Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Editors and Editing

On Monday, I said I'd talk a bit in another post about finding a good editor.  This is the other post.

First off, you probably need an editor.  Sure, there are writers who can edit their own work successfully.  Those are few and far between.  I can count the ones I know on a single hand.  And I ain't one of them.  An editor is there to find things you won't or can't see.  Most writers are too close to their work to actually see the flaws in it.  I know that after I've read and re-read and lived a set of pages for however long it takes me to get it from the first paragraph to actual publication, I can no longer see what actually is on the page.  The words as I thought them might differ from the words as I wrote them, but I won't know because the thought words are paramount.  It's a thing.  :shrug:

Plus, you might think a certain scene is really awesome, but an objective eye might see it differently.  They might think that scene is awesome, too, but belongs further back.  Or they might think it doesn't fit at all.  And once they point it out, you might see it, too.  (Or not, depending on your mulishness.)

Okay, so you've admitted to yourself that you need an editor.  Where do you find one?  Well, in my case, for Dying Embers, I asked my writer friends if they could recommend anyone.  And I got a good editor who did well for that book.  She was also reasonably priced.  (We'll come back to 'reasonably priced' later.)  And, if I remember correctly, she edited in a timely fashion. 

She also edited Accidental Death for me, which did not go quite as well for any number of guessed at reasons.  I paid her and then I found someone else to edit behind her and fix what she didn't.  Which is how I got my current editor, by the way. 

Now, on the full disclosure thing, my current editor is someone who I've been friends with for years.  Friends long before I asked her to look over Accidental Death and tell me if she thought it needed more edits than my editor at the time was pointing out.  I trusted her to give it to me straight.  And she did.  And she does.  BUT... I do agree with the traditional wisdom that you shouldn't have friends be your editors.  With one caveat.  If your friend can be objective, they may also work well as an editor.  If they can't, then all you're doing is screwing yourself.  AWE is objective.  She kicks my ass when I need it and doesn't attempt to spare my feelings if they need a little bruising.  I mean, she's sorry when she has to do it, but she knows it's necessary for the success of the book.  She's never mean about it*.

And she's reasonably priced.  Yes, friends pay friends for services rendered.  I wouldn't have it any other way.

On the reasonably priced front...  I ran across a writer asking a question on a FB group recently.  She was asking about pricing for edits because someone had quoted her like $1000 for a 65K word manuscript.  Ummmm.... about twice what I pay.   And about twice what I paid the other editor.  And about twice what a lot of other people are paying their editors.  I'm not sure if the editor giving that double-cost quote had an awesome resume of experiences - like they used to be the editor for Michael Crichton or Nora Roberts or, I don't know, Gutenberg.  But I doubt seriously an editor with super duper qualifications would go pimping their services on FB groups.  About .0075 per word is the general yardstick.  If they're asking .015, run away and find a different editor.  Or ask them why they think they can charge that much.  Maybe they have a Doctorate in Editing Fictional Manuscripts from like Harvard or Oxford. 

On the other hand, you do get what you pay for, so if you've got someone telling you they can edit your novel-sized manuscript for $25, you should probably run away, too.  That one just doesn't pass the smell test.  Sniff, sniff... ewww.

In the end, finding an editor is hard work, but it's oh-so necessary.  And if you find the right one, hand onto them with both hands.  Your readers will thank you for it.

*The other day a writer I follow on FB was lamenting a note he'd gotten from his editor about the climax of his book.  In my opinion, the note was just mean.  And unprofessional.  And unhelpful.  But that's me.


  1. Beta readers, editors, and proofreaders. Can't live without them! And finding good ones is tough. Be happy you found a good one. :)