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Professional Editors?

Got a question/comment about the business of writing or about the publishing industry? Here's your place to post it!
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Divia
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Professional Editors?

Post by Divia » Tue October 21st, 2008, 11:16 am

So I'm working on the second draft of my novel. Yay me! This is actually a huge step cause normally I write the first draft, think it sucks and then ditch it. Anyway....

I know that I need a second pair of eyes to look at this. I can ask a friend, but he isnt a professional editor and knows nothing about HF. So here is my question..


Do writers who have never been published before seek out a professional editor before they submit their story?

Or should I have my friend review it then try to find an agent.

I'm not sure of the process. Thanks :)
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Rowan
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Interest in HF: I love history, but it's boring in school. Historical fiction brings it alive for me.
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Post by Rowan » Tue October 21st, 2008, 1:37 pm

If you decide you need/want a professional editor to look over your manuscript, I offer my services. Will gladly send you my credentials as well.

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michellemoran
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Post by michellemoran » Tue October 21st, 2008, 4:38 pm

Divia - it can go either way. Most of my published friends have never used a professional editor before submitting, however.... many of the new writers I've met (unpublished and searching for an agent) have gone the route of professional editing. This may be because the market is harder to break into now that it was five-ten years ago (when most of the authors I know began their careers), or because more professional editors (with NY editing experience) are out there. I'm not sure.

Ultimately, I think it's a personal decision based on how much money you're willing to spend (it will be several thousand, I believe), and whether you think that another set of eyes will make you a better writer (it usually does). Perhaps you want to query a few agents who ask for sample pages. If not a single one asks for a partial or a full, then maybe consider a professional editor (but keep in mind requests for partials and fulls are rare). Hard call!
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cw gortner
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Post by cw gortner » Tue October 21st, 2008, 7:01 pm

My personal experience is mixed. I hired a professional editor for my first manuscript after my agent at the time suggested it - but I had specific goals in mind, mainly to trim 200+ pages from it and de-purple my prose. I did get the edit done but the book still never sold.

For my second manuscript, which years later has been published as THE LAST QUEEN, I used the same editor. The edit was excellent, but again, the book didn't sell based on that edit. Indeed, it would be several more years and more edits on my own before that happened. I worked with a critique writing group to workshop certain sections; and then, when I got my current agent, did another lengthy revision based on her recommendations that eventually sold the book. In all, from completion of the first paid professional edit to my last revision before the sale, I'd say I revised QUEEN about five times.

The short of it is, hiring an editor is a very personal undertaking. First, you want to find someone who truly understands and gets your particular voice: fixing craft problems is one thing, and fixing the voice quite another. My opinion is that most writers be sure they know what they want from an editor before approaching one. A general look with a three-page follow-up to see if the story flows, if characters are realistic, etc. (and then you do the rewriting on your own)? A certain problem area you need to polish / revise? An in-depth examination of the work to determine its marketability? Be as specific as possible, because if not it can get very costly. If you're not sure yet (i.e., are simply looking for reactions to the story) you might do better with a writers' group where you can get constructive critique and save hiring an professional editor until you feel the ms. is absolutely at the best you can get it.

In any event, rest assured that professional editor or not, when you get an agent, they'll want changes before they submit. It's a very rare ms. indeed that an agent doesn't request edits on these days, given the marketplace.

My five cents, for what it's worth.

I had a good experience with my editor but in the end, most of the re-writing and revisions that sold the book I did on my own.
THE QUEEN'S VOW available on June 12, 2012!
THE TUDOR SECRET, Book I in the Elizabeth I Spymaster Chronicles
THE CONFESSIONS OF CATHERINE DE MEDICI
THE LAST QUEEN


www.cwgortner.com

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michellemoran
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Post by michellemoran » Tue October 21st, 2008, 7:32 pm

Wow, great advice Christopher!
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xiaotien
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Post by xiaotien » Tue October 21st, 2008, 7:36 pm

i've met one aspiring to be published writer
at a writing conference who paid for editorial
services. she seemed really pleased. but i have
no idea if she got an agent or sold the book?

i didn't use one. i used my two critique group
comments and muddled though the whole thing
myself.

the scary thing about edits, it's so personal?
each editor has a personal style and vision for
your novel, and how s/he will edit. it can be a risk
in that way. i would say def get references from
whomever you choose to hire--if you go that route--
and also make sure they read / write / has edited
within the HF genre.

good luck!
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greenwillow / harpercollins summer '09

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Divia
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Post by Divia » Tue October 21st, 2008, 8:33 pm

Wow. Great advise everyone. Thanks :)

I ask because I want to make sure I'm doing the right steps. I dont want to present my book to someone and an agent look at me funny and ask why I didnt get an editor to look at it first. :)

I'll look into critique groups. Though that could be difficult around this area.

Thanks!
News, views, and reviews on books and graphic novels for young adult.
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cw gortner
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Post by cw gortner » Tue October 21st, 2008, 11:21 pm

There are also online critique groups; I tried one specifically for historical fiction writers via Yahoo! groups and it was great.

We exchanged chapters; edited with Word's track changes; and returned them. It was all done via folders where you uploaded what you wanted critiqued and downloaded someone else's work for you to critique The nice thing about this venue was that I had 2 or 3 people looking at my work and so I got different perspectives, plus I didn't have to agree or argue against/for any changes. If I liked them, I did it. If not, I ignored it.

I also got to read other writers and got a better sense of what I did well and not so well, vis-a-vis someone else's work.
THE QUEEN'S VOW available on June 12, 2012!
THE TUDOR SECRET, Book I in the Elizabeth I Spymaster Chronicles
THE CONFESSIONS OF CATHERINE DE MEDICI
THE LAST QUEEN


www.cwgortner.com

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Christine Blevins
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Post by Christine Blevins » Wed October 22nd, 2008, 1:59 am

Divia - All of the advice your getting here is sound.

The cost of professional editing services were prohibitive for me as well, and I also relied on the critique group that I joined at my local community college. The feedback I received there on character and story development was very valuable, plus critiquing the work of my fellows helped me to hone my self-editing skills to the point where I was very confident in submitting my manuscript to agents.

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cw gortner
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Post by cw gortner » Wed October 22nd, 2008, 3:07 am

[quote=""Christine Blevins""] I also relied on the critique group that I joined at my local community college. The feedback I received there on character and story development was very valuable, plus critiquing the work of my fellows helped me to hone my self-editing skills to the point where I was very confident in submitting my manuscript to agents.[/quote]

Ditto! I think it's actually more fun and valuable to do it this way because you learn the skills you need to self-edit your work. Might as well, too, considering that between your agent and editor you'll get edited anyway :)
THE QUEEN'S VOW available on June 12, 2012!
THE TUDOR SECRET, Book I in the Elizabeth I Spymaster Chronicles
THE CONFESSIONS OF CATHERINE DE MEDICI
THE LAST QUEEN


www.cwgortner.com

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