It’s been bothering me for the past week. Ever since a friend came to me and said he’d paid $1200 for comprehensive edits, only to follow the few suggestions, and get ripped a new one in the reviews.

Friends don’t come to me and ask me to edit. They know it’s not right, but when something like that happens, they do come running. I told them to. He sent me the original Track Changes he received.

I spent four hours cussing, and damn near threw the laptop. My friend lost $1200 to an asshole who had absolutely no fucking clue how to edit.

So I did a little research. The “editor” had no real experience. They once edited in their high school newspaper, took a few creative writing classes, and had friends write up how great an editor they were for rough draft MS. In other words, the little bastard was great at being a critique partner, but was never an editor in any professional sense.

Now, I did have a long talk with my friend. I’ve warned them, told them the questions to ask, etc. He screwed up, and had a hand in the stupidity. A very expensive lesson learned. And NO, I’m not naming names.

So what do you do? What do you look for? What questions need to be asked straight up? What is a decent amount to charge?

Let’s take a look.

First – go over here: http://chasingthecrazies.wordpress.com/2013/10/28/choosing-an-editor-a-guest-post-by-dahlia-adler/  Dahlia makes some damn good points, and a lot nicer than I do.

Second – grow a pair. What does that mean? Simple, it’s time to learn to say, “No.” I give out samples of my work all the time. An author gives me three chapters, I edit them, and send it back. I also give an estimate of cost. I promptly, and politely, answer all emails within twenty-four hours. If an author says, “No” I don’t bitch, or try to push them. We must work as a team. If we don’t, defecation occurs, and usually ends up on the ceiling.

Don’t hire an editor based on cost. Period. End of sentence. Never, ever. Do not hire a technical editor as a line editor. Do not hire a copy editor as a developmental editor. Learn the damn difference between editors. It isn’t hard. It’s called Google/Bing/Yahoo! … use it. Don’t ask for a beta read and expect a comprehensive edit. Don’t think a proofread will catch all the errors. YOU, the author, are responsible for knowing what you need, and what they mean. If you don’t … fucking ask! It isn’t that hard.

Check all the damn references. Google all of them, look for relationships outside of writing. Someone editing for Aunt Edna is going to get glowing reviews for crappy edits. After all, the nephew/editor is family. Or the writing friend from down the street, who wants to help get the person a job outside of fast food. The list goes on … and on … and on …

What associations are they part of? For how long? Ask, damn it. It isn’t a guarantee, but it does mean they at least check for new stuff regularly. After all, paying that much means you at least try to get your money’s worth.

Are they willing to send a sample? If not, walk away. Just walk away.

The sample: did they completely ink up every single sentence, or kill the voice? Did they sterilize it? If so, walk away. Did they use track changes? If not, walk away. Did they send you an email with the sample, going over ALL of it – GOOD and bad? If not, walk away.

If you want to pay $1200 simply for ego stroking, damn, toss money my way, I can do that too! Because if the sample has minimal red ink, that is all you are paying for. Nobody is a perfect writer. Nobody. My writing bleeds when my editor gets a hold of it. You see what you wanted to write, not necessarily what you wrote. And very little pointers, grammar checks, spelling checks – they didn’t pay a bit of attention. For $1200 they better pay damn good attention.

Get a copy of their resume, and check as much as possible. Did they edit in any professional capacity? Newspaper, press, etc. As in a trained and PAID position … high school and college papers don’t count. They give a little experience, but nothing like you need.

If you are going to self publish, for the love of all that’s written, get a full comprehensive edit. Don’t skimp. Make sure the editor you choose has a lot of experience with self published authors.

And if any editor, I don’t give a flying fuck how great their resume is, who they know, or years of experience, try to kill your voice in the MS, and make you write like they would … frankly, give the morons your middle finger and walk off.

Overall, it IS your work, and you have to protect it from people who think they can make an easy buck editing. There are so many it’s a nightmare. People who have no clue how to truly edit. What it means, and how to wield the red ink.

Don’t make my friend’s mistake. Since he didn’t listen to me, I referred him to other editors, and didn’t redo his edits. I’m betting he asks questions next time.

Unless you are Richy Rich rich – in which case, contact me, toss some of that dough my way. I’ll stroke your ego (and only your ego).

Dang … Long Time No Blog

Posted: November 4, 2013 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

Ah well. 

The past eight months have been a study in Life’s Bullshit Bullseye. I parted from the publisher I worked for. Why? Well, I’m not telling you the details, but let’s just say it had to do with an Ego Author. *Shrug* I’m not surprised the MS tanked in ratings. 

Since then, I’ve pushed for my own editing business, and it is doing fairly well. I like working with new authors, and especially authors going the route of self-publishing. Frankly, after having dealt with bitching NYTBSA, and many  of the Inflated Sense of Ego mindset, it is nice to help those who give a damn about writing.

Don’t get me wrong. We write not only because we have a story to tell, but also because we’d like to make a little money – at least on the side. Most of us understand from the get go we will always have to have the job to pay the bills. And hell, I’m just happy if I earn the money I invested. 

Here lately I’ve read a lot of blogs shaming editors. Sorry, going to rant a little. 

If a book says it’s been edited, but readers find mistakes, or the story is choppy, *BAM* blame the editor! Now, I grant you, there are some crappy “editors” out there. They can’t find a pronoun with a map and red marker. I’ve seen people decide they are editors, without any practical experience, put up a “Welcome” sign and charge outrageous amounts. Considering the amount of training, interning, and education I went through, and being a part of every association to ensure I keep up with the changes, these types of “editors” drive me up the proverbial wall. But that is for another day, and I’ll tell you how to avoid them.

Outside of traditional publishing, editors often only get one pass on an MS. One. The author then either implements the edits, or ignores them completely. They don’t understand that adding in a single sentence can interrupt the natural flow, or their egos won’t let them remove a well written, but utterly useless scene. The authors don’t want to pay for a second edit, or at the very least, a decent proofread. 

Instead, they consider it edited and publish. For my own work, we do multiple passes. I never let it go out without at least two proofreads, three edits and one last “What did I miss” pass. I don’t expect that kind of edit/revision out of others, but they should at least do the mechanical edits, and pay for a proofread. 

Once it’s published, they are surprised when readers review it and say it wasn’t edited. Then all fingers are pointed at the editor. 

It kind of pisses me off. I’ve had MS shoved onto my desk, spent one hundred fifty hours editing the ugly thing, making sure the voice shines, all mechanical mistakes are pointed out, suggested ways to strengthen and improve the plot, pointed out plot holes, and bad transitions. The author exercised their right to ignore 90% of it. Then sent me a flaming email when readers pointed it all out, and the book tanked. All of them blamed me. 

And this is the norm.

So in the future, before you blame the editor for a badly written book, remember, the author may have had one of the best editors out there, and paid for it. But the editor cannot force an author to do the edits. I often wonder why these types of authors pay for editors if they aren’t going to follow the advice. 

On the flip side, I’ve had authors who are a DREAM to edit. I have my favorites, I won’t lie. The MSs sent to me were well written, they had multiple beta readers and critique partners. They went over it with a fine tooth comb. They read it to a captive audience (hopefully not illegally). They studied writing, and their first book is far above those that call themselves veterans. Did they take every single bit of my advice? Hell no. One only took the mechanical pointers, reworked it, sent it back for a proofread, and Holy WOW! They took the spirit of my advice and ran with it. I have those on my bookshelves. I brag of them often, “You HAVE to read this book!” None of their reviews have one peep about editing. They took their journey to publishing seriously, not aiming for instant riches, but long term audience.

And that is the crux of it. My clients aren’t required to follow my advice. Most do take the mechanical stuff seriously, knowing I use the Chicago Manual of Style, the accepted norm in the publishing industry. Some have completely ignored my suggestions, but they also knew I’d found a weakness.

Am I the perfect editor? No. Are you smoking something? Is it legal in your state? But I also have more than twenty years experience, and I pass that to every client. I don’t want them to write in my voice, and I spend hours helping with insecurities, I never fail to tell them the great stuff, their strengths. I’m a writer, I get it. I cheer for my clients, hoping they make their dreams come true. That is part of what I do, after all.

Okay, ranting about blaming the editor is over. When I get a few, I’ll do a blog about watching out for bad editors. They exist, and one should be vigilant when choosing the person who will go over every line of your book.

 

Editing Left Cross

Posted: March 26, 2013 in Uncategorized

Over the years, I’ve learned to take a few punches. It never feels good.

But writing? I ask for them. Not only do I edit for a living, I also write. I make the same mistakes I cross out of authors’ manuscripts.

Nobody is a perfect writer. Never have been, never will. I can take any of the classic literature, and especially modern writing, and show you at least ten different issues on any given page.

The problem is not the writing. It is the author. Their ego tightly entwined with the words on the page. And much like tech support cringing when a customer says, “I’m an engineer”, I cringe when an author announces they’ve studied literature or writing.  I wince, growl and take a deep breath. I want to say, “Whoop de doo.” But I have to be nice. Study all you want, until an author has taken away the Ego Glasses, they will never improve.

For example, myself. I pulled out an old manuscript, written two years ago. I burst into laughter at the huge amount of mistakes, the overuse of pronouns, redundancies, the annoying “…” in every sentence, the lack of transitions and, holy shit, the amount of telling. Oh, wow. And I slash this shit for a living.

The difference between Ego Writer and myself? Easy. Ego Writer will buck all changes, refuse to improve the manuscript, only do basic edits, ensured of their superiority.

I’ll beg people to slash, mutilate and leave as many gaping red inked wounds as possible, and then listen, putting the edits to good use. I know better, I’m not perfect.

So if you are worried about word count, don’t be. Edit. Revise. Slash, slice, dice, and do it with a smile. Let others do the same.

Don’t be Ego Writer, because frankly, you are only a pain in the ass. Your writing suffers, although your ego might remain in tact. If your ego is more important than the writing, walk away. Better yet, get the hell out of here. Go find someone willing to gush over your writing, but know it will never stand the test of time, or feedback.