But probably not here in the US - it's just too risky and too expensive.

I still think you need to learn the basics, and more importantly, learn the business. Keep yourself from getting scammed. If you don't, how do you know that the advice it good or just rubbish? Honestly. That's another reason I think new writers should steer clear, they don't know the difference, many of them. (again, this is a sweeping generalization, not for anyone in particular.)

I'm glad you've got the money to waste. I don't, not at all, but I wish I did. LOL. I have a long list of things I'd like to waste it on.

brinkett
07-30-2005, 04:29 PM
They believe cleaning up the bitty technical details will make their novel salable or get their doctoral dissertation accepted.
I must be naive, or perhaps honest, because it never occured to me that people would hire an editor to clean up stuff they plan to hand in. As far as fixing those bitty technical details, I think everyone is in agreement that hiring an editor just for that with an otherwise crap manuscript is likely to be a waste of time and money (however, if someone's spelling and grammar improve as a result, not necessarily--again, the only one who can decide if the experience was worth it is the one who hired the editor).



She very kindly looked over my m/s and spotted a couple of minor things in the first few chapters that had been missed by my writers group and anyone else I'd dragooned into reading it.

This is exactly my experience so far, and as I said in another post, I'm already applying what I've learned to my WIP.



If I hadn't taken those writing courses, I might not have figured out my weak spots. So my professor was actually functioning as an editor for me, and I paid for the course... I don't see how that's very much different from hiring an editor.

Me either. People crying out against editors should also be crying out against paid courses and workshops. I don't see the difference. They should all be shut down because you can get the same thing for free from critique groups and beta readers (apparently). I also don't get why hiring an editor is cheating but all of those other things aren't.



How on earth can you fix things on your own if you are a beginner? One needs practice for this; and practice comes only through working closely with someone who knows how to do it.

Exactly. I had four beta readers and revised over several drafts after incorporating their feedback (and using advice in books like On Writing and Self-Editing for Fiction Writers). I got the manuscript to the point where I, and those who read for me, couldn't see anything wrong with it. Then I hired an editor, and it turns out there were still things I could do to improve it. Things that I do now when writing my WIP.



I am glad that I live in a country where I could get the help I needed to turn professional without being made to feel a cheat, a fake, lazy, a sucker, and everything else such authors have been named on this thread!

It almost borders on humorous. Almost.

brinkett
07-30-2005, 04:49 PM
I hang out on boards like this, and I've learned even more. Haven't paid a thing.
<snip>
It was VERY helpful, and free.
<snip>
I'm glad you've got the money to waste

And this is why I think you and some others object to hiring an editor--because you pay them. So somehow those of us who have hired an editor are, as aruna said, suckers, because we're paying for something we could get for free. Thing is, I went the free route. Worked with beta readers and did a lot of editing using advice from books (not free, but relatively inexpensive). I've also sucked up all the terrific advice from this board and others, and applied it when revising. Then I hired an editor, and as a result, have learned even more, beyond what I got for free. So I'm pleased with my decision--it's been money well spent so far.

Jaws
07-30-2005, 05:59 PM
Here's why I don't think it is ordinarily in a new writer's best interest to hire an editor prior to submitting a manuscript: A new writer has no way to judge the quality or appropriateness of the work done by the editor.
A good instructional editor, such as a writing instructor, will point out one instance of a repetitive problem; a good editing job for publication, though, requires fixing all of them. There are lots of similar problems that make the kind of work done in instructional contexts less helpful for submitting a work… unless what one is really "buying" is a critique, and not an edit.
The majority of the so-called freelance editors do not have the capability of sufficiently improving a manuscript to turn an unpublishable manuscript into a publishable manuscript. As Gordon Van Gelder said a couple of years ago, referring to the slush pile at St. Martin's Press, "The difference between the 'professionally edited' manuscripts and the rest of the slush pile is that the edited manuscripts are slightly less unpublishable."
A proper editing job—as opposed to the beginnings of a developmental editing process, which is something that I've done—is rather expensive. Inexperienced authors don't have any way to judge the value of what they're receiving.
None of this is to say that all editors are crooks, or that no editing job is ever appropriate for a previously unpublished author. It is only to say that it takes pretty special circumstances and a pretty serendipitous match between editor and manuscript for the editor to make a difference.

This is distinct from merely having someone help proofread your manuscript. Although that's really a task that authors need to be able to do themselves, there's nothing wrong with proofreading prior to submissions! Just don't pay for or expect more than that…

victoriastrauss
07-30-2005, 06:05 PM
I am sorry that America is in such a downwards spiral as regards independent editing. I am sorry there are so many fakes and money-grabbers around in your country, so that it's hard for the really good ones to be taken seriously; so that the latter have to almost apologize for doing what they do, feel shame about it, or not even admit to it.This is seriously overstating the case. It is not at all difficult for experienced, qualified editors to be taken seriously in the US. Nor is the US alone in hosting legions of unqualified people who call themselves editors--believe me, there are plenty in the UK as well, and in Australia too. There aren't any cultural differences. The differences being expressed here mainly seem to be based on personal experience.

It seems to me that advocates of both sides of the argument are displaying some blind spots. Those who feel that it's generally a bad thing for writers to pay for independent editing seem to have a hard time acknowledging that it can ever be a good idea. Those who feel that independent editing is a viable option that can be embraced by any writer willing to pay for it seem to be assuming that all writers can benefit equally from the services of an independent editor, and that most writers are educated consumers who seek independent editing for sensible reasons. Both views, in my opinion, overlook big chunks of reality.

- Victoria

brinkett
07-30-2005, 06:27 PM
Those who feel that independent editing is a viable option that can be embraced by any writer willing to pay for it seem to be assuming that all writers can benefit equally from the services of an independent editor, and that most writers are educated consumers who seek independent editing for sensible reasons. Both views, in my opinion, overlook big chunks of reality.

Actually, Victoria, I've said several times that writers should do their homework so they don't get scammed, and acknowledged that some writers hire editors for the wrong reasons. And again, the fact that some consumers aren't educated and pay for things for not-so-sensible reasons doesn't mean nobody should pay for or use a service. If it did, nobody could pay for anything or use any service.

Jaws: All good points that apply to people who don't think long and hard about why they want to hire an editor and get a handle on what their expectations are. I think some of the points also apply to those who pay for workshops, or any type of service that will involve working on a particular piece of writing. I'm in agreement that editing can't turn an unpublishable manuscript into a publishable one; that's certainly not my expectation. As far as the inexperienced writer not being able to judge the the value of what they're receiving: true, but the same goes when using critique groups, beta readers, etc. At least if you've done your homework and hired a decent editor, you better your chances of receiving decent feedback.

victoriastrauss
07-30-2005, 06:47 PM
Don't lift yourself above the discussion as if you're an objective observer, rather than a participant. You're the one who implied that writers who hire an editor are "suckers" way back at the beginning of the thread. Just saying.Hmmm. To my knowledge, I have never stated or implied such a thing.

Perhaps you're referring to this--

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.That's not me implying that writers who hire editors are suckers. That's me pointing out that there's a tendency for industry professionals to draw that conclusion.

- Victoria

aruna
07-30-2005, 06:55 PM
It's nice to be agreed with, but that isn't exactly what I said. I said not to hire an editor just to fix typos.

.

I was referring to a post much earlier in the thread - but forgot to quote - where it seemed that was th eposition you took - maybe I misunderstood.

aruna
07-30-2005, 06:58 PM
)

I'm glad you've got the money to waste. I don't, not at all, but I wish I did. LOL. I have a long list of things I'd like to waste it on.

No, I don't have money to waste! At the time I hired that editor I was dirt poor; but I thought it was essential. I got a manyfold return on my investment; how is that wasted?

aruna
07-30-2005, 07:12 PM
This is seriously overstating the case. It is not at all difficult for experienced, qualified editors to be taken seriously in the US. Nor is the US alone in hosting legions of unqualified people who call themselves editors--believe me, there are plenty in the UK as well, and in Australia too. There aren't any cultural differences. The differences being expressed here mainly seem to be based on personal experience.

It seems to me that advocates of both sides of the argument are displaying some blind spots. Those who feel that it's generally a bad thing for writers to pay for independent editing seem to have a hard time acknowledging that it can ever be a good idea. Those who feel that independent editing is a viable option that can be embraced by any writer willing to pay for it seem to be assuming that all writers can benefit equally from the services of an independent editor, and that most writers are educated consumers who seek independent editing for sensible reasons. Both views, in my opinion, overlook big chunks of reality.

- Victoria

Victoria, I read this thread from the beginning and it was ALL on one side until brinkett and I began to speak up. Everyone was saying that it's not a good idea, including yourself. If I had come here seven years ago with my poor fat manuscript thinking about hiring an editor I'd have slunk away into a corner and never thought about it again! It does seem to me that both writers and editors in the US are very biased against the idea from the very start, and that's not a good approach. America is not the gold standard.

I've never said that any and every writer should use an editor. I said it should be a viable choice for those who want it, and we should not be called suckers, cheaters, lazy ot inept, which was the general tone of the thread. One post after the other repeats these accusations.

My only prupose in posting here is to show the other side of the story, on a thread that was very heavily slanted with rather contemptuous views. I was able to offer a practical example - myself - of someone where it has worked wonders, in the hope that in future those of you who are so against the concept realise that . But it seems a blank wall!
I've never once said that NOT hiring an editor was a mistake.

aruna
07-30-2005, 07:33 PM
Here's why I don't think it is ordinarily in a new writer's best interest to hire an editor prior to submitting a manuscript:

A new writer has no way to judge the quality or appropriateness of the work done by the editor.
If you're a good writer you have a very sharp instinct for your story. Just because you're new it doesn't mean you're dull. When I read my editor's comments one light after the other went on and I knew she was right; it was my storytelling instinct kicking in. I would certainly have recognised bad advice.

Also, the wording "the work done by the editor" and generally the wording "having a manuscript edited" is very wrong; it's much too passive.
In reality, the editor gives a detailed report, suggesting ways to improve the ms. Then the writer goes to work again and tackles the problem - the writer, not the editor. This can take many months of very hard work; but it's all done by the author, not by the editor. For me it was an exhilerating process; I could see the story finding its true shape, and I knew I was on the right path. It's a very sure, sharp feeling.


There are lots of similar problems that make the kind of work done in instructional contexts less helpful for submitting a work… unless what one is really "buying" is a critique, and not an edit.


Exactly; one is buying a crtiique, not an edit. I thought this was clear.



The majority of the so-called freelance editors do not have the capability of sufficiently improving a manuscript to turn an unpublishable manuscript into a publishable manuscript. As Gordon Van Gelder said a couple of years ago, referring to the slush pile at St. Martin's Press, "The difference between the 'professionally edited' manuscripts and the rest of the slush pile is that the edited manuscripts are slightly less unpublishable."

Right, they can't do this. But publication should not be one and only goal, the only measure of whether or not the editor was helpful. The whole point is improving one's craft, learning, growing as a writer through writing. This may eventually lead to publication - but if not, presumably you have still learned a lot about writing, and may have beteer luck in your next life!

The fact remains that many would-be writers will never get published. But if writing is their passion, why shouldn't they spend their own money on improving their writing? People spend money on all sorts of expensive stuff: scuba diving, climbing Everest, collecting art, whatever. And on pretty wasteful (in my eyes) stuff. Expensive wine, expensive cigars, expensive clothes, expensive cars. Compared to that, one or two paid editorial assessments in a lifetime is really nothing. In fact, it's a pretty noble way of spending money. With the one caveat: a qualified editor.


A proper editing job—as opposed to the beginnings of a developmental editing process, which is something that I've done—is rather expensive. Inexperienced authors don't have any way to judge the value of what they're receiving.

See my first point, above. A writer who is going to be published is in fact extremely fine-tuned to the truth of her story. It's not just about craft; it's about recognising when the story is finding its true shape. Inexperience is irrelevant, because the story speaks directly to you; you'll feel that it's right, but you can also tell what's not right for it. Having a good story living inside you gives you an amazing authority; the story really does communicate with you in an almost magical way. My HarperCollins editor made some suggestions which I didn't take on, because I knew they were wrong for the story. She respected that.

Also, I don't know quite what you mean with "a proper editing job". If you are suggesting the editor does all the work I would strongly advise against such a decision!

brinkett
07-30-2005, 08:03 PM
I've never said that any and every writer should use an editor. I said it should be a viable choice for those who want it, and we should not be called suckers, cheaters, lazy ot inept, which was the general tone of the thread. One post after the other repeats these accusations.

Yes. I've certainly never said that I think every writer should hire an editor, or that everyone who's ever been edited has had a wonderful experience and then gone on to be published. All I've done is explained why I did it, and why I don't think it's a bad idea by default.

What I've been saying is that an editor is a viable option, along with beta readers, critique groups, workshops, books, forums like these, courses, etc. It isn't any better or worse than any other option, and as always, caveat emptor.

aruna
07-30-2005, 08:12 PM
What I've been saying is that an editor is a viable option, along with beta readers, critique groups, workshops, books, forums like these, courses, etc. It isn't any better or worse than any other option, and as always, caveat emptor.

And what I've been saying, over and over again in different words, is this, from in answer to Christine one page back::




I'm with Victoria. You need to learn your craft. End of story.
I agree. But there are different ways of learning this craft. I choose one-on-one. Others may choose a writing class, or books. Different strokes for different folks.

victoriastrauss
07-30-2005, 08:18 PM
And my point being that you're not the right person to be appointed "the voice of reason" given your participation in the thread.If someone has appointed me the voice of anything, it's news to me. I was under the impression, though, that I could express my opinion here along with everyone else.

- Victoria

MacAllister
07-30-2005, 08:24 PM
If someone has appointed me the voice of anything, it's news to me. I was under the impression, though, that I could express my opinion here along with everyone else. Heh--what would you like to be the voice of, Victoria? I'm sure we can arrange it! :)

brinkett
07-30-2005, 08:37 PM
If someone has appointed me the voice of anything, it's news to me. I was under the impression, though, that I could express my opinion here along with everyone else.

You can. But in the post in question, you were speaking as if you didn't belong in either camp. That's all I meant.



Aruna, Brinkett, ease up a little, eh?

Can you explain why we're being singled out, please? I don't think the tone has become combative, personally.

aruna
07-30-2005, 08:59 PM
Can you explain why we're being singled out, please? I don't think the tone has become combative, personally.

Neither do I! Ease up sounds a like a polite version of shut up to me.
All I have tried to do is present the other side of an argument that is heavily weighed on one side. I have been polite and respectful, but firm in my belief. Brinkett is the same. What is combative about that???

And please do explain why we have been singled out.

MacAllister
07-30-2005, 09:12 PM
Can you explain why we're being singled out, please? I don't think the tone has become combative, personally. That's a fair question.

Hmm--mostly because I just read this thread for the first time, all the way through from the beginning--and I did think the tone was combative.

I'm coming to this thread specifically as an uninvolved, outside observer.

I like you, Brinkett, I enjoy your posts--I certainly don't mean to imply otherwise. :) Aruna, ditto--your experience and perspective is very valuable, here--and I'm glad for your participation on these boards.

However, you both seemed to me to be increasingly aggressive toward others who weren't agreeing with you, en masse. That perceived (on my part) hostility seemed completely uncalled for, again--IMHO. I did not see that same combativeness directed back towards either of you.

This is NOT a veiled way to ask you to "shut up."

Neither is it, in any way, an attempt to marginalize, trivialize, or otherwise negate your individual experiences with this subject.

I'm asking you to ease up in the pointed and aggressive confrontation of individuals who disagree with you. It sounds strident, and isn't helping your case.

I'll point specifically to two examples:
Aruna said: I think Hapi could also listen to me, for a less one-sided view! (I'm sorry if that sounds arrogant but sometimes i feel I'm speaking into the wind! I've said again and again that this method can work wonders, it has worked wonders, published British authors do it all the time and are not ashamed to say so, and still everyone here insists how terrible it is, what suckers we are, we are cheating, etc etc etc.)

I am sorry that America is in such a downwards spiral as regards independent editing. I am sorry there are so many fakes and money-grabbers around in your country, so that it's hard for the really good ones to be taken seriously; so that the latter have to almost apologize for doing what they do, feel shame about it, or not even admit to it.

I am glad that I live in a country where I could get the help I needed to turn professional without being made to feel a cheat, a fake, lazy, a sucker, and everything else such authors have been named on this thread!

My other example is Brinkett's repeated direct challenges towards Victoria--which sounded snarky and hostile, to my ear.

brinkett
07-30-2005, 09:28 PM
However, you both seemed to me to be increasingly aggressive toward others who weren't agreeing with you, en masse. That perceived (on my part) hostility seemed completely uncalled for, again--IMHO. I did not see that same combativeness directed back towards either of you.

I don't think I've been aggressive. If I seemed short with Victoria, it was probably because I expressed myself poorly more than anything else. I have to admit that a couple of times in this thread, I've felt that people have been snarky with me, but that's par for the course on threads like these.

If anyone felt I'd been aggressive toward them, or snarky, or whatever, and it bothered them, I'd think (hope) they'd speak up for themselves and call me on it. We're all adults here (though it may not seem that way, sometimes).



I'm asking you to ease up in the pointed and aggressive confrontation of individuals who disagree with you.
Just saw your examples--yeah, as I said, I think it was me fumbling around to express what I wanted to say. Considering that aruna and I have taken a lot of heat in this thead, I think we've conducted ourselves quite well.

As to Victoria, she's always struck me as someone who's more than capable of looking out for herself (as many a wayward agent can attest!). If it bothered her, I'm sure she would have said so.

As for your last post, I think you're just adding fuel to the fire now.

MacAllister
07-30-2005, 09:32 PM
Brinkett, I think you're probably right about my last post. I've deleted it, and thank you.

Victoria can indeed take care of herself--I'm more concerned about newbies who read the thread and won't comment. I think you and Aruna make some excellent points about what one-on-one editing can teach a new writer, and the others make some excellent points about what that new writer needs to watch out for.

pax? :)

brinkett
07-30-2005, 09:42 PM
Victoria can indeed take care of herself--I'm more concerned about newbies who read the thread and won't comment.

I've deleted one post and a section of a post and just left my last comment (to Victoria). However, I can't touch anything Victoria quoted. I'll leave it up to her to decide what to do.

aruna
07-30-2005, 09:49 PM
Macallister, the quote referring to hapi was in a repsonse to a post from Christine saying we should "listen to hapi as he is a professional". That sounds to me something like, "you two don't know much, listen to a professional". So yes, I replied saying that I am also a professional. It's not the kind of thing i would say normally; but in this context, in which it was implied that I could not know "as much as a professional", it seemed relevant. My experience DOES count, you know!

I don't feel hostile towards anyone here. However, I do get the distinct impression that there is a very, very strong bias against hiring an editor, which almost all the "board elders", with the notable exception of Jenna, uphold; and that this is the polically correct opinion. I get the feeling that as relative new members of the board, coming in with opposing views on what seems to be established conservative wisdom, brinkett's and my views are not being actually listened to.

If I said I feel like I'm talking to the wind, then that's the truth. I've told about my experience with an editor many times on this forum; and yet, when a new member came in a few days ago with a question regarding editors, he was immediately told by a flock of oldtimers, "don't do it, it's bad". This happened time and time again. Why can't these people be told, "There are a lot of scam editors around, one must be very wary, but we have heard some success stories as well"?

The tone during the first part of this thread was incredibly contemptuous towards writers who used an editor; we WERE quoted as "suckers". Someone else DID say that it's cheating. It WAS insinuated that we do so because we are inept; that we are not prepared to learn our craft; that we want someone else to do the work for us. That our judgement is probably bad because we are newbies. And so on and so forth. I thought that the one rule here is "respect your fellow writer". When I read the above I do feel disrespected.


However, you both seemed to me to be increasingly aggressive toward others who weren't agreeing with you, en masse. That perceived (on my part) hostility seemed completely uncalled for, again--IMHO. I did not see that same combativeness directed back towards either of you.

I do not want people to agree with me en masse. What I do miss, however, is somewhere the acknowledgement that a competent editor CAN be of help for SOME authors, as in my case. Instead of new lists by new people of what is so bad about hiring an editor.

MacAllister
07-30-2005, 09:59 PM
What I do miss, however, is somewhere the acknowledgement that a competent editor CAN be of help for SOME authors, as in my case.
Aruna, I think I acknowledged that. So did CaoPax, and so did others, as well. :) I'm sorry if you've felt attacked or put on the spot--this is a complex thread, in that 1. It's an old discussion from the archives, recently resurrected--some of the original posts are more than a year old; 2. It's actually not one thread, but two--Victoria combined two similar discussions, some pages ago.

Your insight as a writer who has used paid editing services prior to publication is absolutely relevant, and I agree that you've qualified the circumstances under which you think it's advisable to do so. It's an interesting and valuable perspective.

Brinkett's ongoing experiences with a freelance editor are also interesting and pertinent; as are her reasons for choosing to go that route.

I'm personally glad you're both here, and willing to offer your side of it.

So thank you. :)

aruna
07-30-2005, 10:03 PM
I'm personally glad you're both here, and willing to offer your side of it.

So thank you. :)

Whew, that's a relief! :banana:

Cathy C
07-30-2005, 10:08 PM
I agree and disagree with bits of each post, but I think one thing that seems to be happening is that there are varying opinions on what constitutes an "edit." There are various kinds of edits in the U.S., rather than a single standard that everyone adheres to. I've known several writers that have paid for edits. Here are what I've found seem to be the various levels:


1. For a flat fee of $350 to $1,000, an "editor" will read your book and write a letter or memo that details the plot problems, characterization issues and grammar. The author then takes the lead and makes those changes that s/he wishes to make.

2. For a price of $1 to $4 per page, an "editor" will read your book and make hand written changes on the face of the manuscript, similar to a copy edit, where they will change the language to substitute language of their choosing. They DO NOT review the plot or the characters or the grammar.

3. For a price of $2,500 to $5,000, an "editor" will read your book and completely rewrite the book with words of their own selection, and hand back the edited copy for the author to then submit to the publisher.

I don't think anyone here has a problem with Option #1. That's more of a "critique" than what is considered an edit in the U.S. Options #2 and #3 are more what are considered "edits" to most of the writers I know, and I had one friend who actually paid SIX THOUSAND dollars for an "editor" to completely rewrite his book.

Option #3 is, IMO, why so many writing professionals are against the concept of hiring editors, because it's similar to hiring someone to taken an exam for them. It's why I said earlier that it's not doing the author any favors, because it doesn't prove that the AUTHOR can write.

But there are no differences between the three levels of "editors". There are no rules about what the author can expect, so it's very easy for inexperienced writers to get duped into paying large amounts of money for little or no services.
JMHO.

Bufty
07-30-2005, 10:27 PM
I agree and disagree with bits of each post, but I think one thing that seems to be happening is that there are varying opinions on what constitutes an "edit." There are various kinds of edits in the U.S., rather than a single standard that everyone adheres to. I've known several writers that have paid for edits. Here are what I've found seem to be the various levels:


1. For a flat fee of $350 to $1,000, an "editor" will read your book and write a letter or memo that details the plot problems, characterization issues and grammar. The author then takes the lead and makes those changes that s/he wishes to make.

2. For a price of $1 to $4 per page, an "editor" will read your book and make hand written changes on the face of the manuscript, similar to a copy edit, where they will change the language to substitute language of their choosing. They DO NOT review the plot or the characters or the grammar.

3. For a price of $2,500 to $5,000, an "editor" will read your book and completely rewrite the book with words of their own selection, and hand back the edited copy for the author to then submit to the publisher.

I don't think anyone here has a problem with Option #1. That's more of a "critique" than what is considered an edit in the U.S. Options #2 and #3 are more what are considered "edits" to most of the writers I know, and I had one friend who actually paid SIX THOUSAND dollars for an "editor" to completely rewrite his book.

Option #3 is, IMO, why so many writing professionals are against the concept of hiring editors, because it's similar to hiring someone to taken an exam for them. It's why I said earlier that it's not doing the author any favors, because it doesn't prove that the AUTHOR can write.

But there are no differences between the three levels of "editors". There are no rules about what the author can expect, so it's very easy for inexperienced writers to get duped into paying large amounts of money for little or no services.
JMHO.

I can only speak as a newbie, and UK based. Items 2 and 3 quoted above astonish me and I can't really follow why I should contemplate those as options. I submitted one of my novels to a UK based Writer's Bureau and paid around $500 for a complete line-edit plus critique. No changes whatsoever were made to my manuscript. Extremely helpful observations and suggestions were made and a most courteous and constructive critique was received at the conclusion of the chapter by chapter line-edit. The entire exercise spanned several months and I received all responses on the due dates as promised. I have since used them again and from what I have read here must be fortunate in having discovered a genuinely helpful, friendly and honest Editing facility.

reph
07-30-2005, 10:27 PM
It seems that some people here are talking about whether a writer should ever hire a copy editor and others are talking about whether a writer should ever hire a developmental editor. No wonder their opinions differ!

brinkett
07-30-2005, 11:12 PM
I'm sorry if you've felt attacked or put on the spot

I think you would have felt put on the spot as well, if out of an entire thread where 99% of your posts have been respectful, you're called out for one or two questionable (yet still rather tame) posts. There's another squabble taking place on the thread that's barely on topic, yet not a dicky-bird. Your explanation of this as a complex thread, etc., doesn't explain why you called us out in particular. Since I know I'm not the most popular AW member due to my tendency to speak my mind and resist the herd mentality, and since aruna is the same (the tends to speak her mind part), it does leave me wondering. Frankly, I think you made a bad call and created a brouhaha out of nothing, but what can you do.

(yeah, I'm pissed about this because I feel it was unfair, which is why I'll just drop out of this thread now. I've said everything I want to say, anyway)

Christine N.
07-30-2005, 11:39 PM
No, I don't have money to waste! At the time I hired that editor I was dirt poor; but I thought it was essential. I got a manyfold return on my investment; how is that wasted?
Ugh.. you know what? Forget it. I think I 've repeated myself three times already. I have already said, at least once...

- the reasons I think a really new author should avoid it (yes, you don't know what you're getting from betas and crit groups either, but at least you haven't lost any money. I had no problem understanding what my betas and crits were saying, none at all.) But once you know enough to understand what you're getting, if you want to do it, go for it. If you got something out of it (being in the UK, I see that you might) then it's not wasted money.

- that I see that things are different in other countries, and that if I were there, I might consider it.

- that if I had the money to get one of those "golden edits" from a British editor, I might think about it. They seem to have more ins than here in the U.S. which is a good thing.

OK????? I wouldn't do it now. I've managed to get a book published all on my own, which is good, b/c I don't have the money to spend.

- I don't hold it against anyone who feels they need to use the services, but listen for a minute, to what others are saying. Most of the people who have given their advice have published books, in the U.S. and know what the industry's view of services such as that are. Jaws is an industry lawyer, and and author. I trust the views of these people, and totally understand where they're coming from. I sort of get the opposing view, but I have reasons for not believing in it. I like the way Jaws put it, it was pretty much what I guess I've been trying to say.

I do want to know one thing - when an editor edits, do you get a list of the "why's" ? As in "I would change this, and here's why?" Because the difference in a class is that the instructor not only teaches what should be changed, but why it should be, and how it can be avoided in the future. Learning. If the editor is doing this, why not just call it "instruction" instead of "editing?" There's a difference, I think? Maybe not in the UK, maybe its similar.

So paying for a class or a workshop, I would think, has long reaching implications if you are receiving instruction and not just editing.


Yog's first law - money flows toward the author.

PS- Aruna, I know you're a professional. I remember the conversation we had about big vs. small publishers, and appreciated your advice. You are "across the pond" and things are just different here.

brinkett
07-31-2005, 12:00 AM
For all you know, I've sent PMs to the participants suggesting just that, Brinkett.

So some might get the courtesy of a private slap down but others don't? You could have PM'ed aruna and me too, but instead you scolded us publicly. And I can only respond to what I'm aware of. I made the assumption that all members of AW are treated equally, therefore I assumed that moderators will correct everyone publicly or everyone privately, not play favorites based on inside knowledge.



Now, if you want to continue to be pissed off, I can't stop you--but if you're going to come into a thread and take a position that is directly contrary to the conventional wisdom of long-time members on this board with verifiable track records of giving excellent advice, then I don't think it's unreasonable to expect some resistance to those ideas.

Of course not. You should know by now that I don't shy away from a heated discussion where many disagree with me. I'm not pissed because people disagree with me. I'm pissed because you singled out aruna and I, and in my opinion, unfairly. I acknowledge that my posts to Victoria could have been worded better, but there was a heck of a lot more than that flying around the thread, and I'm still perplexed about why aruna was singled out.



I also don't think it's unreasonable for other members to question closely, dissect, and otherwise examine those ideas. So I'm not going to apologize for intervening in this thread. I don't think for a moment that close questioning of those ideas comprises an attack on the individuals presenting them.

Neither do I. What does this have to do with singling out aruna and I?

If you like, you can PM me to continue this rather than arguing with me publicly.



I do want to know one thing - when an editor edits, do you get a list of the "why's" ? As in "I would change this, and here's why?"

I can only speak for my experience--yes, I'm getting a list of why's. Why call it editing--because I hired an editor and she calls her business an editing service.

Christine N.
07-31-2005, 12:51 AM
Ok. When publishers edit (and I can only speak from my own experience) I get a list of "please changed these things". Most of them are the "duh" kind, and some are of the "ok, I see how that's better" kind. My editor was kind enough to give me reasons for some of the changes he asked for, but he didn't have to. I only disagreed with one of his proposed changes, and I made a clear cut argument why. Other than that, you make the changes or find another publisher. Not really that harsh, there is wiggle room, especially after you've published more than one book with that publisher.

If your getting a service that gives a laundry list AND some hand holding (I don't mean that negatively) about why, then it's not really editing, it's more like instruction in a one on one setting.

When I hear "editing" I think of someone like a book doctor...someone who cleans up a manuscript without giving in depth reasons for the changes, then hands the manuscript back to the author. The author doesn't benefit from this type of service, because they don't learn anything, and they then learn to depend on the service.

So I think the rub here comes from a miscommunication about the word "editing".

JennaGlatzer
07-31-2005, 01:07 AM
Christine:


They seem to have more ins than here in the U.S. which is a good thing.

Aha! You've just shown one key example of when writers should not hire an editor.

Writers should NOT hire editors because they think the editor might be well-connected and might pass the manuscript along to a publisher/agent/whomever. That is not a reasonable expectation no matter who the editor is. That's not the point of editing. It's unfair to the editor if that's your real motive, because you're likely going to be unsatisfied with the real work the editor does.

Here is when I think it is appropriate for a writer to use an independent editor:

When that writer has the sincere desire to improve his or her work, regardless of whether that one manuscript turns out to be publishable or not.

Every writer hopes that every manuscript they write will turn out to be publishable (and a big success to boot). What you may find out from an edit is that the manuscript is not publishable... but if you're smart enough and ready to hear it, you might just find out exactly why it's unpublishable, which will help you make your future works stronger. If you're going to consider it a waste of money if that manuscript doesn't sell, you're probably not a good candidate to hire a freelance editor.

I am assuming a base level of readiness on the part of the writer, which has nothing much to do with how "new" the writer is. Some writers are good at accepting and working with critiques, others are of the "don't touch my perfect prose" mentality. Some writers start out with a much higher level of talent than others. Some writers intuitively understand how to tell a story, some don't. And so on. And of course I'm assuming that the writer is doing homework to figure out who is qualified and would fit the type of work he/she wants critiqued.

It irks me that the little insults continue-- the "glad you have money to waste" type of insults. That's just screwy. Very few people in this world have money to "waste." We choose to spend our money how we think would best benefit us. I don't think choosing to pay for an editor's services is a frivolous thing, like buying a $10,000 handbag. If done for the right reasons and with a qualified editor, it can make a significant difference in one's writing skills-- which can lead to a better writing career and a positive return on investment.

It's one of the reasons I STILL TO THIS DAY pay for writing classes-- despite the fact that I've now had 14 books published, hundreds of magazine articles published, hundreds of greeting cards published, etc.-- I'm humble enough to realize that I don't know everything and that everything I learn can benefit me down the line.

Cathy: I've never heard of Option 3 presented as editing... if, indeed, that's what people are thinking, then I agree that that's something to object to. That's more along the lines of ghostwriting or co-authoring (which I do often for people who are not writers and have no intention of becoming such).

Bufty
07-31-2005, 01:19 AM
In my view, that makes a lot of sense, Jenna. I am not published yet, but I am a far better writer now than I was when I submitted my first manuscript for professional critique and editing. There was no other way to find out if my writing was competent or near publishable standard or if my structural and other techniques were lacking. I received exactly what I paid for on a professional 'arm's length' basis.

brinkett
07-31-2005, 02:23 AM
If your getting a service that gives a laundry list AND some hand holding (I don't mean that negatively) about why, then it's not really editing, it's more like instruction in a one on one setting.

No, it's still editing, and many people who advertise their services as editing services do this type of work, so renaming it to instruction would be confusing. When someone comes onto AW wanting to hire someone who does that sort of thing, they're looking to hire an editor. If you're working with an editor because you've sold the novel to a publisher, maybe you have less wiggle room and there may be less explanation. When you hire an editor yourself, you have a lot of wiggle room and there can be lots of interaction and explanation. After all, the editor then works for YOU. Just because you have more interaction and control in the second case doesn't mean it's not editing.

Christine N.
07-31-2005, 02:43 AM
Jenna, I was referring to Aruna's comments about editors in the UK, who seem to do that type of thing (passing ms's along to agents, etc..) more commonly. I wouldn't expect that to be done here. And I also distinguish between "edit" and "critique." I don't know if I'd be more willing to pay for a critique than go to a group either. I like to align myself with people I know I can trust - other published authors, for example. I know some can't do that.

Hmm, I suppose I'm not making myself as clear as I would like to. Yes, you have the choice with the freelance editor. Obviously. You can choose to accept his edits or not. I understand that.

And I still think, if I had the money to spend on something, I would choose a course over an editor. I want to know the mechanics of writing - the why something doesn't work, etc.. I think I get more for my money that way.

In fact, I just paid for a week long, on line course on doing school visits. I know the instructor limits the participants to ten, so she can personally work with each of us. She also holds courses for children's writers about writing. I would gladly sign up for one of those, simply because I can take what I've learned and apply it to all of my work for the rest of my life. If you've found someone who can do this for you, and it's and "editor" then I guess that's ok.

What I object to, I guess, is the writer who gives the editor money and a manuscript and then doesn't look at the changes or make an effort to understand them, or even question them. It doesn't look like you fall into that category, but I know those people are out there.

I'll just say that I know that it's done, but it's not something I would do.

aruna
07-31-2005, 11:35 AM
1. For a flat fee of $350 to $1,000, an "editor" will read your book and write a letter or memo that details the plot problems, characterization issues and grammar. The author then takes the lead and makes those changes that s/he wishes to make.

2. For a price of $1 to $4 per page, an "editor" will read your book and make hand written changes on the face of the manuscript, similar to a copy edit, where they will change the language to substitute language of their choosing. They DO NOT review the plot or the characters or the grammar.

3. For a price of $2,500 to $5,000, an "editor" will read your book and completely rewrite the book with words of their own selection, and hand back the edited copy for the author to then submit to the publisher.



I would never, ever consider options 2 and 3, and it's astonishing to me that these options even exist, and that writers choose them. I hope that it's clear now that when I use the words "independent editor" I have definition no.1 in mind.

aruna
07-31-2005, 12:00 PM
I do want to know one thing - when an editor edits, do you get a list of the "why's" ? As in "I would change this, and here's why?" Because the difference in a class is that the instructor not only teaches what should be changed, but why it should be, and how it can be avoided in the future. Learning. If the editor is doing this, why not just call it "instruction" instead of "editing?" There's a difference, I think? Maybe not in the UK, maybe its similar.


I'll give you a practical example.
My first novel has three main characters of equal importance to the story. These three characters - let's call them A, B, and C - grow up on different continents and in different decades; they have no connection to each other - seemingly.
The way I wrote the book, I started with character A and wrote about 100 pages of her story. Then I wrote B's story. Then C's. After that, the stories gradually combine so that the reader sees that there is an intimate connection between the three.
My editor told me that for such an important and lovable character, C enters the book much too late. That's all she said; but those few words opened doors for me.

In my rewrite, I flung the three blocks A, B and C into the air and let them fall as chapters, nearly alternating. So the book now reads ABCABCABC until they all come together. This changed the whole structure of the book so much that it really began to come to life. Now the reader gets little glimpses of each character in turn and then, at an appropriate cliffhanger, the chapter ends and the next portion of A, B or C comes on stage. This gave a whole new dimension to the book, as the reader tries to piece the puzzle together; I use red herrings, drop clues all over the place - clues which are overlooked because they are so innocuous. For instance, B keeps rubbing a mole on the back of his neck. That is a strong clue, but the reader has no idea until near the very end of the story. In fact, the reader is totally led astray until the end, where a big surprise is in store - a surprise which has, in fact, been carefully planned and hinted at, yet remained invisible until the characters themselves discover it. The clues are generously sprinkled; yet the reader was deliberately led down another path.

This rewrite took several months; and I assure you I did it all myself.

The "puzzle" feature of my story would not have been possible in the original version; it's the new structure that made it possible. The story became much more complex through this "plaited" ("braided") structure, gained several new layers I hadn't been aware of in my first draft. The editor did not tell me to do this; but her critique about charcater C entering too late was exactly the nudge I needed to do it. This was the story's REAL shape. It was the way it HAD to be. But I was too much of a novice to know WHY my original structure didn't work. The moment an expert told me what was wrong, the story itself showed me the way to go.

Could I have figured this out by myself, without the editor's nudge? Perhaps. Eventually. Maybe after many rejections from agents and publishers. Maybe after much distress I'd have reconsidered the whole story and come up with the right solution on my own. Is "coming up with the solution on my own" inherently better than being nudged by an editor? Of course not!

This was only one of the points the editor made that improved the story drastically; perhaps the most important one. But there was no question of her "doing the work" for me; and it led to a huge learning curve for me. And it's the reason why I defend myself against the accusations of cheating and laziness so vigourously.

JennaGlatzer
07-31-2005, 01:31 PM
DAMNIT! Are we all agreeing again? How come this always happens? It's always just some little misunderstanding. I can never get a good flame war going.

Sheesh.

Now I'm going to have to go elsewhere and dish out my stupid views on politics and religion again.

:mad:

aruna
07-31-2005, 02:48 PM
So some might get the courtesy of a private slap down but others don't? You could have PM'ed aruna and me too, but instead you scolded us publicly. .

I think the clue lies in macallister's now deleted words:
that we are taking "a position that is directly contrary to the conventional wisdom of long-time members on this board with verifiable track records of giving excellent advice...."

This seems to hit the nail on the head as far as I am concerned. There is more than one way to be hostile, and this "conventonal wisdom of long-time members" came across to me as a stone wall which could not be violated; so of course, coming in as a fairly new member with opposing ideas immediately put me in a position of an attacker. Yet all I was ever doing was presenting a new perspective on a topic which seemed to have been already decided once and for all by these long time members. Either: a) My experience was completely ignored or not mentioned by the board experts, or b) the tone towards me was patronizing in the extreme ("wasting your money", "hapi is a professional", "ease up, aruna and brinkett")

As macallister rightly says, there was resistance to everthing I said; that resistance came in the form of "you know nothing, we are the long-time experts". I have always counted my own direct experience to be higher than anything I am told by experts. If my experience contradicts the conventional wisdom I will go with the experience and not the "wisdom", no matter who is preaching it. That is why I kept up my argument. Not to say that "I am right and you are wrong" but to say: "please listen, this is my experience and it was good."

I did not enjoy getting a public admonishment for this, as if I were a misbehaving child.

MacAllister
07-31-2005, 02:51 PM
Aruna--I think I handled this badly, and I should have been more perceptive.

I'm sorry.

Christine N.
07-31-2005, 03:58 PM
Ah, ok Aruna. See, that, to me, is more of a critique than an edit. Where Cathy C listed her three options, I think that many people, myself included, see her options two and/or three as "editing". At least here in the states. You got a critique.

I exchanged manuscripts with a fellow member of the SCBWI and had a similar experience. I didnt' realize the whole first three chapters were too slow. It was a matter of rearranging scenes and deleting a whole lot of description, which I tend to write heavily at the beginning of a new book and forget to delete later.

Like you, the crit didn't tell me exactly how to fix it, but that the problem existed. I might pay for a critique, like that, but not an edit, like Cathy described.

brinkett
07-31-2005, 04:40 PM
Could I have figured this out by myself, without the editor's nudge? Perhaps. Eventually. Maybe after many rejections from agents and publishers. Maybe after much distress I'd have reconsidered the whole story and come up with the right solution on my own. Is "coming up with the solution on my own" inherently better than being nudged by an editor? Of course not!

Or you might have burned the manuscript, decided you couldn't write your way out of a paper bag, and given up. I say consider every tool that's available to achieve your goals.



coming in as a fairly new member with opposing ideas immediately put me in a position of an attacker. Yet all I was ever doing was presenting a new perspective on a topic which seemed to have been already decided once and for all by these long time members.

There is the tendency to attack those who say anything that contradicts what certain members of the board say. I don't know why that is. Of course, you want to offer advice and guidance, but at the same time, remain open to all views and experiences. "The experts back up my point of view so you have nothing valid to say and should blindly follow what they say" is a line that should be banned from ever appearing in a post. I like AW and greatly appreciate the hard work Jenna and others folks put into it, and there's great information and people here, but unfortunately it can be a very unfriendly place to anyone who questions what certain members say.

And this IS NOT a pot shot at MacAllister, but I find the moderating uneven. I think it would benefit the board to have a public set of rules that moderators must follow, which would also provide a basis for evaluating complaints in an objective fashion.



I have always counted by own direct experience to be higher than anything I am told by experts. If my experience contradicts the conventional wisdom I will go with the experience and not the "wisdom", no matter who is preaching it.
Same here.

Jaws
07-31-2005, 05:12 PM
One comment, as I didn't make one thing clear enough, then I'm shaking my head and going away:

Some posters (more than one) have focussed on knowing the truth/meaning of their own story. This is precisely why it takes special circumstances and serendipity for an editing job to be worthwhile. In the best of all possible worlds, merely distilling that truth so that it's in some sense "better" would be good enough. That is what instructional-context editing can do: Coursework. It is not what freelance editing can/should do, particularly at the rates typically charged. Freelance editing must, by its nature, focus on expression, and on substance where it is inextricably intertwined with expression. That is a different thing entirely; and that is precisely where inexperienced authors lack the knowledge to determine iif a freelance editing job has improved the saleability of a manuscript.

brinkett
07-31-2005, 05:52 PM
Some posters (more than one) have focussed on knowing the truth/meaning of their own story.

Yes. My reason for jumping into the thread was because someone inquired about editors and was told that it's not a good idea. I've offered my own experience as a reason why I don't think that's a given. I'm not trying to convince people they should do it, that all experiences will be like mine, or that it can turn a crap manuscript into gold. Those of us offering our own stories are doing it to say, "hang on a minute, hiring an editor can be beneficial, depending."



That is a different thing entirely; and that is precisely where inexperienced authors lack the knowledge to determine iif a freelance editing job has improved the saleability of a manuscript.
Which isn't always the goal. Jenna listed possible reasons why a writer might hire an editor. When someone requests information about editors, exploring their expectations is a better response than telling them not to do it because it's always a bad idea.

cwgranny
07-31-2005, 05:55 PM
At the request of a company for whom I do some work, I employed a series of "editing services" -- all the editors had some kind of 'credentials' and would do an "instructional/context" edit for a specific sort of book, for under $1500 (thankfully, I didn't pay). All the editors were connected in some way with something that would cause a new writer to feel comfortable doling out money. Then I wrote evaluations of these services.

I always submitted manuscripts with clear, obvious problem that (1) would be relatively easy for the editor to explain to me and (2) would prevent publication (totally, no question about it -- I was sending UNPUBLISHABLE manuscripts. Of the results, I was astounded at what writers were paying hundreds of dollars for. First, across the board the "critiques" were decidedly too positive (these were unpublishable manuscripts from my early days of writing with some extra "badness" added, if I was a new writer hoping to sell one of these, I didn't need a hug, I needed help -- clear, unambigous help.) and with the overwhelming amount of "happy talk" I would definitely get the impression (if I were a new writer) that the manuscripts were closer than they were.

Of the edit/critiques
(1) One _editor_ misunderstood one character's name (let's say she was a little girl named "Bunny" and the editor assumed she must BE a bunny). This was a serious, contemporary story -- why would an editor assume it was about a bunch of antropomorphized rabbits based on ONE character's name? After making this mistake, the "edit" was filled with advice like "a rabbit couldn't do this, now could she?" Duh. Plus, of all the rubbish about bunnies, she failed to tell me that anthropomorphized rabbits who behave in all ways like people really would be a problem for a serious contemporary book -- she never suggested that I use PEOPLE instead. Because of this misunderstanding, the edit was useless, the editor caught NONE of the real problems in the piece. This was an editor employed by a *coff* major writing magazine's editing service.

(2) One editor caught many of the problems but with so much "happy talk" that she was suggesting band-aid fixes for what amounted to a severed limb. But, at least, she was perceptive enough to catch the bulk of the problems. This type of editing was the most common -- in most cases, the writer would have been better off not to have been given suggestions and just shown the problems. The suggestions were so simplistic and ineffectual that they were more harmful than helpful.

(3) One editor did a good job with the things she spotted but also overlooked a serious problem that would make the book unpublishable in today's market. She didn't even hint that it was a problem. It made me wonder if the person had ANY understanding of the market -- though she did a nice job of catching the errors in the piece. One of the best of the bunch at that so she did seem attentive to detail. Some of the editors honestly simply seemed to have no experience in the area of publishing where they had been slotted to edit -- way too many offered suggestions that would make a book almost impossible to sell in today's market (but sounded okay if you didn't know anything about what is being published today.)


Out of all the crits, (and we're talking big money here), only one of the editors did as good a job as my critique group would have done (and they're free). She was a retired editor from a children's publishing house. She was still a little cheery (considering) but she went beyond the obvious small fixes and talked about character and plot. With her suggestions, a competent writer could probably fix the manuscript enough to (at least) get some personal rejection letters.

So...because of my personal actual experience with editors, I would recommend getting into a really good critique group. I get the same crits as the best of the services and I save nearly $1000 each time I do so. But, of all the services, I did find one that did a really good job and whose help would have been beneficial if I didn't have a crit group (the editor found things that my crit group had found but which I -- in my usual writer's myopia -- didn't see). Still, all of these editors touted some kind of "credentials" (though some didn't hold up to much scrutiny) or had some "respected" company behind them. None of them were just "picked from a website." I could tell a good crit from a bad one -- but I worry for those who cannot.

I've spoke to an editor at a major publishing house once at a conference and asked her what she thought of having an editor look at a manuscipt before sending it out. Wow. She went on and on about how much she hated getting manuscripts that had been "professionally edited." One of the biggies? The writer had "paid" for an edit and so was unusually prone to argue with any "personal rejection" -- thus, this editor told me that if she got a manuscript that said it had been "professionally edited" and she didn't fall in love with it, she would ALWAYS send form rejections (even if she normally would send a personal one) -- it just wasnt' worth the follow up mail. She also didn't like how resistent writers could be to "real" (her word, not mine) editing if she did acquire the book since the person had already paid a fortune for professional editing.

Her bottom line -- if you are hell bent to hire an editor, please, don't mention it to her (ever) as it will definitely cause her to look at your manuscript with one strike against it.

aruna
07-31-2005, 06:29 PM
(1) One _editor_ misunderstood one character's name (let's say she was a little girl named "Bunny" and the editor assumed she must BE a bunny). This was a serious, contemporary story -- why would an editor assume it was about a bunch of antropomorphized rabbits based on ONE character's name? After making this mistake, the "edit" was filled with advice like "a rabbit couldn't do this, now could she?" Duh. Plus, of all the rubbish about bunnies, she failed to tell me that anthropomorphized rabbits who behave in all ways like people really would be a problem for a serious contemporary book -- she never suggested that I use PEOPLE instead. .

The Bunny story is hilarious! And your post only reinforces what I've always said: if you do choose to hire an editor, be very careful and double check; especially, ask for references from published authors who have used her.

I personally would not want to use a critique group. For a start I write long (500 + pages) books and I would feel uncomfrotable asking someone else, no matter how well meaning they are, to read such a long ms. Or else i would have to reciprocate and a) I don't have the time and b) critiquing another's work is definitely not my thing. I would be be always trying cushion any criticism nicely and that's not always the best - sometimes the brutal truth is necessary and I wouldn't want to be in that position. And then again, with a critique group you have no control over the timing. I prefer a straight business deal: I pay for a professional critique, and I can expect it back within a certain pre-arranged period. But as always, to each his own.

I once had a friend proof-read for me; she had a very sharp eye for typos and caught many that I'd missed. And even then I felt uncomfortable asking her for the help; I feel as if I still owe her a favour.

I don't know what makes authors tell editors that their manuscirpt has been "profesionally edited". It's just damn silly; as if they can't write.

aruna
07-31-2005, 06:33 PM
Freelance editing must, by its nature, focus on expression, and on substance where it is inextricably intertwined with expression. That is a different thing entirely; and that is precisely where inexperienced authors lack the knowledge to determine iif a freelance editing job has improved the saleability of a manuscript.

I don't quite understand what you are trying to say, jaws, especially this sentence. Doyou mean the editor should advise on style? If so, i don't agree.

aruna
07-31-2005, 06:34 PM
Aruna--I think I handled this badly, and I should have been more perceptive.

I'm sorry.

Apology accepted; and I do feel a lot better now.

aruna
07-31-2005, 06:40 PM
...that is precisely where inexperienced authors lack the knowledge to determine iif a freelance editing job has improved the saleability of a manuscript.

I second brinkett's reservation; "saleability" was actually the last thing i was looking for in approaching my editor. I wanted to write the best story i could, I had decided that this time around, with this book, I would not try to make it market friendly. I would not even think of publication. I was intent only on producing the best piece of work I could. It so happened that in doing so I also produced a very saleable ms. I am wary trying to write to and for the market, and due to some experiences I've had the word saleability has become a red flag for me.

Cathy C
07-31-2005, 08:43 PM
Originally posted by aruna
and due to some experiences I've had the word saleability has become a red flag for me.

Boy, not me! Saleability is my number one priority when writing. I think it's absolutely okay to produce brilliance within the box of market constraints. I find that pushing the envelope is much easier when you're already inside it. While there are times when a masterpiece will totally rewrite history (such as Harry Potter entirely changing the direction of publishing by instituting "global market releases",) I'm perfectly happy to appeal to the market that exists currently. I once had a magazine editor give me a good piece of advice. "The market already exists, and that's what you should write for. While you can ADD new readers, it's very difficult to CHANGE readers."

But that's just me... ;)

aruna
07-31-2005, 09:25 PM
Boy, not me! Saleability is my number one priority when writing.

I'm not thinking of masterpieces, Cathy; all I want is story that is true to itself, and I find that works best when I shut out all other voices except the one that is telling the story.

aruna
07-31-2005, 09:32 PM
Ah, ok Aruna. See, that, to me, is more of a critique than an edit. Where Cathy C listed her three options, I think that many people, myself included, see her options two and/or three as "editing". At least here in the states. You got a critique.

.

In future, when other newbies come here asking for advice on hiring an editor (as they are sure to), perhaps it should first be ascertained what exactly they want help with, before assuming they want to "have their ms edited".

I don't know if I ever used the words "getting an edit" myself; they always sounded so passive to me. I cringe to think that you (pl) assumed that I was having it all done for me; though I feel I made it clear again and again that I was getting assessments. That is certainly a massive misunderstanding

MacAllister
07-31-2005, 09:36 PM
In future, when other newbies come here asking for advice on hiring an editor
I expect we'll all go on giving the best advice we can give, based on our individual experiences.

aruna
07-31-2005, 09:42 PM
I expect we'll all go on giving the best advice we can give, based on our individual experiences.

I'm sure we will!!! But still, it should not be automatically assumed that they want their novel rewritten for them.

MacAllister
07-31-2005, 09:44 PM
By the way--I looked up your website last night, Aruna, and I gotta say, your new book, The Speech of Angels (http://www.sharonmaas.com/html/the_speech_of_angels.html), looks pretty terrific. :)

I'd be really interested in hearing how your experience with your freelance editor on your first book, before submission, both resembled and differed from your experience with your Harper Collins editor, now that you've done this a few times.

aruna
07-31-2005, 10:22 PM
By the way--I looked up your website last night, Aruna, and I gotta say, your new book, The Speech of Angels (http://www.sharonmaas.com/html/the_speech_of_angels.html), looks pretty terrific. :)

I'd be really interested in hearing how your experience with your freelance editor on your first book, before submission, both resembled and differed from your experience with your Harper Collins editor, now that you've done this a few times.

Thanks - though SOA actually came out in 2003 (hardback) and 2004(paperback)! My new ms is currently with an agent and I have my fingers crossed.

My HC editor was excellent. For the first book we worked hand in glove; she seemed to "know" the story and helped me to make it even better. For the next two books, however, there were problems. She thought we could work even better if she knew the plot in advance and so steer it in the right direction. Of course, I was so happy that I said yes to everything. But then I found I don't work well this way. I can't write a synopsis in advance and deliver it to an editor for assessment, and then have her saying "do this, don't do this" which was what was basically happening. I work best of all in silence and with no interference, nobody seeing anything of what I've written till it's finished. This led to problems with the fourth book; the first synopsis I wrote she rejected for "lack of saleability" (that came from the acquisitions people). The second synopsis I wrote she liked but she wanted all kinds of changes for "saleability".

That's when I said "thanks but no thanks" and decided not to sign a fourth contract.
I more or less broke off all contact with her; I told my agent I wasn't writing that book at all which got her knickers all in a twist; she thought I was taking a big risk.

To make a long story short, after a year had passed I wrote a fourth novel. By that time I no longer wanted to go with HarperCollins but wanted a new publisher. My agent didn't agree and so I dumped her. The novel I wrote is exactly what HarperCollins didn't want - ie, it is set in my home country, Guyana, which is the reason for its "unsaleability". After I parted company with my agent I made up with my editor, and she advised me to look for a different publisher because my first books hadn't earned out their advances and the acquisitions people would give me a hard time.

So that's why I'm going the whole route again! Querying agents etc. I don't mind; it's interesting. I've had a few rejections of an early draft - but starting again, I feel, has given me the same spark I had when I wrote the first book and I feel good about it all. My ex-agent thought I was utterly crazy not to stay with Harpercollins and "play the game". Maybe I was. Only time will tell.

reph
07-31-2005, 10:38 PM
I'll give you a practical example.
My first novel has three main characters of equal importance to the story....My editor told me that for such an important and lovable character, C enters the book much too late....
A book I recently worked on had a similar flaw and many others. It was a romance novel (a few of you know about this project). I was hired to proofread. Halfway through them, I still didn't know who the main characters – the "boy" and the "girl" who meet – were. The one I think was the female lead was first described through the thoughts of another woman, who was the focus in many early chapters. The man I believe she ended up with (I peeked at the last page) had made a few appearances in other chapters, but these two characters hadn't met; they lived on different continents. So, at the midpoint of the book, there was no relationship. In addition, the author seemed entirely unaware of the concept of point of view.

I got the proofs on a Friday and read up to the middle over the weekend. On Monday, I e-mailed the publisher a list of problems, stressing that they'd destroy salability. As I'd expected, I was told to stop work while a decision was made. The next day, the publisher had me send back the proofs.

Obviously, a mistake had been made in acquisitions. My point is that this novel needed an editor's attention and didn't get it early enough. My other point is that I could have finished the job, said nothing, and got twice as much money. I was paid at proofreader's rates for reading half the book and, essentially, producing a developmental editor's critique. I report this episode to show that some American freelance editors are honest. Some posts have suggested that a writer hiring an editor in the U.S. stands a good chance of being overcharged and receiving a service poorly performed.

Christine N.
07-31-2005, 10:46 PM
Take for example, the ad listed above.. editmydocuments.com. I looked over their website, b/c I was really curious. I suggest we all look over the site to see the range that the catchall phrase "editing services" can be used for.

Me, personally, I would be glad to do freelance copy editing. Because spellcheck doesn't catch everything, and quite frankly, the rules of grammar escape some people. Not the big ones, but the small ones. I've done copy editing for publishers, would be happy to find a little publisher to work for all the time. I guess that would fall under this company's "light edit" catagory. If you look all the way at the bottom of the page, they even offer to write it for you - for a big price. In the case of nonfiction, I can see this being a good service. But take what you will from it.

I actually ran across a publisher's guidelines once that took unsolicted subs. They looked at the first twenty pages, and if there were more than three grammar/spelling errors, they automatically rejected the sub. Really. I know it matters.

reph
07-31-2005, 10:48 PM
One comment, as I didn't make one thing clear enough, then I'm shaking my head and going away:...That is what instructional-context editing can do: Coursework. It is not what freelance editing can/should do, particularly at the rates typically charged.
I don't understand the reason for drawing such a sharp line between in-house editing and freelance editing. Freelancers can do everything with a manuscript that in-house editors can do except accept it for publication. Since Jaws said he was leaving, maybe someone else can explain this.

aka eraser
08-01-2005, 12:20 AM
When a veteran cop sees a group of teens in a shadowy area of a park his first thought is likely to be: "They're up to no good." The kids might be rehashing that night's ball game or making plans for a church social, but experience has tweaked the cop's perspective. He anticipates the worst. It's not always "right" but it's understandable.

Our "cops" here, and I'm speaking mostly about the B & BC board, have had a lot of experience with unethical people seeking to fleece inexperienced authors. It colours their (I'm including me as well) perspective. We want to prevent more victims if we can. It's the main purpose of this particular part of the AW Cooler.

As aruna and brinkett have indicated, it's possible to establish a mutually satisfactory relationship between an unpubished author and a professional editor. Their experience doesn't change my opinion that generally-speaking it's not a wise course of action for most newbie writers to take. But I'll temper my advice from now on to avoid blanket statements, and try to make sure I know more about the particular author's circumstances before weighing in with a definitive response.

Cathy C
08-01-2005, 12:48 AM
I'm not thinking of masterpieces, Cathy; all I want is story that is true to itself, and I find that works best when I shut out all other voices except the one that is telling the story.

Actually, I wasn't think of masterpieces either. What I mean is that I will search what a publisher is currently purchasing for lines and propose stories that fit within those guidelines (within my genre of choice, of course.) Or I'll submit a synopsis of a story to our agent who will shop it around. I do the same thing with magazines and short story markets (well, not so much through the agent.)

If we propose a vampire romance, for example, based on what articles about (or recent purchases by) the publisher show they are looking for, but the editor says, "Gee, I've got a ton of submissions for vampire stories. How about one with a ghost?" then we'll write a ghost story. Likewise with magazine work. If I propose a destination feature about fishing hotspots, but the editor NEEDS a gun technical article about the latest handgun load, that's what I'll write. It will simply be extremely well written --- brilliant within the box of "need," and I might add in details the editor didn't expect to put my brand on it. But selling my work comes before the art of the story, I guess.

I have learned that I'm in the minority with my attitude, but it works for me... ;)

mistri
08-01-2005, 01:43 AM
Interesting thread.

I guess I'm of the opinion that paid-for critiques can do a lot of good. Until recently, I was in business with a friend, offering critiques to people who wanted them. (I left to focus on my own writing)

We explained clearly (I hope) on the web site, that what we did was a form of content editing - authors would receive a 3/5 page critique, focusing on both strengths and weaknesses, and offering suggestions for revisions. We didn't fix all grammar/punctuation/spelling errors, but only pointed out the most common ones. We were fairly cheap, too.

Sure, you can find the same/similar through online critique groups, but it can be difficult finding someone to critique a whole novel (and in my experience, critiques that go a chapter at a time over many weeks often miss things/get things wrong), and seriously, some people don't know where to begin online. For them, hiring an editor/critiquer, or whatever, is worth the money.

Many of the issues in this thread, it seems, come from terminology. I usually call what I described above a critique or a content-edit. I don't think I, personally, would want to pay for a critique at the moment - but nor would I use a free one. I'm doing my own editing at the moment, going by my own feelings. Perhaps it's a mistake, but I guess I'll discover that in time. However, I can see why some people would want to pay for one.

reph
08-01-2005, 02:14 AM
Our "cops" here, and I'm speaking mostly about the B & BC board, have had a lot of experience with unethical people seeking to fleece inexperienced authors.
But aren't you talking about agents who refer all writers to the same editor, for instance, and presumably get a kickback on a fee of several thousand dollars, or screenplay evaluators who charge similar large amounts and send identical critiques to all their clients? Those are the kinds of editing scams I've seen exposed on Bewares. Paying an experienced editor for professional advice that you can't get from the unpublished writers in your workshop/critique group is a whole different deal.

Christine N.
08-01-2005, 03:22 AM
See Mistri, I see that as ok. I think critiques have merit. Editing (as in the kind that edityourdocuments.com sell) are of the more seedy variety, as far as conventional thinking goes.

victoriastrauss
08-01-2005, 04:36 AM
But aren't you talking about agents who refer all writers to the same editor, for instance, and presumably get a kickback on a fee of several thousand dollars, or screenplay evaluators who charge similar large amounts and send identical critiques to all their clients? Those are the kinds of editing scams I've seen exposed on Bewares. Paying an experienced editor for professional advice that you can't get from the unpublished writers in your workshop/critique group is a whole different deal.Most of the people (agents, publishers, editors) who take advantage of inexperienced writers aren't con artists--they're just incompetent.

- Victoria

brinkett
08-01-2005, 05:03 AM
I don't understand the reason for drawing such a sharp line between in-house editing and freelance editing. Freelancers can do everything with a manuscript that in-house editors can do except accept it for publication.
Yes. One thing I want to point out is that some freelance editors have publishers as clients. I think you pointed this out before, reph, when you said that an editor should have publishers as references, in addition to individuals. I don't see much difference between having a manuscript edited before submission and having it edited after acceptance, except that in the first instance, you pay (and may have more control over the process). All assuming that you've hired a qualified editor, of course.



I once had a friend proof-read for me; she had a very sharp eye for typos and caught many that I'd missed. And even then I felt uncomfortable asking her for the help; I feel as if I still owe her a favour.

I once read an interview with a published author (wish I could remember who it was) where she was asked if she uses beta readers. Her response (paraphrased): "No. I don't expect people to work for free." I had four beta readers, and yes, I owe them all.

reph
08-01-2005, 05:52 AM
One thing I want to point out is that some freelance editors have publishers as clients. I think you pointed this out before, reph, when you said that an editor should have publishers as references, in addition to individuals.
Yes, I did. In fact, when I hear "editors," I think of editors who work or have worked in-house. How else could they learn?

Should a writer ever hire an editor who doesn't have this history? Well, maybe a seasoned, published writer of the same kind of material. That could work.


I don't see much difference between having a manuscript edited before submission and having it edited after acceptance, except that in the first instance, you pay (and may have more control over the process).
Here are more differences. First, for copy editing: Assuming the ms. will be accepted somewhere, editing before submission means nobody knows what the house style will be. You might pay someone to spell out numbers up through ninety-nine and get a "one through ten" publisher who also, incidentally, won't let you call your villain Murray because that's the name of the hero in their most popular series – you get the idea. Wasted money. Second, for developmental editing: If a freelancer's critique says "This book isn't fit to publish," there's no corresponding opinion you'd get after acceptance.

aruna
08-01-2005, 10:34 AM
I got the proofs on a Friday and read up to the middle over the weekend. On Monday, I e-mailed the publisher a list of problems, stressing that they'd destroy salability. As I'd expected, I was told to stop work while a decision was made. The next day, the publisher had me send back the proofs.

.

reph, I noticed youe spelling of "salability"; others, including me, spell it "saleability" (I got that from my agent). Since I respect you as the spelling expert here, can you explain?

Birol
08-01-2005, 10:48 AM
reph, I noticed youe spelling of "salability"; others, including me, spell it "saleability" (I got that from my agent). Since I respect you as the spelling expert here, can you explain?

Yeah. I was noticing you guys spelling it 'saleability', too, and cringing a bit, though I make it a habit of not correcting people's informal correspondence and communications. The purpose of language is communication and as long as informal writing and speech is accomplishing that, correcting others just makes them feel bad, IMO, and makes them less willing to express themselves to me later. Miss out on lots of interesting things that way.

The correct spelling is 'salability'. I leave the reasons why for Reph to explain, because I don't know and would only be guessing, but if you look up the etymology, 'sale' is derived from the Old English 'sala'. That probably has something to do with it.

aruna
08-01-2005, 11:02 AM
The correct spelling is 'salability'. I leave the reasons why for Reph to explain, because I don't know and would only be guessing, but if you look up the etymology, 'sale' is derived from the Old English 'sala'. That probably has something to do with it.

Thanks. I'll use salability in future and look forward to reph's explanation.

reph
08-01-2005, 11:32 AM
Well, uh, "salable" looks correct to me and "saleable" looks wrong. ("Salability" isn't a word I use often.) Consume, consumable; note, notable; argue, arguable; sale, salable.

The American Heritage Dictionary – the easiest one to grab from here – gives "saleable" as a variant of "salable."

The word "salable" is ill formed; by normal conventions of English, it shouldn't exist. "Sale" is a noun, not a verb.

aruna
08-01-2005, 11:45 AM
The word "salable" is ill formed; by normal conventions of English, it shouldn't exist. "Sale" is a noun, not a verb.

I suppose "sellable" would be the correct word, then.

The problem with salable is that it looks as if it shpuld be pronounced sallable. But then, we don't pronounce notable like knotable.

Roger J Carlson
08-01-2005, 05:01 PM
I want to apologize for a couple of things. First of all, I apologize for allowing myself to get off topic. It was unprofessional of me, especially as a mod. Secondly, I want to apologize for the implication that all editors are crooks and people who use them are foolish. I never said that, and it's not what I meant. But if that's how it sounded, I'm sorry. No one who makes an informed decision is ever foolish.

That said, I want to explain what I do mean. Then I too will retire from this thread.

My mistrust of editing services stems from several near misses with "editors" and "publishers" who recommended such services. The most notable was ST Literary who does do this. While they say you can use a third party, they don't accept these edits, insisting you use their recommended service, which happens to be themselves. It wasn't until I joined this board that I realized how common this practice is. Look through the threads and see for yourself.

My fear is that if I had read this thread during my correspondence with ST Literary, I might have decided editing service were standard practice and been sucked into their web.

Cautions about research not withstanding, I wouldn't want to be the cause of anyone else being fleeced. So I've decided to err on the side of caution and discourage such practices. I believe that while beta readers and crit groups may be no better (and could be worse), they still do not lend themselves to the abuses of editing services. And while incompetent editors may not be con-artists, they are still rip-offs.

I want to emphsize that this is what I believe and why I believe it. I don't imply that others should also believe this way. Everyone must chart his or her own course. Your mileage may vary.

brinkett
08-01-2005, 06:01 PM
The purpose of language is communication and as long as informal writing and speech is accomplishing that, correcting others just makes them feel bad, IMO, and makes them less willing to express themselves to me later. Miss out on lots of interesting things that way.

So true. I have to admit, I'd never seen "saleability" before but understood what was meant by it, and if I haven't seen a word before but think I understand it, I use it when responding to a post containing it.



Cautions about research not withstanding, I wouldn't want to be the cause of anyone else being fleeced.

Roger, you wouldn't be the cause--the cause would be someone not doing their homework. If someone rushes out and hires an editor, any editor, because they saw a post on AW telling them not all editors are scam artists, they have a problem.

In addition, there are scam agents out there (like ST Literary or whatever the hell they're calling themselves these days), but I doubt very much you'd tell writers not to find an agent. You'd probably say something like, "an agent is a good idea, but be careful, there are bad ones out there, so check the following sites, browse the threads here, and ask about agencies you're unsure about." You'd also offer advice about how to identify a legit agent from a scam artist.



My mistrust of editing services stems from several near misses with "editors" and "publishers" who recommended such services.

I feel this is key to understanding your position. You were almost burned, and you don't want anybody else to be. Understandable, but I think educating writers about how to identify a reputable editor vs. a well-meaning but unqualified editor (or a scam artist) would be more valuable in the long run than scaring them off editing services altogether, and fairer to qualified and honest editors who offer freelance services.

aruna
08-01-2005, 07:07 PM
Yes, I did. In fact, when I hear "editors," I think of editors who work or have worked in-house. How else could they learn?

.

That's what I've always assumed as well - that's why I never saw any particular difference between pre-pub and in-house.

aruna
08-01-2005, 07:09 PM
I
Cautions about research not withstanding, I wouldn't want to be the cause of anyone else being fleeced. So I've decided to err on the side of caution and discourage such practices. I believe that while beta readers and crit groups may be no better (and could be worse), they still do not lend themselves to the abuses of editing services. And while incompetent editors may not be con-artists, they are still rip-offs.

.

That makes sense and it makes the resistance in the US more understandable to me... see, before I came to this board I had no idea that scam artists or unqualified people even existed in this section. Participating here has opened my eyes to this danger.

victoriastrauss
08-01-2005, 07:51 PM
That makes sense and it makes the resistance in the US more understandable to me... see, before I came to this board I had no idea that scam artists or unqualified people even existed in this section. Participating here has opened my eyes to this danger....which is a danger in the UK as well. Unqualified and/or dishonest "editors" are not a problem unique to the US.

- Victoria

Roger J Carlson
08-01-2005, 07:51 PM
That makes sense and it makes the resistance in the US more understandable to me... see, before I came to this board I had no idea that scam artists or unqualified people even existed in this section. Participating here has opened my eyes to this danger.I wouldn't be too sure this isn't the case in the UK either. Perhaps at one time it wasn't, but Publish America has opened Publish Britannica. Others will follow. Wherever there's money, there will be unscupulous people to take advantage of the un-informed.

aruna
08-01-2005, 08:10 PM
...which is a danger in the UK as well. Unqualified and/or dishonest "editors" are not a problem unique to the US.

- Victoria

That may be true, but the good ones are already so established and so well known, and have been for so long, that it will be hard for scammers to find a footing here.

victoriastrauss
08-01-2005, 09:43 PM
That may be true, but the good ones are already so established and so well known, and have been for so long, that it will be hard for scammers to find a footing here.I wish this were true. Remember that most undesirable editors aren't actually scammers--they're simply unqualified to do the job. There's a sizeable number of these unqualified editors/editorial services in the UK--not as many as in the US, certainly, but then the population and the book market in the UK are also smaller. Ditto for Australia, in which the "manuscript assessment service" is firmly entrenched--most of these, according to Australian editors and agents with whom I've communicated, of very dubious skill.

I think that unqualified freelance editors have become a problem in part for the same reason that unqualified agents have become a problem: the vastly increased numbers of would-be writers, and the changes in the publishing industry that have made publishers ever less accessible to writers on their own. In this tight, competitive market, writers are desperate to gain some sort of advantage, and many see a "professional edit" as one way to do this. Also, the Internet makes it incredibly easy to hang out a shingle and advertise for clients; I'll bet that if it weren't for the Internet, a lot of the unqualified editors out there would be doing something else.

At any rate, these are factors that transcend any sort of national or cultural differences. Writers in the UK and Australia need to be as much on their guard as writers in the US do.

- Victoria

reph
08-01-2005, 10:40 PM
My mistrust of editing services stems from several near misses with "editors" and "publishers" who recommended such services. The most notable was ST Literary who does do this. While they say you can use a third party, they don't accept these edits, insisting you use their recommended service, which happens to be themselves....

I believe that while beta readers and crit groups may be no better (and could be worse), they still do not lend themselves to the abuses of editing services.
Hi, Roger. I'm relieved to see a more moderate view than the one you expressed (as I read it, anyway) the first time.

It's become clear to me from the PA thread and other parts of Bewares & B.C. that new writers get scammed because they don't know how publishing works – what good business practices in the industry are. Those who've written unsalable books they're in love with are particularly prone to fall for insincere encouragement from anyone who wants their money.

I think people who want an editor should find one the same way you find a dentist: get a recommendation from someone you know who's seen the person's work. You can also call a publishing house, ask for the managing editor, and get names of freelancers he or she works with. "Editing services" – that's more like taking your toothache to a dental clinic and being treated by whoever's on duty, probably a recent graduate who doesn't have an independent practice.

Sure, hiring an editor has risks. Hiring anyone has risks. But I believe you're more likely to get a professional edit from a real editor than from the accumulated opinions in a leaderless critique group.

Cathy C
08-02-2005, 03:14 AM
I look at freelance editors very much like attorneys (or barristers/solicitors). The person who passed the bar exam with an A, and the one who passed with a D- have one thing in common -- they both have Esq. after their name. Only with careful researching can you be certain that you're paying good money for good services.

Mac H.
08-02-2005, 05:10 AM
"Esq" - The things we learn on this board.

The 'British' usage is traditionally for a land-owner - as opposed to 'Mr' who didn't own any land.

Hmm - according to Wikipedia:

"And who so can make proofe, that his Ancestors or himselfe, haue had Armes, or can procure them by purchase, may be called Armiger or Esquier."
-- Honor military, and ciuill (1602)
Mac

aruna
08-02-2005, 10:15 AM
At any rate, these are factors that transcend any sort of national or cultural differences. Writers in the UK and Australia need to be as much on their guard as writers in the US do.

- Victoria

Yes, it's true that the internet has made the proliferation of scammers possible and made it harder to corner them; and broken down international borders.

However, I think it would be difficult for a scammer to establish a proper bricks-and-mortar operation in Britain, as the Trading Standards here are extremely vigilant. I know becuase someone I know had a small, legitimate business but somebody complained - a rival whose prices were much higher, probably - and the Trading Standards were on his back in no time. He had to deal with them for months before they left him in peace. Any business registered for tax in Britain would have this problem, if somebody complained. I know two businesses in my home town which had Trading Standard investigations all over the newspapers - one had to close down, one had to totally revamp their business. SO, if anyone in Britain gets scammed by a British editing service - that's who they should turn to! I was all set to complainabout Publish Britannica to them; but since they are actually based in the US there's little that can be done.
The Trading Standards website is: http://www.tradingstandards.gov.uk/
or more specifically for scams: http://www.tsi.org.uk/events/index.htm?frmClient=20E2871F-D8F0-4633-A15DB955F1E545C4&frmItemID=150420&frmShared=1

MacAllister
08-02-2005, 11:43 AM
Cool! Thanks for the links for people, Aruna--great information. :)

aruna
08-02-2005, 12:52 PM
And this is the place where you can lodge complaints in the UK. And in fact I think I am going to do so about PublishBritannica. Maybe they CAN do something.

http://www.ripofftipoff.net/

Caty
08-02-2005, 02:29 PM
Yes the Trading Standards people are rottweillers and the Inland Revenue have a whole dept. which does nothing but look into internet businesses to check for legitamacy.

While we cant be complacent in the U.K against scammers if they have a bricks and mortar business we're pretty well protected.

cwgranny
08-02-2005, 04:36 PM
However, I think it would be difficult for a scammer to establish a proper bricks-and-mortar operation in Britain...

Well, it is good to have somewhere to turn for scammers but scammers really aren't the number one problem with paid editors. Many paid editors aren't scammers but aren't competent either. And quite frankly, many new writers aren't capable of making the changes needed even IF the editor was competent. The editors in the group I wrote critiques over weren't scammers -- not a single solitary one was a scammer. They simply weren't worth paying for. They weren't competent at the job for which they were being paid, but they weren't scamming anyone. If I hire a kid to mow my lawn and he mows over all my flowerbeds, he wasn't scamming me -- he was just an idiot.

Unfortunately, many new writers simply don't know competent vs. imcompetent EVEN AFTER THEY GET THE CRITIQUE. If they knew what was wrong with the manuscript, they probably wouldn't have gotten an editor. If they knew everything there was to know about the market and how to craft a story that will sell, they probably wouldn't have gotten an editor. The critique LOOKS good -- it catches all the typos and grammar bits, it (probably) gives suggestions for changes in plot or characterization, it (probably) uses "writerly" words like flow and pace and character arc and seems to use them correctly. But is it really helping? Does change always equal improvement? Will this writer be able to take this advice and make real improvement (that either leads to a marketable manuscript or a vast improvement in writing skill in the writer). And is the "editor" pointing at area A when area B is really the problem? Can the writer tell that's happening?

I've taught writing for many years. I've been in a variety of writing groups and critique groups and I've gotten a lot of feedback from people -- some has been good and some has been not so good.

At one point, I had an agent who felt there was a problem with my manuscript and he suggested a fix. So I did what he suggested (even though I didn't think it was a good idea -- duh on me, but he was the "expert" and I didn't want to be all swell-headed and difficult). It made things worse creating weaknesses in other areas that he had suggestions for also. I hesitantly did those too. Now the manuscript really sucked and the agent was getting annoyed since he could tell it sucked so he suggested a bunch of new fixes. At that point I stopped and thought, "Wow, those are going to compound the problems." I finally stopped being an idiot, went back to the original manuscript and looked at the area where he felt there was a problem originally. I studied the problem, came up with a totally different fix from the one he suggested and then sent the manuscript and he loved it. Now this was an agent with great sales, strong connections, and a background in book editing at a well-known commercial publisher. He had all the credentials one could want for a good "editor" but although he had a good eye for a problem, he totally couldn't see a workable solution. But what if this were a "paid edit" -- and I'm a new writer and I just took this "professional editor's" suggestion and now I've made my manuscript worse and paid for the privledge? I haven't been scammed.

When you look at the value of a paid edit before recommending new writers get them, you have to look at it this way: are they really leading to better product on a steady, regular basis or do they often sucking money out of the pockets of authors without furthering their craft or careers? If the writer is *most likely* to see real improvement and improved chance of publishing after coughing up all that money, then it's something we should recommend. If the writer is *highly likely* to find the paid edit a costly distraction from their career path, then we should tell them that in "most cases, a paid edit is not a good idea for a new writer."

From my experience in the area of paid edits (NONE OF WHICH WERE DONE BY SCAMMERS), they aren't a good idea so I tend to caution new writers and when they come back with "But lots of new writers have gotten them on discussion boards and really liked them." Then I have to ask -- what percentage of those who got the edits went on to sell the book shortly after the edit? I really like it when my Dad says I'm a brilliant poet but it doesn't do much for my career (and I still suck at poetry.) If the percentage who went on to be PUBLISHED as a direct result of the edit is really low, then what they paid for MIGHT BE the illusion of forward motion, not real forward motion. And they might be in that position even though they never got involved with a scammer.

I also review books, and I see a number of self-published books that have been through paid editors (many times the writers are proud that they "went that extra mile" and now think they have a book as good as any put out by a conventional publisher if publishing wasn't such an "closed system.") And usually it's still pretty clear why the person needed to self publish -- they weren't ready to be published. They didn't know the craft well enough. They usually had SOMETHING they were good at -- a sense of story, a quirky sense of humor, a love for a specific genre and its conventions -- but they were writer embryos, not ready for public viewing.

In my personal....highly subjective opinion...the best course for a brand spanking new writer is the old tried and true one: accept that your first book may not be marketable because you need more work on your craft, shelve it if rejection letters suggest that is the case, and begin your next book. Understand that many many many authors didn't sell their first books but learned from them and when subsequent books sold (at whatever book number that begins) the AUTHORS almost always know why the early books didn't sell. It's a long process and it hurts but you don't spend so much time paying for nothing. In our instant-gratification world, that path really isn't appealing but it does work with a higher % of success than I've seen with new writers and paid edits.

And if experienced writers with published books in their bags happen to tell you that they like using a paid editor -- don't assume that's the path to publication. What they get from a paid edit (or a crit group or a conference crit) and what a new writer gets from the same experience will NOT be the same. Even with a competent edit, a skilled writer will do something totally different with the results than an unskilled writer. If a brand spanking new writers spends close to $1000 for an edit -- will he get $1000 closer to publication? I STILL think it's highly unlikely so I'll STILL keep telling brand-spanking new writers that paid edits aren't really the best use of their money -- use it to pay the bills while you work on your writing.

brinkett
08-02-2005, 05:12 PM
And quite frankly, many new writers aren't capable of making the changes needed even IF the editor was competent.

I disagree. If a writer can make the changes suggested by a crit group or beta readers, they can make the changes suggested by an editor.



The editors in the group I wrote critiques over weren't scammers -- not a single solitary one was a scammer. They simply weren't worth paying for. They weren't competent at the job for which they were being paid, but they weren't scamming anyone.

Yes, and there are ways to avoid those. reph has already offered advice on that.



Unfortunately, many new writers simply don't know competent vs. imcompetent EVEN AFTER THEY GET THE CRITIQUE. If they knew what was wrong with the manuscript, they probably wouldn't have gotten an editor. If they knew everything there was to know about the market and how to craft a story that will sell, they probably wouldn't have gotten an editor.

Acknowledging that you have more to learn (who doesn't?) doesn't mean you're completely incompetent and won't be able to differentiate good advice from bad, especially for your particular story.



If the percentage who went on to be PUBLISHED as a direct result of the edit is really low, then what they paid for MIGHT BE the illusion of forward motion, not real forward motion.

The only measurement of the "success" of a paid edit shouldn't be whether the manuscript went on to be published. There are other reasons for hiring an editor.



In my personal....highly subjective opinion...the best course for a brand spanking new writer is the old tried and true one: accept that your first book may not be marketable because you need more work on your craft, shelve it if rejection letters suggest that is the case, and begin your next book.

If aruna had taken your advice, her book would never have been published. It was.



And if experienced writers with published books in their bags happen to tell you that they like using a paid editor -- don't assume that's the path to publication.
Nobody is. You need to read over the thread again and see what people got out of an edit.



paid edits aren't really the best use of their money -- use it to pay the bills while you work on your writing.

The money issue again. I'll decide what the best use of my money is. After all, it is my money.

I agree there are plenty of edited books out there that stink, including those that have been edited in-house. I'm struggling through one right now--usually I can turn off the inner critic when I read, but this one is so bad it's not even remotely funny. It may be the first book I put down by this author, who is published by Simon & Schuster. It's not only self-published authors that have a problem knowing when the manuscript should have stayed in a drawer.

aruna
08-02-2005, 05:40 PM
From my experience in the area of paid edits (NONE OF WHICH WERE DONE BY SCAMMERS), they aren't a good idea so I tend to caution new writers and when they come back with "But lots of new writers have gotten them on discussion boards and really liked them." Then I have to ask -- what percentage of those who got the edits went on to sell the book shortly after the edit? I really like it when my Dad says I'm a brilliant poet but it doesn't do much for my career (and I still suck at poetry.) If the percentage who went on to be PUBLISHED as a direct result of the edit is really low, then what they paid for MIGHT BE the illusion of forward motion, not real forward motion. And they might be in that position even though they never got involved with a scammer.

.


First of all, I see you used the wrd "paid edit" all the way through, and I am now very wary of this terminology. It seems, to me, that a "paid editor" is somewhat different to a "paid edit". I've never had a "paid edit" and have never knowlingly recommended it; there seems to have been some misunderstanding in the past. SO I'm no longer talking about "paid edits" but about "paid editors".

I have no idea what the situation is in the States and won't make any more assumptions. What I do know is that the vast majority of people writing novels will never get published, with or without a paid editor.

That said, if their passion is writing, and they want to improve their craft, and they go into it aware that the odds are against them, then I see nothing wrong with approaching a COMPETENT editor who can help them further, if that is their preference.

I'm also aware that there may be as many incompetent as competent editors in Britain; who knows. However, the beginning writer here is likely to ask around and shop around; and I think, I hope, anyone with any sense will look at the credentials of an editor they are thinking of paying. I'm assuming that much intelligence and discernment. There are plenty of competent ones around, and most published writers or members in UK discussion forums will know who these are and can make recommendations. I should think that a competent editor would have worked in a well-known publishing house; that might be one criteria. Another one - for me at least - are recommendatios from published authors. I've checked on some of the websites of UK editorial services I know and most of these do have such recommendations. If a would-be writer ignores such pointers and still goes with an obscure (perhaps cheaper) editor then I'd say they get what they deserve.

I'm sure that most people would prefer not to spend money if possible, and I see nothing wrong with critique groups, if that is what you want. I'm sure you're right and they can do a better job than a bad critique service. I'm not sure they can do a better job than a good critique service.

I remember what Jenna said; that publication is not the only goal. The goal is to become a better writer. Sometimes the advice given will be bad, or overlook some points. And yet I feel that every time we work on a manuscript, even if it still isn't publishable, we have learned.

Some authors, including myself, have been helped a great deal by a paid service. I don't think I would have learned so much so quickly through any other method. At the time I had already paid my dues, having struggled for years on a manuscript that never got published, gone the rounds of looking for a publisher and waiting months for a response. I agree that waiting and suffering is a good education; but I didn't feel like doing it again.

By the time I used the service I wasn't even thinking about making my book salable, just about making it good. Perhaps there is just ONE writer out there reading this who feels the way I did, and who can benefit from my experience. All I can say is that at the time I wanted the very best service I could find and I was willing to pay for it. In retrospect I'd do the same thing all over again; it was more than worth it. There are good people out there and they are worth looking for; I have no regrets, and I don't really feel I have much more to say on the subject...

victoriastrauss
08-02-2005, 07:18 PM
However, I think it would be difficult for a scammer to establish a proper bricks-and-mortar operation in Britain, as the Trading Standards here are extremely vigilant.Vigilant or not, scammers do just fine in the UK. I'll give just one example: the plague of fraudulent vanity publishers that afflicts the UK--actually a worse problem than here in the US. These scammers run flourishing bricks-and-mortar businesses; the most persistent of them, if shut down under one name, start up immediately under another.

I will say honestly that I'm a little exasperated with the "not in the UK" idea that seems to be expressed in a number of posts here. There is plenty of literary fraud and incompetence in the UK--less, certainly, than in the US, but as I've noted before, it's a smaller country. As for the implication that UK writers are somehow better informed and more able to avoid the pitfalls...I think new writers everywhere, in every country, are more similar than they are different, and UK writers are no less--and no more--vulnerable to schemes, scams, and incompetence masquerading as professionalism than writers anywhere else. Obviously this is my personal impression, but it's based on a considerable amount of documentary evidence--i.e., the many, many UK writers I hear from through Writer Beware, who are the victims of bad publishers, agents, and others.

- Victoria

reph
08-02-2005, 10:20 PM
Do we all have in mind writers with the same amount of talent and learning? I don't think so. aruna and brinkett had good experiences with editors. I'll bet they were already pretty good at writing, and they were capable of understanding what their editors said and applying it. Most people who want to write a book will never write a salable one, no matter how much coaching they get from a paid editor or anyone else. These are the "new writers" cwgranny's talking about.

brinkett
08-03-2005, 06:44 AM
Do we all have in mind writers with the same amount of talent and learning? I don't think so. aruna and brinkett had good experiences with editors. I'll bet they were already pretty good at writing, and they were capable of understanding what their editors said and applying it.
Or we chose good editors. ;) Frankly, I have no idea if I'm any good at writing. However, I'm confident that I'm understanding the feedback and applying it appropriately, and the experience has shown me that I have good instincts for what works and what doesn't.

I agree that paying for an edit where the editor makes the changes and the writer accepts them sight unseen is a waste. Otherwise, as long as a writer is willing to learn, I think most writers can improve. They might never sell a manuscript, but they'll learn something.

aruna
08-03-2005, 03:25 PM
Victoria,
I'm sorry, I never meant to imply that I know it all, or that your experience is in any way inferior to mine. It seems we come at this from two very extreme positions: you as someone based outside the country who gets to see all the complaints and all the negative stuff going on in the shady corners of British publishing. I come at it from a very naive, blue eyed position, based on a survey of one - myself!

Probably the truth lies somewhere in the middle; Britain is neither a hotbed of scams and incompetence, nor is it a scam-free zone. (In fact, in my eyes Britain is one big legal scam in itself. I could not believe it when I moved here four years ago and found the SAME products we had in germany being sold at three times the price! EVERYTHINg here is too expensive - it's all a perfectly legal ripp-off and nobody seems to mind)

First of all I don't know anything about vanity publishing in GB and I leave all information on this to you. I'd never do it and I think the fewer writers do it the better.

What I was trying to do is put myself inthe position I was in a couple years ago: you've written a book, now where do you turn? I found the answer in the only magazine for writers in Britian, Writers' News with its sister mag Writing; I found a few ads for editorial assessments there, compared their services, and chose what i thought seemed the best. As far as I remember, all the services advertised at that time were legit and good, as I have since heard of them on writers groups being recommended.

This morning I bought a copy of Writing just to see what the position is now. There are only TWO ads this month, one from the very good service I used, and one from what seems a newcomer: http://wordsru.co.uk/index.php?task=home

Looking at their website, It seems to me that they are legit; they name their editors and describe their backgrounds. However, they don't seem very competent to me as far as novel writing goes; none of them seems to have actually worked as a fiction editor before. Though they may be OK for proofreading and copyediting.

So if I were a newbie writer now with my head screwed on properly, it would be obvious which of these two services I would choose - it's a no-brainer! They do give a few examples of published authors - but no names or titles!

When I was looking for help I did not have the internet; so that is a whole new world with all kinds of new possibilities for being taken for a ride, as you rightly state.

All I can repeat to any Brit writer looking for a critique: go with the tried and proven. Ask for recommendations. See which published authors they have worked with. You can even get a "partial" critique which can help you decide, for very little money, if the service is right for you. I suppose it's the same with any service you hire: look for the best you can afford.

Roger J Carlson
08-11-2005, 12:26 AM
I do not want to stir up anymore controversy, nor am I implying that anyone anyone is foolish for using an editing service, BUT...

The discussion would not be complete without a concrete example of the kind of problems you can run into if you don't do your homework. See this:
http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=17203

chrisdodt
08-11-2005, 06:48 AM
I wrote a novel. Where do I go from here? I need someone to edit my work before I submit to a publisher, and I want to bypass as much as I can as many rejections as possible. I did some research through Writer's Digest Magazine and came across a few literary agengies who will evaluate, critique, or rewrite, all for fees.
I wrote the novel well, not bragging with blissful ignorance, I just know, yet need feedback from seasoned editors, not just writers. I've already submited my work to one agency for an evaluation. (The cost was minimal) The person who read my work said it was a well written, solid novel, but of course needed to be critiqued before submission. Their critiques cost about a month's net salary. ($3000) The agency was Greenleaf literary services.
I just started this forum and would appreciate some feedback from anyone who does this kind of service, perhaps for less, or will a simple critique forum suffice?

AnneMarble
08-11-2005, 09:24 AM
I wrote a novel. Where do I go from here? I need someone to edit my work before I submit to a publisher, and I want to bypass as much as I can as many rejections as possible. I did some research through Writer's Digest Magazine and came across a few literary agengies who will evaluate, critique, or rewrite, all for fees.

James D. Macdonald has said that if an agency advertises in Writer's Digest, that's a sure sign that you should avoid them like the plague. Legitimate agencies don't have to advertise because they get enough submissions as it is.


I wrote the novel well, not bragging with blissful ignorance, I just know, yet need feedback from seasoned editors, not just writers. I've already submited my work to one agency for an evaluation. (The cost was minimal) The person who read my work said it was a well written, solid novel, but of course needed to be critiqued before submission. Their critiques cost about a month's net salary. ($3000) The agency was Greenleaf literary services.

Is that this company (http://www.williamgreenleaf.com/sys-tmpl/door/)? From what I tell, this is a manuscript evaluation/critique service and not an agency. This guy might be good at what he does. (For that much money, he should be marking the manuscript with gold ink.) But he is not a literary agency.

Also, for the future, please keep in mind that ... Legitimate agencies do not charge fees.

And $3000 is way too much for a critique service, unless that service has a very very good reputation. He might be a very well respected book doctor. I have no way of knowing.


I just started this forum and would appreciate some feedback from anyone who does this kind of service, perhaps for less, or will a simple critique forum suffice?
That seems to depend on the critique forums you can find and the t ype of writer you are. I'd say start checking out the forums first and find out if they work for you. And if they do, you won't be out any money.

Before you even think of hiring a book doctor or editor, read this Writer Beware article (http://www.sfwa.org/Beware/bookdoctors.html).

Also, read their article on agents (http://www.sfwa.org/Beware/agents.html).

Roger J Carlson
08-11-2005, 04:29 PM
I wrote a novel. Where do I go from here? I need someone to edit my work before I submit to a publisher, and I want to bypass as much as I can as many rejections as possible. I did some research through Writer's Digest Magazine and came across a few literary agengies who will evaluate, critique, or rewrite, all for fees. Never pay a LITERARY agency to evaluate your work. That's not their job. If they think your work has potential, they MAY help you improve it, but they won't charge you for it. My experience has been that this isn't too likely for a first novel.

The subject of hiring an independent editor has been debated thoroughly in this thread. If you haven't read the whole thing, do so. Some are in favor of paid editing, others are adamantly opposed. All agree you have to do your homework before hiring anyone.

Personally, I'm not convinced that rejections are a bad thing or avoiding them a good thing. Over the last four years, my first novel has been rejected over 75 times by agents and publishers. After each round of rejections, I've taken a fresh look at the manuscript and discovered major flaws, which I've then corrected. It's been slow and messy, but I've grown as a writer as a result.

Is this right for everyone? Possibly not, but it's worked for me. My latest rejection was in the form of a call (!) from the publisher. She said my novel had problems, but she was going to return it with a detailed analysis (no charge), and if I corrected it, I could resubmit.

This has made the slow struggle worth it. There is no question in my mind that the changes I've made to improve the novel are my own. I don't have to wonder if the writing is really mine or the result of some editor.

HapiSofi
08-11-2005, 05:05 PM
I have no idea what the situation is in the States and won't make any more assumptions. What I do know is that the vast majority of people writing novels will never get published, with or without a paid editor.

That said, if their passion is writing, and they want to improve their craft, and they go into it aware that the odds are against them, then I see nothing wrong with approaching a COMPETENT editor who can help them further, if that is their preference.I do not think it probable that, when writers pay hundreds (or more likely thousands) of dollars for a full-scale edit by a good editor, they're primarily motivated by a pious desire to improve their craft. I think they believe their book, thus edited, will find publication.

A very few of them will be right. But as you yourself observe, most will never be published. Their books aren't salvageable, no matter how much editing they get.

Do the authors understand that? They do not. These are the people whose manuscripts make up the bulk of the slush pile. Their inability to judge the quality of their own work is nothing short of legendary.

This is why the sale of editorial services plays such a major role in author scams: Naive authors desire it, thinking it will render them publishable. It's very expensive. Often, the marks can be charged top rates for substandard work, and never know the difference. Best of all, the prospective customers are by their very nature unable to judge the efficacy and utility of the work. A secondary effect is that it freshens up the victim. When a writer has determined that his or her manuscript is unsaleable in its current condition, they become immune to a wide range of scams. Selling them an edit puts those scams back into play.

This is why I'll continue to say that for most authors, hiring an outside editor is a bad idea. Once in a while, it does someone some good. In most cases, they just get their pockets picked.

That's why scammers are forever putting out the idea that you have to have your manuscript professionally edited before you can submit it for publication. (Are you listening, Chris Dodt?) That notion is false, but it's very profitable for them to have newbie authors believe it.

How prevalent is this fraud? Here's the bottom line: Scamhunters use "you have to have your manuscript professionally edited" as a genetic marker for scammers. It's that reliable.

JerseyGirl1962
08-11-2005, 06:03 PM
I just started this forum and would appreciate some feedback from anyone who does this kind of service, perhaps for less, or will a simple critique forum suffice?

Join a critique workshop. Once I finish and revise my current ms. a few times, I'm going to join one of them.

Here are some that get good grades from a lot of writers:

http://www.critiquecircle.com This one's free.

http:///www.critters.org Free, but specifically for sci fi/fantasy/horror.

http://www.onlinewritingworkshop Not free, for sci fi/fantasy/horror, but
you get your first critique right away
instead of having to wait.

There are other ones, of course. The SFWA website has a listing of some you might want to look into in addition to the ones I mention above:

http://www.sfwa.org/links/workshops.htm

Good luck - and do your research before you pay out any more dough.

~ Nancy

AnneMarble
08-11-2005, 06:11 PM
I do not think it probable that, when writers pay hundreds (or more likely thousands) of dollars for a full-scale edit by a good editor, they're primarily motivated by a pious desire to improve their craft. I think they believe their book, thus edited, will find publication.

I can see that point of view prevailing. :( It's the natural human tendency. While there are of course writers who will figure out how to get a good editor and will make the best use of that editor... most aspiring writers won't be able to do that. I know that when I was starting out, if I had gotten a professional edit, I would have ignored a lot of it because I was not ready to hear it yet. :D


How prevalent is this fraud? Here's the bottom line: Scamhunters use "you have to have your manuscript professionally edited" as a genetic marker for scammers. It's that reliable.

Wow. I looked up the exact phrase "have your manuscript professionally edited" on Google and got 105 hits. And you do not "have" to have your manuscript professional edited! :Headbang: And yes, I know there's a writing book out there that claims that you have to get your manuscript professional edited, but keep in mind that it was written by a book doctor.

By the way, another critique group on-line is Forward Motion at:
http://fmwriters.com

larocca
06-21-2011, 03:04 PM
As an editor, I'd like to help you find your voice, clean up all the clutter and misfires so nobody knows they ever happened, and make good writing great.

Many authors hire an editor thinking "I wrote some half-a** shit and don't feel like working any more. Make it great, make me published, make me rich."

Afraid it doesn't work that way. I happen to be very fortunate in that the best editor I've ever known is my wife. But that's not why I married her. But all authors need some input, and more people are probably better. "Workshop!" says the first page of this thread. I agree. That's how I got published. Workshopping and, most importantly, listening. Not always agreeing, but always thinking about it. To turn away genuine honest and even free input is just dumb.

In the late 1980s, Edit Ink scammed me out of over $500. Grr!

About a year later, an agent charged me $50 to edit my first 50 pages. And yeah yeah, agent who edits, red flag, run don't walk. But in his case, he taught me tremendous lessons about writing and self-editing which were worth more than $50. I like to think he wasn't a very successful agent, because he was a damn fine editor.

(On the last 30 of my 50 pages, he just kept writing "why are they still in the house?" and "get out of the house" and "they would leave the house." He was right. I just had to laugh, hard.)

Consider, too, that I can probably earn $50 in royalties on the book he edited. $500, probably not even in today's dollars.

Ya gotta get that input somewhere. Rejection letters are a bit lacking in detail. If you get that input by hiring an editor, that editor SHOULD be teaching you how to self-edit the manuscript you've hired him/her for and your future manuscripts as well. Also, price shop.

Finally, I am not shilling for business. I've retired from fiction editing. I edit business documents now, because usually the source of income isn't the document itself and they've got more money to spend. I can probably still proofread your manuscript, but you might get a better price from a university student. Or so the anecdotes tell me. I've never hired one.

Either way, keep on writing! Only you can write your story your way in your voice.

insi10
11-30-2016, 12:03 PM
I'm only just beginning my 51st year as a paid writer and editor, so feel free to discount what I say on the basis of "What does he know?" ... but I think you're drawing some overly broad generalizations from a narrow set of particulars. One thought: an editors is not a writer and a writer is not an editor, so your effort to equate writer and editor with painter-painter and engineer-engineer doesn't quite fit. In the business in which I've done most of my writing and editing (news), every news story went through copy editing and rewriting as a matter of absolute, no-exceptions course. I don't know how it is with book publishers (other than me, having self-published five books, two in tech and three on screenwriting), but I wish I could have afforded editors for those books, but I wrote all five to help my publishing companies pay the bills.

You commented: "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." That strikes me as a strange conclusion. How is it that a newbie writer can't learn by looking at the edits done by a (presumed) professional? Isn't that exactly what teachers do when they correct papers?

These days, one of my lines of business is proofreading screenplays. Visit my screenplay proofreading service page and scroll down to the first unsolicited testimonial, and you can see vividly what a bit of copy editing and a few editorial comments did for a screenwriter who hadn't sold a screenplay before (http://screenwritingcommunity.net/proofread.your.screenplay.html) -- helped him to a six-figure sale in two weeks.

I suspect that if all I did was proofread and provide no notes, some of my clients might not bother to look at what was changed and learn, but most do. One of my screenwriting clients, a good and prolific aspiring screenwriter from an English-speaking African country, has retained me to proof five of his works. By the third, I was seeing that he was following the suggestions I made in his first two.

gingerwoman
11-30-2016, 03:50 PM
I would just never hire an editor that wasn't recommended to me by other experienced authors.

JulieB
11-30-2016, 07:02 PM
I would just never hire an editor that wasn't recommended to me by other experienced authors.

This.

mrsmig
11-30-2016, 07:13 PM
insi 10, you do know you're addressing posters in a thread that's more than five years old, don't you?

Cyia
11-30-2016, 07:37 PM
I'm only just beginning my 51st year as a paid writer and editor, so feel free to discount what I say on the basis of "What does he know?" ... but I think you're drawing some overly broad generalizations from a narrow set of particulars. One thought: an editors is not a writer and a writer is not an editor,

I guess even someone starting their 51st year as a paid editor can make a mistake or two, but since you're using this post to highlight your proofreading skills, you might want to do a read-through before you hit "post."

And every writer IS their own editor. You aren't the final editor or the copyeditor, but you DO need to be able to edit your submission draft without outside help.