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Old 10-17-2010, 04:20 PM   #1
James_Wilde
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Professional editing

In another thread here, on marketing, HarryT asked the OP whether he had had his book professionally edited.

I'm wondering: how does one find a professional editor if one has no contacts in the publishing branch, and how much does such a service cost?
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Old 10-17-2010, 09:34 PM   #2
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They're all over the place. It depends on where you go for your distribution. LuLu offers an editing package. I think so does CreateSpace, and some of the other systems do too. Prices are quite costly. I saw a service today by one of the guys that does the IWW going for between $10 - $20 / per page. With some services costing upwards of $2,500.

You could also try a local college professor or student. But some of their methods, explanations, and beliefs may be suspect. Their costs may be substantially cheaper though. I read a few people who have had success in college towns. Pizza + Beer + $50 cash bought a couple of indies/self pubbers beautiful professional covers.
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Old 10-18-2010, 11:26 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by jaxx6166 View Post
They're all over the place. It depends on where you go for your distribution. LuLu offers an editing package. I think so does CreateSpace, and some of the other systems do too. Prices are quite costly. I saw a service today by one of the guys that does the IWW going for between $10 - $20 / per page. With some services costing upwards of $2,500.
Holy ****! That would be $800 for my book. I don't think many self-pubbers have that kind of money.

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Originally Posted by jaxx6166 View Post
Pizza + Beer + $50 cash bought a couple of indies/self pubbers beautiful professional covers.
With great respect, professional covers is not what I think of when I think of editing. The editing I would be paying for is of the type: "Drop the whole of chapter 2, or if you really need it, put in a paragraph which says the same thing in chapter 7." Or "You really need to develop X's character and background more so that his decision in chapter 19 is more believable."
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Old 10-18-2010, 12:16 PM   #4
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I got a professional editor to do a job on my book for €400. She pointed out holes in the plot, lack of motivation, pointless characters, misspellings and lots of other flaws. A few of them I had suspected, but some of them were a total surprise - and blindingly obvious once she said them. It's clear she read the whole thing, cover to cover, at least three times with concentration, so I reckon she really earned her money.

I'm in a writing group where we critique each other's work, and just 1000 words of uninspiring prose can feel like a day's work.
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Old 10-18-2010, 01:20 PM   #5
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It is not difficult to find a "professional" editor -- there are hundreds of thousands of them. The difficulty is in determining how professional they truly are; there are no standards in the profession.

And you get what you pay for. You can pay less than $10 a page but have to settle for fewer services and scrutiny; similarly, you can pay significantly more than $20 a page, but you get much greater scrutiny and services. It's like choosing a car -- you can buy a Yugo (remember them?) which will get you from A to B (at least sometimes) very cheaply, or a Rolls Royce, which will also get you from A to B, but with significantly better reliability and comfort.
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Old 10-18-2010, 02:11 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by James_Wilde View Post
Holy ****! That would be $800 for my book. I don't think many self-pubbers have that kind of money.

With great respect, professional covers is not what I think of when I think of editing. The editing I would be paying for is of the type: "Drop the whole of chapter 2, or if you really need it, put in a paragraph which says the same thing in chapter 7." Or "You really need to develop X's character and background more so that his decision in chapter 19 is more believable."
My fault, I was just trying to draw a parallel between using college students for graphic design and full on copy editing.
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Old 10-18-2010, 02:13 PM   #7
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It is not difficult to find a "professional" editor -- there are hundreds of thousands of them. The difficulty is in determining how professional they truly are; there are no standards in the profession.

And you get what you pay for. You can pay less than $10 a page but have to settle for fewer services and scrutiny; similarly, you can pay significantly more than $20 a page, but you get much greater scrutiny and services. It's like choosing a car -- you can buy a Yugo (remember them?) which will get you from A to B (at least sometimes) very cheaply, or a Rolls Royce, which will also get you from A to B, but with significantly better reliability and comfort.
Our resident word smith has a point. But, that begs the question of whether or not he's a professional
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Old 10-18-2010, 03:25 PM   #8
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Find out what your editor has edited. If he or she is any good, there will be published work to show it, and will have a good reputation in the field.
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Old 10-19-2010, 06:55 AM   #9
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***The editing I would be paying for is of the type: "Drop the whole of chapter 2, or if you really need it, put in a paragraph which says the same thing in chapter 7." Or "You really need to develop X's character and background more so that his decision in chapter 19 is more believable."***

What you're looking for here then, James, is not a copy edit or line edit but a full construction and development edit. That takes the specialised editorial skills of an experienced and talented editor and a lot of professional time.

And it don't come cheap.

The only way you'd get it free is by attracting a sound agent and/or publisher. And if you want to stay independent and hire freelance, you'd have to put in some homework to carefully select someone with a proven track record at this level and be prepared to blow the cobwebs off a credit card that can take the hit. It's not something thrown in with bargain basement editorial packages.

Good luck and best wishes. Neil
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Old 10-19-2010, 07:05 AM   #10
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Quote:
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Our resident word smith has a point. But, that begs the question of whether or not he's a professional

Well you get what you pay for, right?



(for the record rhadin is very much a professional!)
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Old 10-19-2010, 07:14 AM   #11
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Agreed, Kenny. Rhadin knows his onions, has much experience under his belt, and he plays from a square bat. Neil
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Old 10-19-2010, 07:35 AM   #12
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OMG NOT THE SQUARE BAT!
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Old 10-19-2010, 07:57 AM   #13
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We paid about $2000 for a 120,000 word edit after we went through and did our own passes based on what the editor advised from reading the first 5 chapters (eg, eliminate the worst aspects). The $2000 was a moderately low cost edit but like I said, we compromised and did some of the rudimentary stuff.

Proofing was another $500 or so.

Our first choice was about $10,000 for the edit but it was a fully comprehensive one.

Paul.
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Old 10-19-2010, 08:30 AM   #14
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Thank you, Kenny and Neil, for the compliment. Just so others understand, I am not soliciting work here on Mobile Read. My editing is limited to nonfiction (primarily medical written by doctors for doctors and education written by educators for educators) and I do not work directly with authors; I work only for established traditional publishers. I hope knowing that will add a tiny bit of credence to what I write .

FWIW, the asking of the original question by James has led me to add the topic to my blog. I hope to draw input from colleagues, because the issue is a difficult one. As Jaxx notes, it is easy to claim to be a professional editor, but how does one prove it or demonstrate it to a potential client? In my case, I'm working in a narrow area and thus have built a reputation over my 26 years, but even so, things change and proving that I am a professional editor requires constant reproving.

For those interested in my blog post, it is Finding a Professional Editor: The Needle in the Haystack Problem. Although it is currently early (I only posted the article a couple of hours ago), what will be interesting will be reader comments.

Last edited by rhadin; 10-19-2010 at 06:54 PM.
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Old 10-19-2010, 08:35 AM   #15
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How did you go about selecting your editor, Paul? And what were your requirements and expectations?

I'd be interested to hear because I just read today's excellent blog from Rhadin (http://americaneditor.wordpress.com/...stack-problem/) in which he ponders this thread and -- as I often have -- wonders how a 'professional' editor might effectively offer meaningful evidence of expertise in advance of actually doing a job.

In Rhadin's case, he's highly specialised in a specific field and, no doubt, peer recommendation made by the prefessionals in that field who have employed his service will count for much.

But when it comes to general fiction editing, who do you turn to for independent and meaningful review of an editor's work?

To take any recommendation seriously, I'd guess the referee would have to be willing produce before-and-after versions of a work. Even then, though, there would be open questions about working protocols, etc.

Within the business, word gets around. One pro can identify another at 100 paces and effectively assess his value over time through exposure to his/her work, personal contact, perhaps co-working experience, or even on the grapvine. But when you're on the outside looking in, where do you direct your eye for freelance editorial assistance?

Cheers. Neil

PS: Sorry Richard. I notice our posts crossed in the mail. N

Last edited by neilmarr; 10-19-2010 at 08:40 AM. Reason: to add ps
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