Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Are You In This For The Money?

Are You In This For The Money?

As a freelance editor, I like to know what’s going on in the editing world – I’m a member of several editing groups – so I make it my business to keep up with news and with blogs pertinent to the trade. I happened upon one the other day owned by a person relatively new to the game. It’s great to see newcomers because there are always editors retiring, and there’s always work out there, especially if they have what it takes. What got me about this blog piece was the blogger’s promotion of their services at a rate that ‘couldn’t be matched by anyone else’. Not just that, but why should authors pay what could be seen as a high rate for an edit when their novel isn’t going to make all that much money anyway? This got me thinking about reasons for releasing novels in the first place, and why writers should be willing to pay for a quality service when having your novel edited.

Is the main objective of publishing your novel to make money out of it? It’s a serious question. Are you in it for the money? If that’s the case, what happens when your novel doesn’t sell more than a thousand or two, if that, even with a solid marketing campaign? What happens if you don’t see a return for the cash you forked out for professional editing, formatting, cover design, etc? Do you keep going and put another novel out there, or do you simply give up the ghost and return to the office, or shop, or cleaning windows for a living?
Or is it about having your novel read, irrespective of the financial side of things? Are you the kind of writer who slaves over your novel for a year or more before sending it out there to be read and appreciated, because that’s what deserves to happen to a novel that has been put through a comprehensive pre-publishing process? Yes, it’s wonderful when the book sells and royalties pad your account, and it’s an amazing feeling when you actually make a profit on your initial outlay, but it’s not why you’re in the game. You love writing – it’s something you simply cannot not do, even though you’ve tried because of the constant pressures involved in placing it before near-enough everything else. You might be lucky enough that your partner works full-time, or you might be able to hold down a part-time job, but you’re willing to live this life as a struggling writer because it makes your days worthwhile. It’s not about the money and, from my experience, you’re more than willing to save to enable you to have your novel professionally edited, formatted, and the cover designed to ensure that the work you release to the world is the very best it can be.

There’s also the reality that a writer’s reputation, and their sales, rises when they have several novels published over a number of years. Readers might like a novel, but if there’s nothing else belonging to the author out there they’ll simply go elsewhere, and you couldn’t blame them. So it’s not about caving in and going for a cheap-as-you-can-get editor because your novel might not pull in more than two or three thousand in royalties. The writing game is not a sprint to the finish. It’s about learning your craft and applying that as best you can to the work at hand before having it professionally edited and prepped for publication. It’s about building your author platform and networking across the breadth of the social-media world in order to pitch yourself and your product to the widest possible audience, always learning as you go and remembering to pay it forward by helping those who are coming up behind you.
I’m taking a deep breath here because ranting takes it out of me. What was this all about? I provide a solid service, taking into account the realities of living as a writer when determining my fee, but I don’t give my services away, either. Why should I? I work more hours than is healthy, and that’s definitely not going to change if I were to undercut the competition to the extent that my rates couldn’t be matched by anyone else. If you want quality, you pay for it – that’s how I see it. And if you care about your novel, you’ll ensure that your editor is the best you can get, not simply because he or she is the cheapest. Do your research and get the real deal.


Wednesday, 3 February 2016

The Next Step (submitting a sample chapter)

You’re a writer. You’ve spent a year or more writing what you hope will be a best-selling novel. The sweat and tears of stolen hours and neglected housework have soaked into what can only be described as the work of your life so far. After all the struggle and stress, you’ve rewritten and burnished it as much as you can, hopefully with the help of peer critique and beta-readers, and now it needs to be placed into the hands of an experienced editor who will take it on and work it through several collaborative phases that will see it develop to a level where it’s ready to meet the world at large.
You search the web to find the editor of your dreams, visit websites and read through a phonebook of testimonials, as well as asking writer friends for recommendations. It’s the way to go. You need to build a shortlist of potentials.

Then what do you do? If they don’t offer a free sample edit, move on. Just my opinion, but worth considering. You need to know how they work – how they approach a variety of aspects of writing and story. Are they constructive and considered? Do they suggest or dictate? Are they actually helpful rather than simply corrective? In other words, will they bring you on as a writer as they reveal the elements that require reviewing?

It goes both ways, of course. The writer gains a sense of what the editor is about, while the editor gets the opportunity to see where the writer is coming from. As an editor, doing a sample line-edit gives me a good idea of the work levels that might lie ahead if the writer commissions me to edit the full manuscript. Sometimes the work needs more time with the writer – maybe another run-through after some research on certain aspects of craft. Plus, I get to know the writer better through our correspondence, and this allows me to determine approach, price, and timeframe.

A relatively well-polished draft will take up to two weeks for a first pass. The second pass takes about a week (evenings), and the final proofread usually takes three or four days. Those three serious passes: line-edit, copy edit, proofread, will leave you with a manuscript ready for final pre-release prepping. Anyone who has worked with me knows how well that process works. Send me your sample chapter and see for yourself.