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Thoughts on hiring an editor? (2 Viewers)

Offeiriad

Senior Member
I have a couple of friends who are, or were, editors. Recently other friends who have seen my writing have asked me for help, they have both written autobiographies, when i have mentioned this to my editor friends and said "I am not qualified" their response was "No one is".

When I worked as an editor years ago, the friend who got me the job was editing and her background was insurance. If you don't have a degree in English or even journalism, all you need to do is buy a few grammar textbooks.
 

Loulou

WF Veterans
Tiamat my dear, I'd say don't. You are a strong enough writer to sort out grammar and nits and stuff. With regards pacing and the such, again an able writer like you can do that. I'd say let your book breathe. That is put it away for a few months. Then come back afresh. It's amazing what you see with new eyes. That's how I edited my novels, a few times over. I absolutely cannot understand any writer parting with thousands of pounds for an editor to do what they can and should be able to do themselves. Plus it makes no practical sense - an advance for a novel these days, should it be lucky enough to be picked up by a publisher, is generally no more than a few thousand. And that's the big publishers too. So why lay out what you might never even get back? A writer who expects to make a career out of it should learn their craft. And that means editing as well as writing. I wouldn't want someone else to do it for me. Might as well roll up my sleeves and learn the hard way.
 

Loulou

WF Veterans
I use my guy to glance at my short stories if I'm sending them off to a competition that I really really want to win. Just to make sure I've got everything correct etc, he gives a lot of good feedback and I've learned a lot from having a professional give me his opinions. For a full edit on a short story I usually pay about £40, I've shopped around and most prices come at around this. I chose my guy because he made time for me, didn't feel like I was pestering him with my little jobs.

In a nut shell I would highly recomend it if you are planning to submit to agents, I'm certainly going too. If you're self publishing I would say it's a must.

Hope this helps

Of course your guy made time for you - you're paying him!

But seriously if a writer can't even edit their own short story, then I genuinely and seriously don't understand the point in them writing them? I'm really baffled. How hard is it to edit say 2000 words? Seems unfair anyway to enter a competition with a piece that had paid 'help.'
 

Potty

WF Veterans
How hard is it to edit say 2000 words?

For me? Pretty hard. I go through my work with a fine tooth comb and I still miss errors. Maybe I'm a little dysle...dislecks... can't think like you guys. My editor doesn't do my work for me, he just provides the education I missed while at school. I'm looking into English courses so there may come a time when I don't need him, but for now I need someone to tell me where I've made mistakes. He isn't just my editor, he is also a mentor (but as you say, so long as I keep paying him). It's help I need and I'm not ashamed to admit it :D

Of course your guy made time for you - you're paying him!

Ah, by this I meant he didn't get impatient with my general noobishness. Had a couple of prospective people talk to me like a minor annoyance.

Seems unfair anyway to enter a competition with a piece that had paid 'help.'

Again, I'm not asking him to write the story for me, just glance over it and make sure I'm not going to get rejected out of hand for some silly mistake that I should have caught myself. It's no different to asking a friend look over your stories. Only minor difference is the guy I ask has a better grasp of English over my friends.

I was wondering when this would turn into a "You don't need one" "Yes you do!" discussion :D

Everyone needs and editor at some stage in their writing career. The book you've had accepted by your agent will no doubt get several edits from professionals before it's sent to a publisher. It's just personal choice/own limitations that govern at what stage you employ one.
 

Terry D

Retired Supervisor
I've been in this discussion before so I'm stating neutral on the "do you or don't you need" position. It about individual ability and confidence. Some of you may find this article interesting.

I am your editor | Writing | Caro Clarke - writer

Nice link, Baron. I popped in there and didn't leave until I'd read three of her articles. Good, pragmatic stuff!

Oh, and about hiring an editor; I know my book/story will get its turn under the knife before it gets published, but the only person I want suggesting changes, or restructuring, is the person who will be paying me for those changes. Getting someone to proof is fine, as are beta readers, but not a full edit. That's between me and my publisher. Just my opinion.
 

justbishop

Senior Member
Nice link, Baron. I popped in there and didn't leave until I'd read three of her articles. Good, pragmatic stuff!

Oh, and about hiring an editor; I know my book/story will get its turn under the knife before it gets published, but the only person I want suggesting changes, or restructuring, is the person who will be paying me for those changes. Getting someone to proof is fine, as are beta readers, but not a full edit. That's between me and my publisher. Just my opinion.

What is the consensus on this if you're self-publishing? I'm leaning that way, and am torn between paying a pro for style/plot editing (which we really can't afford right now), and just having several good beta-readers go through it.

One of the beta readers I have in mind would also point out any and all spelling/grammatical errors, I'm sure.
 

Potty

WF Veterans
Personally if I was self publishing I would find me a proffesional. But as previously mentioned, this is becuase I have gaps in my education and I need someone to fill those in.

If you're super confident in your own ability and everyone you send the story too agree it's something special. I see no reason to pay for an edit if you're self publishing. I regret that this is an option closed to me :(
 

Terry D

Retired Supervisor
What is the consensus on this if you're self-publishing? I'm leaning that way, and am torn between paying a pro for style/plot editing (which we really can't afford right now), and just having several good beta-readers go through it.

One of the beta readers I have in mind would also point out any and all spelling/grammatical errors, I'm sure.

When self publishing it might come down to a financial decision. The vast majority of self published books make very little money, so the cost of the pro-edit could easily out weigh the potential profit. If you intent is to put considerable time and resources into marketing a self published book with the goal of financial success, then I think a professional editor would be a good idea. There are few books which do not benefit from the eyes and blue-pencil of a pro.

If publishing traditionally, that editor will work for the publishing house who considers your work. My book went through several beta readers, and uncountable edits by me before I self published, and even though it has been well received by readers, I'm sure a professional edit would help. My goal wasn't to sell thousands of books (that would be nice though!), it was to get the book into the hands of readers for feedback. I couldn't justify spending more for an edit than the book will ever make through its limited distribution.
 

justbishop

Senior Member
When self publishing it might come down to a financial decision. The vast majority of self published books make very little money, so the cost of the pro-edit could easily out weigh the potential profit. If you intent is to put considerable time and resources into marketing a self published book with the goal of financial success, then I think a professional editor would be a good idea. There are few books which do not benefit from the eyes and blue-pencil of a pro.

If publishing traditionally, that editor will work for the publishing house who considers your work. My book went through several beta readers, and uncountable edits by me before I self published, and even though it has been well received by readers, I'm sure a professional edit would help. My goal wasn't to sell thousands of books (that would be nice though!), it was to get the book into the hands of readers for feedback. I couldn't justify spending more for an edit than the book will ever make through its limited distribution.

Thank you for the info! It's nice to know that the idea of skipping a professional edit is not completely insane. I'm still very torn on whether or not to submit my piece to publishers. I know that long novelettes/short novellas like the one I'm finishing up are a hard sell, and I don't think I want it lumped into a collection or anthology.

I'm definitely not in it for the cash, it would just be nice if people (other than my friends and family) found a few hours of enjoyment from what I've written. A little yarn money now and then would be a nice bonus, though ;)
 

Bookkus

Senior Member
I really think if you dig through these forums and some of the other writing forums you can find some really good editors.
If you have any short stories hanging around you can always get them to edit the short story as a sort of interview to ensure they are good. Or read their past work.
I agree with the costs of a pro outweighing the earnings of self-publishing. If you don't have that kind of cash hanging around you might want to join a writers group. That's how my dad did most of his editing.
 

Loulou

WF Veterans
Maybe I'm a little dysle...dislecks... can't think like you guys. My editor doesn't do my work for me, he just provides the education I missed while at school. I'm looking into English courses so there may come a time when I don't need him, but for now I need someone to tell me where I've made mistakes. He isn't just my editor, he is also a mentor (but as you say, so long as I keep paying him). It's help I need and I'm not ashamed to admit it :D

Again, I'm not asking him to write the story for me, just glance over it and make sure I'm not going to get rejected out of hand for some silly mistake that I should have caught myself. It's no different to asking a friend look over your stories. Only minor difference is the guy I ask has a better grasp of English over my friends.

I was wondering when this would turn into a "You don't need one" "Yes you do!" discussion :D

Everyone needs and editor at some stage in their writing career. The book you've had accepted by your agent will no doubt get several edits from professionals before it's sent to a publisher. It's just personal choice/own limitations that govern at what stage you employ one.

Sorry to hear you have trouble, might be a bit dyslexic. But truly, you don't need to pay. That's my beef. Not editing, but paying. Post work in the Workshop - people give lots of help. Ask friends?

Of course everyone needs editing. But we should learn to do it ourselves first, or no publisher will even bother later. So many people want an easy option. All books we buy are edited. But they were done for nothing, by the publisher. I will say again, what the hell is the point in spending a couple of thousand pounds on an editing service, that can do no better job than you can if you learn, when you're never likely to make even half of that back on a book? It just makes no sense. None.

My book wasn't edited by my agent. It is with publishers now exactly as it was when I submitted it. And I truly believe that is because I edited it about ten times, probably more, letting it breathe in between, being harsh with it, getting friends to look at it, family. I worked and worked and worked and worked on it. Anyone can use the excuse of no education. Mine is limited. I never went to university. Only got a handful of GCSEs.

To be harsh, if we can't write (and that means editing too) then we can't hope to have a writing career. Of course, some people are writing for pleasure. And that's great. It's a wonderful, engaging and therapeutic hobby. But if that's the case there's no need to pay for an editor anyway.
 

Tiamat

Patron
Well, I have to say, Loulou's comments on the subject had me pretty much convinced that hiring an editor seems like a waste of money. But even though I figured she was right, I decided to try one more thing first: I requested a free sample edit.

In the ten pages or so that were edited, there were only a few red marks. And by "few," I mean that there were only about a half a dozen total. Then--and this is my favorite part--the editor who did the sample recommended that I pay for the exclusive $1,600 package, saying that she feels it would benefit my work immensely.

How does that saying go? "Don't call us; we'll call you." Yeah...
 

Offeiriad

Senior Member
Not every freelance editor is going to be like that and it's unfair to lump them all in the same pot. I certainly wouldn't appreciate being lumped into the same category as that person.
 

Potty

WF Veterans
I agree with offeiriad. I sent out 10 sample edits. Some of which were just silly in what they wanted as payment. I finally settled on one who charged fairly and seems nice to boot. Won't change him for anything now.

That is of course if you feel you want one. But as lou says, if you have the ability, why pay someone to tell you stuff you already know?
 

Tiamat

Patron
I see your point, Potty, and I appreciate the advice. But really, from what I've read, $1600 isn't an unfair price for a full edit on a 95,000 word manuscript. In fact, it falls right in the middle of the prices I've been quoted. And granted, I realize it was only a free sample, which is never as good as the paid-in-full product, but the changes that were made to my manuscript were things I really think I can handle on my own.

Plus, it's not like I'll never have the option to hire an editor if I don't do it right now. So, in the interest of being a poor person, I've decided to save my money, do the best I can with what I've got, and give it a try. If I'm rejected enough times (and by enough, I mean several dozen rejections and several re-edits of my own), then perhaps I'll reconsider. Perhaps.

Thank you though. :)
 

Potty

WF Veterans
If that's what works for you :D I wasn't trying to sell you the idea thought it might have sounded like it!

I wish I had your skill to self edit!
 

Kyle R

WF Veterans
I wish I had your skill to self edit!

I had that same mindset up until a few months ago, as I tended to simply write a piece and then slap it up in the workshop as soon as I typed the last period.

Then LouLou made an interesting comment. Let me see if I can find it...

Ah, here it is:

LouLou said:
editing is all part of this thing we do, and something that we learn only by doing

What you can take away from that little pearl of widsom is that editing is a skill, just like writing. The more you do it, the better you get at it.

PS: I've hidden a mistake somewhere in this post! Ten EDITOR POINTS if you can find it! :D
 

Potty

WF Veterans
I had that same mindset up until a few months ago, as I tended to simply write a piece and then slap it up in the workshop as soon as I typed the last period (Some dodgey way of spelling 'Full Stop').

Then LouLou made an interesting comment. Let me see if I can find it...

Ah, here it is:



What you can take away from that little pearl of widsom (Wisdom.) is that editing is a skill, just like writing. The more you do it, the better you get at it.

PS: I've hidden a mistake somewhere in this post! Ten EDITOR POINTS if you can find it! :D

God I feel like I'm back at school... but I'll bite! I saw two errors!
 
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Tiamat

Patron
I had that same mindset up until (double preposition--frowned on, waste of words) a few months ago, as I tended to simply write (split infinitive) a piece and then slap it up in (double preposition again) the workshop as soon as I typed the last period.

Then LouLou made an interesting comment. Let me see if I can find it...

Ah, here it is:



What you can take away from that little pearl of widsom (wisdom) is that editing is a skill, just like writing. The more you do it, the better you get at it.

PS: I've hidden a mistake somewhere in this post! Ten EDITOR POINTS if you can find it! :D

;)
 

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