Monday, September 05, 2011

Rant Fire

Gather ‘round the fire, guys. Grab something to drink. I feel another rant coming on.

…Hey! Get back here!
Image by ilkerender

I had a different topic planned for today, but I want to touch on something I found a little discouraging this weekend. I read a guest post on an agent’s blog about hiring a freelance editor—I’m sure 87.3% of you know which post I'm referring to. Like normal, I perused the comment section and found most commenters were sharing their positive experiences. Awesome, right? I didn’t have anything to contribute, so I said:

“If I had the financial resources, I would definitely look into hiring an editor. Unfortunately, I can barely afford red pens——so, I guess it’s up to me. :D Have a great weekend, everyone!”

You guys know I’ve been out of work for a while, so hiring a freelance editor isn’t even remotely feasible for me. That’s fine. I accept it. (Don’t get me wrong. I would love to have that option. I’m sure these people are an invaluable resource, and they produce amazing results. I just can’t afford it right now.)

Anyway, I did my customary second swipe of the comments later and found a couple of disparaging remarks after mine. Now, mind you, I’m sure they weren’t intended to be offensive. Quite the opposite, in fact—I think they were meant to be helpful. (And, of course, to pedal their fine wares in the market, but that’s another story.)

They said things like:

“…Writers should never ever be their own editors.

I cant afford an editor should never be a phrase in a writers vocabulary.

First, let me say, I love these people. I love all of you, regardless of how I might occasionally take offense to your words and let them result in a PMS-induced rant. I wish these editors no ill-will, and, if I ever become financially stable, I’d love to hire them. We’re all on the same team with the same dream, right?

That said, I label their comments presumptuous. Here’s why:

  • I am not my own editor by choice. This is my reality, and I’m making the best of it. I realize that they mentioned things they've offered previous clients, like payment plans, but even those are beyond my reach for the time being. So, let’s not assume that phrase has no place in my vocabulary.

  • It was said that publishing books without outside editing hurts us all. (You know, because it cements the world’s theory that self-pubs are inferior to traditional pubs.) Again, ouch. That hurts, and I don't even plan on self-pubbing.

  • I have a fabulous critique partner. She dings me with line edits like you wouldn’t believe, and I adore her for that. By exchanging chapters with her, am I not consulting an "outsider" of greater skill?

    (Psst… I’m going to be looking for more critters soon. Just sayin’.)

  • Guess what? I don't believe that those of you with no formal education in marketing must consult me, or anyone else in my industry, to be successful. If you want to go to the library, scour the internet, or take another writer’s advice on how to position your book, more power to ya! I'll give you my unyielding support.
That's why I can’t wrap my head around this editing thing.

It’s wonderful that these people can flaunt an advanced degree because they’ve dedicated their lives to such a wonderful profession, but I don’t see why I can’t try to live up to a shred of their standards without one. I’ve buckled down to learn things on my own. (For now.) Please, please don’t doom me to failure.


Yes, I could’ve replied to these posts directly, but what good would that have done? These people were making points about their business, and I wasn't going to start an argument over it—especially in front of their prospective clients. I’m not upset with them. I’m just sitting here at 1:38 AM on Monday morning, staring at my manuscript, trying to keep the seeds of doubt they’ve planted from growing.

*Takes a deep breath*

Shout-out to the people whose comments inspired this post. Without you, I would’ve had to write a well thought out post today. ;) Seriously, if you're reading this, God bless and best of luck to you in your future endeavors. Actually, I extend that to everyone. Big ol’ lovefest at my blog today. Tell your friends. :P

Question time!
  • Do you think it’s possible for an unpublished writer to be successful without an outside editor? (As in, landing an agent, selling their self-pubs, etc.)

  • Have you ever used an outside editor, or do you intend to use one before you submit your next work?

  • Should I do another blog button giveaway sometime? :)
 Have a great week, guys!

P.S. Sorry to unload on you. Writing everything out helped. Funny how that works...
P.P.S. …H-Have I ever mentioned that I ♥ editors?


Lynda R Young said...

I have read some self-pubbed books that would have benefitted from an edit--any edit. If you have a quality crit partner with knowledge and experience, then that's often as good as a professional editor.

Carrie Butler said...

@Lynda - Me too! I'm all for editing help, just not the insistence that we're doomed without it. :) I very much agree!

allie said...

Hi Carrie. I don't know to which post you're referring, but I'm sorry you felt like that. I also have a marketing degree, and I write fiction. I believe marketing people are creative professionals, and we do what we have to to make the best product we can - we instinctively know that! :)

Linda said...

I totally think it's possible to be successful without hiring an editor. The key is finding great critique partners. If you find the right one then it's just as good as an editor and it's free. I do think self-pubbed novels benefit from outside editing, but if the writer can't afford that then getting more betas is a good option. So pretty much, I think writers definitely need several pairs of eyes to look over their MS, but not necessarily paid eyes.

And hey, I'm going to be looking for more critters soon too. *bats eyelashes at you* LOL!

Carrie Butler said...

@Allie - Yay! You're like my career twin! :) Oh, absolutely. Like any other profession, you develop a kind of sixth sense after a while. I just refuse to think, "Writers should never ever do their own marketing." lol :)

@Linda - "So pretty much, I think writers definitely need several pairs of eyes to look over their MS, but not necessarily paid eyes." THIS. lol

Really? Maybe we can do a chapter swap sometime! ...Unless you have something in your eye, and I'm misinterpreting it. *grins*

Linda said...

Yes I would love to do a chapter swap sometime! My email is on my blog, feel free to drop me a line whenever you're ready. I'm still in the first draft stage right now but I should be finishing up in the next couple of weeks.

The Golden Eagle said...

I must be in the 12.7% who haven't read the post. :P

But regardless, I do think it's possible to be successful without an outside editor, if you have good critique partners or another kind of a second pair of eyes. :)

Anonymous said...

I didn't read the post, either. But yes, it's possible to move forward in the industry without hiring an outside editor. Especially if you have crit partners. Tough ones. Not just ones who read it and say how great it is. :)

Press on my friend.
And button giveaway....I'm new to your blog, so I'm not sure what that means entirely, but I'm ready to see it!! :)

Lydia K said...

Not sure which post you're talking about, but how rude of people to slam someone who can't afford an editor. RUDE.

I agree with the others that good quality crit partners are the best alternative.

Carrie Butler said...

@Linda - Awesome! I made myself a note to e-mail you toward the end of the month. :)

@Eagle - Oopsie. XD Oh good! :D

@Lynn - That's very reassuring to hear, especially from someone like you. :D Thank you! Oh, and the last Blog Button Giveaway must've ended right before you started following. You can find the follow-up post here. :)

@Lydia - Yeah, it was pretty inconsiderate, in my opinion. Oh well. I'm glad you guys agree that quality critique partners are a good alternative. :) Thanks, Lydia!

Lisa L. Regan said...

You are dead-on. Stop those doubts immediately. I could never afford an editor for hire either. In college I was so poor I used to survive on a box of packets of oatmeal for 2 weeks at a time. You really have to stretch them out. I didn't weigh very much. But my point is that for many, many, many, many writers out there, hiring an editor is simply not possible. Someone who says that shouldn't be in a writer's vocabulary has obviously never struggled to make ends meet. I think it's great if you can afford one but I don't believe they will make or break you. Sure they offer an advantage but you can succeed without one. I say that because I am a prime example. I landed an agent doing all that crap myself. For TWO BOOKS. Like you, I used fabulous, amazing critique partners. THEY were my editors and they obviously kick butt because after working with all of them I finally landed an agent. To be perfectly honest, even if I could afford an editor, I'd still use critique partners or beta readers. Only because the more people who read your work, the more issues crop up. A single person cannot anticipate every problem with your book. That's the gift of multiple perspectives.

Lisa L. Regan said...

Oh and I'd love to be a critter when you're ready!

Bethany Elizabeth said...

I so TOTALLY disagree that all authors need editors. Totally and completely. I think editors are fantastic and often necessary - I want to be one, for goodness' sakes! - but I think authors have made it without editors before and I think they'll do it again. And it's very easy to say that authors should ALWAYS make room in their budgets - limited though they are - for editors, but that's such a foolish thing to do. Food comes first. Family needs come first. Editors are important, super important, but not totally necessary for every author.

JeffO said...

I read the post but I didn't delve deep into the comments. Now I've skimmed them. Funny, my impression is that books that are published--by a *company* as opposed to self--are edited by someone other than the writer. That's part of the job of a publisher. If I were to self-publish my novel, I almost certainly would hire someone to do the job. As for 'you need a paid editor to land an agent'--who's making that one up? My impression is that most agents are signing clients who go through crit partners/betas, but not formal editing.

Carrie Butler said...

@Lisa - Oh my goodness. I wanted to stand up and clap at the end of your comment! It was like a motivational speech, sans the pacing and clip-on microphone. :D Thank you so much for sharing!

Oh, awesome! Do you want me to e-mail you sometime, or maybe do a chapter swap? Let me know whenever. I'm going to be wading through revisions for awhile. ;)

@Bethany - Yes! I completely agree. :D Oh, and I didn't realize you wanted to become an editor. That's fantastic! Good luck! :D

@Jeff - My sentiments precisely. If I were self-pubbing, I'd probably try to save up for an editor while going through the critique gauntlet. Not that it would be obligatory--it would just be something I'd want to look into. Since I'm going to be querying agents, and I most definitely cannot afford outside editing, I'm going to work hard and trust my critique partners.

Oops. I rambled again, didn't I? *Ahem!* Thanks for commenting! :)

cleemckenzie said...

It's all about swapping as far as I'm concerned. And I've been very fortunate to have some very talented writers to swap with. Not only do they write superb stories, they are spot on editors and I depend on them a lot.

Carrie Butler said...

@cleemckenzie - It's very comforting to hear that, especially from someone with your success. :) Thank you for commenting!

Jeff King said...

Absolutely I think a writer can be successful without an outside editor… that is absolutely ludicrous for anyone to think that.

And yes, I intend to use an outside editor, and the reason? Because I am weak in terms of grammar and some technical aspects, so I’ll feel better have a pro give it a once over.
But I am firmly in the camp to grow enough so I’ll never need outside help to write in a publishable level.

No matter how good you are though, an editor at some point is needed, weather is the publishing houses: or otherwise.
Whatever makes you feel more comfortable to send out your work to agents, or publishers. I just don’t want my work to get rejected because of a weak point of my writing; I want it to get rejected because the story isn’t right for them.

Maria Zannini said...

I've had three books published with regular publishing houses, one I self-published and another on the way.

I love my editors. But my CPs catch most of the glaring mistakes before the editors see them.

As long as you're surrounded by several sets of eyes, you'll find most of the trouble spots.

I generally count on my critique partners for their specific strengths. One is great at description, another at plot logic, and two others are grammar wizards.

But for my indie books, I've managed to trade services with editors and I've also negotiated lower fees. Could I have published without them? Probably. But I felt their suggestions made the work even stronger. If the book is good, it'll make back the money I spent on the editor.

Carrie Butler said...

@Jeff K. - Well said! It's important that we keep our strengths and weaknesses in mind, when making these decisions. I agree. I'd rather get rejected because of the picture, rather than the frame. :) Thanks, Jeff!

Carrie Butler said...

@Maria - Thanks for sharing your experience with us! Being surrounded by several sets of eyes is important--not only in writing, but when facing decisions such as these. I really appreciate that you took the time to comment. You made some great points for everyone! :)