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Professional edit BEFORE sending it to lit agents


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#1 WriterSteph1982

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Posted 08 June 2016 - 04:08 PM

I was advised by a friend (who's a published author) that I should pay to get MS professional edited before I send it to literary agents but A) I can't afford that and B)  I have never heard of having to do that when going through traditional publishing 



#2 dogsbody

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Posted 08 June 2016 - 10:10 PM

I've heard agents actually recommend against it if you're aiming to be traditionally published. They want to know what they're working with -- the raw materials, so to speak -- so they can WORK with it. If they like the story and your skill, many agents will be willing to walk through whatever revisions may be necessary to bring a manuscript up to snuff. 



#3 Thrash

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Posted 16 June 2016 - 04:15 PM

Did your friend advise this after reading your manuscript?  If so, it may be a polite way of telling you it has grammar/mechanics issues. I would recommend spending your money on crash courses in grammar rather than an editor. More work, but developing your skills is a better investment. 



#4 Sassalota

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Posted 18 June 2016 - 09:31 PM

I wish I could find a link to an article I had saved but it was on a laptop that broke. Anyway, I remember reading this article from a retired agent and he said that he always advises people to get an editor first. He said, when he was working in the business that he would recommend the "industry norm" of not needing one but now that he was retired he was going to flat out say, get one first. He had so many great reasons to why you should do it. Everything from owning the rights to the edits, to the right editor can help recommend agents and a lot of times they have connections, etc.

 

For what it is worth, I have worked with two professional copy editors. One was new and cheap and the other had decades worth of great experience and really expensive. To be honest, I prefer the cheaper gals edits. So, price doesn't always mean quality. Shop around.

 

If you aren't sure you could always try one out. A lot of times they will do a few pages for free so you can see their style and once you get those back, you can see if it is worth it to you.



#5 WornTraveler

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Posted 19 June 2016 - 11:42 AM

If you're paying for professional editing you're already halfway to Indie publishing. A good appraisal and line edit won't be cheap; the kinda money you'd have sunk at that point isn't IMHO opinion justified if you trade-pub (not likely to get any return). NOT having to pay an editor is one of the biggest advantages to traditional publishing routes. It seems to me that you might as well go it independent of you're going to start spending that kinda $$$.

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#6 dogsbody

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Posted 20 June 2016 - 03:44 PM

He had so many great reasons to why you should do it. Everything from owning the rights to the edits, to the right editor can help recommend agents and a lot of times they have connections, etc.

 

 

I'd be interested in reading this article myself, if you do find it.

 

I have to say, mainly because it sounds... um, like hooey. Authors automatically own the rights to their work. They sign them over to publishers for however long their contract specifies, and once that expires they automatically revert back. If you publish traditionally you HAVE to sign over the rights in some respect, or the house wouldn't be able to print and sell your work with legal impunity. 

 

A recommendation to an agent is nice, but it doesn't guarantee rep, and is a "recommendation" really worth the money you paid for an editor when Publisher's Marketplace is free? And connections are the agent's job -- building up relationships with editors and buyers so when they go to these people with "you have to see this ms, you'll love it" it gets moved to the top of the queue. 

 

Maybe I'm just too suspicious after seeing so many disreputable practices over the years, but yeah. I'd really like a chance to see that article for myself. 



#7 Sassalota

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Posted 21 June 2016 - 11:21 AM

I'd be interested in reading this article myself, if you do find it.

 

I have to say, mainly because it sounds... um, like hooey. Authors automatically own the rights to their work. They sign them over to publishers for however long their contract specifies, and once that expires they automatically revert back. If you publish traditionally you HAVE to sign over the rights in some respect, or the house wouldn't be able to print and sell your work with legal impunity. 

 

A recommendation to an agent is nice, but it doesn't guarantee rep, and is a "recommendation" really worth the money you paid for an editor when Publisher's Marketplace is free? And connections are the agent's job -- building up relationships with editors and buyers so when they go to these people with "you have to see this ms, you'll love it" it gets moved to the top of the queue. 

 

Maybe I'm just too suspicious after seeing so many disreputable practices over the years, but yeah. I'd really like a chance to see that article for myself. 

Well, I just spent a half hour trying to find it again and I can't so maybe that's a good sign. I had bookmarked it because it seemed so opposite of what everyone else was saying. 

 

I never did understand the "owning the rights" thing so that is why it stuck out in my memory as something I should look into. So, that interesting how you explain the rights thing.

 

One other thing that can help sum up this topic is, "Don't spend more money on an edit than you can afford to lose."  If it seems like it will hurt your budget, then it probably isn't a good idea because there is a large chance you will never make it back.

writingisforfunxo - If you have disposable income and want to try it, then there really isn't anything to lose. But again, I would suggest to ask for a few free pages before you pay any one and you can even go a chapter at a time and maybe you can see where your main mistakes are and learn to correct them yourself. I have been really disappointed by some people's editing style or lack there of.

Overall copy editors have been a good idea for me (maybe not for you). I'm really not a good proof reader at all of my own work. I just write for fun and don't have any professional experience or training so I needed someone to help me step up my grammar. I had more than a few misplaced commas :P Some people can see stuff and some people can't.



#8 Stan Laurel

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Posted 24 June 2016 - 09:17 PM

An interesting question, but I have one that goes even further. An agent, Nancy Rosenfeld in Chicago, was told about my story, and some details about the plot, characters, hook, etc. She told him she liked it and wanted to represent me! But, she needs a full, detailed proposal, which will cost me a fair amount to have done professionally. But how can she say she wants to represent me when she hasn't read one word :unsure: of my manuscript??   Thanks.



#9 Litgal

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Posted 25 June 2016 - 01:57 PM

Bottom line: I am a traditionally published author and I know a large number of multi-published authors, I can't think of a single one off had who paid a professional editor before seeking representation, or after doing so for that matter. Does that mean it's a bad idea--not necessarily--but it does me it is not required in any way. You can edit your own work (with input from critique partners), your agent will offer editorial input before he/she shops your manuscript and your eventual editor at your publisher will absolutely offer editorial input (part of his/her job). 

 


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#10 Thrash

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Posted 25 June 2016 - 09:56 PM

An interesting question, but I have one that goes even further. An agent, Nancy Rosenfeld in Chicago, was told about my story, and some details about the plot, characters, hook, etc. She told him she liked it and wanted to represent me! But, she needs a full, detailed proposal, which will cost me a fair amount to have done professionally. But how can she say she wants to represent me when she hasn't read one word :unsure: of my manuscript??   Thanks.

I assume this is a bit hearsay, right? This is how I'm imagining the situation from what you said here:

 

Your friend, upon meeting agent: A writer I know is looking for representation and his book is awesome it's about ABC

Agent: Expresses interest, asks for a full proposal
Your friend comes home and says: She wants to represent you!

Your friend may be exaggerating exactly what was promised here. It may be that the agent was thinking that the books sounded like it might be in her wheelhouse, but that she'd have to see a query (query=fiction, proposals=nonfiction) before making a formal offer. Don't be discouraged by this, it simply means you have a name to go on your query list with a recommendation.

 

Secondly, you shouldn't pay someone to write your query for you. Read a bunch of queries and query advice, write your own, get some feedback, revise for a few rounds. Then you can send it to the agent, mentioning how you got her name and that she said she'd be interested in hearing from you. Include what she asks for on her website for a regular query.

Also, query elsewhere, too!  



#11 WriterSteph1982

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Posted 01 August 2016 - 08:49 AM

I've always said that God works in mysterious ways and me coming across this tread when my head is so filled with conflicting thoughts of having my MS professionally edited BEFORE I send it to lig agents was nothing short of a miracle.  Makes me even more sure that being a published author is what I'm meant to do.  Anyway, it seems like everyone I've talked to (editors and self published authors) they've all advocated paying someone to look at it before I send it to lit agents, basically insinuating that if I don't I won't get published.  So I come with this question because I want a final answer. Should traditional authors seeking representation shell out the money (money that I DON'T have) or not?



#12 WriterSteph1982

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Posted 01 August 2016 - 08:53 AM

I've heard agents actually recommend against it if you're aiming to be traditionally published. They want to know what they're working with -- the raw materials, so to speak -- so they can WORK with it. If they like the story and your skill, many agents will be willing to walk through whatever revisions may be necessary to bring a manuscript up to snuff. 

I ABSOLUTELY LOVE this comment!  It makes so much sense! Makes me want to shove it in all the faces of those who advocate paying for an editor when you are just starting out like BOOM! what have you got to say to THAT??



#13 kjasjg

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Posted 12 August 2016 - 08:30 AM

I had the same question too thanks for starting this thread. 

 

I have had my MS read by a friend (who is also very meticulous when it comes to grammar and spelling). I would always suggest having someone you trust (or a couple people) read it for the things that you miss. I thought I was pretty good at picking out the errors but a fresh set of eyes helps for the parts you have become blind to - sadly I was blind to a significant amount.

 

As for professional editing only 1 agent recommended it and after checking some of the agent rating sites this one does not have a great reputation.

 

For a while though it made me think of selling one of my kidneys to pay for editing (OK a small exaggeration). I have a couple friends who chose the self publishing route and told me of the editing cost and it is significant.



#14 Bill in Memphis

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Posted 23 August 2016 - 11:08 PM

I will never again submit a manuscript without having it professionally edited.


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#15 dogsbody

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Posted 28 August 2016 - 08:35 PM

I will never again submit a manuscript without having it professionally edited.

 

How come?



#16 Terence Park

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Posted 01 September 2016 - 03:25 AM

Pay for professional edit before querying...

 

Depends what you want. Naturally you'd want your submission to be in the best possible state before going out. If you're unsure whether it's up to scratch your might get someone to point out the flaws and make suggestions however beware - a professional edit can remove those little idiosyncrasies that are the real literary you and a heavy-handed edit can change your content to something never intended. 

If you can afford it, there's no harm testing the waters. I've used the Society for Editors and Proofreaders whose members I've found reliable. If, however, you're not certain whether you're ready, you could do worse than follow the route I took which is to join a local writing group who doesn't mind your reading from your work.

Good luck.

 


Terence


#17 Bill in Memphis

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Posted 24 September 2016 - 11:38 AM

How come?

Obviously this is just my opinion and experiences. Your results may vary.

 

I get one chance to sell my work to someone new. ONE. And they will decide very quickly whether or not to read the whole submission. EVERYBODY is looking for a reason to reject a slush pile MS. I don't want to give them one.

 

If I have sent an agent or publisher a query letter, odds are I've slaved over that letter for untold hours, tweaking, begging feedback, incorporating hard won lessons...so when it works, and an agent or publisher says 'okay, send me your MS., I have already established a certain expectation in their mind. In today's world they are NOT looking for writers to shape or mold, at least, no more than necessary. They are looking for product that is close to market ready because it costs them less money to get it out there.

 

Michael Levin, who once was a guest on Shark Tank and wrote a #1 Kindle best seller, has a whole series on youtube about this. He had one yesterday that youtube keeps deleting about how much the publishing industry hates YOU, the writer. You are a necessary evil, but their bottom line is shrinking more and more and they are cutting every cost they can. Advances are only a fraction of what they used to be.


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#18 Niambi

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Posted 26 September 2016 - 09:26 AM

Bottom line: I am a traditionally published author and I know a large number of multi-published authors, I can't think of a single one off had who paid a professional editor before seeking representation, or after doing so for that matter. Does that mean it's a bad idea--not necessarily--but it does me it is not required in any way. You can edit your own work (with input from critique partners), your agent will offer editorial input before he/she shops your manuscript and your eventual editor at your publisher will absolutely offer editorial input (part of his/her job). 

 

 

I can see why some will say to get a work edited and why others are against it.  

 

I don't mean to bring this up so blatantly, but the 99.9% of us that don't get published don't need to give uptight agents any more reason than not to throw our work in the garbage.  I've haven't even begun querying, and I've got a decent amount of works in progress, but you better believe that I'm going to crush cans for an editor.

 

It's bad enough that I'm starting out, then I'm not the typical type of person that fits into the literary world either.  Lastly, my stories don't fit into the Western ideas of who should be saving the day, why, what's at risk, etc.  With all of that stacked against me, the last thing I need is a handful of grammar mistakes for an agent to use as an excuse to say that my story isn't worth telling. 

 

I will never again submit a manuscript without having it professionally edited.

 

Thank you for the affirmation.  I'm NEVER going to make that mistake.

 

Obviously this is just my opinion and experiences. Your results may vary.

 

I get one chance to sell my work to someone new. ONE. And they will decide very quickly whether or not to read the whole submission. EVERYBODY is looking for a reason to reject a slush pile MS. I don't want to give them one.

 

If I have sent an agent or publisher a query letter, odds are I've slaved over that letter for untold hours, tweaking, begging feedback, incorporating hard won lessons...so when it works, and an agent or publisher says 'okay, send me your MS., I have already established a certain expectation in their mind. In today's world they are NOT looking for writers to shape or mold, at least, no more than necessary. They are looking for product that is close to market ready because it costs them less money to get it out there.

 

Michael Levin, who once was a guest on Shark Tank and wrote a #1 Kindle best seller, has a whole series on youtube about this. He had one yesterday that youtube keeps deleting about how much the publishing industry hates YOU, the writer. You are a necessary evil, but their bottom line is shrinking more and more and they are cutting every cost they can. Advances are only a fraction of what they used to be.

 

This .... THIS right here is what everyone should be thinking.  If you're lucky enough to have the "things" that agents are looking for then sure ... go ahead and send them unpolished work.

 

But there are many of us out here that just don't have that luxury.

 

And some that frankly, aren't telling the stories that THEY want to sell to the audiences THEY want to sell them to.

 

Bottom line:  GET YOUR WORK EDITED ... even if it's just paying $1000 to a dedicated English teacher



#19 Jeanne

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Posted 26 September 2016 - 09:57 AM

Before you send your work off to professional editor, put the time in to polish and proof it as much you know how. A professional edit is expensive, and it's a waste of your money and their time if you spend those bucks to have someone simply correct your spelling and grammar. Find some critique partners (you can advertise on here) to work with on editing your manuscript.

 

A clean, polished, and proofed copy will allow your editor to work on more complex problems, such as character development, plot twists, pacing, etc.

 

Jeanne



#20 Bill in Memphis

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Posted 29 September 2016 - 12:13 PM

Before you send your work off to professional editor, put the time in to polish and proof it as much you know how. A professional edit is expensive, and it's a waste of your money and their time if you spend those bucks to have someone simply correct your spelling and grammar. Find some critique partners (you can advertise on here) to work with on editing your manuscript.

 

A clean, polished, and proofed copy will allow your editor to work on more complex problems, such as character development, plot twists, pacing, etc.

 

Jeanne

This is an excellent point Jeanne, but it's also true even if you have a publisher. The better your manuscript is edited by YOU, the closer it is to being the product YOU want on the market. And the more likely your publisher is to handle your next book (unless your first one is a top seller).

 

I have seen countless books put out by publishing houses, big and small, that are poorly edited, sometimes to the point of being embarrassing. An editor is not going to rewrite your book for you, and they don't want to mold you, either.


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