Hiring an Editor

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Sapphi
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Hiring an Editor

#1 Post by Sapphi » Thu Mar 22, 2012 9:53 pm

I was thinking today and realized I have no idea how to go about the business of hiring an editor.
For clarification, I don't mean a proofreader (those can come later) but an actual editor who is willing to get gritty, rip my writing to shreds word-by-word, and most importantly, suggest ways of fixing the problems. Asks questions like "Why is this character even here? What are you trying to accomplish with this scene? Were you going for ___ mood here? Do you realize you just created a major plot hole?" etc. Someone who will have lots of correspondence with me and dedicate themselves to helping me make my story better.

Where do you go to hire an editor? How do you know when they are qualified? How is payment worked out, and what should I expect to pay for someone who actually cares enough to nitpick, analyze, and make me sob my eyes out in hopeless frustration? (Does paying someone to make me cry mean I'm a masochist and is that such a bad thing anyway? :lol: )

I ask because I've been doing some heavy thinking about my project and have come to the conclusion that while I can provide my own story, artwork, coding, and possibly even some music, I don't want to put all that time and effort in without having someone with a literary background tell me what sucks and how to fix it.
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Re: Hiring an Editor

#2 Post by LateWhiteRabbit » Fri Mar 23, 2012 12:18 am

I don't know, usually writer's hire agents. Editors usually work for a publisher or a publication. I've never heard of freelance editors.

EDIT: And apparently freelance editors are thing. :?

Here is the Editorial Freelancers Association webpage and their rates. Seems like they don't really consider games much. However, they do consider 250 words a "page" and for "Proofreading" they do 9-13 pgs an hour (so 2250 to 3250 words an hour) and they say the going rate for that is $30-$35 dollars an hour. "Substantive | line editing" (editing your word flow?) is only 1-6 pgs an hour (or 250 - 1500 script words an hour) for $50 - $60 an hour.

Holy banana boats - I'm in the wrong line of work. A novel length VN script - 70,000 words (or around a 150 page book), just proofreading would run you a minimum of $650 dollars. At the upper end of 150,000 words (around 300 pages) you're looking at $1615 dollars just to proofread your script. To really edit it you would need to pay them an additional $6000.

I'm sorely tempted to claim editorial power and have your hire me based on two college degrees and growing up in a family of English teachers (and I'd only charge half!) but I think the amount of money being asked for is a little ridiculous, and I'll explain why:

1) Editors can proofread you, but so can friends or family. You can even proofread yourself. This is just going over your script and looking for grammatical mistakes and misspellings. Maybe making sure your tense stays the same or your don't mix up names. It just requires knowledge of grammar everyone should of learned in school coupled with slow methodical patience.

But this is perhaps the only place an editor might truly be valuable and save you time. If your grammar skills are weak or you have no patience, maybe the $600-$1000 dollars will be worth it to you. An editor should certainly be able to catch all your mistakes, but it seems unnecessary to have a professional do this.

2) Being an editor is SUBJECTIVE beyond the grammar and spelling. Yes, there are certain ways to word things to make them have more punch, or they can pick out plot holes, let you know when something isn't making sense or getting across, or when they got bored - but your friends and family can tell you the same things. Good editors are writers themselves - and every writer has a style of writing. If your style and the editor's don't match up . . . .

3) Editors don't always know good work when they see it, and don't always know bad work when they see it. Harry Potter was rejected by 8 editors, Animal Farm by 4 editors, Twilight by 14 editors (make of that what you will), and Lolita was rejected by nearly every editor, with one saying - “It is overwhelmingly nauseating, even to an enlightened Freudian. To the public, it will be revolting. It will not sell, and will do immeasurable harm to a growing reputation… I recommend that it be buried under a stone for a thousand years.” (It has sold over 50 million copies and made its author world famous, and in 57 years has never been out of print.)

Those stories all resonated with tens of millions of people, and editors told all those authors the writing and story was no good. What if you get an editor that doesn't like your kind of stories? Both Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter were rejected by editors all together - only seeing publication because a child got hold of the manuscript in both cases and begged their parent with editorial power to publish!

At the end of the day you could have one editor completely happy with your work and another one suggesting major rewrites, and paying for the privilege!

I'm not suggesting an editor is worthless, but they certainly shouldn't be viewed as a panacea for all that ails your writing. Unless you are truly a horrible writer, I would suggest going with friends and family. Or a writing workshop. Or you could pay me. :wink: (Because apparently I can qualify as an editor - Editor Credentials and How to Check Them)

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Re: Hiring an Editor

#3 Post by Kyonko802 » Fri Mar 23, 2012 12:26 am

Hell I'll help you for fun.

But if you're looking to get published you need an agent, editors are often freelancers, and authors usually don't stick with one for long unless they're a friend. Best thing is to get multiple inputs from different writers and/or people you know.

Make sure the people you know are willing to be brutally honest though, especially if they're family members.
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Re: Hiring an Editor

#4 Post by Sapphi » Fri Mar 23, 2012 1:41 am

LateWhiteRabbit wrote: Holy banana boats - I'm in the wrong line of work. A novel length VN script - 70,000 words (or around a 150 page book), just proofreading would run you a minimum of $650 dollars. At the upper end of 150,000 words (around 300 pages) you're looking at $1615 dollars just to proofread your script. To really edit it you would need to pay them an additional $6000.
:shock: .... Yeah, maybe I should change my major...

I had thought of the issue of subjectivity and you're right, it would be very hard to find someone who was "Just like me, only better"... I guess I was just hoping for someone to confide in who would tell me what they thought of my ideas and my execution of them, since currently I have no one I can actually talk to about it. (My boyfriend is not a writer and doesn't want to be spoiled.)

I have some faith in my own capabilities for writing, but... being an artist, I know the value of a good red-lining. Not that you can't get it for free, but I think not many people would take the time to fully nitpick if they weren't being compensated unless they really loved the work.

That's funny about Lolita. (It was a little revolting in some places, but I cried at the end anyway...)
LateWhiteRabbit wrote:Unless you are truly a horrible writer, I would suggest going with friends and family. Or a writing workshop. Or you could pay me. :wink: (Because apparently I can qualify as an editor - [url=<a class="linkification-ext" href="http://www.writershelper.com/editors-credentials.html" title="Linkification: http://www.writershelper.com/editors-cr ... ls.html</a>]Editor Credentials and How to Check Them[/url])
That's easy for you to say with the family you have! :lol:
My mother likes Jane Austen but mostly she just reads silly romance novels... (And the story I'm writing would possibly get me kicked out of the house.)
The rest of my family is not apt to read books unless they are popular (Twilight, Eragon, Hunger Games, etc.) and... I don't have that many friends... OTL (The ones I do have also are just casual readers...)

But heck, maybe when it's ready and you happen to like it we can work something out...
Kyonko802 wrote:Hell I'll help you for fun.

But if you're looking to get published you need an agent, editors are often freelancers, and authors usually don't stick with one for long unless they're a friend. Best thing is to get multiple inputs from different writers and/or people you know.

Make sure the people you know are willing to be brutally honest though, especially if they're family members.
Well, I'm not looking to get published. It's going to be a non-commercial kinetic novel. :)
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Re: Hiring an Editor

#5 Post by LateWhiteRabbit » Fri Mar 23, 2012 3:21 am

Join a writing workshop. Search local community colleges for groups or search online. You get a group of writers to critique your work, all at their own varying skill levels, and you can face them in person as they critique and discuss your work. It makes it easy to see what clicks with an audience and what doesn't. Plus, you get to critique and help other writers with their work, and there is no better way to learn a skill than teaching it to others. Most writing groups or workshops are free to join as well.
Sapphi wrote: That's easy for you to say with the family you have! :lol:
Yeah, my family upbringing was a little weird in that department. My mother and grandmother were both English teachers, so I got exposed to Shakespeare and Chaucer at a very young age. I got the whole "Can I have a cookie? No, it is MAY I have a cookie" upbringing. I grew up in the South, but I've never had a drawl. Children in elementary school thought I was British simply because I enunciated words correctly. :roll: It's funny because my mother has a very prominent Southern accent. I never thought I picked up any of it, but when I was in the military I discovered that when I was several days sleep-deprived and stressed I would slip into a drawl!

Growing up I had to ride home with my grandmother most days, so I ended up sitting in on a high school senior English class in the back of the room for 7 years before I had senior English. After a couple of years, to keep me from getting bored, my grandmother gave me quizzes and tests along with the rest of the class. When I finally took the class for real, I did very well, though I fear by that time I was a bit insufferable.

I'll look over sections of your writing if you wish and give feedback. I'm just not up for whole novel lengths without compensation! (Man, those freelance editors are bringing in more an hour than I am! And I have to apply anatomical study and color theories in MY work . . . grumble, grumble . . . .)

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Re: Hiring an Editor

#6 Post by papillon » Fri Mar 23, 2012 10:45 am

The other problem is that while freelance editors exist, for best results you want someone with specialist knowledge, and good luck finding a freelance editor who even understands the needs of video games, much less the needs of a kinetic or visual novel.

You and your editor have to click, you have to be working towards the same goals. Criticism can be valid and utterly useless at the same time!

The best you can do, most likely, is offer up a small amount of your game for public critique and hope that one of the people who reads and comments really gets it and is capable of making helpful suggestions... then try to follow up with them.

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Re: Hiring an Editor

#7 Post by Mink » Fri Mar 23, 2012 1:12 pm

...Now I REALLY want to be a freelance editor. As it stands, I would do this for you for free because, weirdly enough, I want more experience doing it and I just enjoy it.

Okay, well, I guess it would depend on what the story is. If it's a genre I know I don't like or care for, I'd probably not be the best person for the job.

Seriously, why is my major toxicology? X|
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Re: Hiring an Editor

#8 Post by Greeny » Fri Mar 23, 2012 5:41 pm

I think that for a thing like this, a community such as Lemma Soft is ideal. I think you'll find plenty of people who will want to help you for free (whether they're qualified is another matter, but...) and many more who will do it for a reasonable fee. Maybe a few with unreasonable fees.

I, too, would not mind helping people crank up the quality level of their works with my advice. If there's one thing I'm good at it's telling people what they're doing wrong! Haha. Ha. Ha. ...Ha. *sob*
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Re: Hiring an Editor

#9 Post by Dakishimete » Sat Mar 24, 2012 5:32 pm

Honestly, the easiest way is to work with editors that worked on a project you liked. Also, directly telling them what would you expect from them is important.
If you want to make a really good game I'd adivse you to find more than one editor. When there's two of them you'll know what is actually bad and what just doesn't suit your editor's tastes.

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Re: Hiring an Editor

#10 Post by Auro-Cyanide » Sat Mar 24, 2012 11:38 pm

Shadow does freelance editing sometimes. You might be able to ask her.

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Re: Hiring an Editor

#11 Post by Starcloud » Tue Apr 03, 2012 2:43 am

Well if you are looking for someone professional then I would follow some of the great advice listed above. But If you would be interested in some layman help I could always lend a hand :) Some constructive criticism is good from any source I think. Besides - I would only charge you by asking that you do the same for me sometime. Or you know - if you really wanted I could always use the $600 real editors charge :lol: Either way, best of luck!

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Re: Hiring an Editor

#12 Post by Sapphi » Fri Apr 06, 2012 12:48 am

Thanks for your comments, everyone. ^_^

I think what I'm going to end up doing is a very detailed outline, writing and rewriting, self-editing until I can't stand to look at it anymore, and then seek the help. Or, I might just finish the outline and *shudders* ask people to tear it to pieces...

Anyway, you people shouldn't volunteer yourselves so willingly before you know what it's about :lol:
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by reminding him of the courage and honor and hope and pride
and compassion and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of his past."
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Re: Hiring an Editor

#13 Post by Mink » Fri Apr 06, 2012 5:12 pm

Nah, every time you do make a reference to it, I'm intrigued, so that's part of why I offered. But if it's like a romance thing, I'm probably not the best for it, since I'm just not really in to romance stories. There's an exception to every rule, though.
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Re: Hiring an Editor

#14 Post by Sapphi » Fri Apr 06, 2012 5:33 pm

Kekeke... my plan are a success! 8D

Nah, I think the genre tag it's going under is "Drama." There is actually not a terribly large amount of actual sexual romance in it, because I'm weird like that.
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and compassion and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of his past."
— William Faulkner
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Re: Hiring an Editor

#15 Post by Shadow » Wed Apr 11, 2012 8:15 am

It's kinda amusing to see people wanting to be an editor. Don't do it if you want to live comfortably, guys! You put in way more work than you get paid for. It's a job of passion!
Where do you go to hire an editor?
Anywhere you might expect writers to gather. DeviantArt job boards, here, popular forums, freelancing sites. Freelancers generally can't wait around since the industry is full of people and editing jobs are rare. Editors affiliated with a group (for example, the the Sydney Writers' Centre) offer their services through them, but their pay will be non-negotiable and professional rates.
How do you know when they are qualified?
If they're able to give you a list of what they've previously done (instead of being vague) and an outline of their education and experience that checks out, then they're likely qualified for the job. Of course, qualified doesn't necessarily mean they're best for you. People have different styles and work ethics.

A quick test is asking them about their opinion on Oxford commas. If they don't express a clear opinion, they're likely not knowledgeable or passionate enough about their job :P
How is payment worked out, and what should I expect to pay for someone who actually cares enough to nitpick, analyze, and make me sob my eyes out in hopeless frustration?
Payment is worked out in whichever method is good for the both of you, unless you're working through an agency like the example above. Think of it as commissioning an artist for their work – you negotiate a rate, payment method, what you want, when they can deliver and when you pay.

Expected payment for professionals is between $0.03–$0.05 per word (whereas professional writing rates sit at ~$0.05 per word). You'll likely find people desperate enough to be paid less then that, though. While this can amount to at least $500 for 50,000 words, keep in mind you'd be getting an extremely in-depth look to your work and they'll be reading it multiple times to ensure things are well polished.

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