Trust Me, I’m An Editor

Are you looking for a qualified editor?

I can’t help but notice a new plague on social media related to writing and books. The number of people professing to be competent editors seems to be increasing exponentially every day.

Well, why not? If you have tried writing and have failed, why not diversify and try to make a quick buck by becoming an editor? You know the old saying, ‘If you can’t do it, teach or preach it.’

Now, this may sound quite harsh, but to be totally honest, many, and perhaps most of those who profess to be professional editors on social media sites are indeed not. When I’ve asked some about their understanding of defining clauses, the use of the gerund, what style of dialogue punctuation they favour or which Style Guide they use, they usually give up and ignore my questions.

In my own case, and with the qualifications I hold in English and English language teaching, I could probably quite easily add the letters that I’m entitled to add after my name and advertise my services as an editor. But I’m not qualified to be an editor in any way whatsoever. Perhaps I would make a decent proofreader but that’s as far as I would go.

If you are a writer and are looking for professional help to polish your writing, you should, of course, look at hiring a good editor. But before handing over your hard earned money, maybe it’s worth asking a few relevant questions. First, would be what qualifications the person holds and can you verify them.

Then what experience they have had and who they have worked for. Perhaps some books they have edited that you can read. Secondly, what does your prospective editor intend doing for the money? If it’s just to correct your text, that’s simply proofreading and you can probably find a friend who’ll do that for next to nothing.

A good editor won’t mind you asking what style they intend applying to your manuscript and how they intend to maintain a clear voice through your story. If your potential editor only intends to correct your spelling and grammar, move on fast.

If you are looking for a qualified editor, expect to pay a considerable sum of money because it’s not a quick and easy job and highly specialised. They are also very busy people and few of them have the time to rant and rave on social media and blogs all day long. So be careful and be selective.

Trust Me I’m An Editor
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13 thoughts on “Trust Me I’m An Editor

  • 29/05/2012 at 9:14 pm
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    Doesn’t everyone know a gerund is a verb modified with ing to make it a noun? I would say that you make a very good point. I think that most writers don’t even want an editor, what they want is a proof-reader. Writers do not want someone to go in and shred their book, cutting passages and rearranging things. They want the mistakes found and corrected.

    • 30/05/2012 at 8:00 pm
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      Well all I can say Rick, is that if a writer doesn’t know that the gerund is a verb-noun and how it can be used effectively, they definitely need and editor and not a proof reader!

  • 29/05/2012 at 10:46 pm
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    Do you mean you can’t help but “notice” a new plaque? ;-)

  • 29/05/2012 at 11:45 pm
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    “They are also very busy people and few of them have the time to rant and rave on social media and blogs all day long. So be careful and be selective.”

    LOL! This made me smile. And then I began thinking of all the ranting and raving on social media and thinking what an irony it would be if we became suspicious of those who are too much present online, when all the time we’re being told that’s where we have to be if we want to be successful at whatever it is we’re selling.

    • 30/05/2012 at 7:57 pm
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      We live in a new contradictory environment it would seem Karen. :)

  • 30/05/2012 at 6:05 pm
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    We tend to get what we pay for; whether we buy it with a dollar or a vote.

    There’s a rash of authors complaining about how they paid for editing and got back a manuscript with more mistakes than when they sent it. Then they go on to complain about how it was ‘a complete waste of fifty bucks’ or something along those lines.

    Come on – who really expects someone to edit a book for fifty clams?

    Really loving Feb the 5th! For your own data, I was a reader of your blog for something like 5 or 6 months before trying one of your books. I don’t know how typical my experience is, but I figure it never hurts to know (at least it rarely hurts to know…).

    • 30/05/2012 at 7:55 pm
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      Six months Andrew? My blog readers normally take much longer to entrust their money for one of my books. Perhaps I’m like olives. Takes time to acquire a taste! lol

  • 31/05/2012 at 12:16 am
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    My friend is a professional copy editor and it’s a huge job. She’s very good, but I sure don’t think she gets paid adequately for the hours she puts in.

  • 01/06/2012 at 5:57 pm
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    Only this morning I read an article written by an editor of a publishing house, she is currently “excepting” manuscripts. That alone prevented me from making further investigations.

    • 01/06/2012 at 6:43 pm
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      Boy Hannah!! Sounds like exactly the editors I was talking about. I wonder how many ‘excepted’ her offer? lol

  • 02/06/2012 at 6:45 am
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    Derek

    Your comments on the proliferation of ‘editors’ of varying quality notwithstanding, I do take exception to your suggestion that proofreading is something you can “ask a friend to do for next to nothing”. I am a proofreader (and editor) myself, and, done properly, the act of proofreading a piece of work can produce a vast improvement in the quality and ‘readability’ of most pieces. As a keen reader, I find errors in spelling and grammar extremely distracting. As a publisher, I suspect that my patience with an already uncertain piece would evaporate altogether if my reading voice was interrupted by having to correct spelling/grammar at every turn.

    I suppose the truth of what you claim is highly dependent on who your friends actually are. However, to suggest that any old customer can proofread effectively is every bit as disingenuous as suggesting that editing can be reliable under the same conditions. I’m a writer myself, and found my current profession through friends and contacts who simply couldn’t afford to pay extraordinary sums of money for these types of services. As such, I also think that the assertion that an editor is likely a failed writer would be hard to substantiate in real terms. In fact, I admit I’m not entirely clear on when one becomes a ‘failed’ writer….

    I could point out a few errors in your post, but that would be churlish (and, in any case, I am good enough at my job that I am able to charge for my services). It will have to suffice to say that, while there are no doubt charlatans in every profession, I would caution against too many negative assumptions. You do those of us who are genuinely hard-working, and keep our promises regarding quality, no favours at all.

    • 02/06/2012 at 10:42 am
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      Thank you for your comments Rebecca and for sharing your thoughts on the topic of book editing.

      To clarify my remarks about proofreading, I think they must be viewed in the light of how self-publishing has changed the face of book publishing in the last couple of years. Basically, anyone who thinks they are a writer can self-publish absolutely anything, for free, without any external checking process whatsoever.

      I have made the point in previous posts that writers who take this opportunity should at least have their manuscripts read by someone with some understanding of basic grammar before rushing to publish. I have also made mention many times of finding beta readers as well.

      The recent Taleist Survey on self-publishing revealed that the mean average gross income of self-published authors was around $500 per year. With this level of income, the vast majority of self-published writers are not able to afford professional services.

      With this said, maybe I should have prefaced my remark. At the very least, find a friend who will proof read for free.

  • 01/07/2017 at 7:46 am
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    If on being asked, the prospective editor claims to have any editing qualification(s), then I’m afraid he or she is an inveterate liar!
    While various degrees in the construction of the English language are available such as BA hons (English) and MA Literature, there are none whatsoever when it comes to the subjective practice of editing!!!

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