So, when I'm procrastinating from writing or selling books, I love to increase my knowledge. I surf, and I surf, and I surf some more.
One thing I keep coming across is authors/editors/or misc other people who I have no clue what qualifies them except they see big $$$ opportunities, advertising that they will edit your book for you! (yes, this sentence needs editing).
NOTE: Editing has different definations. It may not include someone taking a red pen to your MS. For some, it is a process of identifying weak spots in the story and giving suggestions on how to fix it..
OK, it's tempting. I can pay someone from $300 for a picture book to $2000 for a chapter book (not including pages 100+) to look at my manuscript and fix it for me! Woohooo!
Some of these people I highly respect. They are authors I love, editors who have worked on books I love, or teachers.
Others, I wonder what credits they have to tell me what direction my story should go. They are the random website that offers you the moon.
Some services include just a read with a letter telling me how to improve it. These start at $200 or more for a picture book. A novel can cost $1000 just for a read. I have to admit I do wonder if I am I better off going to a writer's conference where I can meet an editor or agent in person, get their opinions and a critique.
So, let's say I decide this is a good idea, and I want to hire someone to edit, or consult, my book. Now what? (Read the comments to see how this has service has helped others.)
Editing to add this part:
First, what do I want to look for in a service:
Look for someone you trust, who has references, and who writes or edits what you write. If you have never heard of the person or their website, I would pass. You want someone who has a track record. So for example, if I was offering you this service, keep searching. Sure I have experience, but I have more to learn then to share.
Look for someone who offers a fair price based on their time and what they are giving you. So what is a fair price? That is a question only you can answer. Look at their experience and who they are.
Look for someone who will be accessible after the critique, who you can ask for clarification without having to spend more money.
Personally, if I was looking for this service, I'd go with someone who teaches a class and offers an edit as part of the class.
What are the pros:
*My story is edited, if I pay the big bucks! Someone professional (I hope) has gone through and done all the editing. (Though I've been told this is false. A good editor won't do it for you, see comments for feedback from those who have hired an editor. It is much more useful then my blog).
*I have a new direction to work towards. Then what? Do I ask them to look at it again or go with my gut?
*If I get a full edit, I don't have to anguish about my writing, or that twist that isn't working out the way I wanted. I just have to follow their notes to a "T" and I'm good.
*If I had a good editor, I will be able to use the techniques in future books and have learned how to edit my own book.
Now the cons, or my personal concerns:
*What if I get an editor who doesn't mesh with my vision or get my story?
* If there weren't a lot of changes, I just threw the money out the window. If there are, is that really my concept? (I had a paid critique take my story in a whole different direction, which wasn't where I wanted to go.) The story needs to be mine.
*What happens if you send it out and it's still rejected? Do you go back to that editor? Pay someone else?
*The growth a story and author take together gives the story more magic then letting someone else do it. (Editing to add based on comments that some editors will teach you this process, so make sure you do your research).
*What if it's bought as a series? Are you going to constantly pay someone to help you write/edit your books?
*If it is bought, there goes a lot of your profits. Really, there is not a lot of money in publishing. If it's not bought, there goes a lot of money.
*How many times will you need this person to edit your stories? Are you becoming dependent on them to get a good book out?
That said, one thing to consider is would you be better putting that money into a writing class, or to go to a writer's conference?
As I thought about this great looking shortcut, I thought about the old adage:
Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime
Give a writer an edit, and you can get him out of the slush pile. Teach a writer to edit and you can open up a world of opportunity to him.
That said, I would totally pay to attend an editing online course with a writer or editor I respect.
What do you think? Have you ever used one of these services? How did it help you? Would you do it again? Was your book published? What would you do differently? Is your editor teaching you or doing it for you? How did you pick them?
The best thing my editor did for me, the one who paid me for my MS, was send it back saying: "Change this." That was all. I could discuss it with her, but she wanted it to be mine. She knew it didn't work. She may have had a problem with the rhyme, or thought it was redundant, or didn't like my personification of certain objects, but she never told me how to change it. Just to do it. I really thank her for helping me learn the editing process. It made me a stronger writer.