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Freelance Editors: What are we lookng for?

Discussion in 'Publishing' started by PurpleNoxandPizzaDough, Jun 29, 2021.

  1. There are a lot of proofreaders and various editors who offer their services to writers and many work in particular genres. Many aren't that knowledgeable about what a manuscript polished enough to publish looks like, so it seems difficult to get one that does and can take you on as project. What do you do to determine whether or not the frelance editor is right for you? What else do you look for in a freelance editor, besides an affable attitude, knowledge about the fantasy/sci-fi market, and an affordable rate? I personally would go for one that educates me a little about how I can create better action beats. What about any of you?
  2. Lynea

    Lynea Sage

    I feel this. I feel this really hard right now. I've been overly nervous to approach editors because there's all these different services and packages and jargon to understand. Most of the time I don't really know what I want- I just want someone to make it better.

    But, to respond to your question, I just sort of knew my editor match when I ran into them. Mostly it was getting a feel for their voice and style through conversation. Along with that, I paid attention to the things they write and the books they read. The hobbies that interest them, etc. Considering those factors really helped my decision. :)
  3. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

    Hmmm, I look for an editor who corrects my mistakes, moves my commas around, and who will catch continuity errors, or things like...

    Editor: Umm, Mr. Rice?
    Me: Yessss, what bloody now?
    Editor: You used the wrong brother's name here.
    Me: $!#%!

    Editors in general aren't for knowing the market (hell, this probably isn't even possible unless they double as agent/publicist, at best it can be guessed) or teaching you how to write, they should be for cleanup. Need a writing coach? Hire one. Story editor? Hell, talk to me... just kidding, I don't have time. A publicist? Hire one. An agent (who may or may not know the market)? Hire one.

    What I did was find an editor who had decades in publishing, actually choosing books to publish and working with authors from that vantage. The coolest was that she'd worked with Piers Anthony... an affable fellow, I gather. Her voice? Why would I care? Umm, she wasn't going to write a single word for me and said so up front, namely because she said she couldn't write like me. But, that's how I'd prefer it anyhow. Books she reads? Nope, no idea, except I later learned that she didn't like Name of the Wind, so we got along swimmingly on that issue, heh heh. It did turn out we got along great, and spent hours BS'n on the phone, but the main thing was... she corrected my dumbass mistakes.
  4. Mad Swede

    Mad Swede Inkling

    Editors don't do market analyses of any sort - or shouldn't do. Their job is to edit your manuscript ready for publication, and that means what in English is called developmental editing and copy editing. Copy editing is mostly about correcting grammar and making minor text changes to improve readability. In my experience as a writer of fiction and factual texts, copy editing is more important in factual texts. Thats because a lot of the readability issues in fiction should be picked up in the developmental edit. Developmental editing is in my view more important, especially when you're first starting out as a fiction author. A good developmental editor will help you get the structure, continuity and pacing right, without changing your style of writing.

    When I first got picked up for publication I got to work with the woman who is still my editor. I was allowed (told, really) to choose my own editor and I ended up asking some author friends who they recommended. They suggested this woman and I got in touch with her. After quite a long chat and a look at some of my work she agreed to act as my editor. Its worked very well, mostly because she is both a graduate in Swedish language and literature as well as a published author in her own right (though she isn't a fantasy or SF author). She likes my writing style and the way my books combine fantasy and noir literature, which means she doesn't try to change my style in any way. What she does is a combination of developmental and copy editing, which I need because of my dyslexia. We get on well on a personal level, mostly because we have completely different interests and literary tastes - it is a very equal relationship. As for what it costs - my publisher pays.

    The final editing touch is proof reading before publication, and its something you should always hire someone to do if you're self publishing. I have a publisher, and they are the ones who organise the proof reading, because they're the ones who set the book ready for publication.
  5. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    I would add two other aspects to consider. One, what's the editor's schedule? Are they booked a month out? A year? How does that match with your writing timeline? With your cover artist's availability? Getting all schedules to optimal can be a real challenge.

    Two, is the editor timely? If you can, find out from other clients if this editor delivers a manuscript on time and is good about turnaround on revisions. A bad one can be ... really bad. I had one who never even finished. I didn't lose money, but I did lose time. Sometimes that's the more valuable commodity.
  6. Ned Marcus

    Ned Marcus Sage

    I'd ask for a sample edit (it's worth paying a small amount for this) so you can judge their style, and see if they're any good.
  7. Prince of Spires

    Prince of Spires Archmage

    First, you need to decide what kind of editor you want / need. Do you want someone to improve your plot or your prose? Do you just want to have someone correct your spelling mistakes? There's a few different kinds of edits and everyone has their own expertise. Once you've got that figured out, look for possible editors, have a chat with them where you ask them what they've worked on. Here you're looking for genre and style. If someone only edits Romance, don't give them your fantasy novel. But in the same way, if someone only edits grimdark urban fantasy, then don't give them your Tolkien-esque epic fantasy work.

    Ask for a sample edit. Depending on the kind of edit you want, they can edit a few pages of your manuscript or they can send you a critique they did for someone else. It's fine to pay a bit for this, but be wary of someone who doesn't want to do this (unless they come recommended by someone you trust). It's a lot of money just to trust someone's word. After all, there is no editor certification process. Anyone can claim they're great editors.

    Lastly, price. While it's not the end-all, it gives a clue about how much time your editor can invest in your manuscript. Of course, some work faster than others. But if someone is significantly cheaper or more expensive than everyone else, then that could be a red flag.
  8. Jac Buchanan

    Jac Buchanan Dreamer

    I have a few tips as an ex-editor:
    1. If you can't have their reliability verified by another author (that you know and trust) stick to those that accept payment via Paypal or other provider that has complaint protocols in case they don't deliver.
    2. A lot of high-quality editors will do a (limited) sample at no charge, and many others will negotiate on the sample cost.
    3. Always get samples from multiple editors, so that you can compare cost/quality.
    4. Before you publish, no matter how well it was proofread, still submit it for a sample proofread, as an independent quality check. You can decide from there is pro is still required (and yes, even if you had a pro do the proofreading. You have no idea the disasters I've seen - and what it has cost authors).
    Lynea likes this.
  9. mannersmanners

    mannersmanners Dreamer

    I used to be a freelance editor. If you want a really good, versatile editor look for certified editors. "Sfep" is a very popular place, and their roster typically contains highly competent and intelligent editors. If an editor you can afford offers substantive or developmental editing services, that would be a great choice. Most accredited editors are versatile and can shift seamlessly from fiction to non-fiction to academic manuscripts. From my experience, the best editors tend to have the following profile: (i) Masters or PhD in the Humanities (they tend to be more flexible and versatile compared to editors working in the physical sciences or statistics), (ii) experience editing commercial copy, newsletters, academic manuscripts, and fiction, (iii) involved in some capacity with a publishing house in addition to being an editor.
    The chances of finding such editors on reddit or upwork is rare. On the other hand, if you google "certified editors" you are more likely to find terrific editors. As many have said, they may not have a finger on the pulse of the market, but if you know what your manuscript should look like and if you are good at communicating as much, chances are these editors can significantly improve your work.

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