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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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    Back to the original purpose of this thread (did I hijack my own thread? can one hijack their own thread?):

    I've narrowed it down to three candidates. I don't think that I can go wrong with any of them, but I want to make the right choice. Hopefully, typing out my thoughts below will help with that. Note: last night I sent each of them the question - how will your comments make my book more of a page turner and help make more of an emotional connection between the reader and my characters? Only one has responded thus far.

    Editor A -

    25 years experience editing fiction, including actually being employed by someone in that capacity. She made fewer comments than most of the editors, but all were spot on and changes that would make the scene stronger. She said stuff like "this (paragraph) is just a little boring" and "I can always tell when a new writer thinks description will add to a sentence." Basically, I found all her comments to be extremely relevant and most addressed issues that no other editors did. She's also been doing this a long time. She's going to tell me what works, probably in lieu of telling me what I want her to tell me.

    Editor B -

    She has a degree in copy editing but a lot less actual experience; she also has experience judging literary contests, which I thought might add something to her take on things. Seems more eager to please, and her sample edit was more the kitchen sink approach; she made a lot of nitpicky comments, so a lot more thorough but maybe not as impactful. One thing I liked about her is that she really seemed to dig my story.

    Editor C -

    15 years of experience editing, much of that with Wizards of the Coast. I have to be honest; that geeks me out a little. He's worked with RA Salvatore. His comments are less kitchen sink than B and less impactful than A. Good middle ground? Besides the cool work experience, he made a character comment that shows he's really concerned about how I portray that character while being patient enough to see how it plays out before considering it a problem.

    To be honest, right now I'm heavily leaning toward A. Again, though, I think all have the knowledge and experience necessary to help me become a better writing and help make my book better. I do think that A will be slightly harder (?) to work with than B and C, but maybe that's a good thing?
     
  2. T.Allen.Smith

    T.Allen.Smith Staff Moderator

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    "Writer" not "writing".... That'll only cost ya $2.

    Seriously though, if it were me, I'd be leaning the same way as you.

    A
    C
    B

    A seems like they're gonna give you all they have. C sounds good too, but there are some unknowns there, regardless of experience with WotC.

    I wouldn't even be considering B, given what you've said here.
     
  3. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    T.Allen,

    Regarding B, I probably didn't articulate my thoughts well enough.

    The real advantage is that she'll be willing to put in more time for the same money. Since she has the book-learnin' down, will that extra time compensate for the lack of experience relative to the other editors?

    I don't know, and I'm leaning toward A as I said. I do think that she's at least worthy of consideration, though.

    She's the first person to respond to my questions, too, and I thought her response showed a good level of knowledge.

    C is out, btw. His response to the question didn't meet my needs.
     
  4. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

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    For what it's worth. Your listing gives me the impression you may have already made up your mind about A, you're just not quite ready to admit it to yourself yet. ;)


    ...and by the sound of it, that's what I'd go for as well.
     
  5. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    Svrtnsse,

    I've pretty much made up my mind, but I would like to hear her response to the question. If she is unwilling/unable to focus on the goals I want to achieve, I may be better off going with B. Assuming her answer doesn't totally jinx the thing, I'll go with her.
     
  6. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

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    Roger that. Best of luck regardless. :)
     
    BWFoster78 likes this.
  7. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    "A" seems like the clear choice for you right now. At this point, having already been through an editor, I think you need to focus on what's important.

    It might be great that B wants to do more work. But you need to figure something out: Are you doing this to learn how to write or to produce the better novel? Because more is only better if you still need to learn. If you want the better book, then go with the editor who will focus on the important things, and trust yourself for the rest.
     
  8. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    Devor,

    At this point in my writing "career," I'm very much still focused on learning over the quality of the novel. There is so much to learn, however, that I've really focused on the two areas I've mentioned. I value being taught how to better my writing in those areas over improving the book.

    I still think A can do that better than B but only if she's willing.

    Thanks.

    Brian
     
  9. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    Alright, done.

    I selected Editor A, as those of you waiting with baited breath surely anticipated.

    Man, I really have no idea if I did the right thing. Truthfully, if I had $2400 to spend, I'm not sure I wouldn't just hire three different $800 editors...
     
  10. T.Allen.Smith

    T.Allen.Smith Staff Moderator

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    "Bated breath".... That's a total of $9 now.

    Annoying yet? Probably, but it strikes me as funny in an editing thread. I'm sick like that.

    I'll accept a free copy in trade. When it's ready. You'll get a review.
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2015
  11. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    If you had $2,400 to spend, you could do better than that. I'll trust your judgement that you need this second editor, but with $1,600 to spend, I would be looking at setting up a sales page (with banner art, author photo, etc), hiring a publicist, and sending out hard copies.

    I think you'll learn quite a bit by moving on to your next novel.
     
  12. MineOwnKing

    MineOwnKing Maester

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    Yeah,

    My last one was up there in price. But, that included a full developmental edit, plus a proofread by another editor.

    Add $800.00 for cover art and $300 for conversion.

    About $800 for marketing.

    $7,000.00 for 114,000 words.
     
  13. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    Good deal. I accept!

    Given the editing process so far, I may even be able to finish ahead of schedule, maybe as early as mid August.
     
  14. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    I hope so. I'm planning on taking a break from epic fantasy and writing a superhero novel next.
     
  15. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    Ouch!

    What's your ROI for that?
     
  16. MineOwnKing

    MineOwnKing Maester

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    Cash is king.

    Don't sweat the petty things, pet the sweaty things.
     
  17. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    More Observations about Choosing an Editor:

    I've been in a lot of internet discussions about editors. There's a camp that says, "You absolutely should not self publish without procuring an editor." I, obviously, side with that camp.

    Within that camp, though, there seems to be an opinion that, not only do you have to procure an editor, you need a really expensive editor.

    I think that there exist editors that are really, really good and have a ton of experience taking manuscripts and turning them into bestsellers. I have no knowledge of these people, but my guess is that they are quite expensive and are employed by the big publishers.

    My guess is that those saying you need to pay for quality editors are themselves only able to afford the midlist editors.

    So does a midlist editor provide 3 times the value of someone who you find on Elance for $800? Maybe. I really have no way of knowing. I'm highly skeptical, though.

    What I do believe is that, whether you go midlist or bargain basement, you need to do everything you can to make sure the editor is going to fit your needs. I also think that the bargain basement is divided into sections:

    1. People who are building their resume - An editor with a degree but no experience may be willing to charge less in order to get that experience. The right one of these people might be a great value.

    2. People who will give you less time - What you're actually paying an editor for is their time. Maybe for less money, you get a lot of quality for the amount of time they put in, but less time spent. This can still be a good value to you. As long as they focus on the most important things, your book and writing will still be greatly improved.

    3 People who have no idea what they're doing - Pay a lot of attention to the sample edit. It's your biggest tool in determining value. If the comments don't ring true, move on to the next editor regardless of the amount.
     
  18. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    Personally, I would look at some of these posts Micheal J. Sullivan has done. They are stickied somewhere in this forum section. I think he talks about how much he paid for an editor and cover art. If you're going to follow someone down the self-publishing path, he's one to follow.

    Edit: Well, I thought they were there. But he has talked about this before and has posted lots of info about his path as a hybrid writer across the internet and here on the forums.
     
  19. PaulineMRoss

    PaulineMRoss Inkling

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    I'm not as convinced about the value of a structural editor as you are, Brian. I tend to see them as a throwback to the grand old days before self-publishing existed in any meaningful form, and trade publishers were the only legitimate way to go. Then the editor was a necessary conduit between the writer, working (possibly) alone in his drafty garret to produce his Art, and the publisher, producing a marketable product. The editor, basically, knocked the writer's work into marketable shape, and may have been the only way for the writer to improve his craft.

    Nowadays, with so much information available online, including forums like this, online critique groups, and all the market analysis anyone can eat, much of the craft can be learned before the manuscript is even submitted. Not that a good editor won't improve the work, but that there's less need for editing (in most cases).

    The other big, big problem is that, unless you're very rich or lucky, you only get one editor. That's one individual telling you how to change your book. I am far, far happier with several beta readers, frankly, who do the same job but give me a variety of opinions to think about.
     
    mt_jupiter likes this.
  20. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    I suppose it depends on the writer. If you're good enough at what you're doing not to need an editor to handle those things for you, then you can put the work into marketable shape yourself. If you're not able to do that yourself, you have to be able to recognize it and recognize that you need the help of someone who can‚Äč do it.
     
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