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  1. #1
    Member Writers Choice's Avatar
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    Do You Have a Professional Editor?

    I spent a few thousand dollars on a professional editor and I'm not all that certain of some of the suggestions. I know she is a professional and a good developmental editor.

    Here is my dilemma:
    (1) She insist that I take out what I feel is important aspect of my book - for some reason, it really bothers her and in three rounds of editing she wants me to completely eliminate it.

    (2) She wants me to change one of my major back up character. What I mean by that is that Mindy is a major character but she wants me to get rid of her and transfer the role to a minor character that I used to make the story flow. If I do that, I would have to rewrite a minimum of 25% of the story. Why would she wait until the third round of editing to suggest this?

    (3) For a professional, she misspells words and I can't make out some of her scribble since she refuses to give me line editing via computer making things easier. She prints, hand writes (hard to understand her writing), charges me for the printing and then I spend hours fixing small punctuation errors that a half way descent proofreader would catch to began with.

    I'm regretting the $3200 I spent. I wasn't expecting her to rewrite my book, I wanted to do it myself. Asking me to change a little here and there to have the story make sense is great - that's what I am paying her for but asking me to change my central character, insist that I take out an important part of my book - it's frustrating.

    I'm thinking about getting another editor. Those of you with experience working with an editor, I need some advice before I hire another one.

  2. #2
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    Without knowing who it is, and her qualifications, or what the prose looks like after she's edited it, it's hard to make a judgement. But from here, what you say seems odd. Have you looked at some of the books she's helped prepare that sold to a publisher, to see if you like the result of her work? If you did, and liked them... In general, though, if she hasn't worked for a publisher who regularly put books into the bookstores—in your genre—I'd not expect her to advise you that intimately on plot/character details.

    My view on editors is that you only need them if you don't need them. And by that I mean that the editor should be catching the issues that you're too close to the work to see (or that violate the genre norms, which is why I mentioned having worked in that genre as being important). If you're not to that point, a few books on craft might be advised, because unless you understand, why she feels the changes are necessary, you'd be making change for change sake, to please her.

    To respond more intelligently, it might help if you posted a few hundred words of prose that passed her muster, so as to evaluate her skills as an editor. Knowing the editor's CV might also help.

  3. #3
    Senior Member John Oberon's Avatar
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    Your #3 alone is grounds to fire her immediately. I've never heard of a professional doing these things. She should provide you an electronic file of her edits, a Word file with revision tracking turned on, and then you choose which edits to keep and which to pitch.

    As for #1 and #2, if she cannot provide solid, concrete reasons for her suggestions, if she only provides feedback like, "It's clunky", "I don't like it", or "It just doesn't work", then she's no professional. A pro can tell you good reasons why to change something and how it will improve the story. You should NOT be writing the words "for some reason". You should know the reasons exactly.

    If it were me, I would cut my losses, fire her, and look at this as a learning experience. Test your next editor. Give him/her a decent chunk of your writing, say 3K, and ask for their best editing suggestions at whatever their going rates are. If they do a crappy job, you've only lost that fee, not $3200. You can also submit your book to editors for just a reading, and they'll tell you what they think generally of the story and the writing.

    If you gave her a complete book to edit, then you really can't fire her quick enough, in my opinion. A good editor will spot story problems in a complete book right off. I don't know...everything you wrote sounds like you're dealing with an amateur, or worse, to me.

  4. #4
    Rogue Mutt
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Oberon View Post
    Your #3 alone is grounds to fire her immediately. I've never heard of a professional doing these things. She should provide you an electronic file of her edits, a Word file with revision tracking turned on, and then you choose which edits to keep and which to pitch.

    As for #1 and #2, if she cannot provide solid, concrete reasons for her suggestions, if she only provides feedback like, "It's clunky", "I don't like it", or "It just doesn't work", then she's no professional. A pro can tell you good reasons why to change something and how it will improve the story. You should NOT be writing the words "for some reason". You should know the reasons exactly.

    If it were me, I would cut my losses, fire her, and look at this as a learning experience. Test your next editor. Give him/her a decent chunk of your writing, say 3K, and ask for their best editing suggestions at whatever their going rates are. If they do a crappy job, you've only lost that fee, not $3200. You can also submit your book to editors for just a reading, and they'll tell you what they think generally of the story and the writing.

    If you gave her a complete book to edit, then you really can't fire her quick enough, in my opinion. A good editor will spot story problems in a complete book right off. I don't know...everything you wrote sounds like you're dealing with an amateur, or worse, to me.
    How much would you have charged? $30 an hour?

  5. #5
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    Use your own judgment

    My editor at Random House told me to delete half the chapters in one of my books. I refused. The book was published exactly as I wrote it, and it got the best reviews of any of my books in that series. The moral of the story is that editors, even professionals, aren't always right. You are the best judge of what you are trying to say.

    Ask a few other people to read your manuscript, and don't prompt them with a "What do you think of X?" If they all express the same reservations as your editor, then you may need to ask yourself if you can do a better job of getting your idea across. It may turn out that instead of eliminating your weak characters or sections, you need to expand them.

  6. #6
    Senior Member John Oberon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rogue Mutt View Post
    How much would you have charged? $30 an hour?
    No. Considerably more.

  7. #7
    Rogue Mutt
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Oberon View Post
    No. Considerably more.
    It took you almost 3 months to say that?

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