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What do editors do?

editing_for_authors
Editing for authors: because every writer needs a good editor.

Cathy C

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It depends on what you mean by "cleaning up." I'm not a big fan of hiring someone to correct spelling, punctuation and grammar because it's wasted money--a sham that will fib to the publisher about your ability to continue to write for them without further paid services. Let's face facts. If you need an editor now to fix these things, what happens when it's time to rewrite whole sections at the publisher's direction? Will you then have to use your advance money to pay a freelance editor a SECOND time? No, that's not your book editor's job (the one at the publisher.)


For this sort of thing, your money would be far better spent buying books on grammar or taking a class at your local college to improve your skills. That's a "forever" thing that will benefit every single book you write after this one.

However, if you're talking about a "book doctor" that will critique the book for plot, characterization and the like, these can be very useful for a first time writer. This goes beyond basic knowledge that can be gained in a class to the heart of the individual product in your hands and how to make it sell. Expect to spend from $1-4 per PAGE for a critique of this type. Watch the person's qualifications--ask if they don't offer it. Merely a college degree isn't enough (even if it's in literature). You need someone who earned a LIVING working as an editor for a publisher. They know what needs to happen for a book to make it to the shelf.

That might be something we want to look into -- finding some quality editors that we can refer people here to. Hmmm... let me think about that.

Good luck!
 

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I want someone to review what i have written after i clean it up myself to the best of my ability. Someone with a fresh view point who can be brutally honest when needed.
 

bloemmarc

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Hi Cathy.

i have rather dumb question. What part of the editing does the in-house editor do?


Cathy C said:
It depends on what you mean by "cleaning up." I'm not a big fan of hiring someone to correct spelling, punctuation and grammar because it's wasted money--a sham that will fib to the publisher about your ability to continue to write for them without further paid services. Let's face facts. If you need an editor now to fix these things, what happens when it's time to rewrite whole sections at the publisher's direction? Will you then have to use your advance money to pay a freelance editor a SECOND time? No, that's not your book editor's job (the one at the publisher.)


For this sort of thing, your money would be far better spent buying books on grammar or taking a class at your local college to improve your skills. That's a "forever" thing that will benefit every single book you write after this one.

However, if you're talking about a "book doctor" that will critique the book for plot, characterization and the like, these can be very useful for a first time writer. This goes beyond basic knowledge that can be gained in a class to the heart of the individual product in your hands and how to make it sell. Expect to spend from $1-4 per PAGE for a critique of this type. Watch the person's qualifications--ask if they don't offer it. Merely a college degree isn't enough (even if it's in literature). You need someone who earned a LIVING working as an editor for a publisher. They know what needs to happen for a book to make it to the shelf.

That might be something we want to look into -- finding some quality editors that we can refer people here to. Hmmm... let me think about that.

Good luck!
 

Cathy C

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Think of an in-house book editor as a clothing designer. They look at the market (the reading public), look at the cloth available to use (manuscripts) and sketch out their vision to sell the final product. Then they hand the sketch back to the maker of the cloth (the author) and say, "Here, do this and I can sell your cloth to the public." The author makes the changes based on the editor's vision and returns it to be accepted or have alterations made to the sketch.

Now, the copyeditor is sort of like the seamstress. They make sure what the author sends back has tight stitches, and buttons and zippers where needed and the pockets open and the seams lay straight.

Does that make sense?
 

bloemmarc

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Yes, thank you Cathy. That does make more sense.

I have another question though.

I was reading the Silmarillion by J.R.R Tolkein, and noticed that the book had been edited by his son Christopher Tolkein, as have amny of the others tales of Middle Earth.
Does this mean christophr is an editor with The Houghton Mifflin Company, or is it just because of the family's standing in the writing world, and everything?
I know this is kind of an off the wall question.



Cathy C said:
Think of an in-house book editor as a clothing designer. They look at the market (the reading public), look at the cloth available to use (manuscripts) and sketch out their vision to sell the final product. Then they hand the sketch back to the maker of the cloth (the author) and say, "Here, do this and I can sell your cloth to the public." The author makes the changes based on the editor's vision and returns it to be accepted or have alterations made to the sketch.

Now, the copyeditor is sort of like the seamstress. They make sure what the author sends back has tight stitches, and buttons and zippers where needed and the pockets open and the seams lay straight.

Does that make sense?
 

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Call it whatever you want, but I do not think a writer can edit their own writing. I have an editor, and yes I do pay her, and wouldn't think of doing anything without her looking over my work. Not only does she check for grammar and all that, but if the story needs more umph, she tells me and even plugs what she thinks will work, then leave it up to me to use it, change it to suit my taste or simply not use it at all.

My editor has been doing this for years, she's very reasonable and I will continue to use her as long as she is available.

The reason I don't think a writer can edit their own writing is because the brain sees what it wants, not what is actually there, but what it thinks is. Since the brain controls the eyes, then the eyes agrees with the brain. It takes someone, such as an editor, to read over the work and point out the things that we, as the author, never saw being there. I know that a critique person can do this, but I don't think as good as an editor.

Of course, not all persons agrees with my way of thinking and that's okay. Please don't knock me for thinking this way.

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Some writers can edit their own writing: I know of one woman who writes and publishes books regularly, and who also works as a top level editor for a publishing house. But, agreed, it's not the norm.

There are few books that don't benefit from being tweaked (or hacked) by a professional editor, but isn't the publishing house supposed to supply that service, just as they provide copyeditors and cover art designers? I wouldn't recommend authors =pay= for an editor out of their own pockets.
 

bloemmarc

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If she's already a top level editor, then ofcourse, she'd have more skill than most to edit than own work.



Unimportant said:
Some writers can edit their own writing: I know of one woman who writes and publishes books regularly, and who also works as a top level editor for a publishing house. But, agreed, it's not the norm.

There are few books that don't benefit from being tweaked (or hacked) by a professional editor, but isn't the publishing house supposed to supply that service, just as they provide copyeditors and cover art designers? I wouldn't recommend authors =pay= for an editor out of their own pockets.
 

Cathy C

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Unimportant said:
There are few books that don't benefit from being tweaked (or hacked) by a professional editor, but isn't the publishing house supposed to supply that service, just as they provide copyeditors and cover art designers? I wouldn't recommend authors =pay= for an editor out of their own pockets.

Which service, Unimportant? See, this is where a lot of new writers get confused. What the in-house editor generally does NOT do is do the hands-on job of writing. Writing includes originally creating and making corrections to the plot, characters, POV, dialogue and narrative. That's the author's job. It says so right in every contract: "The author agrees to deliver a complete and legible copy of a Book in form and content acceptable to the Publisher." The AUTHOR agrees to do this---to take the editor's comments of what will make the manuscript acceptable and add/alter the existing content to fit. If the editor says, "make this word become that word on Page 57," then the AUTHOR does so. If the editor says, "I don't like the whole scene in Las Vegas. Find another way for the hero to meet the villain," then the AUTHOR rewrites that scene. Not the editor. The editor is the director of the play, the conductor of the orchestra, the manager of the department store. They don't dirty their hands with learning the lines, or reading the sheet music or stocking the dresses. They just tell the author to do it and expect it will happen.

Make sense? :)
 

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bloemmarc said:
Does this mean christophr is an editor with The Houghton Mifflin Company, or is it just because of the family's standing in the writing world, and everything?
I know this is kind of an off the wall question.

Christopher Tolkien had access to his father's uncollected papers, journals, drafts, and letters.

He selected portions of those, arranged them, and presented them to the publisher.
 
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Cathy, yes, that was exactly the service I meant: an editor provides the author with instructions of what needs to be changed in the manuscript, so that the author can rewrite it and make the ms acceptable. I assumed that was the service the originator of this thread was seeking when s/he asked where to hire an editor (as opposed to a ghostwriter). Sorry I wasn't more clear on that originally.
 

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I used an editor in the UK in 2004 for my fantasy novel and was happy with the outcome.

PM me for his details if you are interested
 

bloemmarc

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I see, well he did a good job.

It is hard to believe that anyone in the fantasy realm of writing will ever reach the level of writing his father achieved.



James D. Macdonald said:
Depending on what you're after, check Nancy Hanger, Josepha Sherman, or Laura Anne Gilman.

Anyone you get, check their references.
 

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bloemmarc said:
i have rather dumb question. What part of the editing does the in-house editor do?
Mind if I give you my own answer?

It's different with every author, and a bit different with every book. In one case, the editor might write an epic-length editorial letter, commenting on the logic and content of each scene, and how it affects the overall balance and flow of the book. Same editor, different author, might do a fairly close line edit of the opening and closing chapters (where that author has a slight tendency to put a foot wrong), but only query potential errors in logic and continuity in the main narrative sequence. Same editor, still another author, might do a lot of talking in advance of the writing, then tighten up specific images and sentences in the final version, but leave the underlying structure alone.

There are infinite variations. I could multiply instances all night.

The commonest reason I see professional authors hire outside editors is that the author's dyslexic or otherwise has difficulties with text, but is talented enough to make the editing worth the cost and effort.
 

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bloemmarc said:
I was reading the Silmarillion by J.R.R Tolkein, and noticed that the book had been edited by his son Christopher Tolkein, as have amny of the others tales of Middle Earth.
Does this mean christophr is an editor with The Houghton Mifflin Company, or is it just because of the family's standing in the writing world, and everything?
I know this is kind of an off the wall question.

There are two basic sorts of editors; one kind is functioning as a scholar, an academic expert with specific skills and knowledge regarding a particular author, work, or subject. For instance, if you look at a Shakespeare play, you'll notice that there's always a specific editor named. That "edition" of the play is a particular editor's attempt to figure out, based on the early and best copies of the play we have, and the editors knowledge about the play, Shakespeare and the era, what the "best" version of the play would be. That's the kind of editor Christopher Tolkien is.

The other kind of editor works for a publisher.
 

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