Getting Professional Help

In my previous post, I intimated that I was considering getting professional help. Then I clarified, for those who know me, that I was referring to professional help for my novel: an editor, not a psychiatrist! Ah, this business of finding an editor is fraught with uncertainty! I’ve learned that much as with music teachers and martial arts instructors, one can call oneself an editor without having any specific training or certification. A quick Google search reveals thousands of self-styled editors who would be happy to take a look at my novel in exchange for a pile of cash. Editing isn’t cheap!

On the other hand, I believe in my idea. I believe that inside the words I wrote, there is an excellent novel. I feel as though I’ve chipped away all the superfluous stone I can find, I feel that I’m close to seeing the angel inside the rock, but at this point, I need an experienced sculptor to help me.

I researched potential editors on the internet. Not everything one reads on the internet is true, but it’s a reasonable place to start. The first thing that became apparent to me was that not only are there a multitude of editors out there, but there are several different types of editing that an author might require. Significant structural anomalies such as problems with plot, dialogue, point of view or believability issues need a developmental edit. Once that’s completed or deemed unnecessary in the case of a very talented and experienced author, there is stylistic or line editing. When there are no further significant changes in the text, copy editing fixes the grammar and punctuation. Proofreading is the final pass over the work after the page proofs are complete. In traditional publishing, copy editing and proofreading are the responsibility of the publishing house; in the self-publishing world, the author needs to find her copy editor/proofreader. I learned that copy editing requires different training than developmental editing.

To improve the signal-to-noise ratio in my search for an editor, I determined to disregard those who are primarily authors or whatever, but who “will also provide editing services.” I looked for websites that are professional yet friendly, that focus on editing or publishing services, that include up-to-date blogs, and that provide information that is useful to writers. As examples of websites that impress me, I offer this from a publishing consultant and this from an editor. As it turns out, I don’t know either of these people, and I didn’t end up hiring them, but based on their professional internet presence I feel I would like to know them and I could see using them in the future.

So which girl did I ask to the dance? I read an article in Business Insider that impressed me. I like the way Natasa thought. The idea that I could work with one of the most respected editors in the industry, someone with extensive experience in a major New York publishing house, without my own New York connections…that fired me up! Their website met all my criteria for professionalism, approachability, and usefulness. I decided I was willing to risk paying a little more for someone who knew the business and who would look at my synopsis and part of my manuscript and match me with an editor who was likely to fit with me. I paid for a trial edit of my first 2,500 words. Here’s the critical point: I agreed with every suggestion she made, yet each idea was something I had not seen on my own until she pointed it out. My editor has many years of experience at two well-respected New York publishing houses and has worked with some famous authors. We spoke by phone. I felt we clicked. So I decided to go for it.

I’ll let you know in a couple of months how it went. But I’m excited and feeling good about it!