Editors and Writers discussion

Questions from a new editor for the pros

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message 1: by Angela Bee Bee (new)

Angela Bee Bee (gardangels) | 8 comments I've been doing some free editing for a voluntary writing event here at GR, to get my feet wet and get my work flow all set.
I think I'm good at it and I'll enjoy editing, and hopefully make some money.

Some questions;
1)confidentiality, what is the culture regarding reviewing, rating, discussing books you've edited?
And how do you tell your client they can trust you?
I'd like to create some sort of confidentiality statement on my website.

2)what are some good websites where editors discuss work and get new clients?

3) what are the considerations of applying for an editing position at a publisher versus going freelance. Seems like the market is flooded with editors in both areas.

My background is in technical writing. I'm editing romance novels. I'm planning to work for free for another month or two, then try either applying with publishers or going freelance.

message 2: by Harrison (new)

Harrison Demchick | 19 comments I'll field the third one, because my transition to freelance came after a lot of years in traditional publishing and a lot of thought went into it.

The tricky thing about seeking an editorial position at a publishing house is that publishers are shrinking rather than growing. They're shrinking due to the now hugely significant number of authors who prefer to self-publish. The advantage, then, of being a freelancer is that you can work with authors who self-publish *and* authors who want a terrific, polished manuscript to send to publishers and agents.

The disadvantage is the competition. The market seems to be flooded with editors, but the truth is that what really floods the market is people who *think* they can edit. And what's challenging is that a lot of those editors, who may have serious talent in the area and just as easily may not, are willing to work for well below anything resembling minimum wage, either to get their foot in the door and build up a client base or simply because they have to charge low to get work. It's a wild scramble at the bottom. If you're one of those who would genuinely be good, it's very tough to prove that and still make a living. After all, most writers don't know how much work goes into editing. Like writing itself, it's an invisible art.

But if you *do* have the experience and you *are* good, freelance editorial work can be very stable. I started as freelance developmental editor with eight years of publishing experience behind me, and because I have a couple dozen published books to my credit and authors who love working with me--because I can prove that I'm really good at this--I can get work.

Even then, though, a lot of writers are going to go for the editor who charges less than $200 for something that, given the work involved, should reasonably cost more than $2000. These writers are often throwing their money away, but as long as someone is willing to work for almost nothing, someone will hire them. The authors serious about making an investment to improve their work will come to you.

So a long, complicated answer for a very complicated question. If you don't have experience, I would recommend you see about a position in traditional publishing *somewhere*, because you need something to give you an edge over all the other people scrambling for work.

I hope this helps!

Harrison Demchick
Developmental Editor, Ambitious Enterprises

message 3: by Angela Bee Bee (new)

Angela Bee Bee (gardangels) | 8 comments Ok thanks. I'll set a goal then of working to prove I'm good and getting away from the scramble at the bottom.

message 4: by Ruth (new)

Ruth Feiertag | 115 comments Angela,

Try LinkedIn for exposure and community. I have found a number of excellent discussion groups there (so many that you can get overwhelmed) and authors are likely to check for your LI profile if they're considering hiring you. You can connect with other editors, with authors, and with publishing houses.

Check out the Editorial Freelancers Association site. I haven't joined because the dues are a little steep (even if they do count as a tax deduction), but the site offers a lot of useful information, including the going rates for different kinds of editing, to all comers. http://www.the-efa.org

There may be local organizations right in your backyard as well. And it's always worth checking out the websites of other editors. Many of them list additional resources that offer a wealth of information.

Consider taking editing courses. There are some excellent on-line options; continuing education groups often offer solid entry-level classes. Do you know what kind of editing you want to do?

I hope that helps.

Ruth Feiertag

message 5: by Angela Bee Bee (new)

Angela Bee Bee (gardangels) | 8 comments Those are great suggestions. Thanks. I haven't tried linked in before, will do. The efa site is limited if you don't pay.
I'll check into classes and local clubs, etc.
I want to edit manuscripts for romance writers. I could also do some non-fiction in my field, environmental resources/engineering, but not seeking it out.

message 6: by Ruth (new)

Ruth Feiertag | 115 comments Angela,

Romance is probably a good choice; I'll bet there's a lot of demand for freelance editors. When I asked what kind of editing you want to do, I was referring not to the genre that interests you, but what level of editing you want to offer: developmental, line, copyediting, proofreading …. Knowing where your strengths lie will help you and your prospective clients figure out whether you're a good match.


message 7: by Angela Bee Bee (new)

Angela Bee Bee (gardangels) | 8 comments Ok sorry. So far, I find myself unable to not comment on something. It seems I can only do a complete thorough edit. It takes longer though, I understand that.

Right now, I'm just giving the document what it needs, whatever stage it's at. I don't see myself limiting it to a level, although I have seen that is the norm.

I can't imagine seeing something awkward or missing and not commenting because I'm supposedly just proofing.

If I've gone too far, which I definitely think I have, they can just reject my changes, but so far the response has been positive.

message 8: by Lin (new)

Lin | 75 comments Mod
This is where the issue of professionalism comes in - if I'm going to go through a manuscript and check that it all makes sense and there are no major plot issues, it will take longer than if I'm reading through to correct errors and make sure each sentence is understandable.

I need to pay my bills, so I need to make sure I'm spending my time sensibly. This means that I need to be aware of the level of service I'm charging for and allocate my time accordingly. Therefore a price for a piece of work that needs substantial editing/commenting will be much higher than for a piece of work that just needs a very quick tidy and is otherwise sound. It's reading at two levels - I can either read at plot level or at language level - to read at both simultaneously is impossible, and the more passes I need to make, the longer it takes.

If on taking on a proofreading job at a proofreading price I then discover that much more work is needed, I would need to go back to the client, explain the issue and if necessary negotiate a change in price/service before carrying out any more work, as there's no point "tidying up" a manuscript that is not yet sound otherwise.

message 9: by Angela Bee Bee (new)

Angela Bee Bee (gardangels) | 8 comments I'll keep that in mind as I develop my business plan.

I've always done A+ work all the time. When the budget or schedule calls for less detail, I always struggle to let it go.

We called it "good enough for government work" or "they're paying for C work"

But, my docs were known for coming back from said government with no marks. I gave them much better quality than was required or budgeted.

I'll factor these things in to my estimates, and with experience perhaps I'll develop more balance, letting things slide til the final edit.

message 10: by J.M. (new)

J.M. Rankin (jmrankin) | 64 comments I have been working freelance for six years now for both authors and publishers alike. When I am dealing with an author directly I will always offer a free assessment of their work (usually the first 1000 words). For many first time authors it allows them the chance to see how I work and if it's right for them, but it also allows me the chance to assess what sort of input (if any) the author needs. Sometimes it's clear to see they need detailed input in terms of structure, flow etc, and others the piece is almost flawless and simply needs a basic proofread for basic errors. This way I never charge for work that's not necessary.

message 11: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth Davies | 3 comments As a fairly new author I'm just starting out in the hunt for an editor. At the moment I wouldn't consider anyone who isn't prepared to do a sample edit, just so I can see if the editor and I are able to work together. I also expect to obtain a few sample edits of the same piece of work. When I find an editor who suits my needs I will be more than happy to promote them.
I agree with the comments about the quality of some editors' work. I have recently seen some shocking examples. Possibly the best advertising is word-of-mouth and having the author's permission to say that you have edited a particular piece of work.

message 12: by Angela Bee Bee (new)

Angela Bee Bee (gardangels) | 8 comments Yes, sampling seems to be very critical to establish quality and compatibility, and assess the scope/budget.

So far all my sample edits have been answered with more chapters, but my price is right.

message 13: by Angela Bee Bee (last edited May 15, 2014 05:12PM) (new)

Angela Bee Bee (gardangels) | 8 comments Ruth wrote: "Angela,

Try LinkedIn for exposure and community. I have found a number of excellent discussion groups there (so many that you can get overwhelmed) and authors are likely to check for your LI profi..."

Ok, I've spent a considerable amount of time on Linked In and find it incredibly random, limited, and difficult to navigate.

The EFA website is equally frustrating and I refuse to try elance. Any other suggestions?

I think I need a fiction writers/editors resource.

Perhaps I should just start contacting publishers directly?

message 14: by Jaclyn (new)

Jaclyn | 21 comments Angela,

It can be difficult to establish yourself as a freelance editor, especially when there seems to be so many others out there that are promising to do the same as you. It's frustrating trying to figure out where to start and who to make contact with!

I am proof, however, that it can be done! Keep pushing, keep networking, and just keep trying to establish yourself above the rest. When I starting freelancing I had no professional experience to back me up, although I have an extensive background of writing and editing projects. There was nothing out there with my name on it yet, so it was difficult at first.

If you haven't already, try networking on Facebook. Advertise your services in a separate thread on here. Consider opening yourself up to edit all genres, at least in the beginning while trying to establish credibility. Think about your pricing and if it can be lowered to help certain authors out or to seem more fair for someone newer in the industry. Above all, show the author that you aren't just another run-of-the-mill editor who's tactics are robotic. An author pours their heart and their soul into their creations, and many aren't willing to trust it to someone who they haven't established a comfortable relationship with. Every story, and every author, matters.

Elance and LinkedIn can be a good start, of course. Why not also try Craig's List? Advertise yourself on Twitter if you do not already have one. I have learned that networking is equally as important as establishing a relationship with your writer.

Good luck to you! Don't give up and believe that you can do this, because you can.

"Novice speaks nothing of skill. The beauty in all of this is having the courage to pursue your dreams." - Jaclyn A. Lee

message 15: by Angela Bee Bee (new)

Angela Bee Bee (gardangels) | 8 comments Thanks so much. I'll keep at it and work on your suggestions.

message 16: by Jerry (new)

Jerry Shaw | 46 comments I agree with the others that getting exposure on community areas, such as LinkedIn and Facebook, helps connect you in the networking process.
As said before, the competition in the editing field may force you to charge lower fees than you deserve, but it brings in jobs and provides clients - who can provide you with other clients eventually.
I find myself charging lower fees than usual at times. There are times when it makes me feel good to help an author. Of course, the goal is still money. You sometimes have to go with what feels best. Eventually, things work out.
Jerry Shaw

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