Thursday, May 12, 2011

Stuff and Editing

These last several weeks have been difficult.  My grandfather became very ill and passed away. Grandpa lived one month and four days past his 95th birthday.  On March 26, we gave him a bang-out birthday party where family and friends came from far and wide to celebrate.  Grandpa died exactly one month later.  I felt blessed to have lived close enough to visit him once a month.  He was one of my dearest friends, and I miss him very much.

When tending to personal matters, something usually is put on the back burner.  In my case, I was not able to keep up with my blog.  However, I am back now and thinking about the many aspects of writing.  Some of the writer’s forums I frequent have long and heated discussions on editing and the pros and cons of hiring professional editors prior to publication.

Some writers say you must always send your manuscript to a professional editor before submitting to an agent or publisher.  Others say you must forget about professional assistance and learn how to edit your own work.  In these discussions, I have seen more members teeter on either side of the fence than tread the gray area in between. I, of course, have my own opinion.

Freelance editors are expensive, charging anywhere from $300 to $1,500 or more to edit a manuscript.  In the editing business, experience, expertise, and success rate cost even more.  We all want our manuscripts to be in pristine condition before we start the submission process.  I don’t know many writers who have the money to spend on freelance editing.  Besides, the cardinal rule in writing is that money flows to the writer, not away.

Editors are invaluable.  When an agent chooses to work for you, then somewhere in that process is an editor.  It is part of the package of landing an agent, or at least having one interested in your work.  However, I believe there is one situation where retaining a freelance editor prior to publication can work for a writer. 

For example, if you want hands-on assistance to learn how to edit properly, a freelance editor might be the right professional for you.  If you utilize this experience properly and pay someone who has a good track record with editing, then your money has been spent well.  Once you know how to edit, whether you learned it from a freelance editor or a book such as Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, you have skills necessary for a writer. 

Please do not hire a freelance editor if you just want someone to edit your work.  You are wasting your money.  Think of it this way.  Say you hire someone to do this work for you, and then you submit it to agents and publishers,  Said agent or publisher asks for changes, but you don't know how to properly edit, because you had the freelance editor do it for you.  Face it, you are stuck. If you don’t understand the principles of successful editing, how can you make a decision on which changes to make and which to leave alone? 

As mentioned earlier Self Editing for Fiction Writers by Rennie Brown and Dave King is an excellent resource.  I also like Strunk and White and good old fashioned books on grammar.   
Get to work on that editing now and.....

Happy writing!

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