Friday, May 09, 2014

Going Indie: How to Find a Professional Editor (And How I Found Mine)

In the shadow of a calling I found myself . . .

Looking forward to Cajun food, jazz music, and dancing in the streets of New Orleans with my friends.

Musical Moment ~ “Starstruck” Lady Gaga (Featuring Space Cowboy & Flo Rida)

Anyone can put a website together and slap a PayPal button on it. I did it - minus the PayPal button.  If you are going to hire a professional editor to work on your manuscript (and yes, you definitely should hire one), there are things you need to know and consider. Not all editors are created equal. Here are a few types to be on the look out for:

Scammers
You may find there are a lot of people out there who see the uptick in indie publishing and are creating websites promising to turn your manuscript into the next great novel. You may get back poorly edited work or, worse case, nothing but a “This website can no longer be found” page and an inactive email address after you have paid your hard earned money.

The Well-Intentioned
You may come across the well-intentioned “editor” who received a glowing review from their friend’s son’s girlfriend because they edited their thesis paper or those who are the “go to” editor at the workplace or among their friends. These folks usually love to read and may honestly believe they have what it takes to help writers edit their work. They are enthusiastic and they may be great at selling themselves, but the proof comes back in a poorly edited manuscript, incorrect advice, and no targeted sense of identifying issues the writer needs to be aware of, such as changing POV, head hopping, passive voice, serious misspellings, etc.

Professional Editors 1 –
You will find Professional Editors with degrees in English (Composition, not Literature) who have been editing for years (fiction or non-fiction). Editing is their bread and butter, and they have a solid track record, and can provide you with references, if you ask for them.

Professional Editors 2–
You may also stumble across Professional Editors who are current or former publishing house editors who have decided to do freelance. If you find these editors and have the budget for it, go for it (but this is not necessary) However, you should find the books they have edited, look at their website, and read their blogs. Just because they are/were with one of the big houses, does not mean they are for you. Ask questions before your contract services and make sure you are comfortable with them and their approach.

In all of the above scenarios, you need to do your Due Diligence (capitalized and bold because it is important and you will see this throughout the Going Indie blog posts). Google these people and read everything you can before you give them your money. Go to message boards or if you are friends with other writers, ask if anyone knows anything good or bad about these editors. Doing this will save you time and heartache.

How I found my editor -
When it was time for me to find my Professional Editor, I saw all types of editor’s websites and because I have a cautious (my husband would call it suspicious) nature, I took my time and did my due diligence before I opened my wallet. In the midst of this frustrating research, I received an email from Writer’s Digest (WD) mentioning their editing service.  I can’t tell you how excited I was to receive that email because Writer’s Digest has been around for years and has a solid reputation. I knew that if they put their stamp on it, I would be receiving strong, quality editing that I could trust.

Writer’s Digest editing service is called 2nd DraftThey offer a variety of editing services like Proofreading, Line Edits, Development Edits as well as Critiques. (For a description of each type of edit, please go to my blog post from last week.)  WD also provided the names and profile of each editor and allows you to choose your top 3 picks. My first choice was Jordan Rosenfeld and, luckily, I got my first choice.

I chose Jordan because she is a writer herself, has a quirky website, she blogs, and she had great reviews.  She also had a list of her editing services on her own website. Jordan walks the walk and editing is a part of her artistic, writerly life. I knew I couldn’t find a better fit for me and I was right. She not only told me I have a possessive issue (-s or ‘s or s’), but that even though I thought I got rid of passive voice sentences, she found the ones I could no longer see. She noted areas where the story slumped and offered things for me to think about (if it made sense to the storyline). Jordan also kindly suggested I read The Plot Whisperer (which luckily I had – unread ­– in my bookcase). She gave me the type of editing and insights that I needed and she was worth every penny.

But now, back to you. Here are some things to consider:

What to do to avoid getting scammed or poorly edited work:
  • Google is your best friend. Use it well and wisely.
  • Get samples edits of your work – a paragraph or a page – so that you can see how the editor edits before you agree to work with them.
  • Ask for references. If they are really good they will have no trouble pointing you in the direction of their glowing reviews or have someone they’ve previously worked with reach out to you to support how great they are. 
  • Go to Preditors and Editors website. It's enlightening.
  • Go to Writer Beware. You'll find a wealth of information.
  • Go to Absolute Write write because its a great resource.
  •  Talk to your critique group.
  • If you have membership with Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI), Romance Writers of America (RWA), or Mystery Writers of America (MWA), etc., go to their message boards and put out feelers.
  • If you don’t belong to a writer’s organizations, then find message boards like Verla Kay’s Blueboards (now associated with SCBWI, but not necessary to access the boards).
  • If you have writer friends on social media, post a request for referrals.
  • Above all, trust your instincts. If your gut tells you to “keep it moving” do just that. The right editor is waiting for you. Be patient.
One more thing: For those seeking indie or traditional publishing, the above applies to literary agents, illustrators/graphic artists, and small press or vanity publishers, as well.

Do you have an editor? Where did you find your editor? What was the experience like?
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