HOW TO FIND AND WORK WITH A FREELANCE EDITOR
From my presentation at the 2013 San Francisco Writer’s Conference, at which I was also offering 15 minute free editorial consultations. This includes other two panelists and audience questions. Run time 44 minutes.
Click to play the audio clip.
HOW TO SUBMIT YOUR MANUSCRIPT FOR EDITING
EDITING CAN INVOLVE SEVERAL DISTINCT TASKS AND,
DIFFERENT EDITORS HAVE DIFFERENT STRENGTHS
- Helps with developing the ideas you want to write about, setting timelines, as well as keeping you writing and working through blocks.
- Helps keep your perspective: Is this project relevant to your life and the world? to your heart? Is it worth the investment of time and money?
- Writes the text from ideas and research “author” has gathered.
- Before you start writing, helps develops the logical order of your concepts.
- Of a completed draft – arranges the content so the reader is offered necessary information in a logical sequence.
- Gives a specific stylistic tone and consistency throughout the text
- Clarifies concepts, adds nuanced precision in word choice, invokes rich vocabulary to enliven the text and enthrall the reader.
- Insures that facts are correct and that the timing of story events agrees with events in the historic world.
- Cleans up grammar and punctuation to publishing standard (Chicago Manual or AP Style) or develops consistency of style specific to the intention of the specific manuscript. Here’s a sample marked up page.
Editors may not be good proofreaders. (I’m not – my mind moves too fast to focus on details.) Commercial publications often have three proofreaders sign off on every project. This is a specialized skill (and from the state of publishing you have probably noticed how rare it is).
Bringing out the best in you
- An editor can move you forward from wherever you are – and pull you out of the morass when you are slogging.
- Working with an editor can be enjoyable, educational, and personal – a true collaboration.
- You, the writer, are in control – of content (by frequent communication) and cost (by agreement) and timing (as much as possible.)
- You, the writer, own the content and have the right to confidentiality.
Questions to ask yourself before hiring an editor
- How much help do I want?
- Do I want someone to collaborate in developing the material?
- Do I want someone to teach me to write well?
- What help do I want?
- Do I want to give over what I have – whether research material or rough draft – and never have to look at it until it is ready for my approval?
- Do I want to approve one chapter before allowing my editor to move forward?
- For references, may I talk with writers you’ve worked with before?
Questions to ask an editor before you commit
- What do you do as an editor? (see the Skills above)
- Are you conversant with my subject?
- If NO: You are likely to be end up with a logically structured, clear text
- If YES: For esoteric subjects, this can be very useful. You don’t want to be paying your editor to learn a strange language/map, if there is another qualified editor who knows your material.
- Can we meet in person? (This is important to some writers, while others can work comfortably by email and phone or skype.)
- Can we collaborate – on style, content, details, research?
- Will you wrestle with me to give me the product I want?
- How do you charge?
- What do you need in order to give me a bid?
- How firm is the bid?
- When do you require payment?
- What happens if I don’t like the work you produce for me? (Approving one chapter at a time is a way to prevent this.)
Questions to expect an editor to ask you
- Where do you think you are in the process?
- What do you want me to do? (Collaborate? Structural analysis? Help develop, then guide the writing? Ghost write? Clean up the writing? Teach you to be a better writer? NOTE: These categories are not mutually exclusive.)
- Who is your audience?
- What action or feeling do you want to inspire them to?
- What is your personal goal for this project?
- If you have completed a draft, do you have a chapter synopsis (so that as I read, I can tell if you are approaching your goal logically)?
- To create an estimate, you will need to send … (this will depend on the piece, what needs to be done, etc.)
- How much work do you want to do yourself? (I do a much better editing job working on hard copy, then making inputting changes at the computer. My clients can save money and monitor every change I suggest by inputting the changes themselves. They also learn to think like an editor, which helps them learn the craft of writing .)
- Do you want me to send you each chapter when I am done? (I recommend that the first one at least be haggled over until the editor knows exactly what you want – then the editor can proceed with confidence to the end without further delay and interruption from the writer.)
- What is your time frame? (Sometimes I ask this first, because I may already be too obligated to meet it.)
Evaluating an editor’s contribution to a finished product
Commercially published books are printed with the editor’s work intact. Vanity published book may have been edited or not. Self-published books may exhibit the editor’s final touches, or may have been changed by author.