Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Choosing an Editor

from indiepublications.com

Earlier this month, I had the privilege of speaking with a group of emerging and published writers at an event hosted by Adventures by the Book in San Diego. Among the many smart questions posed by the authors in attendance was one about how authors can make sure they’re working with a top-notch editor.

Here, several items to consider before signing on with an editor:

Check credentials: Editors on staff with reputable publishing companies have been vetted, but if you’re hiring a freelance editor or paying an author services company for editorial services, be sure to ask about the qualifications of the person who’ll be editing your work. In emails received from people soliciting editorial work, I’ve found punctuation mistakes and grammatical errors. Among freelance editors hired by small publishers, I’ve come across those who don’t know the difference between proofreading and line editing. A degree in English isn’t enough to qualify someone as a freelance editor. A good editor should have experience in all types of editing—developmental, line edits, and proofreading. Ideally, she should also have publishing experience, and she should provide client references. She should use a stylebook appropriate for the type of writing you’re doing (Chicago Manual of Style for most trade publications) and she should be able to explain the reason for every suggested change. “A comma sounds right” isn’t a reason—there are grammatical rules that apply in every situation.

Make sure the editor works in stages: If you’re working with a legacy publisher, editorial work will progress in phases. If you’re hiring editorial assistance before submitting or publishing, there’s no sense spending a lot of money on proofreading when the big parts of the book—plot, character, structure, pacing—aren’t yet what they need to be. Likewise, when it’s time for proofreading, you don’t want a bunch of line edits that change the style of your narrative. Developmental editing should come first, followed by line edits, and then proofreading. If you’re considering an editor who doesn’t seem to understand these distinctions, keep looking.

Beware editors who change your style: A good editor understands that it’s always your project. She asks about—and pays attention to—the specific area in which you’d like help, and she works to refine your style without changing it into her own. If you’re hiring an editor, ask for a brief sample edit to make sure the editor’s work is done to your standards and expectations. To prospective clients, I offer a ten-minute sample.

Budget realistically: With legacy publishing, the percentage that goes to your agent and publisher helps to offset the cost of their editorial assistance. If you’re paying for editorial assistance on your own, you’ll need to budget at least 2.5 cents per word, or $50 per hour, for developmental editing and line edits. For proofreading (also called copyediting), expect to pay 2 cents a word, or $35 per hour. For my clients, I offer to bill either by the hour or by the word—whichever is cheaper. From my sample edits, I extrapolate the cost of projects if billed by the hour—because I’ve been editing for years, my hourly rate is usually substantially cheaper than the per-word rate.

Get it in writing: Regardless of how they’re paid, good editors will explain clearly, in writing, how their work will proceed. In either an email exchange or a formal agreement, they’ll cover the scope of the project, timelines, and any costs that will be incurred. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Successful Writer: An Editor's Perspective

Source: carpediem

As a freelance editor and writing teacher, I’ve enjoyed working with all sorts of writers on all sorts of projects. Over the years, I’ve discovered there are four basic types of writers—and I’ve realized that at various times during my nearly twenty years of writing and publishing, I’ve fit into each of these four categories myself.

Which type of writer are you?

·         The One-and-Done: This writer revels in the draft, which she pursues with abandon, forsaking sleep, food, and family for the pleasures of freewheeling through her story, spilling words onto the page. Forget mere books—she writes epics, logging thousands of words in each writing session. All year long, she looks forward to NaNoWriMo, when she throws herself into the challenge of drafting an entire novel in thirty days. The One-and-Done is speedy, determined, productive, and wildly imaginative. She has no problem finishing her draft, but in the glow of her accomplishment, she’s prone to releasing her work too soon—and suffering disappointment when it isn’t well-received.
·         The Winchester: Remember the Winchester heiress who feared she’d die if she ever quit adding onto her mansion? Some writers suffer from a variation on this malady, writing on and on but never completing a project. Not uncommonly, these writers tend to share a subconscious fear of finishing, which inevitably invites judgment. In other cases, the author just isn’t sure how to finish, and so she keeps on writing and writing and writing and writing…
·         The Wheel-Spinner: This writer paces nicely through a project. When she hits a rough patch, she finds her way through to the finish, wisely seeking help wherever it’s needed. Recognizing the difference between a draft and a marketable book, she seeks advice on how to improve her project, then rolls up her writerly sleeves and attempts revision. But somewhere along the way, she gets stuck. She knows change is needed, but the means to accomplish it alludes her. Her wheels spin and spin, rutting her road to completion.
·         The Sequoia: This writer is strong and productive, but she started out like all other writers, as one tiny voice in a big literary forest. Hardy and adaptable, she learns, grows, and perseveres through the years. Criticism that makes others wither only strengthens her resolve. She stands tall yet acknowledges her dependence on a vital ecosystem of fellow writers, devoted readers, and insightful editors. She’s seen lean seasons and full ones, but by the time she’s old, you could drive right through her middle and she’d continue to thrive.

As a freelance editor, Deb Vanasse enjoys helping all types of writers. Co-founder of 49 Writers and founder of the independent authors cooperative Running Fox Books, she has also authored sixteen books. Her most recent are Write Your Best Book, a practical guide to writing books that rise above the rest; What Every Author Should Know, a comprehensive guide to book publishing and promotion; and Cold Spell, a novel that “captures the harsh beauty of the terrain as well as the strain of self-doubt and complicated family bonds,” according to Booklist. Her next book, Wealth Woman: Kate Carmack and the Klondike Race for Gold, comes out in April, 2016.