Are you a writer who needs help?

If you are, then one of the avenues open to you is to seek professional help – which, of course, comes with a price tag. If you are debating where you need this kind of help then you could do worse that read first the piece that Bibliobibuli has up on her excellent blog today, written by just such a free-lance editor, Rob Redman.

The editor also has an excellent blog here.

I hasten to say that I have no personal knowledge of how good or otherwise this particular editor is at editing, but his advice is definitely good.

To whet your appetite, here’s the beginning of the article:

This is how the story goes. Freelance fiction editing began to bloom a couple of decades back, when downsizing publishers sacked many of their in-house editors. Publishers were now more reluctant to take on manuscripts that were in need of development, and there were dozens of experienced fiction editors in need of work. It was only a matter of time before those editors began to advertise their services directly to hopeful writers. In an increasingly competitive marketplace, where more prospective authors than ever before compete for the attentions of fewer publishing houses, hiring an editor is seen as one way to increase the chances of success.

I think this has led to a slight misconception regarding the role of freelance editors, and it’s one that the less scrupulous editors are all too ready to exploit. You see, editors aren’t really there to help you sell your book, but rather to help you improve it, to develop your abilities as a writer, and progress towards that point where you can sell your book for yourself. Personally, I’d say that 90% of the critiques I do are about helping writers in the early stages of their development, rather than polishing almost-perfect manuscripts before they’re submitted to agents.

It’s best to think of an editor is as a writing coach, and the process of the critique as a focussed writing course, based around your novel.


Are you a writer who needs help? — 7 Comments

  1. That should be very helpful I would think. I have a friend who is an editor – not fiction though – and she seems to be very busy all the time. Something I often thought I would like to do, but presumably you need some ‘training’ first.

  2. I have just started a Margaret Weiss book and I don’t know who would be considered responsible, but there are all kinds of missing words. Small ones perhaps, but nevertheless it makes you stop and re-read to make sure what should be said. Would this be the editor, author, publisher or printer, or all of them combined?

  3. Every publisher has a different way of doing things. If it was one of my books, here’s how it probably happened:

    The copy editor goes through the MS, and if they are good, they find all typos of this kind and pencil in corrections. MS comes back to me and I agree (or otherwise). However, copy editor may also suggest some alterations e.g. expand this paragraph, or add a bit here because this doesn’t make sense.

    So I do, and then the MS goes to the typesetter (now someone with a computer!) but he’s having a bad day and enters the new stuff, or even the corrections, carelessly.

    I then see the first pages (or galley proofs) and so does my editor, but alas, we are not copy editors with that eagle eye for the minutae of typos…and the mistakes creep through into the published book!

    I am lucky in that I have not yet had a book with a lot of typos. Fingers crossed.

  4. I guess I do have an eagle eye and tend to spot these things instantly. But this current book is one of the worst I have seen and I have only just read a few chapters. One of the funniest I ever saw was a character was “peering at herself in the mirror” only they had left out the r in peering.

  5. Urgh, I suffered on this one with my first book …. the galleys had loads of typos which I corrected, but the typesetter didn’t make the corrections (maybe he didn’t get to see them) and I didn’t see the thing again until it was in printed form, with all those nasty typos leaping up to smack me in the eagle eyes. *sob*

    With my later books I emailed the publisher my own Word doc of the text (including the revised version after editing) which helped to tighten up the process. 🙂

  6. i’m so glad you picked this up, Glenda.

    i think there are a lot of writers in malaysia who would benefit from such help. trouble is so many of them are reluctant to pay. i do know those who have paid for the service of a professional editor and have been v. happy with it. (one friend who did this recently managed to get an agent)

    but i think a lot of authors here need help with organising their material, developing characters etc. not just the line editing.

    btw i don’t know how to contact you – lost your card. want to invite you to things!

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