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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » My strange phonecall

   
Author Topic: My strange phonecall
Unwritten
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I just got off the phone with a friend of mine. He got in touch with an editor on my behalf. I don't know much about the editor, except that my friend vouches for his honesty. This editor has promised to look at my book and see if it has any marketing potential, in his opinion. If it does, my friend will pay this man to help me get it ready to market and then work to get it electronically published and marketed with an eye towards getting it published as a book eventually.

This is a new world for me. I have absolutely no idea if this is a good way to go or not, or what safeguards I ought to have in place if I do go this way. Of course my dream would be to go the traditional route, but I find myself dragging my feet about doing any work to find an agent or an editor on my own.

Any advice anyone could give me would be highly appreciated, especially if it's slightly dumbed down for my benefit.


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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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I've done that kind of book editing (for pay), so I can say that it might be worth the money (depending, of course, on how much money it is).

I'd recommend that you only make the changes that feel right to you, that fit what you are trying to do with the story.

Don't EVER let anyone, even a professional editor, "rewrite" your book to their specifications unless they are going to pay YOU, and then only do it if you are willing to have your name on the finished work.


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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Also, I'd recommend that you find out what, if any, connection this editor has to the proposed electronic publication venue.

And check SFWA's Writer Beware, to make sure there is nothing there about either the editor or the electronic publisher(s). They have a page that's just about independent editors that you really ought to read first:

http://www.sfwa.org/for-authors/writer-beware/editors/

If there are any costs involved in being published in that way, run away very fast.


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Meredith
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It's the combination that would worry me. There are professional editors. I just doubt that most of the good ones also double as publishers (unless, of course, they work for a real publishing house). Paying someone to help edit your work is fine, paying someone to publish it generally isn't and this seems awfully close to that line.

Check him out through Predators and editors, too.

Really, going the traditional route isn't that bad. Slower, undoubtedly, but not as scary as you think. Yes, the first few rejections sting. (Well, all rejections sting, but the first few are the worst.) But once you get past them and find you're still standing, you realize you can survive--and keep writing.


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Unwritten
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Thanks for the advice. I'm still waffling. I guess it won't do any harm to e-mail him and ask him to send me his credentials.
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KayTi
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These days, publishing a book electronically is easy-peasy. I would be wary of anyone (even if it's your friend paying, not you) paying someone else to do this work unless you really are unwilling to invest what is less than a workday in learning how to do it yourself and doing it (it's mostly just very specific formatting in MS Word. Nothing hard, and many online guides that walk you through step-by-step. And a nice friend over here who will answer questions!)

But the editorial help? Well, I don't know - some people have said good things about working with editors in the past. I have one of my early readers who is an editor, and her feedback, when I'm feeling receptive to it, is usually REALLY good. Less focused on the tired "use fewer adverbs, avoid ing verbs" kind of nonsense that I don't have patience for any longer (I use whatever words suit the mood at the time, some can be jettisoned during editing, but I don't as a rule remove all adverbs. They're a part of speech for a *reason* - they modify verbs and add color to writing. Sorry - soapbox moment there, lol.) But instead she just helps me figure out how to pull out the stuff that gets in the *way* of my writing.

So I think that would be the biggest indicator -- can this person help you make your own writing shine? Can he or she help you identify elements that you can fine-tune? Or is this someone who expects to take an MS Word doc and return you a CHANGED one, without you being able to benefit from seeing the suggested changes and deciding if you want to make them or not (aforementioned adverb rant, for instance. Like it or not, some of the adverbs in my stories are there for *very* specific reasons. My readers don't ever notice them, it's only the other writers who do...)

I guess I would treat really carefully and see what's up. The e-pub thing has me slightly concerned, only because it's all new these days in e-pub and I worry that some people will crop up with services to help writers but really be holding all the cards (e.g., anything like this should have a ONE TIME fee for service, nothing with rights to your future earnings or anything like that. Nothing!) So be careful, but it's probably worth exploring.


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tchernabyelo
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I'm sorry to have to say this, but my advice is to tell your friend "thank you for trying to help, but please keep your money".

This sounds like a scam/vanity publishing in disguise. If an editor thinks your writing is publishable, he does not ask YOU (or your friend!) for money. He will make money from the readers, not from the writer.


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Pyre Dynasty
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I don't see anything wrong with paying an editor to polish your work. But paying them to publish is a different thing.
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Unwritten
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I THINK that my friend is offering to help me get it out there, and to pay for some marketing without any future involvement from the editor. But I guess I need to do a lot more research before I hand anything to anyone.

More than anything, it frightens me to get involved in any kind of financial thing with a friend. I grew up watching my dad give his money to every friend with an investment opportunity or a sad, sad story, and I'm just not that person. Of course, this isn't me giving anyone money...but my writing is even more valuable to me.

I need to be sure that, if everything turns out as badly as it possibly could, my friend and I would still be friends.

So, research...research...research.

[This message has been edited by Unwritten (edited November 07, 2010).]


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skadder
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The word 'editor' confuses me. If your story has marketable potential then an editor/publisher will do all this for free.

The rule is money should flow towards the author, not away. I appreciate your friend may pay the editor, but he is doing so in your stead.

The editor is influenceable by the fact you (your friend) is paying him; it is in his interest to find your story 'marketable'.

This is not an offer I would accept.


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Meredith
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Another thought here. If this had been your idea in the first place, what would you have wanted this editor to help you with?

I've read one of your novels. It didn't seem that you needed help with the basics. So what would you want this editor to correct that you couldn't get from finding a couple more readers for your work?

If you're hesitating because you're not sure it's ready, then that seems to me to be the better course. Cheaper, too.


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Grayson Morris
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I don't think there's anything wrong with paying for help with one's writing, and lots of folks here do it all the time in the form of workshops. Creative writing classes at school are another form of help with one's writing.

Readers are wonderful, and I've found them worth their weight in gold here at Hatrack, but not everyone has the time to reciprocate. And there's also much to be said for the experience of a professional writing coach.

So it seems to me that the real issue here isn't the money, but whether the money is being wisely spent: which you can only know if you find out who this editor is, and what they've done for others.


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rich
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quote:
So it seems to me that the real issue here isn't the money, but whether the money is being wisely spent: which you can only know if you find out who this editor is, and what they've done for others.

Well put.


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Unwritten
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Thank you all for your input. I've e-mailed him to ask for some credentials. I also asked him if YA fantasy, heavy on the romance, is anything he'd be interested in. I hate to have anyone read it if they already dislike the genre.
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Pyre Dynasty
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Tru Dat! An editor who doesn't understand or like the genre is a dangerous thing. I had one guy helping with Warp and Weave who tried to fix all of the impossible things in a story. "This guy shouldn't be flying." "Why not, he has wings." "It's just not realistic." "Thanks for your help, I think I can handle it from here by myself."
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Meredith
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Side Note: Kevin J. Anderson was asked this question: "How do I go about finding a professional editor?"

His very first response was "What makes you think you need one?"

He didn't say it was a waste of money. He did say that if you think it's done and the best you can make it and the only thing holding you back is fear, just take a deep breath and submit it somewhere. If an editor thinks it's good, but needs a little work, then you can get that kind of help.


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dee_boncci
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At one time I looked into the professional editing route. In general these people did not function as editor/publishers, strictly as editors. The one's I had some contact with had all worked for various big name NY publishers where they edited for authors under contract. They did not offer any kind of connection/referral with publishers as part of their services.

Although I never hired one, through correspondence I got a strong sense that they were legitimate professionals. It is debatable whether employing an editor is a good idea, and for a novel it is not cheap.

I may have misread the original post, but it did not seem to me the suggestion was to pay someone to edit and publish, rather to pay someone to edit with the intent of preparing the work for subsequent publishing by a different party.

I would agree about being wary of paying for editorial services by anyone who would publish your work, or should otherwise make money from its publication, such as an "agent".


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