Monday, September 3, 2012

On Finding A Reputable Editor

I'm still waiting on JP to finish editing my first novel in a trilogy and she has not yet started. It's September 3rd and I was hoping that she would start by August, but no. So here I am still waiting, churning ahead with the third installment of my trilogy, forging ahead, so to speak. And waiting. Waiting on my editor to start to work. It's been a long wait. Since July 16th. A mighty long time. But I have to admit, I did do my homework in finding JP so I am not concerned by the delay. We also did agree that I would wait until she started working on it when time allowed her to. So that is another point that needs to be taken into consideration.

How did I find JP and should you go about it the same way?

Well, whose to say my way is the right way, but I will tell you that I have done my due diligence and with that being said, I might be able to lead you in the right direction. I might not be able to lead you into a good negotiation with your editor though, or you might find yourself in the same boat that I'm in. 

Firstly it began on a sunny summer day with me going through my email and finding a mail from BOOKBABY.COM. Bookbaby is an online book distributor. Now lets not get these terms confused. There is a very accurate terminology for things in the e-publishing world. There are publishers, which are your brick and mortar counterparts. These guys produce hardbound and softcover books (and sometimes e-books) and since they front all of the money, you get a small royalty check for the books that you sell. They take the lion's share of the income. This is a book publisher.

Bookbaby and other companies like it are book DISTRIBUTORS. They are not publishers, they do not front any monies to your book and therefore do not take any of the royalties. They take nothing off the top and leave all of the profits to you since you are the one who has taken all of the risks. They'll convert your document and deliver it electronically to several electronic retailers of e-books so that you can sell your work to the masses. They even do some of the collateral work, such as book cover design, format conversion, and the procurement of ISBN numbers for your book.

I was interested in this process, being tired of the Agent/Publisher stranglehold on publishing. There is really no need for all of these middle men and gate keepers in the world of publishing any longer. An author need only reach his/her fans with their latest work. That's how things were done in the past. An author would go to a printer, have copies of their book made and distribute it themselves. Only later did Publishers appear on the scene, using their influence, their guilds and their connections to give respectability to their middleman status and therefore made it appear that the author that continued to resort to vanity printing was not a real author. Shortly after this, agents appeared, creating a further separation between the writer and the reader, and adding a new level of middlemen to sap a writer's royalties and talents. But that's another sad story. With the advent of e-publishing power is being returned to the writer and the useless and unnecessary chain of middlemen can finally be phased out. The only thing really needed is the distributor.

While reading through Bookbaby's site, I found several free publications of theirs that explain the e-publishing process through them. I downloaded their free copy of E-BOOK PUBLISHING: THE HOW TO GUIDE FOR WRITERS. I jumped into it with both hands and feet, gobbling it up on no time, and what I came across was a stern admonition. Get an editor to go over your book carefully to remove mistakes and errors that crop up in your drafts. It is true that you are too close to the work to give it the careful scrutiny it deserves, and fresh eyes can do a better job than you in finding and correcting mistakes. These mistakes are said to be the bane of e-published books, because authors don't follow this advice and turn out books with horrible errors that make the reader feel that the quality of e-books in general is diminished and far from that of the brick and mortar publishers. They warn that once you show a reader that you are lax in this process, you can be hurting your sales later when they see your book again and are turned off by your poor skills.

It's not that your skills are poor. You can be an excellent writer, and your training may be impeccable, but you are also human and humans make mistakes, that's why we don't pull the delete and backspace keys off our keyboards. With a new set of eyes, you cut human error down considerably and the few errors that do slip by, hopefully your readers will forgive you for them. Remember, the book publishers are no better than you. They are just smarter. When they get your work, it'll go to an editor for vigorous massaging, then to the printers who will return with a proof, and this document will go to a proofreader who will search again for errors made by the printers and you and your editor. After such intense scrutiny they will then mass produce your book...and why do they do this? Because it is their image that they are concerned with. They want to send out the best to their readers. Your thinking should not be far from this.

So I decided to use an editor. And in this book from Bookbaby they direct you to The Editorial Freelancers Association. This is something like the Bar Association for lawyers. Here you will find a search-able listing of freelance editors to suit your needs just as you would find lawyers from the Bar Association. With this information, I did a search of editors in my genre and printed out the top ten editors to my liking. Then I went through their individual webpages in search of their qualifications. Some had their resumes on their sites and these are the ones that I centered on. With their resumes I could make a more informed choice than just how much they charge for their services.

This boiled the list down to five and I contacted each of them to feel them out, and that's how I reached JP. She told me clearly that she was busy and that I'd have to wait on her timetable, but with this said, I chose her anyway because of her sterling qualifications.

Later, I thought of Googling her after I paid her the money for her to start her services, which was $40.00 an hour. I sent her a check for $400.00, the first ten hours of her work. Then I Googled her, which frankly I should have done long before sending her the check, but this is my admonition to you to perform first. Learn from my mistakes here. Although, I was pleasantly surprised to find that JP was an editor for several major publications and magazines, and she also contributes to a writer's website giving her advice to the masses. Google your editor BEFORE you send them your money, just as an added precaution. You may get bad news, and the truth is, being forewarned is forearmed.

I am quite pleased with JP and hope that she will be willing to edit my entire trilogy. This will be good for me because she will have the continuity of story to work with and not be lost in the breadth of the tale as what would happen if I had to get another editor to start at the second book in the trilogy.

So, like I said, I did my homework and I am confident in my choice of editor.

I keep saying this to myself as the days roll by.


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