Posted On October 12, 2012 by Print This Post

Connecting with the Right Editor – Leslie Berry

Finding an editor can be a frustrating and daunting process. Leslie Berry joins us today to talk about her search for an editor. 

So glad you’re here, Leslie!  

After a lengthy search for an editor, I took the leap of faith…and landed on the dark side. Luckily I didn’t start ripping things apart because it was a bad match.

As a writer I strive to make every word in a story infuse setting, contribute to characterization, and add unique flavor to a story. I like words. I get attached. That’s why I need an editor, but finding the right person to wrestle your manuscript into shape is a task worthy of a Hobbit, almost as hard as tugging the One Ring off Bilbo’s index finger. It’s on par with bagging Mr. Wonderful and even more important since romantic pursuits offer their own reward. 

Let mine be a cautionary tale.

I approached the editor/writer relationship as a symbiotic arrangement rather than a parasitic one. My experience, reminiscent of one of Rudyard Kipling’s Just So stories, serves as a parable of how things should have been, how events turned out much worse, but how I succeeded in the end. Hopefully you’ll find something useful in my journey, but since every writer’s road leads to a different destination, your mileage may vary. 

Upon completing my novel, hereafter identified as Frankenscript, I began the search for an editor. I was confident the story had veins of gold woven throughout, shiny goodness between the pages. Mounds of backstory had been excavated and information dumps sifted to sieve out the clutter but the finished story had problems. After so many revisions and numerous drafts, I simply couldn’t do it alone. 

Finding an editor was a mysterious process to me. I read helpful blogs, made inquiries of successful writers, talked to people in publishing, and haunted writer’s conferences. I made a list of what services to look for, another list of questions to ask, and yet a third list to address the things you need to know but aren’t so easy to ask. I circled potential editors like a shark scenting prey. 

Hiring a professional is a reciprocal process, remember that symbiotic thing? The editors were scoping out my work, sampling the words I gave them, listening to my pitch, and considering. Eventually I narrowed my search down to five potential editors. One recommendation was so far beyond my financial range I never made it past her website. Two others were crossed off after the initial phone interview because they didn’t feel comfortable offering a sample of their work. Really? The last two were both people I had personally met. One was scheduled through the end of the year.

As I write this I realize I selected my editor by default. There’s another thing to avoid. 

In all fairness, the editor I hired may do a bang-up job for other people but we didn’t bond. It sounds corny, but the longer we worked together the less trust I maintained about her abilities as an editor. She worked for an editing house, one people had recommended and said good things about. I’m convinced free sample edits are the gateway drug of publishing, a taste to get you hooked. Here’s the short list of recommendations from my experience: 

- Get a detailed written agreement or contract

- Be prepared to pay for what you get

- Insist on getting what you pay for

- Detail your expectations

- Detail their expectations and make sure they match yours

- Agree on what comes in a developmental edit, copyediting, or proofing 

My experience in regard to this list was mixed but I’m not unhappy about dealing with the company. My complaints might seem inconsequential, but when you profess to be a professional working in the industry of words I expect professionalism. This is what I got for two editorial passes through the book: 

- Three missed deadlines

- A six page letter with fifty-four typos

- Manuscript markups with no suggestions for improvement

- Nothing about story arcs or character arcs

- Incorrect identification of setting, story elements, and character names 

A lengthy phone conversation resulted in bad feelings on both sides. This was not the symbiotic relationship I desired. I put Frankenscript in a box and slid him under the bed. After six weeks of letting the situation stagnate, I read through the editor’s results again. I studied her comments. I spellchecked her document and re-read it another time. She had made some quite smart suggestions I might have used except my trust had been fractured. I vacillated. I procrastinated. I argued with the mirror, told my reflection I was being thin-skinned and over-sensitive; that I had paid a professional to give me critical unvarnished feedback and now, maybe I didn’t want to acknowledge the cold hard truth.

Finally I talked to some writer friends and discussed the situation with my critique group. I put it out of mind for a while and wrote a novella. Then I ran into the editor who’d been backlogged till the end of the year. She listened with a commiserating ear and made a pity offer to take a look at my work over the weekend. The following Monday, after spending a lot of money on the first editor, I hired a second one. 

Frankenscript crawled out from under the bed with a chortle. 

My editor’s simple suggestions on the first two chapters have smoothed chronology, established concrete character arcs, refined the plot and improved the pace of the story. There is a universe of difference between the two experiences. I’m already confident that Frankenscript will be ready to start the querying process by the end of the year and he’ll be scar free. 

If the moral of this story hasn’t bludgeoned you over the head yet, let me be succinct, don’t get discouraged. Trust your instincts. Even when you do everything right, things go wrong. Don’t settle for lousy work even if you paid too much money. Let your manuscript rest while your chest aches and your stomach hurts and you question if there’s any point in ever picking up a pen again, then pull up your big-girl panties and get back to writing. Even if your pages have already spent way too much time lounging in a shadowy space, never give up.

People are waiting to hear your story.  

***

The advent of self-publishing has resulted in a proliferation of editorial services. What would you look for in an editor? Have you ever hired an editor? Please share your experiences with us!  

 ***

Lucia Macro, executive editor at Avon/Morrow, visits the RU campus on Monday, October 15th.

 ***

Bio: Leslie writes about messed-up people, sinister events, suspenseful moments, and intriguing settings. Her work often features paranormal and romantic elements because life is boring without spooky stuff and warm bodies. She’s nudging her novels along the publishing track and in the meantime is learning brevity by writing flash fiction. Talk to her via twitter @LesannBerry or visit her blog at www.lesannberry.com for more stuff and nonsense.

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31 Responses to “Connecting with the Right Editor – Leslie Berry”

  1. Everything you say is bang on. I feel precisely the same when it comes to a symbiotic connection with your editor. He or she has to “get you” and your writing. I can just imagine how discouraged (and outraged!) you must have been with the unprofessional first response. I have a wonderful editor now who also did the content edit for my first novel so we have a history and I’ll be happy to share his name should you ever be looking again.

    Posted by Patricia Sands | October 12, 2012, 4:44 am
    • Thanks for commenting, Patricia.

      I think the tricky thing to finding an editor you can connect with (both personally and story-wise), requires some sort of trial period. Every relationship necessitates getting to know each other and some connections just fizzle, even when they start strong.

      Thanks for the offer of a name. At this time I’m pushing forward with my current editor but since every project is different and just like writers, I would assume editors have different strengths, you just never know…I might need someone different down the road.

      Posted by Leslie | October 12, 2012, 11:39 am
  2. Leslie,

    I’m so sorry to hear about your first experience with an editor — and I use that term loosely, based on your descriptions. I can’t tell you how difficult predatory editors (preditors) make life for the rest of us — and by “us,” I’m referring to qualified, battle-tested, top-notch editors who are hitting the literary pavement each day in an effort to help authors express their most eloquent selves. But I’ll be honest with you: for every author I sign (yes, an editing agreement is essential), I encounter 10 who scoff at my prices. Authors who haven’t made any money from their writing are hesitant to invest in editing services, and I understand that — truly, I do. Too late, they discover that as with everything else in life, with editing, you get what you pay for. I invest in my clients’ work, and I bring to bear on it years of education and experience, creative effort, and mental investment. I strive to make them better writers. I consider how best their stories might be told. In short, I care. A lot.

    Plain and simple, that care costs me time and effort, which means it has to cost my client some money.

    You make a great point about choosing your editor “by default”; if I can indulge in some parting wisdom, it’s this: trust your gut! It’s how you knew what would/should happen in your manuscript, and it’s how you’ll know when you’ve made an editor connection that will best serve your work.

    Best of luck with your WIP!

    Rebecca Faith

    Posted by Rebecca Faith | October 12, 2012, 6:17 am
    • Thanks for the comment, Rebecca.

      My first experience in working with an editor was a disappointment but it wasn’t without merit. Like every other part of the writing/publishing journey, it was a learning experience. Despite all the excellent advice available to the curious, it’s a chancy proposition when you take the plunge. I could just as easily had a wonderful result.

      I agree that paying a marketable rate is important – people’s time, effort, and experience is valuable. In fact, the prospective editor I had to unconsider just on practical financial purposes is backlogged with work but I simply couldn’t consider paying 10K to edit a 100K word novel! Although it’s nice that people ARE so successful.

      I don’t want to discourage anyone from seeking an editor. Heavens knows, we all need one. I do think it’s important though to listen to your doubts and get a second opinion just like you would before undergoing a medical treatment. In fact maybe from here on out we should just call editors word-surgeons?

      Posted by Leslie | October 12, 2012, 11:48 am
      • Word-surgeons — ha! An upgrade from the old “book doctor” if you ask me.

        Leveling with you: 100k words would have to be in downright rotten condition for me to ask such an exorbitant fee (and it’s happened — the editing trips into ghostwriting and you have to consider that). The trouble is, most editors worth their salt will not publish their rates. A rule of thumb I like to offer: a CLEAN, previously edited, structurally sound final draft should be LINE EDITED (punctuation, typos, final-edit-before-print kind of thing) at a rate of $0.01/word + applicable taxes and fees. If authors are honest with themselves about the condition of their work, it’s a little easier to glean what a quality editor will cost.

        That said, consider this: if you format dialogue incorrectly, for example, your editor is responsible for all the keystrokes necessary to correct that every. single. time. Then she has to look at the dialogue itself; from experience, I can tell you that folks who can’t format dialogue don’t write it terribly well either. So now she’s fixing commas, quotations, periods, dialogue tags, actual content, fixing your extended contractions, etc. That’s way labor intensive, and thus the price goes up.

        Your editor should want to make you look good, kind of like a quality pair of jeans. Yes, you can buy Costco jeans that cover your ass, but are they taking 10-15 years off that behind? Probably not. But go to a high-end department store, consult a salesperson who can make recommendations about cut and color and tailoring…NOW you’re in business. The price tag will look drastically different from place to place, but the results will be worth every penny.

        I’ve got a 3pm surgery, so I’ve got to run…

        RF

        Posted by Rebecca Faith | October 12, 2012, 12:37 pm
  3. Hi Leslie,

    Although tied up with emotion, writing is a business. I’ve worked with a professional editor who has done an excellent job. Still having someone parse through your words and find fault hurts.

    Mary Jo

    Posted by Mary Jo Burke | October 12, 2012, 7:14 am
    • Thanks for your comment, Mary Jo.

      I so agree that writing is a business. Of course that doesn’t keep us from wincing when someone offers criticism but it is a necessary part of the process. Like many other writers I find a critique group and beta readers are really helpful because each person notices and comments on something different…but, you knew that was coming, right? BUT, the critiques I get from my writing buddies and friendly readers are not always helpful in evaluating the larger issues in a manuscript. That’s where the experienced editor fits in. The more I’ve shared work and asked for critique, the better I’ve become at discerning and listening to the changes that really improve the work.

      Although sometimes I just know I’m right and ignore them ALL!

      Posted by Leslie | October 12, 2012, 11:54 am
  4. Morning Leslie!

    I’m glad your Frankenscript is feeling better now. =) Hopefully he’ll be a pretty boy by the end of the year! =)

    I have a story editor I’m hoping to work with in a month or so…she doesn’t do line edits, but she will cover the story and character arcs. That’s scary enough for me at the moment…lol..hopefully she won’t point out how many times I use the word “like” in my ms!

    Thanks for posting with us today!

    carrie

    Posted by Carrie Spencer | October 12, 2012, 7:33 am
    • Thanks for commenting, Carrie.

      I’m so hopeful Frankenscript will be scar-free and handsome (but still rugged), soon. I’d like to send him off into the world with the best possible chances and dragging around luggage filled with garbage is a bad idea.

      Good luck with your story edit! I’ve heard various suggestions about using different editors for different kinds of edits but I don’t have enough experience to know if it’s good, bad or otherwise.

      In my early days of writing I passed a story through one of those programs that show duplicate word-use…holy smokes! Who’d have thought I used so few of the words in the English language?

      Thanks for having me over to post and hang out – this is fab!

      Posted by Leslie | October 12, 2012, 11:59 am
  5. Thanks for sharing this with us, Leslie. When I finally finish revising the stories I’ve “completed” I will probably seek the advice of a professional editor. Since I’ve been a freelance (non-fiction) writer for many years, I don’t need a copy editor as much as I need someone to check for plot holes, character arcs that make sense – basically, “Does this story work?” (Not that I don’t make grammatical mistakes, but that’s not my biggest problem.)

    While I’ve never hired an editor before, I have had some of my work critiqued by professional, highly successful authors. (Their time is valuable – I wouldn’t ask this of a friend, although a few wonderful author friends HAVE volunteered critiques.) I won these author critiques in auctions, including Brenda Novak’s auction. The advice I received was VERY helpful, and worth every penny of the auction bid. I also have brilliant critique partners, who are worth their weight in gold!

    When it comes to hiring an editor, I have a few in mind. I doubt I can afford them, but then I have to ask, “Can I afford NOT to hire a good editor?” As you mentioned, my editor(s) of choice may be booked long into the future, but I’ll deal with that when the time comes.

    Your cautionary tale will definitely help me when I get to that point. Thanks so much!

    Posted by Becke Davis (Becke Martin) | October 12, 2012, 9:59 am
    • Thanks for commenting, Becke.

      I’m so glad you found something useful in my story. I really believe everyone can benefit from professional editing and one poor experience shouldn’t keep us from exploring other options. Yes, it’s costly, but as you mentioned, can we afford to skip editing? Nope.

      Like you I can make plenty of grammatical mistakes (double negative anyone?), but I really appreciate the folks who can find gaps in the logic, inconsistencies that slip past the general readers, and the ability to evaluate if the character and story arcs are nice high arches or slumped over bumps of lip-service to change.

      Good luck with your editor search. I wouldn’t rule out anyone without contacting them first (notice I just contradicted my earlier rejection of that editor based on cost?), but paying top dollar doesn’t guarantee a great experience either. Go with your instincts and really look at the value of what you get in the sample edit.

      Posted by Leslie | October 12, 2012, 12:06 pm
      • Just wanted to chime in in support of this! An editor who refuses to either 1) provide extensive, relevant samples of past work or 2) take a look at 5-10pp of your MS and provide feedback/sample editing is an editor you should walk — no, RUN from. When you’re going to be spending any considerable sum on editing, you should know what you’re buying. My personal editing style is very no-nonsense. I think I’m extremely supportive as well, but some authors are really looking for a cheerleader/hand-holder, and that’s not me. I want my clients to know what they’re getting in me, because happy clients are the best kind.

        RF

        Posted by Rebecca Faith | October 12, 2012, 12:42 pm
        • This is such great advice!

          It’s so important for writers to really KNOW what they want from the editorial process. I’ll leave the cheerleading and blind support to family and friends, but in an editor I want someone who is honest enough to tell me something isn’t working (and it’s always nice if they comment on something that is fine just the way it is). For some writers, I don’t think we always know what we’re trying to find out until we’ve got enough experience with the industry to know. I’m not nearly as naive now as I was a couple of years ago!

          In the end, both people should be happy about the job.

          Posted by Leslie | October 12, 2012, 3:43 pm
  6. Hi Leslie,

    Your experience sounds horrific. I’m a freelance editor (and aspiring novelist) myself. A mildly missed deadline, by a day or two, isn’t a big deal. That’s human, that happens — often because the job took much longer than its estimate. Plenty of authors miss their deadlines too, when sending their chapters and rewrites, throwing off the time I’d scheduled for them. But an analysis that’s unreadable is inexcusable.

    I like your view of the author/editor relationship as symbiotic. I want my authors to blossom and come to fruition (it gives me a buzz when that happens). Being a writer myself, I know how difficult it is to spill your guts on paper and make that add up to something. Empathy and diplomacy should be high on any editor’s skill list, right after knowing what the hell they’re doing with a red pencil.

    I absolutely agree that expectations for the work need to clearly stated by both. Also look for qualifications, experience, and happy past customers. Anyone can claim they’re an editor. At a party not long ago I met a gal hiring herself out as an editor who wanted to talk shop. It took only five minutes for me to realize that she didn’t know much of anything and had no business doing this work, while she charged twice what I do (now that hurt).

    That said, I’ve had some squirrelly authors over the years, too. Far too many would-be novelists are sadly unrealistic about their work and very resistant to changing the diapers on their darlings. Even worse, many hope that they can obtain high quality editing for the same price they’d pay a neighbor kid to pull weeds.

    What is reasonable? The Editorial Freelancers Association has this very handy chart: http://www.the-efa.org/res/rates.php. This site is also a good place to find a professional editor, as is the Bay Area Editors Forum where I hang out: http://www.editorsforum.org. BAEF has great info on “What Editors Do” http://www.editorsforum.org/what_do.php).

    While most experienced editors charge far less than you pay your plumber, car mechanic, computer tech, or veterinarian (I’ve just dropped a small fortune on all four), no real editor can work for cheap. Quality editing is an investment in the serious business of being an author. Then make sure you get what you pay for.

    Posted by Mary DeEditor | October 12, 2012, 12:55 pm
    • Great links, Mary. Thank you!

      Posted by Jennifer Tanner | October 12, 2012, 1:50 pm
    • Thanks for commenting, Mary.

      I guess one of the great things about being inexperienced in the editorial process, is being able to draw some positive from my edit. Like I said, the editor made some points that I’ve considered using, but until I have that second opinion to compare them with, I’m holding off.

      I agree that deadlines are often mushy. A few days here and there are okay, and there are always circumstances that are beyond the norm, but repeated delays are disheartening. Your second paragraph is awesome – I couldn’t have said it better!

      The availability of information exchange via the internet has broadened our access, which is great, but it’s also made a prime environment for people to take advantage. Even though that is not what happen in my case, it can be easy to be taken advantage of – which makes the links you provided so helpful.

      Your comment about wanting something cheap is too true! Here’s a link to an advertisement that makes me laugh: http://www.craigslist.org/about/best/lax/1422107947.html

      It’s probably a fake listing but I swear I’ve met people who would do this without blinking!

      Posted by Leslie | October 12, 2012, 3:52 pm
      • Leslie, that craigslist ad is hysterically funny. Too bad it has several errors, so can’t believe a real editor wrote it. But the point it makes is too true. I *have* come across job offers like this.

        Caveat emptor: if an “editorial service” offers a ridiculously low price, your ms. is being run through a computer program. No one is actually reading it.

        Also common, and funny as hell, are the offers to edit and/or ghostwrite a book for a share of the eventual profits once it’s a bestseller. Excuse me while I giggle rudely.

        Posted by Mary DeEditor | October 14, 2012, 11:21 am
  7. Hi Leslie!

    I’ve been looking for an editor for a while. As Mary stated above, anyone can hang a shingle and call themselves an editor.

    I’m leery of “editors” who work for cheap because I believe, like anything else in this world, you get what you paid for. I want an editor who has worked in the genre I write. An MFA in creative writing isn’t necessary, but if they’ve actually worked as an editor for a reputable publisher, it’s a big plus.

    I’ve checked out client lists on editorial sites. I read Amazon reviews of two self-pubbed authors who had hired a “reasonably priced” editor I was researching. Most of the reviews were positive, but some reviewers zeroed in on the punctuation and grammatical errors, while others had issues with the story arc.

    My dream editor, aside from pointing out punctuation and grammar issues, would tell me that the plot is implausible, that the pacing is off, or the worst case scenario…my story sucks. :)

    Wonderful post. Thanks so much for blogging with us today!

    Posted by Jennifer Tanner | October 12, 2012, 1:49 pm
    • Thanks for the comment, Jennifer.

      I found the process to be really difficult because there are so many intangibles you can’t address until already into the process. It seems true that successful editing for one person doesn’t necessarily translate into a positive result for someone else. Tastes vary of course, and I think genre or style is important. One thing I was surprised to learn was how much definitions varied about what was included in the “type” of editing. In the beginning I assumed a story or developmental edit would encompass most of the same stuff but after talking to a number of people I quickly realized that isn’t the case.

      I’m lucky that I have a copyeditor in the family (she can’t get away!), but I knew I wanted a different set of eyes to look for other potential problems. I don’t think you’ll have any trouble finding an editor that will fulfill your dreams, you just have to “date” a bunch of them first!

      Thanks for having me over to blog!

      Posted by Leslie | October 12, 2012, 4:00 pm
    • Ah hem. Assuming it’s permitted on this site…

      I’m happy to chat with you, Jennifer, or anyone else who’s serious about working with an editor. I give an hour or two at no charge: reading a sample chapter, giving initial broad-stroke feedback, copy editing a couple paragraphs, and estimating the job. I can show examples of my work for other authors (all identifying details changed). Provide a sample letter of agreement. Talk on the phone to see if we’re a good fit. I even know something about the conventions of the romance genre.

      After that, it’s your choice to proceed.

      Scoping out the job accurately and establishing rapport are part of being a freelance editor. I expect something like that of my plumber too.

      http:/tinyURL.com/MaryDeEditor

      Posted by Mary DeEditor | October 14, 2012, 11:56 am
  8. Leslie, I remember when you went through this. Tough times, especially paying hard-earned money for a lousy outcome. The tips you offer here are what I’m using to screen the editor I’ve made an informal agreement with so far. When my MS is done, it’s time for a no nonsense conversation about money, time and process. Awesome post, as usual, sista!

    Posted by Marcia Richards | October 12, 2012, 2:01 pm
    • Thanks for commenting, Marcia.

      Lousy outcome aside, being able to share my experience with others is proving to be a good thing. There are many good resources that help folks find a good fit with an editor or an editing house. If you know people who write in similar styles and are happy with their editors, trying them with your own manuscript might be a great match. Even though it’s a professional relationship, you’re dealing with some potentially emotionally-charged content and you want someone to be committed to your vision – or at least be able to articulate why your vision sucks (to paraphrase Jennifer’s comment above – lol).

      Thanks for hanging out with us!

      Posted by Leslie | October 12, 2012, 4:05 pm
  9. What a frightening tale!

    In 2011 in Vancouver Canada I went to a free blue pencil session offered by the Editors’ Association of Canada (couldn’t beat the price). At that session, the wonderful Jessica Klassen gave me 3 pages of notes that really helped advance my YA novel.

    After that I paid for a story conference on another novel (still a WIP) that was enormously productive. The advice she gave was professionally presented and focused on both the strengths and weaknesses of the story.

    I’ve had the other side of this coin – disinterested feedback for exorbitant rates by indifferent so-called professionals and that’s what prompts me to write.

    That first novel that Jessica worked on with me? I got a book deal on it this year. If I’m allowed to mention her, I’d like to recommend her:

    http://www.jessicaklasseneditorialservices.com/rates1.html

    Results may vary but she helped me avoid some a few critical pitfall with one novel and helped me get another one back on track.

    Posted by Maggie Bolitho | October 12, 2012, 2:57 pm
    • Thanks for commenting, Maggie.

      First thing, congratulations on your book deal!

      It’s so nice to hear celebratory news, especially when you credit editing with helping get your work to that stage. This is the reason getting the right help is so important and it’s also why finding just the right partner (or even team), makes such a difference.

      I think it never hurts to share information for people who’ve helped us on our journey. Like you said, results may vary but I find it helpful to hear people’s personal experiences.

      Posted by Leslie | October 12, 2012, 6:27 pm
  10. I offer professional editorial services, and I don’t do a free sample critique of a potential client’s work. Frankly, I’m concerned that people will use the free sample with no intent of hiring me for the full job. Plus, in even five pages you start to see problems like telling rather than showing, so a sample can take up a lot of time. However, I do offer a sample critique that I’ve done for someone else (with names and pertinent details blacked out). I think this gives a potential client a better idea of what they are going to get, since the example shows comments on plot arc, character development, etc.

    A written agreement is great, and the most important thing is to understand whether you are getting proofreading, copy editing, or content editing (and to understand the difference). I don’t do proofreading, because my clients typically need major structural revisions (and I’m not a professional proofreader). I try to be very clear about this upfront, and I think that plus the example critique is why I have so many satisfied clients. They know what to expect, and they’re not going to be shocked if I suggest a lot of revisions.

    Posted by Chris Eboch | October 12, 2012, 4:55 pm
  11. Thanks for commenting, Chris.

    That’s interesting that you offer a sample of someone else’s work, rather than reviewing the potential client’s. I can see the value of not having to commit time to a job that might never happen. I’m reminded of a real estate friend who gets frustrated by the number of people who just want to tour houses rather than purchase one. At the same time, I’m not sure if that approach would help me see how you could offer input on my work.

    I agree that having the details and the definitions of the job spelled out in written detail is important. That’s the great thing about having a contract with specific expectations – each person knows what they’re getting (or not).

    Thanks for offering another perspective. I imagine that’ll help people see things from another position.

    Posted by Leslie | October 12, 2012, 6:32 pm
  12. Leslie,

    Thank you for being our guest today. Also, thank you readers for commenting and sharing your experiences.

    Posted by Jennifer Tanner | October 12, 2012, 11:25 pm
    • Jennifer -

      Thanks to you and the rest of the folks at Romance University for hosting me today. I enjoyed the discussion our topic generated and believe readers will find the information (especially in the comments), useful when they begin their search for an editor.

      Posted by Leslie | October 13, 2012, 10:12 am
  13. Wow! For a moment there, I thought I must’ve written this post, so closely did it reflect my own experience. ;)

    * one missed deadline
    * incorrect identification of a character (‘her hair changes colour!’ said the editor. ‘er, no, those are 2 different characters’, said I)
    * criticism of missing chapter headings (which did, in fact, exist)
    * wasted cost of printing & posting a 90K manuscript because it was quite clear from the feedback the assessment had occurred on screen, not on paper…
    * awareness of a more desirable editor who was booked up until the end of the year, alas. I should’ve just waited.

    *sigh* Unlike you, though, I didn’t pursue the second editor. I put the manuscript aside ‘for now’ & worked on a different novel. I did get a few good ideas out of the experience. But, not enough for the cost, imho. Wouldn’t stop me trying again with a different editor on the next MS, though!

    Posted by deborahb | November 18, 2012, 7:45 pm
    • I’m sorry I never caught your comment, DeborahB.

      At least we can commiserate on our common experience. The good news is, you shouldn’t let it keep you from pursuing that story again – especially now that some time has passed.

      In the months since I wrote this post I’ve worked with several editors. Each one had a distinct approach to the work and the end results were wonderful. In part that was because I had learned from my first experience – painful as it was – and my skills as a writer and self-editor continue to improve. Something an edior told me over coffee that I found really helpful was that first novels sometimes become second or third novels when they’re rewritten enough. They might never make it into print, but it’s a superb learning process.

      I hope you pull you manuscript out and give it another go! And thanks for joining in on the conversation.

      Posted by Lesann | May 3, 2013, 9:28 pm

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