I’m still standing! As I wrote in my last blog post, I sent my manuscript off to an editor for a modified copyedit, which included feedback on the pacing of the book, whether any sections should be cut, or if there were any obvious aspects of the story that just didn’t work. I’m happy to report that the editor thought the pacing was good and nothing needed to be cut, other than a sentence or phrase here and there. I’m not curled up in a ball under the covers. Whew!
She did a very thorough job, and made loads of recommendations for little improvements, which I discuss below. Although it is expensive to hire a good editor, almost everything I’ve heard and read told me that hiring an editor is a vital part of the book publishing process. I’m so glad I did.
For the other writers out there that are curious, I’m providing some of the details of my experience hiring an editor. Here is what I did:
- Read blog posts of some of the authors and other writing professionals I follow to see what they recommended when hiring an editor.
- Researched some of the editing websites and articles. After deciding what type of edit I wanted, whether developmental, copyedit, or proofreading, I decided to find an editor on Reedsy.com. (NOTE: Reedsy charges a ten percent fee but offers experienced professionals and some contractual protections.)
- Contacted five potential editors and asked for quotes, then asked them additional questions.
- Requested and received sample edits from several of the editors.
- Negotiated a modified copyedit, then entered into a Reedsy contract, which required a 50% deposit, with the remaining 50% paid after receiving the editor’s feedback.
I’m very happy with the editor I chose. I think she did a very thorough job, was patient answering my questions, and is very experienced in my genre. She has also worked with some famous authors, including Ken Follett, George W. Bush, Isabel Allende, and Bruce Springsteen!
This was actually my second experience working with an editor. The first time I hired one I requested a developmental edit on the first thirty pages. I worked with an editor through a writing club where I’m a member. Unfortunately, there were some red flags.
It was hard to get information from her in advance, such as a cost quote, so I just did thirty pages to gauge the cost and quality of her work. Some more red flags popped up during this editor’s feedback. For one thing, she didn’t use tracked changes, but instead preferred to provide her feedback verbally. When I insisted that I needed the feedback documented (I knew I wouldn’t remember everything she said), she provided it in hard-to-read handwritten notes.
She also suggested I write a different kind of book, which is a huge red flag—I had read an article that advised never to hire an editor who suggests you write a different kind of book. They are supposed to make recommendations about the story you have written. She wanted me to write an animal story (there is a dog in my book), and I later found out that she is writing an animal story. (I learned at the San Francisco Writers Conference that the popularity of dog/animal books has passed.) I realized she was not the right editor for me, which eventually led me to Reedsy.com.
I thought I would provide a list of the general categories my editor’s recommendations fall into, in case they are helpful to other writers out there.
- Repetitive word use within close proximity, and repetitive information provided in different places.
- Unnecessary commas with adjectives.
- Spelling out numbers.
- Using contractions in dialogue and text to make it less formal.
- Tense: Adding in some of the “had” words I had changed–she said to keep it in past tense since it’s a past tense narrative.
- Fixing place names, exact quotations, and distances between towns.
- Fixing capitalization.
- Combining a short chapter with another one.
- Adding clarifying information to unfamiliar terms/situations.
- Avoid continuing a thought from one chapter to the next.
I’ve got my work cut out for me, but since these are little changes, they shouldn’t take too long. There is still so much to do before I am ready to publish, but this is a big step forward. Feeling excited!