Thursday, March 31, 2011

Hiring a Good Editor

On March 30 I mentioned all the e-mails I've been getting lately from writer friends who are following the arguments for and against e-books vs. legacy publishers.

Here's a new one: "Author, sell thyself."

What especially struck me was Amanda Hocking's experience:
"Hocking [has] complained more than once about the trouble she's had finding freelance editors capable of catching the typos and grammatical errors that keep turning up in her novels."

My goodness, Amanda! I wish you had dropped me a line. I personally know two excellent editors. One is recently retired from a brand-name publisher and would have done a first-class job on your novels. The other, a member of SCBWI, is also a highly skilled editor.

Then there's the Editorial Freelancers Association, which I belonged to back when I was doing more editing than writing. To quote from the EFA website:
Member specialties include —

    * abstracts
    * copyediting
    * design
    * desktop publishing
    * editing
    * indexing
    * manuscript evaluation
    * picture research
    * project management
    * proofreading
    * research
    * textbook development
    * translation
    * writing 

I feel sure you could find a more-than-competent editor among EFA's members.

I'm not trying to be snippy. I am truly puzzled that you have had trouble finding a good editor. Maybe it's because I've earned much more, over the years, as an editor than as a writer. My first job out of college was as a copyeditor on a newspaper. Then I moved into manuscript evaluation, line editing, and developmental editing for an educational publisher. I may move in circles that are more editorial than writerly.

In any event, with all of the experienced editors who have lost their jobs because of the recession and the ongoing shrinkage in the traditional publishing business, there is plenty of talent out there.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Do Writers Need Publishers?

Writers who know what they're doing are increasingly free to publish their books independently and not fool with the frustrations and delays imposed by legacy publishers. Beginners who need editorial help may continue to seek it from mainstream publishers, but even the newbies are catching on to the fact that they can hire freelance editors who will do the job at least as well as New York can manage it.

Lately I've been receiving lots of e-mails from my writer friends who are seriously thinking of self-publishing and e-publishing. I myself have FINALLY jumped down off the fence, and I've landed solidly on the e-publishing side.

The writers conference I attended last weekend helped me make up my mind. Halfway through it, I asked myself: "Why am I here, putting my butt to sleep on this hard chair?" I was learning nothing new. Only one speaker said anything that resonated with me. An editor admitted: "Publishers are making it up as we go along." Legacy publishers are pretty clueless about the e-publishing revolution that is happening all around them.

Writers, however, are rapidly figuring it out. I quote from "Ebooks and Self-Publishing - A Dialog Between Authors Barry Eisler and Joe Konrath":

"It isn't a good idea for most authors to sign a legacy deal anymore. ... All writers need to be made aware that there is finally an option. Not just an option, but an actual preferable alternative to signing away your rights. ... Publishers look at authors as needing publishers more than publishers need authors. That's changed. This viewpoint is antiquated. Publishers are starting to need authors more than authors need publishers. If you look at the current Top 100 bestsellers on Kindle, twenty-seven of them are self-published. The 'gatekeeper' model, where agents and the Big 6 publishers decided what would be fit for public consumption, is eroding."

Today I received an e-mail with this headline: "Barnes and Noble claims ebooks will reign supreme in 2 years"

Other articles that have come my way recently include these:

"Authors catch fire with self-published e-books"

"Converting Word Files to ePub Files"

"eCub - a simple .epub creation tool"

"Preparing to Publish on Smashwords: How to Format an Ebook"

My research is just beginning. Whatever I learn, I'll share. If you're way ahead of me -- and thousands are -- I'd be grateful to receive a step-by-step guide to e-publishing for the self-publishing author.