Friday, July 01, 2005

What About Editorial Services? A Good Idea?

Destruction Angel said...
Hi Deirdre,

I would like to know what you think of proofreading/editorial services.

Are they any help, or a waste of money?



I haven’t found them to be a help in terms of the submissions I see. Typically, the work still lacks some kind of “heart,” or just feels like it’s clunky. Of course this isn’t true all the time—nothing ever is! And if you find a great editorial person, then they can make all the difference. But that is different than a sort of “editorial service” where they are there to really proofread and clean up. I think a true editorial advisor would serve in the role of almost a critique partner—brainstorming ideas, hanging with you from start to finish as you create the work. That is a great working relationship, but different than the editorial services usually out there. I would highly endorse someone like that to help you, so long as they have the right skills and abilities to give you what you need. Which leads me to my next point.

I think even better is if you can, find a good critique group. People you trust, people who don't mislead you, though of course this is easier said than done. But that seems a far better plan for most writers than paying an editorial service.
Now I’m sure we’ll have an outcry from people endorsing these kinds of services, and to each his own, but I would add that if you do use these services, I don’t think it’s wise to add to your pitch that the work has “been professionally edited.” My first thought is, “Wow, but you can’t write on your own?”

So, those are my quick and dirty thoughts on this matter. Hope it helps!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've never tried a critique group. I have critique partners, but each rel'ship is one-on-one. I'd be wary of "conforming to committee" with an in-person critique group. When none of your cps knows what the others are thinking, you're more likely to get their gut response.

Back in the day, I did try a couple of editorial services for a manuscript I will now never let out from beneath the bed, and, honestly, Deidre is right. GOOD critique partners can do just as effective a job. I guess it depends on who's actually doing the work. If you're targeting H/S and the editor-for-hire is a recent H/S employee, for example, then hiring her might be very worth it...depending on why she left. :)


Friday, July 1, 2005 at 7:35:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In addition to not mentioning having used an editorial service, if you are submitting electronically be sure that somebody removes the evidence before submitting.

Got one recently, with brag about being professionally edited, and the first look at the first page was enough to start a migraine with all the tracking changes in bright red. Lots and lots of bright red. In one place the 'editor' had even changed the correct usage of 'she' to 'her'.

Note: I am an editor at an e-publisher.

Friday, July 1, 2005 at 8:30:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Ellen said...

Ewww, mtz, that's horrible. What that submission says is that the writer didn't even take the time to review the changes before submitting. Not at all the sort of attitude you want to convey to a publisher!

Cindy, I use my husband as a critique partner, and he is amazing, catching all sorts of blunders on my part. I don't know what I'd do without him. I think every author needs a really good critiquer. At least I certainly do!

Friday, July 1, 2005 at 10:33:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Natalie J. Damschroder said...

Probably that author attached the wrong document to the e-mail submission. I've never done that. Nope, not ever. Really.

Obviously, if you choose to use an editorial service, you should thoroughly vet the service's and/or editor's credentials. I can't count the number of contest entries I've gotten back with incorrect grammatical and punctuation changes by someone who claims to be a professional editor. Not to mention stylistic changes to be technically correct but that edit out my entire voice.

I've done critiquing in every imaginable manner, and I like a small group, i.e. three people, best. I don't disagree with Cindy's comment about gut response, but two opinions can help reinforce when something is right on the money.

Unfortunately, to respond properly to either good critiquing or good paid editing, you have to be really tuned in to yourself creatively and trust your own instincts. Even good critiquers aren't always right.

Saturday, July 2, 2005 at 9:16:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For those looking for a critique group, I recommend Critique Circle at It's free and easy to use. Granted many of the critquers are not expienced editors, but they can still help catch mistakes (and it is free).

Saturday, July 2, 2005 at 11:38:00 AM EDT  

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