Friday, July 11, 2014

Things That Make Me Go "Hmmm..." (the Editing Job Edition)

Continuing the series, here are ten questions that go through my mind while working as an editor:

1. What makes you think I'm going to do all the work and hand over a pristine manuscript, ready for immediate uploading to various publishing sites? Any published author will tell you that once you receive your manuscript from an editor, the real work begins with you rewriting, revising, correcting, and accepting changes. 

2. Why do you schedule cover art, formatting, and promo dates in advance, but expect me to be sitting around waiting for you to email so I can immediately start editing your manuscript? Seriously, I'm booked months in advance, kids. Don't contact me if you're looking for a five-day turnaround. It ain't gonna happen.

3. Have you done your research? Trust me, I'll know. And so will your readers.

4. If this book is part of a series, can it stand on its own?

5. Do you have a working grasp of grammar, punctuation, and proper storytelling? Editors "polish" your manuscript. Don't expect us to turn your tossed word salad into the next NY Times best seller. There isn't enough money in the world to satisfy us both with a project like that.

6. How tough is your skin? I'm not your mommy or your BFF. As an editor, I'm looking to correct what's wrong, not stroke your ego because you did something right. If you can't handle constructive criticism, I'm not the editor for you.

7. Do you read? 'Cuz, seriously. Pick up any book and compare it to the mess you sent. You'll immediately see a lot of your mistakes. Those should be corrected before you send me your manuscript. The more work I have to do, the higher the cost to you.

8. Are you Nora Roberts? James Patterson? E.L. James? Then don't tell me what they get away with in their writing. When you're selling what they're selling, break any rules you want. Until then, if you prefer ellipses to periods or refuse to use commas anywhere because that's your "style choice," go for it. But don't expect me to participate in your lunacy.

9. Did you read my contract before signing it and sending it back? I spell a lot of things out there, including what reference guide I'll be using to edit your work (Chicago Manual of Style), how the work will be edited on the document (using Track Changes), and how many follow-ups you're entitled to for your initial payment (one). If you disagree with any of this, after the work is done and returned to you is not the time to complain to me. And yes, that rant about how I suck because I (correctly) amended "Columbia" to "Colombia" even though your former editor (incorrectly) insisted the South American country is really "Columbia" counts toward your follow-up consultation. 

10. Where on my website or bio did you see information for rates on formatting, beta reading, or proofreading? You didn't. Know why? 'Cuz I don't do those tasks. And I certainly don't do them for free. Every edit I perform takes me away from my own stories, my own marketing, etc. My rates are extremely reasonable and I work with my authors to give them a price that won't bankrupt them while providing a quality product. But don't take advantage of my generosity or expect me to take on a job as a "favor." I do have a limit.

In two words, "be professional." You do that, and we'll get along great.
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