Monday, March 1, 2010


Obviously, all your good work has come to fruition and you are finally holding your completed manuscript in your hands! Of course, you have been re-reading everything many times over and, to your dismay, have always found misspellings and sentences that need improvement. It is amazing how difficult it is to detect one’s own shortcomings. You virtually need to have a split personality and go over your writing with the eye of a different persona.

As the next step, you are looking for an editor. There are many freelance editors advertising their services in writers circles and it is a good method to start looking at the ones advertising at you state’s Writers’ Centre.

There is a paramount need to ask for an editor’s references, for previous authors to contact, or for writing projects they have completed, their university training and for their fee. Like with a resume’ for a job applications everything needs to be investigated and followed-up to avoid financial and literary consequences.

Some editors prefer to have the manuscript sent to them printed out, some insist on an electronic transfer of the manuscript. Some insist on contacting you and to discuss every word they find while others are happy if you tell them that you accept their improvements in advance. By approaching several editors, you also get an idea of the standard fee. The rule here is that the height of the fee is no guarantee for quality and neither is paying a bit more for extra good work or payment in advance!

Once such editor, I contacted, is also the editor of a science fiction magazine and his correspondence was peppered with words like ‘new world order’ ‘astro this’ and ‘space that’! And her quoted fee, too, was astronomical! Some editors do very little work for their money, claiming that they were not ‘ghost writers’, another editor insisted on being paid in advance and then did not touch my manuscript for two months. Upon cancellation of the contract, she wanted a cancellation fee. One editor seemed to be perfect in every way, but she was booked-out for almost a year with other assignments for a large publisher. One editor quoted turn-around time two weeks which was obviously far too short for a voluminous manuscript, another editor sent my manuscript back only half-way through because he’s lost his interest. There are myriad things that can happen and it is very important that a first-time author checks and re-checks these editors before contracting one.

After the manuscript has been returned, physically or electronically, the author then needs to go over his writings once more and change the corrections into clear print.

Once this tedious work of probing for the right editor has been completed, it will not only result in getting a person whom you will enjoy working with and the waiting period for the edited manuscript will be a pleasant period instead of one filled with anxious nail-biting.

Peter Frederick

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