Copyediting. Why I didn’t pay someone to destroy my fragile confidence.

My book is my baby. I love it, I created it and I’ve nurtured it. Now it needs to be cleaned up and ready to present. At first, I thought about hiring someone to edit my book for me. I wasn’t in a confidence place yet to open up and ask anyone I knew to do this. I was well aware that my manuscript needed a lot of tender loving care. A lot.

It seemed a daunting task so I began the arduous search on-line for copy editors.

What is a copy editor? They will read my manuscript, check for spelling and grammar errors. They will check my sentence structure for filter words and for flow, for continuity and plot holes (They might not call it that.) They don’t do this for free. I also found out after contacting a bunch that they will rip apart my manuscript. Tear it to shreds. So much that looks like they massacred a red pen or ten and hid the evidence on the pages.
I wasn’t ready to have someone apply their opinion and style to my work, I may never be.

For 136,000 words approx. (Keep in mind this is way over the max allowable word count, and before I revised it even once.) I received quotes from $2000 to $3500 Canadian for a basic copyedit. I even had one say unless I’m a master Russian author there was no way my book was good at that word count. How rude! That was a great criticism. Really it was, because he pointed me in the right direction of word count reduction, which lead me down the right path of editing for me.

So I thought about this cost and what they do long and hard. I thought about it as I read through and spell/grammar checked my messy work. If I got a copy editor to revise my manuscript, it would no doubt be torn to shreds with red pen. Then what? I fix it and have to have them revise again? That just got twice as expensive. I don’t have thousands of dollars to throw around. Nor was I comfortable with the idea of becoming dependent on someone’s idea of how my book should be. Mostly it was a cost issue.

I made two decisions. The first to take all of my spare time, and edit it myself. I do not have a degree in English so this was a slow and careful task. (Still in progress FYI)
The second. When I’m done editing as far as I can go and I don’t get any bites from Literary Agents in one year, I will revisit the option of hiring a copy editor. (I will write about my experiences surrounding Literary Agents in future blogs don’t worry.)

With every revision, I became more excited. It is shaping up and reading well. I can’t express how rewarding it is to work so hard on something that means so much. It wasn’t as scary or daunting as I first thought, and to be perfectly honest it allowed me to hone the story and make it more streamline. There are sequels to this, my first book, so I was able to go back and plant little foreshadow nuggets. I am glad the sticker shock forced me to re-evaluate my thinking.

My advice about Copy Editors.

If you need them and can afford it, it is your choice. I know they are very helpful.
In hindsight, I’m glad I didn’t. I feel pride in all the work I’ve put into my manuscript. I could not justify paying someone thousands of dollars to tear apart my manuscript. Just remember nobody can tell you paying for help is right or wrong, if you need help get it. Free or paid is nobody else’s business. Just be careful and check their references first, check to see if they are legit or a swindler. You are hiring them to read and revise your work. Make sure they are the right person/s to do that.

-Sheryl

 

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3 thoughts on “Copyediting. Why I didn’t pay someone to destroy my fragile confidence.

  1. I enjoyed reading your post. I feel like many writers find themselves in the same spot you are. Dealing with editors (freelance or established) can be pretty intimidating. Especially if you are dealing with it for the first time. And even more especially, if you are worried about putting yourself out there to the first set of critical eyes.

    As an editor, writer, and someone who blogs daily about writing, I will offer some ideas for you play with.

    First, as you already know, not all editors are equal. A highly competent editor may not be a good fit for every writer. I always encourage people to not just check the portfolio, but to do some interviews (email, web video, chat) and make sure they are a good fit for you. You alluded to this in your post, if they don’t feel like a fit (i.e. tell you your book is too long without knowing anything about it), they aren’t.

    Secondly, ensure you are getting the right kind of editor. Not all editors specialize in the same things. While many of those online freelance haunts will have tons of people with resumes saying they do everything (and some of them do) different editors have different strengths. I’m a far better content editor than I am a line editor (I’m sure errors can be found in this post, as well as my blog).

    Third, I hate to say this, but often times you do get what you pay for. For freelancing, I would recommend checking out the Editorial Freelance Association website (if you haven’t already), they have a pay chart listed to give you an idea of what normal rate is. Just know that if someone is offering to copy edit your work for .0023 cents (USD) a word – that’s a red flag.

    With that being said, if you search long enough you might find an editor who is new to the freelance websites and is looking to build up an online reputation of satisfied customers. This might just be your ticket home.

    Lastly, I didn’t want to presumptuously link my blog content to your comment box. However, if you swing by my page I have a more than a few posts on copy editing, self editing, and freelancing that have reference materials you might find useful if you go solo (i.e. websites, self-editing help books, etc).

    For real this time, final thought – just know not all editors are out there to burn your manuscript while whispering incantations to the gods of broken dreams (I’m sure some are). Most of us love the craft, the people who create it, and want to make sure your product is glorious before the real critics look at (the blood frenzied public).

    Best of luck to you moving forward!

    Like

    1. Thanks for the feedback.
      Copyediting is one of many topics I plan to talk about. My blog is mostly about my experiences so far in my writing journey and a dash of my opinion. I did quite a bit of research and communicated with many editors. For me the issue is cost. At the moment it’s just not practical for me. In this I discovered there is a great feeling of accomplishment and pride when I work hard to fix my mistakes to the best of my abilities. I mentioned that I would revisit consulting an editor if I don’t get any response from Literary agents. I agree completely that you get what you pay for. I actually spoke to one editor that was very respectful and came across as excited. I would interview them as one would interview a potential employee.

      I have actually visited your blog, I am always looking for advice and information to better my writing.

      Cheers.

      Liked by 1 person

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