Thursday, April 21, 2011

To Writer with Love ~ Writers write; Editors edit

Some might read the title and say, "But editors write and writers edit. What are you talking about?"

Yes, I know they do both; however, writers need to understand that not all editors write when it comes to their editorial services. And knowing this, and researching accordingly can help the writer get the exact services he or she needs.

As an editor, I have a site where I talk about my philosophy of editing, state the type of editing I do, and offer prospective clients the opportunity to read what past, current, and repeat clients have to say about my services. I explicitly state what I do on the site: I edit. Prospective clients go there and they know what I am about.

When I talk to these prospective clients, I give them my spiel, much of which is expressed on my site. My goal as an editor is to help the client develop the strongest project he or she can. In my evaluations, I try to talk about what I see in their works in a way that teaches the writers, that gives them information so that future works can be stronger because of what they learned.

My clients come into a relationship with me realizing that I am their editor...and in a sense, I am their mentor.

However, I am not their writer.

And this is something I think writers looking for editors need to understand. In scouring editor sites, I saw that most--like me--talk about editorial services--the editing part of the writing process. Writers need to know that if they are expecting substantial revising and rewriting of their projects, then just looking for an editor will not help. They will need to look for editors that perform that type of service or they will need to look for a ghostwriter (and many editors are ghostwriters, too).

What this means is writers need to do their homework. They need to think about what their manuscript needs and research editors who provide those specific services. When you know what you need, you can specifically state that to potential editors, instead of sending an e-mail that starts, "Hi, I need an editor for my project." You'll get exactly what you requested, an editor and not what you may need, which is someone who will help in the revising and rewriting components of the writing process.

Shon Bacon is an author, editor, and educator. She has published both creatively and academically, and her debut solo novel, Death at the Double Inkwell is now available for purchase. Shon also interviews women writers on her popular blog ChickLitGurrl: high on LATTES & WRITING. You can learn more about Shon's writings at her official website, and you can get information about her editorial services at CLG Entertainment. Currently, Shon is busy editing, promoting her debut project, writing screenplays, and pursuing her Ph.D. in Technical Communication and Rhetoric at Texas Tech University.

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  1. Any writer knows there are so many stages of editing, and so many aspects of the process. Typos, grammar, dangling plot threads, cars turning into pickup trucks, three Wednesdays in a row. Since even the big publishing houses seem to foist a whole lot more than 'editing' on their editors, knowing what you need from an editor is critical.

    Terry's Place
    Romance with a Twist--of Mystery

  2. Helpful post. So many new writers get confused about what different editors do and this clears up that confusion.

  3. It all comes down to knowing what you need before you wade into the pool. Oh, and try to avoid the sharks.

  4. Good points, Shon. Some writers seem to want you to do the rewriting for them!

  5. The blog is very good!

  6. Yes, Shon, I too have been put in the uncomfortable position--sometimes on the phone!--with a client wanting me to help her write more material. Verbal brainstorming is a large part of one of the services I provide, and I can help you shape up almost anything. But first, their original ideas need to be set down on paper! I can't, I shouldn't, and I won't do the writing for them. Great point.

  7. Excellent points, Shon! And ghostwriters get paid a lot more, too! Which they highly deserve.

    As an editor, my role is to work with authors to help them make their good story great. Emphasis on *their* story. My tagline is "Let's work together to enhance and empower your writing." I'll suggest rephrasing for sentences or even paragraphs to streamline them (reduce excess wordiness) or make them clearer, which I feel is part of an editor's job, but ultimately, the final decision is always the author's - it's their book!

  8. I also offer editorial services in which extensive writing isn't part of my trade. I feel I'm sufficiently clear about it on my site too, which is good. :)

    Anyway, this article gives great advice for those looking for an editor: step one, decide what kind of editing you need.

  9. I got into the writing game as a proofreader ... which was hysterical, because as a dyslexic I was the world's worst ... but I did learn about the difference between proofreading and editing ... the former is about grammar the later is about content (both take a great deal of concentration ... the best proofreaders and editors I knew drank a lot of coffee and smoked a lot of cigarettes). I my world, when an editor thought something needed rewriting ... they'd throw it back at the writer ... usually accompanied with profane language.

  10. You make valid points that writers need to consider; unfortunately, many of them don't know what they need. This is the reason I always request a writing sample so I can enlighten them in that regard. Then we can address the extent of the work required, the approximate time frame, and the cost. The Editorial Freelancers Association has a pricing chart that I use because it differentiates among the various kinds of editing and their pricing.

    Thank you, Shon! I really enjoy your thought-provoking posts.

  11. Thanks for the comments, all. Happy Easter as well! One thing that I consistently see with some clients is they don't seem to understand the time is takes to edit and that an edit doesn't equal perfection. There are, many times, revisions and rewrites to be done before a writer can even think about putting the book out there--by him/herself or by submitting to agents and pub. houses. I love the writers who tell me they plan to put out the book in three months and need review copies in two months' time. They don't realize that it can take a month just to edit the work and another month (or more) to do revisions and rewrites.


The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice.