Good editing is absolutely key in the metamorphasis from manuscript to book. While it can be hard work, at times it can be as enjoyable as the original writing process as you see the potential grow into something even greater. If you’re looking for freelance editing, I strongely recommend Flourish. I feel very lucky to have had them to work with on Dogtooth Chronicals. Here’s a little Q & A with one of the team, the lovely Salome Jones.
Flourish is about more than just editing. You also offer mentoring and workshops for writers. Why do you feel this is important?
Editing is important. You can get a lot of polish out of a good edit. But editing alone doesn’t give a writer skills. Clients of mine who have significant writing issues have fared better with mentoring in the long run. If you’re talking about just the one manuscript, an edit is fine. But for a writing career it’s best to develop your own skills. Once you sign a contract to have your book published, your manuscript is going to go through another edit. Comments will be written on your pages and you’ll have to address them. You might be asked to write a blog post for your publisher’s website. You might be asked to write a piece about some aspect of your writing in order to help market your books. Indie writers will be faced with this as well if they want to effectively promote their work. It will turn out to be fairly important that you can stitch coherent sentences together, even if you have a good editor. You probably don’t want to have to pay someone to look over everything you write.
If you think of writing as your career, then developing basic skills that allow you to edit your own work to a reasonable level of polish is one of your professional responsibilities. It will also give you a lot more confidence in your writing.
You’re an American and a Brit working in partnership. How may this be beneficial to writers using your services?
It does help. There are a surprising number of differences in spelling, punctuation, and usage between American and British English. Tim and I are both sensitive to them and we can both edit according to either convention, but it helps to have a resource right there in case we have questions about our non-native usage.
It also means we have slightly different worldviews, so when we put our heads together we can come up with a wide variety of solutions for writing and marketing issues.
Tell us a little about your collective experience in the writing and publishing trade?
Tim has been working in publishing as an editor and a writer for more than twenty years. He’s written more than a hundred books including fiction and non-fiction and he’s edited probably 250 other books. I’ve spent a few years studying writing at the graduate level. I got a Master of Fine Arts degree so that I could teach writing at the university level. Then I got a Master of Arts degree at an English university. We’ve been doing freelance editing together for the past two years, unofficially. In 2011 he started an independent publishing company. I worked for him as an editor on that. We co-edited Red Phone Box, a story cycle that I curated, which includes work by a couple of well-known writers. We’ll be KickStarting the physical book at the beginning of next year for that. Basically the two of us have spent every available moment writing and editing for many years.
Has the growth in self-publishing changed the landscape for you as an editor?
It’s taken some opportunities away and created others. It’s now possible for anyone to publish almost any book with minimal expense. There’s a literal flood of fiction out there that hits the marketplace having never been looked over by anyone except the writer. As you’ll be aware, it’s very difficult for someone to spot problems in a manuscript she’s been reading and rereading for months or years, especially one whose words originated inside her own head. So there are now all these unedited manuscripts out there and a lot of inexperienced and often unskilled writers banging on your virtual door trying to get you to buy and read them. Some of them actually have quite a lot of promise, but it’s hard to see if it’s buried under typos and too much exposition.
There’s the opportunity for us. We’re really good at what we do, individually, and better as a team. There are a lot of writers out there looking for a good editor. The dilemma is that now, thanks to the changing marketplace, the big publishing houses don’t have a lock down on what people are reading. They’re having to make different decisions about spending money because the book publishing business is financially risky. So there are fewer in-house jobs for editors and those that do exist don’t pay as well as they once did.
There are many scams and schemes out there designed to get money out of prospective self-publishers for little return. Any tips on what to look out for?
There’s a good article up on Writer Beware about hiring a freelance editor. It gives plenty of cautions. http://accrispin.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/vetting-independent-editor.html One thing I’d add to what this article says is that finding an editor is a bit like finding a doctor or a therapist. You need to be able to work with that person. If you’re sensitive about your writing, you want someone who will be a bit more thoughtful with their critiques. If you consider yourself tough and want the hard truth no matter what, you’re going to want someone who will give you that. A good editor can be both those things, sussing out what you need. You shouldn’t be afraid to do a trial edit with someone. Just to see whether it’s a good fit. You need to feel confident in the editor’s skills, but you also need to feel comfortable with their manner. Usually being referred by an existing client who’s had a positive experience is a good starting point. Still, you should ask questions, get references, let them edit a sample of your work. We would definitely do that for people.
For more information visit the Flourish website, where you’ll also find a blog of tips & tricks for writers. Many thanks to Salome & Tim.