Wow! I’ve just been reading a bunch of interviews with editors, and I am beyond impressed. I thought I was a great editor, but these people are fantastic, at least from what they say. What most impresses me is that they read through the material more than once, and make more than one pass at editing it. I’m wondering what they charge, since I’ve rarely if ever been paid enough to go through a book-length manuscript more than once, though I’d love to spend that kind of time on every job.
Below is a comment I made on the site regarding one of the interviews, followed by URLs for other resources. Yes, here I am, promoting the competition—but I want people to read these: they explain the editing process and show how hard an editor works.
Comment In Response to Kris Kendall’s Interview
What a smart, interesting, insightful interview! Everything Kris Kendall says here about editing is right on, and a few of her points stood out for me—in particular her parting advice to authors who go the self-editing, error-prone route. In just a few sentences Kendall captures the essence…of indie publishing’s reputation. I wonder if young writers realize how radically altered the publishing landscape has become in just a few short years? Because so much of this is relatively new, many lifelong readers still don’t take it seriously; some look down on ebooks as unreal. I confess it took me—a reader, writer, and editor—a while to come around, to start seeing ebooks as real as those I can hold in my hand. It’s a matter of acculturation; for me it took a year or so of reading on the Kindle. Some people will never use an electronic reader, though, and they’ll never come around—which is why print book publishers should stop fretting; they aren’t dead and buried yet, and never will be. The point is, our writing, at least in digital format, will never be taken seriously if writers continue to publish books full of typos, grammatical errors, and bad punctuation (the typos alone are bad enough).
As a reader I’ve discovered more well-written, entertaining indie ebooks than I expected to find: they’ve far outnumbered the badly written. Yet even the well-written contain mistakes; one that I actually loved repeated the same mistake over and over. If that author hired an editor, she was lousy at her job. Why should we writers care? We should care because ebooks rife with errors contribute to a bad collective image…they implicate the business as a whole. My compulsive editing habit might be neurotic, but hey, someone’s got to stay on the case! Sloppy work makes me cringe, and if I have to wade through a lot of careless crap, I stop reading, and never get to uncover the literary gems that just might lie beneath.
It’s bad when writers think they don’t need an editor, and just as bad when they think good editing should come cheap. Writers who expect to pay an artist decent money for a cover…stun me with some of their proposed payments for editing. I’ve frequently taken on a job that, once it’s finished and I calculate the hours, ends up paying less than minimum wage. Editing is a profession, not a game or a hobby. At the very least it is work; and…editors pay rent like everybody else. We deserve decent compensation.
I appreciate your posting these editorial interviews. They highlight the complexity of the skills involved in editing and go a long way towards improving public perceptions…
Some Useful Resources:
Easy Reader: http://ilovetoreadyourbooks.blogspot.com
The Forest for the Trees: An Editor’s Advice to Writers by Betsy Lerner
Blog with all four editors’ interviews: