What's everyone's experience with editors?

DAgent

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More specifically, what kind of work will they do outside of editing?

I've gave my main work in a progress another one through, and found several issues with it that I did know about, but haven't managed to fix yet but do know how to, and one in particular that I've only just realised is an issue, and have no idea how to resolve it. It's pretty much the most important part of the story because the tale might very well fall apart without this issue being resolved. And while I'm all for lingering unsolved mysteries I know they aren't to every ones liking.

Would an editor bring this up and suggest ideas to resolve it, or would they just highlight the issue and leave it to the writer to sort out? I'm assuming it would be the latter, but I'm willing to bet there's going to have been exceptions to that.
 

Jo Zebedee

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blah - flags. So many flags.
More specifically, what kind of work will they do outside of editing?

I've gave my main work in a progress another one through, and found several issues with it that I did know about, but haven't managed to fix yet but do know how to, and one in particular that I've only just realised is an issue, and have no idea how to resolve it. It's pretty much the most important part of the story because the tale might very well fall apart without this issue being resolved. And while I'm all for lingering unsolved mysteries I know they aren't to every ones liking.

Would an editor bring this up and suggest ideas to resolve it, or would they just highlight the issue and leave it to the writer to sort out? I'm assuming it would be the latter, but I'm willing to bet there's going to have been exceptions to that.
In my experience the latter, although I can usually run solutions past them - but it’s normally left for me to muse and solve
 

Steve Harrison

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An editor, I'm sure, would bring it up if he/she thought there was an issue, but there's no problem mentioning it going in.

I've only worked with editors at my publisher and they were not backwards in coming forward. But when they did spot an issue, they would point it out to me and I would go away and fix it. They would not volunteer solutions, although they were happy to discuss what I came up with. The final decision was always mine.

My favourite query from an editor concerned a minor character: "Is this guy an idiot?"
 

Teresa Edgerton

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Well, I have been on both sides of this.

As a writer I have worked with a number of editors at various publishing houses. Most of the time they merely pointed out problems and left me to fix them, although occasionally, depending on the particular issue, they had a few suggestions about how I might go about it. (In the event, whether I actually followed any of those suggestions—which I don't remember ever doing—they didn't seem to care about that, so long as I had fixed the problem.)

As a developmental editor, freelance and occasionally working for small publishing houses, it depended on what the issue was. Sometimes I would just say "fix this" and leave the author to it, but I tend to be an explainer, so when pointing out a problem and explaining why it was a problem I've been known to give examples of ways that it might be fixed. But if the writer found a way to fix the problem that was more satisfying to them, then so much the better (after all, they are the ones who best understand their world and characters), so long as the problem was really fixed.

Generally speaking, I think that editors trust authors to find a solution once a problem has been pointed out, but they are glad to give guidance if the writer requires or requests it.
 

Jo Zebedee

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blah - flags. So many flags.
If I come back in after Teresa's post (who has been my editor for Abendau, and the forthcoming Into a Blood-Red Sky) and give an example.

By the time I got to book 3 of the Abendau series, it had become a three way story with each of those characters having pretty much equal point of view time, whilst the protagonist's line remaining the key storyline. One of those characters is a playboy type in his private life, and a military leader in his professional. In this case, Teresa came back to say she liked the other two storylines very much but not his. His motivations in terms of the main character were wrong, his actions were wrong. She explained why she felt that, and how she felt it had failed to deliver on readers' expectations of the character, who is a popular one.

Now, it's easy as a writer to get dug in but, if there is trust between you and the editor (and I trust both Teresa and Sam, my copyeditor implicitly) then your first task is to listen, and then decide if you are happy to make the changes (I made changes to an earlier book, Inish Carraig, on the basis of an editorial agent, and they were, in some cases, the wrong changes to make - others improved the book a lot, too, though; there is no easy way to decide what to do).

In this case, I was. But it was, largely, a third of the book, which was intertwined with the other sections. I mused for a few days, thought about what had been said, ran a possible solution past Teresa who was happy with it, and suggested I write that.

So, not unsupported in terms of the changes but definitely the onus was on me how to solve it.
 

Droflet

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Early on in my writing, I encountered a number of crooks. I may have been green at the time but not green enough that I couldn't pick a crook. Finding an editor who understood where I was coming from took me years. A great editor is invaluable and worth listening to.
 

DAgent

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Sounds like, with a few exceptions re crooks, most of the editors can be trusted to do their job properly then. Which makes me have to ask the next, most logically question, which is which editors can people heartily recommend to do a good job?
 

sknox

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>which editors can people heartily recommend to do a good job?

People can and do recommend editors, but it's still on you to choose. Which means you have to have some basis for choosing and you need to be able to trust your judgment. IOW, you need a strategy for choosing an editor. Do you have one? If not, you might start by asking advice on that score.
 

DAgent

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>which editors can people heartily recommend to do a good job?

People can and do recommend editors, but it's still on you to choose. Which means you have to have some basis for choosing and you need to be able to trust your judgment. IOW, you need a strategy for choosing an editor. Do you have one? If not, you might start by asking advice on that score.
I can safely say I do not have any strategy for choosing one, yet. So if anyone can add some ideas in that regard it would be appreciated.
 

Robert Zwilling

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My experience was that along with indie authors, there are also indie editors. I used several on my first project and learned that they all had a different point of view of how things should be. Some had different levels of quality based on how much one was willing to pay.
 

sknox

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There are a good many guides and blog posts on how to choose an editor. I recommend you do some research on your own, but in general it means finding editors in your genre, reading all you can about them, choosing a few to talk to, submitting sample text to the ones that seem a good fit. The really tricky part is being able to evaluate the comments they give in return. Very difficult for the new author, that.

But there are some practical things you can do. Read reviews of those editors. Find out what other work they've done and buy some of those books. See if the editor is timely in responding. See if you can afford them! See how available they are--don't be surprised if you have to book one many months out

And start a list of names, with your own comments and evaluations. Expect all this to take quite a long time and require a fair bit of work on your part.
 

jd73

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As a self-published writer, I had to look into sourcing an editor at cost. I got some samples, and ... I dunno, I just didn't think the fixes were much good. I got the sense I was being scammed. So I got beta feedback and self edited. Sure, if I had a couple of grand to drop on a professional, I would. But I don't. I do freelance editing on the side so I like to think I vaguely know what I am doing...
 

HareBrain

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My experience with editors has been very variable. With hindsight, only with two out of six am I glad I spent the money, and what I primarily got from these was the confidence that what I'd written had largely been approved by someone who knew what they were talking about. Some edits were obviously not in sympathy with the story at all, which made the whole thing rather pointless. Otherwise I've found beta-reads more useful for actually suggesting worthwhile changes (but then I think I have been fortunate in the quality of my beta readers and writing group members).

I think a paid edit might be useful if you're less sure of your own strengths, but then the question is what kind of edit to get. A line edit on a whole MS with someone reputable will cost thousands. A line edit on an excerpt can highlight useful lessons you can apply across the whole book, but I think most people want their overall plot analysed, and even an overview will be very expensive as you're paying for a lot of the editor's reading time.
 

Toby Frost

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I've been lucky. My editors at Myrmidon Books and Black Library were both very good, although changes within Games Workshop made things trickier at the end of the period when I was writing for them. For my self-published books, I used @TheDustyZebra , who is very good indeed.

I think you've got to be a bit wary with any sort of critique, not just paid critique. Not only do some people make mistakes, but you will eventually run up against someone who just doesn't get what you're writing, or wishes that you'd written something else. But of course it can depend enormously.
 

Robert Zwilling

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One other thing I ran into in. If an editor is advertising a special sale price, it could mean a reduction in the quality or amount of the editing that will be done, regardless of what is advertised in the standard edit deal.
 

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