The Editors: The Pros, The Beta Readers, and The Ugly Truth.

Once again, I’m not the expert on finding editors, but from my own personal experience here are some things that might be useful to you. You can do this research online for yourself, but here are some tips when looking for an editor. This is from my experience by the way and I had to learn some things the hard way. Hopefully, you will not make the same mistakes I did.

First of all, you need to ask yourself this question: Do I Need An Editor? And… How Much Am I Willing To Pay For One?

Here’s how we determine this little problem. If you plan on doing some serious self-publishing, then YES! GET YOURSELF AN EDITOR! PLEASE!

IF YOU… haven’t gotten anyone else to edit your manuscript besides your mother, father, cousins, sisters, brothers, nephews, aunts, uncles, and so on. Then, YES! Please, think about getting an editor.

Let’s say, you want to get a Beta Reader, since you’re strapped for cash or completely broke. A Beta Reader is basically someone who has some editing skills. However, they are not professional and never will be, because they are willing to edit/critique your manuscript without a fee. They can be helpful at times, but most of them happen to be younger people (mid teens to young adult), either high school/college students… or kids who think they know a thing or two about editing. They can be helpful, if you know how to use them.

Sometimes Beta Readers can be friends of yours, but it’s usually not recommended to use your friends when they have no idea what they’re doing. Let’s be honest here. Some friends (if they’re your writing buddies) can be so brutally honest, you may become discouraged that you’ll never want to write again. Other friends may be so nice they can’t even tell you the truth about how crappy your story is and will tell you “Oh, it’s great!” straight to your face, but inside still cringing that you ever asked them to read your accursed story. You, on the other hand, become so in love with your work and in denial that you will never learn from any of your mistakes, since your friends saw no mistakes… you think you’re the Greatest Writer in the World. So thus, you end up living in your own bubble.

Sorry to burst your bubble, but your story still sucks. 😐 However, no matter what kind of friends you have, there’s always a solution. Here’s how you can use them (your friends or close co-workers) to the best of your ability. Please make sure if you show your work to co-workers that you do tread lightly, for if you’re writing erotica your so-called trusted associates may end up showing it to your boss one day. That’s happened to me by the way…let’s just say it wasn’t very pretty. Never show your erotica stories to co-workers, who you work with everyday. EVER!

Make a list of questions before you give your manuscript to your friends (or co-workers!) to answer. Please, do not make them Yes or No questions by the way like this -> Do you like the character? “HELL NO!”

LIST OF QUESTIONS TO GIVE TO YOUR BETA READER WHO IS A FRIEND:

For Scenes/Descriptions-

  1. What scenes did you like and why?
  2. What scenery/descriptions did you not understand clearly? Or  What details made you confused? Please explain why.
  3. What scenes had too much exposition? What scenes lacked in descriptions? What scenes seemed to drag on for too long with details?

For Characters –

  1. What did you like about the character (s)? What things did you not like about this character (s)?
  2. What would you change to make this character more realistic? Please explain.
  3. What was this main character or character (s) struggle or goal about?

For Plot/Story –

  1. Where did you find the story confusing? Where did you find the story easy to follow? What parts of the plot were boring, interesting or exciting?
  2. What was the storyline about? What was the plot about?
  3. What would you change about the storyline and plot?
  4. What did you dislike about the storyline and plot? Please explain.

For Pacing/Sentence Structure –

  1. Where did the sentences flow well? Where did it make you stop and go back?
  2. Where did the pacing seem too slow and too fast?

Overall Content – (After they have finished reading the entire manuscript)

  1. Where would you like to see this story go? Please explain.
  2. Where would you not like this story to go?
  3. What areas need serious revising? What areas did you enjoy reading or not reading (either too graphic, not developed enough, not enough action/story, too cliché, too weak, etc)? Please explain.

As you can see, I tried very hard not to do the “Yes” or “No” type of questions, forcing your readers to fully explain themselves. Now, even after all of this… this may not be enough for you. Your friends may be too busy with their lives to go into much depth about what they just read… or they could’ve just rushed through it. This is when you need to decide for yourself if hiring an editor is right for you, because an editor is not cheap. Let me get that out of the way right now.

A professional editor is one who has a freaking Master’s Degree. Some of them are working for one of the big six publishing companies or a publishing company. They are very expensive. Usually a pro cost around $15,000 – $5,000. NO JOKE! 😐

If you can get yourself a freelance editor, who’s still a pro, the price may go down a little… say $5,000 – $1,600. However, some will work for $600-$800 bucks.

Here’s what I recommend, since we writers are so damn broke! Do not be tricked or fooled into paying this much money when you have none or you’re on a budget.  What’s the point of hiring and paying a professional/expensive editor? By the time you pay the $15,000 or $1,600 you have NO MONEY LEFT TO PUBLISH YOUR DAMN BOOK!!

Unless, you’re working at two or three jobs and can afford it, you better be prepared to spend $20,000. Does this make sense? If you do have a certain budget to publish your book entirely, let’s say ($500-$800 bucks) and want to stick to it… Do not go for a professional editor!

In addition, DO NOT PAY FOR EDITING SERVICES AT WEBSITES that claim they can do it for you. Do not! You’ll be spending money out your nose by the time you finish. Editing Services… I don’t care where you go, they’re a scam, even if they are legit! They prey on desperate and poor writers who want to publish quickly.

Many editing services will not give you a refund for that $15,000 – $6,000 for a 100,000 word manuscript or less. Most editing services want your credit card or debit card number, so they can rack up charges/surplus fees! Most editing services will take about 2-3 weeks before you can even get a response back. And many of them will not read the first 1,000 words for free either, unless you pay like a certain amount upfront like $50 bucks or something.

So, what now? You’re pretty much screwed wherever you go, right? Let me tell you this…DON’T GIVE UP!  You keep on searching and hunting for a Freelance Editor that’s right for YOU!

WHEN DEALING WITH ANY EDITOR…

  1. Make sure they have a track record you can followThis is the internet people! Anyone can pretend to be whoever they want to be, including fake diplomas, fake credentials, fake websites, and so on. If you need to give them your credit/debit card #, Driver’s License ID, Birth certificate, Social Security number, bank account #, and anything personal THAT IS A SCAM!
  2. Make sure they have and use PayPal – Paypal is the safest site when it comes to dealing with people who you do not know directly. I’m sure there’s some other payment sites out there, but make sure you have a third party site where you can safely transfer money over, without giving anyone your bank account information.  Not to mention, if there’s a problem you can also end the transaction within a certain time frame. If they are a scam, you can stop the money from processing and report them if necessary.
  3. Ask around at writing forums and previous customers they’ve worked with before -If they have testimonials on their website with quotes and stuff, make sure you can also contact these people beforehand. If these people have contact information, you can ask them how they liked their services and if the editor they worked with acted professional enough. If you cannot contact anyone on their testimonial page, ask around at writing forums if this editor or service is legit. However, sometimes these editors are legit, but they’re still a very expensive risk. It’s up to you to decide whether or not such a risk is worth it… and what’s in your budget.
  4. If they constantly change their prices… WATCH OUT! – Let’s say you’ve found a freelance editor and you sent them an email. They decide to give you a discount, if you work with them now for a limited time offer! RUN AWAY! If they can give you discounts, they can also change their prices. Do not fall for that limited time offer crap. It is a joke! An editor should have a set fixed fee no matter what. If they do not have a set fee for the services they provide and they constantly change it (whether it’s word count/editing per hours, etc) do not send them your manuscript.
  5. Do not go for editors that work per hour – Once again, unless you have a lot of money saved up for this, only choose editors that go by word count or per page (like $1-2 per page). Here’s why I say this and you do not have to agree with me. Editors editing your manuscript per hour are the most expensive type of editors!!  If you do not see them working, Do Not Hire Them! You have no idea how fast or how slow they edit. Most of these editors may take up to two weeks or more… they’ll be racking up $$ PER HOUR EVERY DAY!  Let’s say they work for $12 per hour on your manuscript. Do the math people! $12 x 12 hours = $144 Now, times that per day for a week. $1,008… now for another week… $2,016!! I’m being very generous with these prices. Most of these editors price range is $800 – $5,000 a week!
  6. All editors should give you a free critique of their work! – Whether it’s 1,000 words or less that you can send them (without payment), they should provide you with some choices. You are the customer! If you’re not satisfied with the critique you can go somewhere else. So, if they give you free critique options, try them! You are the only one who can make the right decision for yourself on whether this is the type of editor you want to hire in the near future… or not!
  7. Flexible payment options – No editor should force you to pay upfront the $500 bucks or any kind of money. You should be able to send half upfront and half when they’re done. If you give them that much money upfront, what’s stopping them from just walking away?!
  8. Make sure the contract makes sense – DO NOT sign any contract without reading it first! Make sure that the editor doesn’t want half of your royalties! It’s work for hire, not co-writer or co-anything! They should not be asking you to be featured in your book and they certainly don’t need none of your book royalties either! That’s a scam! If you want to feature them in your book, that’s fine… but you shouldn’t have to either.
  9. USE YOUR HEAD, not your wallet! – If the price is so cheap that it sounds too good to be true, it probably is! However, there are exceptions to the rules, if the above has been followed. If you did your research (#1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8) then go for it.

Anyway, I hoped that help. Once again, I’m not an expert in the matter… but from my experience this is what I think. You can disagree if you like. I know editing and editors can be a touchy subject matter for some folks, but let’s be real here. Editors aren’t cheap, that’s a fact! However, paying for the most expensive editor isn’t going to save your book and make it a bestseller either. Editors are human too! They can make mistakes!

They may give you good feedback on how you can improve your story, but they cannot predict the future. They are not fortune tellers, and having one doesn’t mean you’ll never have to edit again. Always edit your work even if the editor did it for you. And here’s why… always take advice with a grain of salt. Does anyone remember this motto?

What the editor says may be important, but you are the writer. If your story is about cyborg dinosaurs trying to rule the world by eating human brains or something… then yeah… go ahead and spend $15,000 on an editor, but your book may still be crap.

You as the writer must learn to take responsibility and learn how to edit yourself.  Editors’ advice will be harsh at times and it does hurt, but you also need to learn how to deal with it and move on. After all, even when it’s said and done, it’s still your story. You’re still in control over your story.

An editor is there to guide you (give you constructive feedback objectively) and to show you what parts needed fixing, like a mechanic. They can fix your car all you want, but it may only run 10 miles before it breaks down and crashes. They cannot tell you what is going to sell or not sell. Even some of the stupidest ideas have become bestsellers! Don’t just take my word for it. 😉

Anyway, happy hunting and hopefully this helps some people… if not, I’m sorry.  This is the best I can do. I can’t recommend sites or links that are trustworthy, because it all depends on what you’re looking for. When it comes to finding an editor you may have to take a leap of faith sometimes. But always follow your gut instinct. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!

Finding an editor will always be a difficult task for anyone wanting to become a self-published author. It’s not like you can go to the store and pick out an editor to come along with you to edit your manuscript. You need to be wise and smart about who you choose, especially editing services, for they never give you information on who’s editing your work… could be some Nigerian scam to get your money and fast!

Just make sure you do all your research and take your time, even if it takes ten years. Don’t be in a rush to hire an editor just because they’re at an affordable rate. Don’t be in a rush to publish either! Make sure you check around to see what other available options are there for you.

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5 thoughts on “The Editors: The Pros, The Beta Readers, and The Ugly Truth.

  1. Good article. I failed to find a paid editor for Mutt, and I ended up going with a bevy of beta readers and extensive self-editing. So far I’ve gotten no serious complaints as to the end result, but it’s a risky path, and I wouldn’t be surprised if more errors in the text turn up as my readership expands. I’m definitely going to go with paid editing next time.

    • Thank you! 🙂 Yeah, I had my fair share of Beta readers as well over the years and some of them were friends of mine. It’s just hard to save up money for an editor, but you gotta do what you gotta do sometimes. It’s expensive and you have to be careful out there, since there’s so many scams. I do wish you the best of luck in finding yourself an editor. If you need some extra help, let me know what type of editor you’re looking for and I can probably direct you to a site or two. I can’t recommend that they are the best out there, but at least I could give you a step in the right direction. 😀 Let me know and I’ll be happy to assist you.

      • Well, I won’t be needing editing in the immediate future, but here’s what I’ll be looking for: the series I’m working on is a kind of dystopian/fantasy mashup. I’m attempting to target a dual-gender audience of both young adults and adults (the book’s written in the third person and mostly follows a college-age male). Thus far, I’ve had pretty good reactions from male and female readers between 15-50 years of age, so I’m debating whether to target a more specific audience or keep the appeal as broad as possible.
        Okay, that was rather a tangent, but that’s pretty much the gist of the type of book for which I’ll be seeking help!

      • I can only help you find someone to edit hon…:( Finding you a specific target audience is not something I can help you do. I really wouldn’t have enough experience on marketing, even though I have marketed a movie before. Not only was that experience a painful one, but enlightening as well. The director of the film had given us no materials to work with, except maybe a few posters to hang up, but we never saw the film. All we knew was who was in it and the basic premise.

        If my group had been able to watch the film, like all the other groups had with their projects, I think we would’ve created a different approach to our marketing package. My group still passed with flying colors, but we still didn’t get many people to see the film due to the horrible reviews it received by many well-known critics. I think no matter what we did…it was fated to end the same way, because movie goers seriously take the advice and words of well-known critics to heart. Even the independent film groups I joined wouldn’t see the film no matter how much I tried to convince them.

        I just remember how very difficult and tiresome it was, doing much of the grunt work… driving to every cafe shop, every movie theater, every school marketing a film I never saw once in my life. Marketing a film is very much like a traveling salesperson, going door to door asking anyone and everyone to buy a ticket to see a film they’ve never heard of. If you don’t know what you’re selling, then you may be in a bit of a bind when people ask you what’s it about.

        I haven’t read your book hon, so I really wouldn’t know or be able to tell you if you should target specific people or specific areas. I think you (as the author) would have to decide who else you can market it to, but 15-50 seems like a wide gap of people. That’s actually quite a lot of people right there, but I think selling your own work will be the hardest challenge for anyone. I’ll be facing that soon as well, which is why I’ll be posting about how to create a marketing package.

        I highly doubt I’ll have the funds to drive around to places, but try reading a book called Guerrilla marketing. Here’s his blog as well -> What is Guerrilla Marketing? Some of the things he shows you can do for free and others you may have to spend some of your hard earned cash. I do wish you the best of luck hon. Take care now! I hope the information I’ve given you helps you on your journey! 😀

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