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Looking for an editor

Discussion in 'Chit Chat' started by skip.knox, Jun 25, 2015.

  1. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    I'm shopping around for editors and have noticed there is a huge variance in how they present themselves on the interwebs. As my research progressed I realized I was approaching them in the same rapid, superficial way I do when I scan for new books. I thought I'd share some of my impressions and behaviors, partly in case editor wannabes are watching, and partly to see how other folks shop editors.

    Where I look
    Goodreads. Google searching. Various editorial guilds and associations. Random recommendations.

    What sends me away
    - the editor has no web site, only an email or (worse) Twitter handle. It's like shopping for a plumber and you have to call him to find out anything. Sorry, there are too many other plumbers in the world.
    - no references. The web site *must* show books you've edited. Not testimonials, which rarely tell me anything. I want the actual books. With links. And covers.
    - Speaking of which, those had better be good covers. Nothing does more harm than showing me poorly-executed covers.
    - I'd like to see you do some work in fantasy, but that term covers a lot of ground. Trust me, if your web site trumpets your love of fantasy and you put garden gnomes all over it, I'm gone.
    - I need some sort of idea of rates. I know it's not a promise. I know rates vary. But when all you do is say let's talk, all I hear is that I'm in for a negotiation. Maybe I'll feel differently after I've worked with a few editors, but that's where I'm at right now.

    What keeps me around
    - credibility. I know I'm a newbie, but I don't want to work with one. Unfair, maybe, but there it is. I'm willing to pay the freight. See next point
    - rates are less important. Not irrelevant, but it's not the deciding factor for me. I'm not shopping on price. But I do need to see them.
    - genre. You say fantasy, but I want to make sure your experience is not all vampires or romance fantasy. A bonus is a solid background in European history. American history is irrelevant, sorry.
    - professionalism. This is the most subjective. It's simply my impression of the copy on your website, the tone of the writing, navigation, clarity, and so on.
    - if all that's in place, the clincher is a free look. I don't care how long, but I need to have the opportunity for you to see my work and for me to see your work. It's a first date--no promises, no commitments. No kissing. But I'm not going to spend my nickel without at least some sense that we can work together.

    That's it from the front lines so far. Anyone else care to share experiences?
  2. Russ

    Russ Istar

    My wife is a writer and we just went through the process of choosing her editor, and I at the same time did a bunch of research to find the one I will be using when life lets me get this book done.

    We focused on getting a top notch editor, there are tiers and we eliminated anybody not in the top tier. My wife is more serious about her writing than I am (and both more talented and has better craft) so we decided that we would not compromise on quality for price. In fact, there were a few who eliminated outright because we thought their rates were suspiciously low.

    Website and experience was important. Significant experience with a big five publisher was a must.

    Genre experience was a must. They must have edited authors that we respect in the genre in question. We also wanted an editor who had edited a good number of NYT bestsellers and award winners.

    We also did references for some of the candidates. We wanted to talk to some of the people they had edited for and find out about their experience.

    Because of our personalities we wanted someone who had a great sense of humour and a positive outlook on life.

    We did look a little at sample edits, but bizarrely enough the one we settled on we never did get a sample edit from.

    Luck did smile upon us, and despite the fact my wife writes in a different genre we landed an editor that we both plan to use. She has my wife's manuscript right now and we are waiting for the full report with baited breath. She did offer some thoughts on the first few chapters in a phone call early on, and we were quite impressed with her insight.
    Ankari likes this.
  3. Russ

    Russ Istar

    Thought I might update this and add in one factor I forgot.

    We both wanted an editor who had edited successful authors that we respect.

    Anyways, my wife got her initial feedback, it was 30 pages single spaced (on a novel about 400 pages long or a little less) and it was thorough, in depth and very helpful. She also got full line edits with a ton of notes within the line edits.

    We are very happy with the edits and ideas and how they were expressed.

    She is having lunch with her editor to brainstorm some sticking points and discuss the suggestions in detail as I type this.
    Ankari likes this.

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