Frequently Asked Questions
What can you guarantee?
That I will offer you my opinions in a reasonably timely manner, with as much honesty and tact as possible. That I will offer my prices to you up-front, without adding costs you didn’t expect.
What can’t you guarantee?
– I cannot guarantee perfection in my work. Know why? I’m a human.
– I cannot guarantee that your work will be published, that an editor or agent will become interested in your writing, that you will see financial success or that you will be published in a venue large or small. Know why? All of that is in your hands!
Will you help me with finding an agent, getting a publisher, or marketing?
I am not a publicist, marketing guru or web designer, and as such will not do the work of agent discovery, mailing out queries, or figuring out how best to market yourself. These are things you can do yourself, for free, in any case. I will cast an eye over your query letter, blurb, synopsis, or other marketing materials, like any text, if it’s part of our deal.
Will you edit non-fiction, like essays, cookbooks or my doctoral thesis?
I’m certainly willing to proofread anything I have the knowledge to proofread (I don’t recommend sending me pieces full of medical or engineering jargon, for example) but most of my experience in reading, writing and editing is in fiction. I might not be the best choice to approach memoirs, essays or cookbooks, simply because my opinions will be given with genre fiction readers in mind. Bear in mind that I do not offer any fact checking or research services, either for fiction or non-fiction.
Is my work ready for me to hire a freelance editor?
This is really a question only you can answer, but here are my ideas on the subject.
– Most BEGINNING writers do not need to pay a freelance editor yet. Revising your own work is an important part of the process, and cannot be skipped if you intend to become a better writer. In addition, a beginning writer needs to develop his or her own voice, which is harder to do when the work is exposed to painstaking criticism. It’s too easy to end up with a style designed ‘by committee’ and no longer individual. Making mistakes is a crucial part of this process.
– Writers who have improved as much as possible through free resources, such as critique groups, professional writers’ advice on their websites, and many attempts at becoming published, without much success, may find that a freelance editor’s advice can be useful in getting a career going.
– Writers who intend to go a self-publishing and self-marketing path, not because they lack patience or think it’s easier than ‘old-school’ publication (it isn’t) AND who have already improved their work as much as possible may find that a freelance editor can be of assistance along that path.
Should I choose you as my freelance editor?
Do you like what you’ve seen on this website? Do you feel that your work would benefit, and that your writing is at a stage where it would be helpful, to have a freelance editor? Do you feel that my skills complement your own abilities? Do you find yourself mostly in agreement with the judgment, opinions and concepts put forth on this site and in my other online presences such as my Google+ feed? If the answer to all these questions is yes, I might be a great choice!
Should you choose me as your client?
There might be reasons why I would turn you down. I might just plain have too many clients to take on another one – it’s time-consuming and intensive work. If I feel that I’m not competent to address the kind of issues with your work that you most want addressed, or for some reason our personalities just don’t fit together well, I might turn you down. There are plenty of freelance editors out there, and you will be much better off working with one who loves your work even more than you do, whose working style meshes well with yours, and who really speaks your language. If that’s not you and me, then you wouldn’t want to enter into a long-term relationship.
What happens after I get a publishing editor or agent interested in my work?
I send you a hearty congratulations! My job is done and yours is just beginning. The main thing to be aware of is that your publication editor will probably have more suggestions for you, and may in fact disagree with mine. That’s fine. Everybody’s different, and that editor will know what’s best for that publication.
What if my feelings are hurt?
I believe in tact and truth – both are equally important. As a writer, I would never want feedback that left things out that I needed to hear, so I will always tell you all the truth I can lay hands on. However, I also believe that tactful feedback is more likely to be listened to and useful to the receiver. That means I phrase things in terms of what worked for me or didn’t work for me, what I felt was happening, and what I thought was really great or could use some work – I try to steer clear of teacher-style ‘This is wrong because’ statements. After all, there are no true writing rules, only guidelines.
That said, feelings can sometimes be hurt by criticism of any sort. If you find that your feelings really are hurt, try two things: 1) sleep on it and respond in the morning and 2) let me know what part of my words hurt you so I can rephrase in a less harmful way.
And finally, always remember: the author is always right. You hire me for my opinions, NOT to tell you what to do. You are the one who chooses every word of your manuscript.
What if you steal my ideas?
There is a quick answer, an in-depth answer and a pointed aphorism to this question.
– The quick and dirty answer is: what would I do with them? I have too many ideas of my own to spend time using other people’s.
– The more in-depth answer is that no one can write your novel but you. If I took your idea and wrote a novel based on it, that would be a whole different novel from the one you wrote on the same idea. Remember this: ideas can’t be copyrighted. West Side Story lifted its ideas from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, a theft with a long and stately tradition behind it. What is covered under copyright is the writer’s treatment of an idea: the style, the specific characters, the word choice, the text itself. That could be stolen, but if it were, you could sue me. That would destroy my credibility as a writer, and as an editor, even if I were so morally bankrupt as to do it, which I’m not.
– The aphorism is one I have heard over and over from publishers and agents at conventions: The more worried a new writer is that their ideas will be stolen, the less likely they are to be worth stealing…