Tag Archives: professional editing

Getting Professional Help or Why I Hired an Editor

Look, no literary agent wants to touch your dangling participle.

Whether you plan to parade on your manuscript on submission, or you’re about to self-publish with Lulu, you should consider getting professional help. I’m talking book doctor, word-slush-slinger-extraordinaire. At worst, you’ll get a one-on-one education and skills you get to keep for life. At best, you’ll end up with a polished, publishable manuscript that you can be proud to show the world.

While friends, family members and critique partners are invaluable, there are things they won’t tell you—can’t tell you—that a paid professional will.

Here’s a brief rundown on the different types of editing:

Developmental Editing

This is big picture, high-level stuff. Rather than grammar or even tone, a developmental editor is looking at character development, plot problems and for when the thread of tension goes slack. It’s something to consider early on, perhaps even before the whole manuscript is complete.

Line Editing

A line editor will look at your dialogue and prose to ensure that the tone is consistent. They’ll help you craft your book into a polished piece you can be proud of.

Copy Editing

A final step in editing—this is where you can make sure your grammar, usage, spelling and punctuation are correct.

Great, where do I get one?

Beware gypsies, tramps and thieves, That Which Seems Too Good To Be True and anyone cautioned against on Editors and Predators. Ask fellow writers, try writers’ forums or your critique group. Shop around, ask for quotes and even request samples. Be aware that not every editor accepts every customer. Don’t be afraid to ask for references. Snoop.

Will an editor be mean to me?

A good editor is going to be honest. And if that means pointing out where you’re running afoul, it’s good for you in the long run. However a good editor is also going to point out what you’re doing right and that’s just as valuable. Plus, it’s going to feel great. Listen to what they say. You don’t have to take every suggestion—it’s your book and if you don’t agree, by no means should you take their advice. But consider it. That’s all you need to do: Consider it.

Is it expensive?

It can be. But there are also great editors that are affordable. Think of it as an investment, if not in a saleable book, an investment in your career as a writer. It’s tuition to your very own private writing school.

Will it pay off?

Hiring an editor demonstrates pride in your work and a willingness to invest in your novel’s success. It won’t guarantee you’ll land an agent, get you a big fat book deal or sell a million books on Kindle. But your book will be more polished and professional and who knows? You might learn a lot along the way.

Look, you really weren’t planning on going out there with all those split infinitives, were you?

Unparalled Feedback, Great Price

As writers, we all know how important feedback is. Maybe you belong to a critique group or have a few trusted beta readers. This sort of criticism is crucial to the process. But there’s one thing they probably can’t tell you—no matter how valuable their advice.

They can’t tell you about The Agent.

stack of papers

By Niklas Bildhauer (who also is User gerolsteiner91. (originally posted to Flickr as folder) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

The Agent sits at an enormous polished desk, wearing Jimmy Choos, with trendy maroon glasses perched at the end of her nose. “Trash! Trash! Trash. Ahhh…. Garbage. Tripe.” To one side there’s a wounded writer, half-buried under a mountain of charred submissions, his glassy eyes staring at the ceiling.

The Agent holds your fate.

She picks up a letter. Her eyes make tiny movements across the page and Then—something in the shape of the writer’s words connects with her. She adjusts her glasses and lets out a sigh. Leaning back in her chair, she reads the submission in its entirety, nodding to herself. “Becky,” she shouts, “Request a partial on this.”

Some lucky writer is going to send a partial, and then a full. And then, the phone call–and The Dream realized.

But what, why, how? You need to know… What happens in that hallowed place? Your friends all love your book–but how, how does one get to that fabled Land Of Representation?

If only you had insight to that mystical office: what sets the agent’s teeth on edge, what are they are sick of, what sort of magic can you weave that will leave them nodding, sighing, shouting, yes, Yes, YES–send me more pages!

Well, you can get this information.

Blatant commercial—but I came across one such person. I sent ten pages and $25. The advice and feedback I got back in return was thoughtful, comprehensive and invaluable.

Kate Brauning works the trenches for a NY Literary Agency. She screens the submissions and she can tell you if your concept is original or if she’s seen it a hundred times this week. She can point out that teeny incidental thing you did that will make an agent run for the hills. And she can tell you your greatest strengths, so you know what to capitalize on.

For $25 (hurry, cause her price may go up), she offers a 10-page critique and for $35 she’ll do 50 pages. She’s honest, fair, and offers an amazing perspective into all those things you wondered as your query letter vanished into cyberspace. She also offers editing services and I will say, I think she’s got the finest hand around.

Maybe you’ve only been tossing around an idea in your head. Your friends love it. But you want to know if the market is overrun with rabid-vampire-zombie-hedgehog stories before you invest a whole summer writing it. Kate’s your gal.

She also works with writers in reviewing and refining their submission packages. She’ll go up to three rounds of edits on your query and synopsis. Then, she throws in a round of edits of the first 7,500 words of your manuscript. All this, for a mere $40. You know I won’t pass that up.

It’s a golden opportunity.