Thursday, February 17, 2011

Quick Answers: Freelance Editors, Trends, and Overthinking

When an agent or editor asks for a synopsis or the first ten pages to be pasted in the email, should I double space as if it's a hard copy, or is there a preferred method for email formatting?
This is another case of overthinking submissions.  Do whatever makes it easily readable, and leave it at that.
I’ve heard that publishers are currently looking for vampire and action manuscripts. I’m not interested in placating a fickle trend, but I am curious as to whether or not you think the recent downturn in the publishing industry might be leading to a significant (long-term) shift in what sells.
Let me congratulate you on not writing to trend.  But the answer to your question is no.
I have written a novel (fiction/semi-romantic). I would like to find someone professional who would read it and tell me how to proceed from this point. If you have any specific advice it would be greatly appreciated.
Some people do hire freelance developmental editors, but I think you could probably get as much help from a good critique group.   Readers, do you have thoughts?  Or recommendations of freelance editors?

25 comments:

Layton Green said...

Personally,
I haven't had much success with critique groups (and I've found that my literary reader friends are better resources than my writer friends), but my developmental editor has made me ten times the writer I could have been otherwise. He's Richard Marek and I can;t recommend him highly enough.

Layton Green
www.laytongreen.com

Sarah said...

I'm currently part of the Nevada SCBWI's Mentor Program. I have a wonderful mentor who currently works as a freelance editor. However, I'm glad I had years with my critique group before working with my mentor. Here's why:

First, my critique group taught me how to take criticism. I can now handle criticism, and I also know how I handle it. I was able to tell my mentor that I need time to consider a critique before responding to it, but that I'll want to talk about it later. I would hate to just now be figuring that out.

Second, my terrific critique group knocked off so many rough edges. You don't want to pay an editor to tell you not to use passive verbs or that your characterization needs work. If you've already worked with a (good!) group your time with the editor will count for something more than training in more basic skills.

Keep an eye out for good classes and programs or writing conferences. That's another good way to hone your skills.

And I have to put a plug in for Nevada. Check out their Mentor Program!

alaskaravenclaw said...

I recommend Brown Dog Editorial Services-- it's run by a real editor with real-world experience in children's books and it doesn't cost as much as some services.

http://browndogedits.com/

Anonymous said...

An excellent critique group is wonderful but often hard to find, and bad/off the mark advice can be worse than no advice at all. Maybe you should consider a good manuscript oriented class for YA or children's writers. There are wonderful classes, both live and online, taught by YA writers and editors at www.writers.com, Gotham Writers Workshop, MediaBistro, The Writers Center, and others. Writers submit pages every week (some even focus on whole novels) and get feedback from a pro as well as classmates. A good teacher can point out more than problems with your work. She can suggest writing techniques to help you move forward.

S. Kyle Davis said...

Never used her, but I hear C.A. Marshall is supposed to be awesome. I follow her blog and twitter, and she's good. Also an intern at an agency, so she knows her stuff.

http://www.camarshall.com/

That being said, a good critique group works, but can be a long process. You can also find beta readers, which may be what you want at this point. Beta readers borrow their name from beta testers, which test a computer program or website before it's sent out. They look for bugs in the completed system and identify errors. Beta readers do the same for manuscripts, reading things over the entire thing, pointing out parts that work and don't. These people usually aren't in a long-term commitment with you, but agree to read your whole MS (at least) once. They do it for free, but usually that comes with the understanding that if they need beta readers and ask you to help, you'll return the favor. If you have a blog, a simple call for beta readers will usually lend good results. Otherwise, find an online community or some twitter friends and ask around. The key is not to be shy.

Jessie said...

I'm a freelance editor. You can see my profile on Elance.com as Jandersen22.

Jessie said...

I'm a freelance editor. You can see my profile on Elance.com as jandersen22

Marissa Doyle said...

Suggestion for question #3: join the Romance Writers of America. They're fabulous at educating members about the publishing industry, and you'll be able to find a critique group or recs for freelance editors very easily.

Amy said...

The best workshop I attended at last summer's SCBWI LA conference was taught by Chris Eboch--http://chriseboch.blogspot.com/

She does freelance editing, with details on her blog.

Anon, thanks for the view into the industry from your POV!

Roger Sutton said...

I dunno EA--do you think vampire books will be hot forever? (Bite me now if so.)

Addley C. Fannin said...

*ahem* Would it be inappropriate to toot my own horn and mention that I offer freelance editing at the reasonable price of the newly-graduated and unemployed?

Though the suggestion about finding a good critique group is a good one. My critique group's done wonders for me. The only downside is that critique groups take a lot of time, novel-wise - first you have to find one that's a good fit for you (since sometimes they can be...not very good) and then there's the matter of how much each group takes on each week.

My group reads our submissions during out meetings, so we usually only have time for about 6 pages at a shot. It's great for focusing on individual scenes, but it takes a long time before anyone can give feedback on the WIP as a whole.

Katya said...

Here's what this independent editor thinks:
As awesome as critique groups are (I always tell people to join one), they are a far cry from professional editing, if that's what you're looking for. Other writers' feedback can and should be a very major part of your development as a writer, and that support is available at every stage, for every piece you take to your group, for free! But good freelance editors provide editorial feedback from the perspective of a publishing insider, which tends to be very, very different from what you'll hear from your writing circle.

Sadly, I can't tell you where to find a qualified freelancer, other than by referral. People talk about the EFA as a good resource, but they don't actually screen their members for training and experience. Anyone can pay the fee and wear the badge.

Anyway, find an editor with verifiable experience in book publishing, not an English BA/MFA/whatever who "loves books." Even published authors don't necessarily have editorial skill. Sorry for the scorn, I just hate seeing writers get ripped off. It happens too much.

Adam Rex said...

One of my former editors is now a freelancer, and I miss her:

http://www.tamsonweston.com/

fakefrenchie said...

I can recommend these editors:
http://www.editingforauthors.com/index.html

http://lauraannegilman.net/dymk_new.shtm

Becky Levine said...

As a freelance editor AND a huge critiquer, I think that a strong critique group can give you what an editor does, but...people have lots of reasons for NOT wanting to join them. There isn't a critique group nearby that works; someone's not comfortable with online groups; they don't have the time/inclination to critique other people's work (although I think they lose out on a LOT of writing-craft education with that choice); it takes too long to get the whole group up and running.

I recommend to everybody that they get into a critique group, that they take the time & energy to build a strong one. Meanwhile, though, if they're looking for an edit NOW, then finding a good freelance editor can be the solution they need.

Orlando said...

I became unemployed before I finished my ms. Now I can't afford to hire an editor, and I'm not sure if I can polish that ms good enough on my own. So... If you find the answer to your question without dishing out $1,856.15, please let me know.

Anonymous said...

Kara LaReau of Bluebird Works is a genius, formerly of Candlewick & Scholastic.

Also I second Tamson Weston.

And Emma Dryden.

Choices said...

I am an aspiring children's book author who has some unpublished children's stories. I sometimes post my work at choices-lovetoteach@blogspot.com
This summer, I plan to take a creative writing class.

Wordy Birdie said...

Try Book Editing Associates:

http://www.book-editing.com/

Great reputation and all editors are thoroughly vetted, extensively tested, and must have published (not self-published) projects to their name. (I know the testing is extensive and hard core because I belong to the Network.)

Make sure always to check Preditors and Editors and do thorough Google before you work with any editor.

Liesl said...

I'm not a huge fan of critique groups- too time consuming and you don't always click with everyone in the group.

I've found my best readers through conferences and workshops. Find people whose work you admire, offer to trade manuscripts. That's worked great for me.

Deirdre Mundy said...

I've tried multiple critique groups and never found a good match--- But I've found some good one on one critique partners.

One problem with groups is that chemistry matters. So if there are a couple members of the group who make you crazy with their blatent disregard for spell-checking and the elements of style, the whole group starts to feel like a prison, rather than a help.

Perhaps you can try a few manuscript swaps? You get more focused attention, and it's hard to get a good critique one chapter at a time-- an all-at-once critique is more helpful.

I have found that, as I write/edit more, I get better at self -critiquing. In fact, I leave nasty notes to myself as I type...

marshrachel said...

Hi. I hope you don’t mind me commenting on this last question: “I have written a novel (fiction/semi-romantic). I would like to find someone professional who would read it and tell me how to proceed from this point. If you have any specific advice it would be greatly appreciated.” I have made a small living out of being a creative writing tutor, and I have acted as an development/editorial coach in the past. And, at risk of undoing any future work as a development/editorial coach, I completely agree with Editorial Anonymous. Creative writing groups and classes can often be better than an editorial coach/development editor. In a group or class, you can get feed back from various individuals – people who may be your target market. Also, if you’re looking for information on how to publish, the industry, trends etc, there’s no better place than the internet. There are hundreds of blogs, trade publications, and articles on the internet, and going to an editing coach for this sort of information may be unnecessary. Finally, I often find those who hire editing professionals aren’t always looking for critical feedback, but are actually fishing for complements. They want to hear that their manuscript is perfect and ready for publication. Someone had mentioned in the above comments that a group can be a long process – well, so can editing a manuscript to make it publication ready. No matter what, the time will need to be put into the product. So, I’d suggest taking a class or joining a group first, and to be open about any feedback that you may receive.

Kate said...

I second the recommendation from Fake Frenchie for Laura Anne Gilman. I had her look at my half-finished manuscript. She was ruthless in the best way, adn I saved myself *months* of rewriting after it was done.

C.A. Marshall said...

Thanks for recommending me Kyle! <3

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