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Observations on Choosing an Editor

Discussion in 'Publishing' started by BWFoster78, May 18, 2015.

  1. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    In another thread, it was suggested that I document my journey in choosing an editor for the edification of forum members. This thread is really going to be more about sharing an experience rather than seeking advice, but always feel free to comment on what I could have done better. I'll try to remember it for next time :)

    This morning, I posted on Elance a solicitation for an editor. I modified the query from the other post based on some of the comments that I received, but, overall, the general tone and content didn't change.

    A few hours later, I had 22 proposals.

    The hard part now is choosing among them. Some observations:

    1. My budget for a 125k work is between $600 and $800. Of the 22 proposals thus far, 18 generally fell within that range.

    2. No matter how much you try to tell people exactly what you want, including specifying that you expect a sample edit of the chapter you attached, a small percentage of respondents are not going to comply. That makes it easy to exclude them.

    3. The sample is the main thing I use in determining who to go with.

    4. One of these two things is true: a) I am worse at accepting praise than criticism OR b) a lot of respondents feel that their best bet to get you to pick them is to blow smoke up your behind.

    5. Some of the "editors" are easy to rule out. One guy wanted to charge me the full $800. His "sample edit" had only one comment, and that one was dubious at best.

    6. The hardest part of the whole deal is figuring out: a) this particular thing the editor is commenting on is okay and the editor just doesn't get it OR b) I screwed this up big time, and I'm just not seeing it.

    7. 6 is mitigated somewhat by having 22 people responding. If only one of the edits mentions something, I can be more assured that it is the editor's problem.

    8. At this point, I have 5 people still in the running, and I expect more responses through the day/night. It's going to be tough to make a decision, but, overall, I think you can absolutely get good editing help for my budget.

    9. Regarding 8, I did have a couple of the editors say that they normally charge more, but that they're willing to go with a lower number because my prose was pretty clean. Not sure if they were just blowing smoke, though :)

    EDIT 10. (Forgot this one) Criticism seems to fall into one of three categories. a) The editor is smoking crack. b) I was smoking crack. c) Someone was smoking crack, but I'm not sure who.

    End of first installment. Tune in later/tomorrow for more.

    Thanks.

    Brian
     
    Last edited: May 18, 2015
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  2. psychotick

    psychotick Auror

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    Hi,

    Can I just add one more selection criteria. After you've got all the technical skills worked out, engage in some chit chat. It doesn't have to be a lot. But you want to get a basic feel for the editor. Editing for me is a conversation. Yeah there are things that are obvious mistakes and have to go. But a lot of it is about style and you need someone you think can understand your style and where you're coming from. Who if necessary can discuss the issues with you.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
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  3. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    Good point.

    One editor that I'm considering threw the sink at me as far as potential changes, including some I deliberately chose to do differently. She made it clear, however, that I could tell her chapter by chapter what things that I prefered she leave alone.

    So on one hand, I think it might be very annoying at times to have her point out something that is clearly within my style. On the other hand, maybe the security of having her be that thorough is a good thing.

    Tough, tough decisions ahead of me.

    And I thought which rookie to take at 1.3 in my fantasy football dynasty draft was tough!

    Thanks.

    Brian

    EDIT: I took your advice to heart and sent a message to each of the editors who are still in serious contention. Narrowed it down to 3 of the 24 submissions thus far. Ended up deciding against the lady I talked about above.
     
    Last edited: May 18, 2015
  4. MineOwnKing

    MineOwnKing Maester

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    You're missing a zero from your editing budget.
     
  5. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    I'm up to 27 proposals. The lady I think I'm going to choose has been editing for 25 years - most freelance but got her start working for a publisher.
     
  6. psychotick

    psychotick Auror

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    Hi MOK,

    $600 to $800 is cheap but ten times that? That would be excessive. Quotes for my books have ranged usually between 2 and 3k though some have been cheaper.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  7. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    There should be a button for thanking the whole thread.

    I'm at the stage of choosing an editor myself. Both the procedure and the numbers here have been illuminating. I hereby resolve to do the same as I go through the torture ... er, process.
     
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  8. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    I don't think they're blowing smoke. You've already been through an editor, so it should be reasonably clean. And editing submissions can be pretty bad. There was an episode of Writing Excuses where the other authors were kind of chuckling about how bad the prose is in even Sanderson's first drafts. Just think about the kind of stuff they've got to see.
     
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  9. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    I think think a little of both is probably true.

    Some editors on Elance absolutely will try to praise an author in order to try to get the job. I think, though, that these are relatively few and easily spotted by the lack of substance in their proposal.

    On the other hand, I think that the sheer weight of the number of compliments has made me feel I'm on the right track. At this point, I don't feel like I'm going to be doing a complete rewrite. More just spit and polish, though I'm sure some chapters will need more intensive work.

    Thanks for the comment.

    Brian
     
  10. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    A couple of editing questions:

    1. Is there any moral, ethical, or legal consideration regarding using advice from sample edits when you don't end up choosing that editor? Free to use or should you try to avoid it?

    2. I'm up to 31 responses. Should I message all 30 to let them know I didn't choose them or just award the job to the person I want?

    Thanks.

    Brian
     
  11. T.Allen.Smith

    T.Allen.Smith Staff Moderator

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    Should be:
    That'll be $5, please.
     
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  12. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    Don't pay it! He's trying to rip you off! That wasn't worth more than 20¢.
     
  13. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    Either of you have comments on post 10? Hate the last post on a page as it sometimes gets missed, and I really need some insight.

    Thanks.

    Brian
     
  14. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    I don't think it's necessary to tell all the other people you chose someone else. From what I understand, Elance doesn't expect you to do that. However, I don't know the etiquette. I've submitted to jobs on their before and never got any response.
     
  15. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    I saw it but wasn't confident enough in an answer.

    1. I think there wouldn't be an issue unless maybe they wrote whole sentences that you wanted to lift.

    2. I don't know the expectations there.
     
  16. T.Allen.Smith

    T.Allen.Smith Staff Moderator

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    Well, if it were me, I'd consider any editing given in a bid as free advice. I wouldn't hesitate to use it if it was good for the story.

    Secondly, if possible, and not too difficult, I would contact the people not hired for the job. I'd do this for three reasons:

    1) It's the professional thing to do. You do want to be viewed as a professional.

    2) You may wind up using them sometime in the future on a different project. Therefore, you'd want them to submit bids again in the future, & not just think, "Oh, I remember him. He never a responds, so why bother."

    3) If an editor knew they weren't going to get a job they wanted, it may change their bid. Not saying that's a determining factor, but if it was between candidates where all else was equal and one I wasn't going to hire reduced the bid by $100, it might change your mind.
    Give them that opportunity. Even if you're dead set on hiring the first choice, it's a good business practice.

    Hope that helps.
     
  17. Russ

    Russ Istar

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    I have never worked with elance, but I agree that you should let people know that their service was not the one selected.

    Considering the large number of responses in future you might wish to consider a statement that "Only those considered for the project will receive a response to their bid." to save yourself the work.

    I don't see any legal problem is using the suggestions they made to you in their bids.
     
  18. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    Cool. Thanks for all the answers.

    EDIT: I responded to 29 of the 31 editors. The other two are still in contention. I'm pretty confident that I'm going to choose a particular one of them, but the other didn't give me a sample. To this point, I've been disregarding those that didn't give samples, but I liked what she said in the proposal and gave her a chance. I should be able to make my final decision later today.

    I think I'm going to make edits based on all the comments.

    I won't get back around to that for a couple of weeks, though, so, if anyone thinks that's a horrendous idea, please speak up.
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2015
  19. psychotick

    psychotick Auror

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    Hi,

    I'd contact them simply as a matter of common courtesy. Speaking as an author who has gone the agent route, one of the worst things ever is simply not getting responces from prospective agents and then thinking to yourself day after day - is this a no or are they just slow? It doesn't have to be much - just a form email. But I would hate to leave others hanging as I have been left before.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  20. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    I do agree it is good to say something, but I have noticed on Elance not everyone does this. Maybe I submitted to some people that just had too high of a volume.
     
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