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Posted: January 25th, 2010, 8:37 pm
by jmcooper
Okay...question. Let me set it up:

Two years ago at a writers conference I frequent, I met a young agent (from a big NY house--it was all very exciting!) and we hit it off great. She was totally into my genre (YA fantasy) and we had a great conversation over drinks. She asked me what I was working on, I told her and she told me to query her. It was a very brief discussion about work and more about having fun on the night before the stressful "Pitch Day". So a few days after the conference, I sent her my query, synopsis, and I think the first three chapters. She requested the full ms, so I then sent out that. Very quickly I got a lovely rejection letter--no really, I'm not being sarcastic, she was super sweet--about how my prose was terrific, but that the general pace was too slow. A sad ending to a terrific moment in my life. But, whatever, you move on, right?

So, the question is this: Now, two years later, said agent is running her own editorial business. It seems she now takes on little peons like me and helps them develop their mss or other projects for presentation to the industry. So, do I send my ms to her? It's certainly evolved. After her critique, I cut thousands of words. But what might I expect to pay for a service like that? I don't really want to pay, but I feel like maybe she'd really take my baby under her wing because she's seen it before. Or maybe she'd run screaming for the hills..."Not that girl again!"

What do you all think? Has anyone ever paid for an editorial service like that?

Re: Editors

Posted: January 25th, 2010, 10:06 pm
by taylormillgirl
The Editorial Department (run by the folks who published "Self-Editing for Fiction Writers") charges $400 for a MS evaluation of 50,000 words. After that, I think it's $2 per double spaced page. Keep in mind, that's not a total editing job, just an evaluation. There are many other editing services that could run into the thousands. That's pretty steep, and there's no guarantee your MS would sell.

If it was only a few hundred bucks, then maybe I'd consider it. Otherwise, no way.

Re: Editors

Posted: January 26th, 2010, 4:39 pm
by jmcooper
I didn't think I'd ever consider it, because I've had free editing by family in the business, but also by actual authors who are not blood. :-) But I guess what intrigued me here was that she was a former agent, who I actually "knew" and with whom I had real conversations about my work. I mean, I know she passed on it. But it was two years ago. I've since written a second book and started two more. I've learned so much in those two years. They say who you know can be just as important as what you know...I guess I'd just like to think I know somebody. :-)

Re: Editors

Posted: January 27th, 2010, 1:52 am
by zen
It's confusing why you'd even consider paying for this if you have family in the business who have given you free editing. And you also have connections to authors. You shouldn't have to pay to "know" someone, if you get my drift. You will not get special treatment because she's read your ms before. She'll just be happy to accept your money. I gather she is no longer an agent, as that would be a conflict of interest.

It is very naive to assume you'll be special to someone just because they've read (and rejected) your work. If that agent was really excited about your work, she would have given you some rewrite notes and invited you to resubmit.

You've got new manuscripts, use those to get the interest of an agent (one who doesn't have a sideline doing freelance editing).

Re: Editors

Posted: February 1st, 2010, 9:23 am
by jmcooper
All right, all right! Jeesh, you people are relentless! Let me take my naivety elsewhere! LoL. Seriously--I totally agree with all of what you said. But can I truly trust family/friends even when they are editors? Sometimes I feel like I want a third party who doesn't already care about me. I don't want to pay--I just thought the connection was interesting. Thought someone who was an agent and is now an editor (albeit a charging one) would have really good advice for getting a ms published. And while she rejected my work previously, she'd be looking at it from a different perspective this time: helping me perfect it. Not turning it down because it isn't perfect yet.
Does that make sense?

Anyway, it doesn't matter because I'm not sending her anything. I haven't a penny to my name. And when I earn a penny it's going toward the stamp for my query.

Re: Editors

Posted: February 1st, 2010, 2:48 pm
by christi
I'm by no means an expert, but if you're confident in your MS, then you don't need her. It's nice that you two got along so well, but she isn't a stepping stone to finding an agent, which is what you need -not an editor. I wish you the best of luck, though, and hope things go all puppies and rainbows for ya. :-)

Re: Editors

Posted: February 1st, 2010, 4:36 pm
by jmcooper
I love puppies and rainbows! ;-)

Re: Editors

Posted: February 1st, 2010, 10:20 pm
by Gabrielle
As an editor, I'd say that one agent's/editor's comments about your pacing shouldn't be taken as law. Just because she thought it was too slow years ago doesn't mean that it was too slow for someone else. Are you confident in it? Then hold your ground and keep sending it out. If you agree with her but you can't see how to fix the problems... that's another thing entirely.

If it were me, I'd welcome the chance to help someone I really clicked with to improve a manuscript that I wanted to like. She had to be distant to a certain degree before because of her role and therefore couldn't advise you, but now she's in a position where she potentially can. I wouldn't think that a query for editorial services from you was out of place at all. And a professional with some distance, if you can afford one, can really make a difference on some of the stickier types of problems where family and friends can't.

Re: Editors

Posted: February 2nd, 2010, 3:00 pm
by jmcooper
Thank you for your opinion. Interesting, the different perspectives we all come from. I am (fairly) confident in my mss. After I got her feedback, I did trim it back a bit, but mostly it was to force the ms to fit the regulations for the Delacorte YA contest. (which I'm still awaiting rejection....haha) As my first book, I believe it probably could use more oomph than some of my more recent mss, but I still stand by the story. I have to try more than just the handful I've sent it to before I shelve it permanently.

Like you said, family and friends can only offer so much appropriate help. I appreciate it very, very much, but at times, I'd love for a third party to become as invested in the project as I am. I'm sure all writers would. a perfect world.

Re: Editors

Posted: March 8th, 2010, 7:48 pm
by zen
Jm, I do understand your desire to have someone outside of your family give you professional feedback. But I also know many authors who have been published who never paid for a freelance editor. And, I know several writers who paid for editing but who are still unpublished. I think I know one published author who used a top freelance editor but this author has not written since.

I know some freelance editors who do give excellent advice, so in spite of what I said above, I'm not knocking them. But be aware that some agents have said they're wary when writers say they used such and such editor because the agent likes to see they will be able to have a career without this help.

My advice is to first look for a good writing group. Look for one that is small and the writers are close in level of expertise. In person is best, but online will work if you do not live where it's possible to find a face to face group. The most natural ways these evolve are students from college extension writing classes banding together, either with or without the instructor, once the class is over.

If you still want to hire a freelance editor, then look around for recommendations. If that agent knew how to fix your manuscript before, and thought she could then sell it, she would have done that. If you're going to pay, better to pay for entirely fresh eyes.