I was thinking recently about editors out there in the stratosphere. It’s tough—in 2015—to be an aspiring writer who’s trying to track down a good editor. First of all, there are shady editors out there—as there are agents and publishers—and some of them are only seeking money. Lots of it.
What you’ve got to remember is that, since the 1960s writing has become increasingly popular. This is unfortunate, really, because it clouds the market. It is now much harder for accomplished and talented writers to get their work in the hands of a good agent because the agent’s Slush Pile has 800 emails in it, all of them competing with your sad little query floating lamely in the literary sea.
One thing you can do to make your chances of hooking an agent’s eye increase is know the market and know how to write a Killer Query; know how to get their attention. One way to do that is to hire a professional. A book editor will not only help you see the issues within your book and assist you in developing and copy-editing that book and making it shine; they’ll help you write that query and synopsis and push it out into Agent Land with a much, much higher likelihood of getting a fish to bite Of course, there are no guarantees, but why the heck not improve your chances. Book editors know agents. They go to writers’ conferences. Editorial workshops. They study and know the market. They read for a living.
I am a developmental book editor. I come into play when an author has a first, second or third draft of a novel or memoir. I help them develop the project—focusing on structure, plot, character development, dialogue, pace, etc—into what they truly desire. Their vision for the overall picture can begin to come alive. Later down the line I can do a copy edit. Then I can work with them on the query and synopsis and help to try and connect them to agents.
Many book editors come from different backgrounds. The majority come from publishing backgrounds, often traditional, where they worked as copy editors, acquisitions editors, etc. After they worked in this capacity for five years, a decade, fifteen years, etc, they left their job and went freelance. In my case, I received a bachelor’s degree in creative writing, was a literary agent’s assistant, and started getting my fiction published. As an agent’s assistant, I was in charge of rejecting or accepting manuscripts for further reading. If I found an ms I really liked, based off the query, I’d start reading. If I liked the first fifty pages, they were asked to send. I’d receive the whole book via a word.doc attachment and forward it to the agent herself, who would read it. If she fell head over heels in love with it and it was poking at her soul, she’d call the writer, send over a contract and represent them. I also edited the agent’s acquired clients’ books, most of which later went on to be published.
I know a lot about what works and what doesn’t in the industry. I know what a query and a synopsis should look like. I know how agents’ think and how the market looks. Ninety-five percent of new writers do not know this information. That, as well as pushing their books forward, is why writers hire book editors. And that’s why you should hire me. I can’t tell you how many times agents reject an author out of hand because they didn’t do the query right or they misspelled something simple or the formatting was all messed up. Or maybe it’s “platform,” right? The writer has zero social media presence. There are so many pitfalls to avoid; often writers fall right into the Bear Pit and…just like that…it’s over.
It is the job of good book editors to know the market. As far as shady editors: Check out Preditors and Editors. This is a site dedicated to calling out false editors in the business who operate under “questionable motives.” Always ask an editor for a sample edit (free) prior to committing. Always sign a contract. Check out the EFA (Editorial Freelancers Association) for more info on fair professional practice, rates, etc. Also, if an agent ever charges you a reading fee: ditch them. Agents work on a contingency basis: If they ask for dough, they are a sham. Lastly, be smart. Trust your gut. If you have a weird feeling about an editor or agent, or if they are unprofessional via email, phone, etc (unless there is an assumed rapport), then trust that intuition and back out before you sign anything. Use Google to research this stuff; there is plenty of info out on the web.
If you are, in fact, looking for a book editor, I would love to check out your work. My rates are competitive. As a former lit agent’s assistant and a published writer, I know how to get that book to the next stage. Please email me your query (if you have one; if not, no problem) and the first chapter. I offer a 5-10 page test edit for free. If you like my work, I would love to delve in! Email the materials to: email@example.com. I am currently looking for clients. I work with fiction and memoir. In fiction, just about anything other than children’s, storybooks, or middle grade are fine by me. If you aren’t sure, email me. Currently, I am booked tight until November 1st.