Writing a book is hard. First you slug through a rough draft, then you give it to beta readers, and see what they say. Then you (hopefully) find a writer’s group, and give your New And Improved draft a roll. But now who do you give it to? You’ve reached the end of your resources. And you know the book isn’t the best it can be.
Chances are, if you’re avid about your manuscript becoming a book, you’ve read about editors. You know that you need one, but you’re not sure why. What do editors do? How do they do it? The rest seems shrouded in mystery.
I jumped into the pool, head first, looking penetrate the mystery surrounding editors. I found out that there are multiple kinds of editing, generally from the broad demands of the developmental editor, to the fine detail work of a proofreader. For my purposes, I felt that a full blown developmental edit was what I needed. I’m going to share with you what I experienced.
I worked with an editor for Best Served Cold, my first ‘trunk’ novel. I met her through her husband, who was my co-worker. She taught me a lot about how to improve my writing, and we enjoyed a good relationship during the course of the project. However, her specialty for editing was memoirs, which I didn’t think to ask and she didn’t think to mention. She did a great job editing my urban fantasy, but there were things she absolutely did not understand because she wasn’t a fan of the genre. When it came time for me to decide what to do for a developmental editor the next time, I decided I would shop around and find someone who was better suited towards my stories.
My previous editor essentially fell in my lap. I didn’t expect lightning to strike twice, so I had to go out and hunt. Where to look? Lots of people have websites, but that’s definitely a needle in a haystack mentality. My search started with LinkedIn, unexpectedly. I received an email from them about something unrelated, but I thought to myself, “Of course!”
I emailed a developmental editor from San Francisco. Tammy had it all. A website, a great LinkedIn profile, I was excited. I emailed two more editors as well.
I went to another website, the Pacific Northwest Editors Guild. (Which, is a great resource, by the way.) I emailed three people off of that.
I went to a website called Thumbtack, and put in a request. (I do not recommend Thumbtack, and you’ll find out why in a minute.)
And then, Tammy wrote me back! She was professional and well spoken and I liked her immediately. I started talking to her about my book. Which lead to…
The Money and the Manuscript
Tammy and I had a long conversation over email. She wanted to know what I was looking for, and then she dropped the hammer. Edits would cost $3,000!
My heart sank. I think I may have even felt dizzy. I certainly felt overwhelmed. How did other indie authors do it?
I sent Tammy my first chapter. She saw that my book wasn’t in too bad of shape, and worked with me to reduce the cost of her estimate. She was planning to do my book soup-to-nuts, from developmental edit through proofreads. She scaled way back, and kindly offered to do my job for $1000. It was twice as much as I budgeted, but a third of her original offer. I thought we could work a deal.
Meanwhile, I was suddenly inundated with replies! Jordan emailed me back, to tell me his schedule was full until July, and he would charge $1400. Another editor emailed me back to introduce herself and ask for a sample chapter. I discovered the Thumbtack website had offers, all of which routed to an email address I forgot to check. I had five offers from Thumbtack, and the first one began with, “Dear Tona,” which helped me determine the quality of the website. The rates for the editors were posted hourly and $10 cheaper than the other editors I had talked to, but there were obvious reasons why. Another editor said that he sent writers to Hollywood. It was snake oil and smoke. I was not sorry to abandon that attempt.
I asked my ex-editor if she had any references. She told me to try the college. I emailed the college, and Samantha emailed me in response. She told me she edited books for $500, but she was not a genre fiction editor. Privately I had a good cry, but I soldiered on.
..to be continued…