How Not To Find An Editor

So here’s something I didn’t plan for: Finding an editor.

I’ve been working on a bunch of short stories and I thought I’d get a few edited. Test the water. Get into the swing of this writing bullshit. Whack a few of the fuckers on Amazon for free and then wait for Ridley Scott’s lawyer to email me with a seven-figure offer for the rights. That’s how it works, yeah?

I did a little Googling and found a couple of people I liked the sound of. I emailed them with a brief ‘Hi, I’ve got these few short stories and I need an editor etc…’ Nothing more. Kept it simple. Not one of the bastards replied. And here I am, offering hard cash for a little of their (supposed) wisdom.

Fuck ‘em, I thought. Which was quite comforting, but then reality hit. What do I do now?

I’m loathed to pay someone who won’t reply to emails or someone who classes themselves an expert in literature because they read Pride & Prejudice once. I’m sure there are many good editors out there, but I’m sure there are just as many (if not more) charlatans.

“Yeah Jack, I’ll edit your short stories for you.”

*Opens Word ’97 and corrects all the underlined red and blue bits. Leaves it three weeks to give the illusion he’s hard at work on my beloved story.*

“That’ll be £100 please.”

You know what? That’s a pretty good business idea. If/When I am made redundant, I think I’ll open my own shoddy editing business…I’ll call it “Jack’s Crap Editing.”

“Hi there, you’re through to JCE. How may we service you today?”

But in all seriousness, my prose is odd, jerky. Sometimes I get a little wordy (Amis influence), sometimes I get a little psychedelic (Herbert influence) and sometimes I just get plain blunt (unsure where that comes from). I imagine it would benefit from a good editor. But who?

This is uncharted territory for me. I have no friends to point me in the right direction and Google is a minefield of keywords and dicks who are above replying to an email.

I am (if you have not worked out already) a control freak. The thought of giving my work to a stranger to rip up is terrifying. What if they don’t get it? They’d better not change the part with the dead dog. Will they be offended at the three-way fisting scene or that bit with the ham sandwich and the graphic calculator?

When I read back on a lot of my writing, I cringe the same way I do when I hear my voice on a tape recorder. Do I really write like that?

I’m too close to appreciate the good, and even though some parts may not be that weak, I have convinced myself they are giant, unsolvable problems. I feel like a tailor who can see nothing but the stitching on his finished suits.

But at least my hair is looking nice today, so I guess it’s not all terrible.

Anyway, what about you, Internet Friends? Have you any advice?

29 comments

  1. Also – sorry to spam – there are some solid writing groups in London that can help with editing. There’s ‘A North London Writers Group’ in Camden (catchy name I know). They meet up every Monday. I have several friends that have attended and said it works pretty well. Although, of course, it is an open forum for discussion so if you’re nervous about people reading your work and not ‘getting it’, maybe it’s not one for you. Alternatively, Writer Unboxed is an interesting facebook forum where you can ask some of the kinds of questions you have and get more answers. And of course there’s Fiverr (if you’ve not already checked it out and aren’t opposed to trawling through more possible charlatans).

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    1. I went on a writing evening course thing a few years back…I’m always wary of these things, but I’ll give it a look. Thank you for your help. I’d put a smiley emoticon here, but, you know, that’d betray the spiky persona I’m trying to create though this blog.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. A hundred GBP!!! I’ve been doing it for free! Damn it, I’ll edit yours for 10 quid! Deal? 😀
    Just a joke, in case this sounds odd, coming from a complete stranger! People say I have a weird sense of humor.

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  3. Not replying to your email is unprofessional and frankly surprising (especially if they are freelances!). Try a professional directory – there are many great editors out there so don’t give up. They will get it. I can point you in the direction of a UK-based directory if that would be any help.

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  4. But at least my hair is looking nice today, so I guess it’s not all terrible.
    Hahaha… you are funny.
    Now I’ve heard exes are good editors, the stuff they cut out is good so you will find out more easily. Never tried it though.
    Writing group, I’m not sure about them. You can’t post all of your content over there and get honest review.
    You should think about beta readers. They are quite good with editing. Give it to average friends who couldn’t get through Pride and Prejudice. If they like it, it’s probably good.

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  5. I think an important part of finding an editor is finding one that is familiar with your genre. That’s harder, still, so it looks like you have some leads on editing. Here’s what I go through to get something sort of polished out of the deal: Beta readers (from the writers club I belong to and then also from the Blazing Indie Collective – online Writers group), content edits, then line edits, and finally proofreading. Sometimes, you can beta your way out of needing content edits, but I like the added comfort of fresh eyes on a manuscript (easier for them to spot discrepancies after the rewrites). There is also copy editing (more like fact checking). So far, I’ve skipped that one. Not all editors do all things, but if you find yourself through all these suggestions, I know a few people that know a few people. 😉 Good luck!

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    1. Cheers – I’ll check out that online group. All this information is so helpful! I every time I Google something to do with writing, I always end up reading an article telling me not to start in the first place!

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  6. Don’t bother about sending me the stories, just pop a cheque in the post. In return I’ll forward a glowing report, saying your stories are so fantastically brilliant they don’t need editing. It’ll come on headed notepaper, and in a ready-to-hang-on-your-wall frame for a bit extra. I will even include a three inch nail so you don’t have to rummage round for one. You’ll be the envy of (all) your friend(s) the next time (t)he(y) pop(s) round.

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  7. My experience on finding an editor is, it’s harder than squeezing blood from a stone, and the good ones are rarer than a roc’s teeth. If you do find one, don’t let them go. For the record, I haven’t found one yet… or at least one I can conceivably kidnap and play the “edit my crap or else!” SAW card on.

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