Need Your Book Edited? Don’t Fall for a Snake-Oil Salesman

why hire a freelance book editor
© 2012 Hugh MacLeod’s gapingvoid

If you’ve searched the Internet looking for an editor for your book, you’ve probably come across a few of the more unusual editing “services” available. Unusual isn’t bad, but in some cases, unusual is definitely NOT good for authors.

One blogger I found by accident runs a membership site that proposes to save authors money on professional editing by trading editing with other members; in other words, you and another writer edit each other’s books, thereby eliminating the cost of having your manuscript professionally edited.

What’s wrong with that? Nothing, as long as you understand that the chance of getting a professional edit of your work that way is slim to none. In reality, this service is a beta-reader service, which is very useful in its own right—but let’s call it what it is. I’ve written about my enthusiasm for beta readers here, and I personally encourage my clients to use them before they hire me or any other professional editor for their WIP.

But beta readers are no substitute for professional editors or proofreader.

Beta readers are no substitute for professional editors or proofreader. #writetip #editingtip… Click To Tweet

“Oh, come ON, Candace,” I can hear you say, “I’ll still get editing, plus I will save hundreds of dollars on editing costs.”

No, you won’t. You won’t get editing; you’ll get critiquing. Maybe even really good critiquing, if the writer assigned to your manuscript is good at it. But what if that writer’s comments are more in line with what your teenager’s best friend would say about your writing: “Really, really good story. I like the part where the werewolf turns into an alien and falls in love with the librarian. But I got confused about who was talking, so you should put ‘he said’ and ‘she said’ after every sentence of dialogue.” Oh yes, that is helpful editing. Not.

And you won’t save money in the long run. Remember the old adage, “It takes money to make money”? If you skimp on editing, you’ll spend more time and money in the end—you can read about one of my clients who did that here.

“Snake-oil salesman” is a term that has come to refer to someone who sells a product that has a questionable benefit. As a professional editor, I believe this particular company is run by a snake-oil salesman, one who hopes to get your money by promising you a product that just isn’t available. And in the end, you are the one who pays the price—in lost sales, a tarnished reputation as an author, and poor reviews. Continue reading “Need Your Book Edited? Don’t Fall for a Snake-Oil Salesman”

Hiring an English Major to Edit Your Book Is Cheating Yourself

I belong to a listserve of freelance editors, and I find the topics of conversation interesting and often thought-provoking. One recent  hiring an english major to edit your booktopic that elicited many comments was about pricing the work we do.

The initial post was by an established and well-respected editor who wrote, “I recently was asked about my rates by someone at a local company who was looking for writing and editing help. She balked at my quote . . . Her response: < … we can find English majors for $10 to $15 [per hour] and many of them are quite good. >”

I get it; no one wants to spend more than necessary for anything—goods or services. I mean, if I can buy a knock-off designer widget that looks just like the brand-name widget, isn’t that a better value than buying the real thing just for the brand name? If I can get my next-door neighbor’s artistic son to design my book cover, isn’t that a better value than hiring an expensive professional cover artist?

And if I can get an English major to edit my book for a few hundred dollars, isn’t that a better value than hiring a professional editor? Continue reading “Hiring an English Major to Edit Your Book Is Cheating Yourself”

4 Easy Ways Self-Publishing Authors Can Save Money on Professional Editing

Save Money on Professional EditingSelf-publishing can be expensive. Between editing, cover design, formatting, printing, and marketing, you can spend a small fortune if you aren’t careful. Even if you’re a DIY author who controls every aspect of the process, there are many (expensive) costs associated with bringing your work to the world. Finding ways to cut those costs can become an important part of your learning curve as a self-publishing author. (And no, skipping the professional editing isn’t one of those ways.)

Estimates for the whole self-publishing enchilada range from several hundred to several thousands of dollars—and one of the biggest expenses is typically the editing. But professional, quality editing doesn’t have to put a huge hole in your wallet. The best editing money can buy is available at a fraction of the cost many writers pay when you use the B.E.S.T. system.

                                       B is for Beta readers

                                       E is for Editing your own work

                                       S is for Sample edit

                                       T is for Talk to your editor

The B.E.S.T. system of editing and how it can save you money #editingtip Click To Tweet

1. B is for Beta readers who can give your constructive feedback on what is and isn’t working in your manuscript. This is an opportunity to see how others interpret your work—how readers will respond. You get so close to your work that you cannot be as objective as you need to be. Patterns of error, plot holes, undeveloped characters, run-on sentences, subject-verb disagreements, and punctuation gaffes are all fair game for a beta reader or writing workshop buddy. Correct the grammar and punctuation errors, and use the suggestions that make sense to you. Don’t feel compelled to make a change that doesn’t respect your authorial voice or one that doesn’t improve your work.

2. E is for Editing your own work. After you receive feedback from your beta readers, writing workshop partner, or other writers, go back and re-edit one more time. Anything you can fix before turning your manuscript over to an editor will save you time and money in the long run. Self-editing techniques like printing out your work and editing on paper, or reading backward from the end of your manuscript to the beginning, are just two ways scores of writers edit their work and catch mistakes. Check out the related articles below for some other great ideas.

3. S is for Sample edit, which you should get before you decide on an editor. Blindly hiring someone because he’s inexpensive or she knows your mother isn’t a wise business decision. Reviewing a sample edit will give you a huge insight into a particular editor’s knowledge and ability. Every editor has a slightly different approach to editing, and this is a quick way to see if your expectations and his or her style are a good match. “He charged a small fortune but I hated what he did to my work” is something no author should ever have to say.

4. T is for Talk to your editor. The relationship between a writer and his or her editor is based on communication and trust. When editing is a collaborative effort, you learn what works and what doesn’t in your writing, which will allow you to make your own corrections on this manuscript as well as build your writing skills going forward. Make it clear to your editor that you are on a tight budget and want guidance on self-editing; for example, if your sample edit indicates you use commas incorrectly, go back through your manuscript with a style guide or other reference material in hand and correct as many of those commas as possible before turning the manuscript over for editing. One missing or incorrectly placed comma won’t make a difference in your editing bill, but dozens and dozens of them in addition to everything else can really add up in a novel-length manuscript.

When you follow these four points, your manuscript will be in the best shape you are able to make it and your editing dollars will go much farther. Even when you’re on a tight budget, there’s no excuse to publish your book without having it professionally edited and proofread. You have to be smart about how you spend your money; develop a plan and follow the B.E.S.T. points to make sure your manuscript is the best it can be!

What other way have you found to save money on professional editing? Have you traded critiques with another writer, or hired an editor to coach you through a rough spot? Please share your stories, which might even help a fellow writer save a few editing dollars!

Happy Writing,

Candace

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Can You Hear Me Now? Finding a Freelance Editor Who Listens

Whether you hope to interest a traditional publisher or you’re publishing independently, you know you need professional editing before you submit yourShoe phone manuscript.

But how do you know if the editor you found is a good fit for you?

In my last post (read it here), I discussed how a sample edit can do three things:

  1. It show you a particular editor’s knowledge and ability,
  2. It helps the editor determine the amount of work your manuscript needs to make it as professional as possible, and
  3. It gives you the opportunity to see how that editor believes he or she can improve your book.

Erik John Baker (be sure to check out his blog here) left this comment:

I think it’s also important to find an editor who listens, both [to] the writer and to the writer’s voice.”

Bingo! We all expect an editor to be good with the written word, but it is equally important that someone who is part of your team is a good listener and honors your authorial voice. Let’s discuss the “good listener” part. Continue reading “Can You Hear Me Now? Finding a Freelance Editor Who Listens”

Testing, Testing: How to Choose a Freelance Editor

pr_221_lgAs a savvy author, you know you need professional editing whether you hope to interest a traditional publisher or you’re publishing independently.

But how do you know if an editor is a good fit for you?

In an article titled Freelance Editing: How to Hire an Editor for Your Book or Query Letter, Chuck Sambuchino offered advice for hiring a freelance editor. His first piece of advice was “Get a Test Edit.”

A test edit basically means you pass along a few pages and get them reviewed to see what kind of notes and ideas the editor is making in terms of proofreading and content work. Test edits usually work one of two ways: 1) You pass on 1-2 pages and the editor reviews them for free; or 2) you pass on a more substantial number of pages (10-50) and simply pay the editor as normal for those pages. If you like what you see from the test edit, then you can move forward on a bigger deal.”

I think he makes his point well with his example (which hurts my brain every time I read it!)

This week I’ve been contacted by several writers who are shopping for editors as they near completion of their WIPs, and I’ve made this same offer to each one:

Send me the first few chapters of your manuscript. I’ll select several pages and provide a free, no-obligation sample edit for you. A sample edit is beneficial to both of us; it helps me determine the amount of work your manuscript needs to make it as professional as possible, and it also gives you the opportunity to see how I can improve your book.”

As I wrote here and here, you wouldn’t let just any mechanic fix your car, so don’t let just any editor fix your words. Ask for references from other authors who have hired that editor for the type of work you need, and don’t be afraid to voice your concerns before you hire someone. Editing is like marriage: communication and trust are vital to success.

*A big note about this: I am talking about editing for publication for any medium—printed book, ebook, blog post, advertising blurb, query letter. How your work is published isn’t the determining factor; that you publish a professional piece is. In a blog post titled SELF PUBLISHING ON KINDLE – Have Any Books On Kindle Ever Sold No Copies?, author Steve Truelove gives his answer to that question, which includes:

I guess is if the book is totally hopeless….badly written, full of mistakes, ridlled wiht typo’s, and unedited. Believe me, if you upload a book like that to Kindle you will soon get found out, so to speak.”

Blindly hiring an editor because he’s inexpensive or she knows your mother isn’t a wise business decision. But reviewing a sample edit will give you a huge insight into a particular editor’s knowledge and ability, so don’t hesitate to ask for one before making this important financial and professional decision.

Your expertise is writing; let me show you how my editorial expertise can help you take your writing to the next level. Contact me at cyjohnson5580@gmail.com for a no-obligation quote and sample edit today.

Happy Writing!

—Candace

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