Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A Dirty Little Secret

If you hired a freelance editor to help you re-work your manuscript, would you ever admit it? To anyone?

I've discussed this option with a friend of mine recently, who has hired a mutual acquaintance of ours. With the freelance editor's help, my friend is writing better than ever. There's a prevailing stigma against having a freelance editor, because people often associate them with scams. One of my favorite blogs, The Rejecter, posted a lively discussion about this same topic here. The consensus seems to be that most often it's a scam and that even if the freelance editor helps the author improve the work, there's no guarantee of a sale. Also, even if you hire one, never EVER admit to having done so to an agent or editor, because somehow this makes the work less worthy.

As with anything, I think you have to use common sense in considering a freelance editor and ask a few questions before paying someone to edit your work. What experience does the freelance editor have? Better yet, does he / she have a previous client list they're willing to share, preferably one with authors who've actually gone on to sell the work the freelancer edited? How much is the freelancer charging? Do they do sample edits, and if so, do you feel as though the freelancer is knowledgeable and helpful?

There's such a stigma attached to paying someone else to edit your work, but for those who see real value in it, I wonder, what's the harm?


Jen Black said...

I see no harm in hiring someone to help improve writing technique. No different to reading How To books or attending Creative Writing classes or sending the work off to a New Writers Scheme or an Advisory service. All good things, in my view!

N. Gemini Sasson said...

Would I? Absolutely. Particularly if references are available. I think I'd tend to take their advice as more objective than what one might generally get from a critique partner. A good editor looks at writing from the other side - how a reader perceives it - and will be able to explain the steps to get it in the best shape possible, pointing out where it falls short and ways to improve it. So, if a writer has the means and can find the right freelancer, go for it!

Anita Davison said...

Now I'm curious Lisa, who? We all have methods for improvement, creative writing groups, critique groups and as you say, hiring an editor. The basic talent is still necessary though, as is the dedication and perseverence - those you can't buy.

Helena said...

I did it when my writing was not ready and I must say it was a waste of money. If you're ready and your manuscript is good, then an editor's touch will get it ready for publishing - but if you're not then an editor won't help you either.

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