I’d say 95 percent of the clients I work with on book editing projects are filled with impatience. As a writer as well as a book editor, I of course understand this feeling perfectly. It makes sense. For the most part, developing writers approach me with a first or second or third draft, or even sometimes a memoir or novel they’ve worked on for years, and they have a specific plan for how they want that project to go.
The problems with this attitude are many-fold. For one thing, the majority of developing writers out there don’t necessarily understand how “the industry” works, and also how book editing itself works. Due to the popularity of writing nowadays, people have been told they can very easily self-publish or simply hire a book editor for a quick edit and then, ZOOM; you’re getting published!
This couldn’t be further from the truth. The reality is that writing and editing (and publishing) take a long. Freaking. Time.
For me, as your book editor, I want your work to be the very best it can be. This means I want to often do two, three, even four or more (usually it’s two-to-three) developmental edits (general edit looking at plot, structure, pace, characters, setting, voice, logic concerns, etc) and then a line edit after that. This process easily can take anywhere between six months to a full year or longer. That’s right, you heard correctly; up to a full year. As you move through the process (and you’ll take time off each draft to allow your eyes to become objective with your own work again) you will undoubtedly become a stronger writer. This is part of the point. Also, you can do some research and try to understand agents, query letters (which I can help you with as well) and the market a little better so that when we’re done, you’ll have a better grasp on what you’re doing.
I do not do copy editing anymore, only developmental and line editing (line is going through the whole manuscript line by line and strengthening your writing) which means you’ll still have to then hire either a copy editor or a proofreader when you’re done with me. That’s another post. But the point of everything I’m saying is: SLOW DOWN AND BE PATIENT. Let me let you in on a little trade secret: Good novels and good memoir (I only work with novels and memoir) come from writers who take their time, slow down, and put out their very best work. Don’t rush the process! As a client, be willing to be teachable. Remain humble. You don’t have to swallow everything I tell you, and by all means, disagree with whatever you wish (and we can discuss each issue/concern) but don’t make the rookie mistake of either rushing your not-truly-ready manuscript to agents or even worse perhaps, releasing an unprepared self-published book into the digital world that isn’t your best material. We’ve all seen some grizzly stuff out there, and you don’t want to be in that category.
Instead, do the right thing and take it slow. Yes, each draft is going to cost you more money, but it’s worth the price when you consider what you’re getting back: A solid, tight, finished product worthy of readers’ expectations. I am a published writer, a freelance book editor, and a former literary agent’s assistant at a reputable firm in the Bay Area, so I know how all this works from a personal as well as professional standpoint. I have worked with clients like Christian Picciolini (“Romantic Violence: Memoirs of an American Skinhead”) and have seen clients like Lori Windsor Mohr (“The Road at my Door,” Alfie Dog Press) and Tom Pitts (“Hustle,” Snubnose Press) get their books published successfully. I worked with Christian for over a year on a book he’d been working on for a decade. Lori Windsor Mohr worked on her novel for a decade. Tom Pitts I worked with through the agency I was with and we went through several drafts.
The point? You don’t need to spend a decade on your book, or even half that. But you do need, in my opinion, to spend some real time going over your material to make sure it shines brightly and performs its main functions: to entertain, to teach, and to enlighten.
Are you ready for me to help take your novel or memoir to the next level? Got the patience? Give me a try.
“You said it. Let’s edit.”
Have a project for me? Send me the first chapter as a word.doc, a description (short) of the book and of the author, and a basic description of your desires and goals as pertaining to the project to firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, I have some interest in performing my first ghostwriting project of a memoir. If you are interested in this, I am willing to charge the low rate of .25 cents/word for this service (about $20K for an 80K word book). This would be my first ghost book and would take probably the better part of a year when you factor in interviews, research, notes, phone conversations, and the actual writing drafts and arriving at the final draft. Pitching this project to agents and help with query letters, synopses and proposals could be negotiated as well for an additional [hourly] rate.