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  1. #1
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    Professional Editing: Is it worth it?

    I looked around the forums and couldn't find anything on this so I figured I should ask: are there any professional editing services I could submit a work to to help me fully polish it? Now before I get jumped on, let me elaborate. I have constantly heard that professional editors and publishers not only help with grammatical and punctuation problems but also give great feedback on other aspects of writing. Additionally, my own skills at editing are less than perfect. While I do intend to work hard and go through draft after draft of my WIP and any work I intend to submit, as well as submission to the Workshop here and other SF/F writing websites, I cant help but think that a final once over by a professional might help when it comes to improving overall story quality (as well as let me ape their techniques in the future )

    So just in general, are there good professional editing services available, independent from the publishing companies? Does it cost an arm and a leg? Do you think it is worth it? (For the big time sinks like novels, short stories, anthologies, and anything I am not remembering here)



    Note: I am not actually considering doing this for any of my works that this time, just curious to know if these services exist.

  2. #2
    KMTolan kmtolan's Avatar
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    There's lots of professional editing services out there (just "Google" 'em), and yes, they can cost an arm and a leg, but then it's often worth it. Hopefully someone with experience using such services will chirp up shortly with references.

    My opinion is that, if you're self-pubbing, then absolutely grab one. I shudder to think how many good stories were delivered DOA through lack of an editor. If you're intending to submit to a publisher, then maybe not so much. Often, a good reading group or fellow writers can help get you to the point where an acquisitions editor won't run off screaming at first glance. Getting an editor "free" via being accepted with a publisher is one of the perks.

    Kerry

  3. #3
    Registered User CharlotteAshley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kmtolan View Post
    My opinion is that, if you're self-pubbing, then absolutely grab one. I shudder to think how many good stories were delivered DOA through lack of an editor. If you're intending to submit to a publisher, then maybe not so much.
    Full disclosure: I am a freelance editor. But Kerry has it 100%: if you are going to self-publish, then you will need at least one round of editing. More, if you really want to do it right. If you are going to submit your manuscript to agents and publishers, you don't need to worry about an edit unless you have serious concerns about your writing. If you are more of a "story guy" and know you have trouble keeping to the right tense, then that extra polish will make your manuscript look more professional. But if your manuscript is fundamentally well-written, leave it be. Agents and publishers will want it edited to their own specifications. They will request or arrange for that editing themselves.

    Charlotte

  4. #4
    It could be worse. ~tmso Moderator N. E. White's Avatar
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    Did you see Reece Ran's thread? You might want to click on the link he provided to get a sense of what an editor can do.

    When producing the forum anthologies, I employ an editor to proof-read the final manuscript. Now, all she's doing it proof-reading. This is the last step prior to publication. She's looking for typos and blatant grammatical errors. Prior to that, each story is initially read by me and a couple of other readers. Based on both story content and the amount of effort the story needs in order to be presented, we decide to accept that story or not. Once accepted, I go through it and make editorial suggestions. Last year, I got lucky and had a second set of eyes on each story to offer even more suggestions. Even with all that (including whatever the author did prior to submitting), weird stuff stills gets through! Regardless, the final product is worth all the effort.

    The editing process can be a long one, and can include several passes (there's the substantial edit - more about the story structure, a copy editing, proof editing, formatting and layout, etc). The more you do (and learn to do right) prior to employing an editor will save you money, and will likely improve the story because you'll be able to concentrate their efforts where it is needed. Good luck!

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    Understood and agreed N. E. White. I certainly have no intention of slacking off on my own editorial processes or learning how to better edit. I have just found it difficult to get reviews and critiques for my WIP, in particular. Once I complete my current round of edits and reprint for the second linguistic slaughter I will basically have gotten as far as I can alone, at that point I will NEED readers to make progress, and if I cant entice readers in the workshop thread or another forum (candy and cookies and sunshine for all of my readers, and a hoo-doo witch doctor curse on any that pass my post by without reading!) things could grind to a halt.

    It isn't a concern at this point, I am just examining options. @N. E. White again...dammit! I searched the forums for editing services and a few other permutations and got nothin...Please dont hurt me, Mommy!



    By the way, as a twenty something white college male, I think you will find my powers as a witch doctor are...profound. Doubt me at your peril!!!......RAWR!

  6. #6
    Fulgurous Moderator KatG's Avatar
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    There are three types of editing for fiction novels: developmental editing, line editing and copy-editing. All of them have freelancers who offer services. You need to be careful, because there are a few con-artists who lurk among them. You want to find someone who has good references, someone who others recommend. They cost, but decent ones give you a lot for the cost.

    If you just want grammar and punctuation cleaned up, your fellow students may be able to do it for you, but you can also hire a freelance copyeditor. Developmental editing is when the editor works with the story, helping you with characters, plot, dialogue, inconsistencies, etc. Line editing is going through line by line of the text, (the red or usually blue pencil work,) working on the prose for clarity, errors and effects. Most freelance editors do developmental editing with some line editing as part of it. Some freelancers do both. Rates vary by the editor's experience, the services, etc.

  7. #7
    It could be worse. ~tmso Moderator N. E. White's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hobbles105 View Post
    I have just found it difficult to get reviews and critiques for my WIP, in particular.
    Did you make a request through the Workshop thread? If you had, I'm sure folks would have volunteered. You do have to agree to read your writing partners' work, however. Maybe you think you don't have time for that, but you'd be surprised at how working through other people's writing helps your own.


    Quote Originally Posted by Hobbles105 View Post
    By the way, as a twenty something white college male, I think you will find my powers as a witch doctor are...profound. Doubt me at your peril!!!......RAWR!
    Are you drunk?

    Not to counter what KatG said, but merely to add to it: I took an editing class a while back and I was astounded at how involved editing is. My instructor described seven (or more) different editorial roles (not necessarily in order: acquisitions, developmental, production, designer/typesetter, managing, proofreader, and then copyeditor - which could give you a light, medium or heavy copyedit - all of these were very specifically defined, of course). Anyway, the point is there's a lot to editing. You can't know it all, but knowing about it all is important so that you know what you may or may not need.

    Regardless of all that editing stuff, if you just need to bounce the piece off someone, you could go rouge and just post the first chapter in the Stories sub-forum (or the Writing forum, if you'd like) and see if anyone bites. However, I think you'd get more eyes on it if you agreed to do the same for other writers in the Workshop thread.

  8. #8
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    I already Reviewed Jason and Redmage's book; I don't have any issues or problems reviewing other people's work. I dare say I am a better reviewer than I am a writer. I am trying to hammer the draft into shape enough for a rough review to help me focus in on problem areas. I will post to the workshop thread after this first edit and revision is done. I might do some bouncing, the problem being some of my issues are with the first 75 pages... first several chapters rather than a single (although the individual chapters need work too). It is not called a Work in Progress for nothing, gonna be awhile.

    Once I am done with this first overhaul I will re-evaluate and try to get some bites in the workshop.

    And no, not drunk. just an attempt to lighten my own stress with a bit of levity.

  9. #9
    We Read for Light Window Bar's Avatar
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    A quick comment regarding editors: I very much wish I had hired a bonafide editor for my first novel. I went the bargain route and hired a friend who wanted to get into the biz. He missed many (very many) typos, and helped very little with the other roles. Next time, I will do as KatG recommended -- searching around for someone who has learned the craft.
    Last edited by Window Bar; October 13th, 2014 at 04:47 PM.

  10. #10
    Edited for submission Holbrook's Avatar
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    I would say yes. I thought both my novels were in good shape until I had them edited. One I paid for, the other has been edited by my publisher's editor. (Just waiting for the second set of revisions to land back with me) Both times I have learned a lot re-construction, plot line, character progression and most of all had my bad writing habits squarely held up under my nose.

    But please be careful, there are a lot of sharks out there that will take your money and run. Go with someone who is recommended, or has good feedback you can check.

  11. #11
    Would be writer? Sure. Davis Ashura's Avatar
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    I would say a definite yes. If nothing else, you need a good copyeditor. For me, I thought I had caught all my little typos when I released my first novel, but I hadn't and the book suffered because of it.

  12. #12
    Greymane Wilson Geiger's Avatar
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    Just to echo what's been already said: if you're planning to self-publish, then really, you can't afford not to.

    I'm a typo shark, so I don't usually worry about typos getting through my own personal edits, but that's what that second pair of eyes is for. What I do worry about is story construction, character voice and plotting. It doesn't matter if line edits are smooth if the story itself doesn't make any sense. And even if I think I'm a good judge of that, I have been and can be wrong.

    I'm very fortunate to have a couple of folks in my local group who do that type of work for a living.

  13. #13
    It could be worse. ~tmso Moderator N. E. White's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hobbles105 View Post
    And no, not drunk. just an attempt to lighten my own stress with a bit of levity.
    It was funny! Sorry, I didn't mean to dampen the fun.

  14. #14
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    I know it changes and fluctuates constantly with quality and what you want (line, developmental, ect) but price-wise is a good editor going to be a couple hundred bucks? Thousand?



    Call it a 500 page book for reference

  15. #15
    Registered User CharlotteAshley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hobbles105 View Post
    I know it changes and fluctuates constantly with quality and what you want (line, developmental, ect) but price-wise is a good editor going to be a couple hundred bucks? Thousand?



    Call it a 500 page book for reference
    It depends on the editor, how much work your ms needs, and what kind of edit you want, but generally an editor will charge between $0.50 - $2.00/250-word page. So your 500-page ms might be anywhere from $250 to $1000.

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