Posts Tagged ‘Editors’

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:  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).