Editors – In for a Penny in for a Pound

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Aren’t we lucky I still own a pound! I’ve only been to the U.K once in my lifetime.

So what about my progress with editors? Well I scoured the internet far and wide for editors in Sydney. I couldn’t really find an editor specialised in science fiction, I don’t know why (Did I look far and wide enough?). Maybe Australia just doesn’t do science fiction as much as abroad. It would be a shame if that were the case, but us Aussies do seem to also read science fiction and speculative fiction. Anyway so no specialised editor, what am I to do. Well I chose a bunch of editors I liked the sound of and got in touch. I mean I hadn’t engaged an editor before, so its a whole new experience. It meant picking brains and getting sample edits.

I quickly realised that expenses could skyrocket from a set price per manuscript, to an hourly rate of $70-80 upwards. If I recall one estimate for my copy edit, of a 9000ish word manuscript was quoted at about $590 and that wasn’t including another $350-$400ish for a structural edit. It was an amazing shock. I mean if it could cost that much for editing and magazines might end up paying you less, how does an author keep food on the table? How can you at least cut even and get your work published? Good grief, think of how much editing a novel would cost. I’m probably lucky this is a labour of love, or I might turn away from this career choice.

Well I think the easiest way to overcome editing fees, would be to learn to edit yourself. This is what I am inclined to do, as it’s perfecting the craft of writing, but it doesn’t hurt to say sometimes you can’t see the trees from the forest at times. So I persisted.  With this persistence, I managed to get a total quote of $350 for my short story ‘The Observer’. It was quoted to me by a two man editor team. Great guys. They took me through the process, explaining how it all works. After I got a sample edit, I decided right let’s give this a go.

A couple of weeks later, they sent back my work, in track changes in Microsoft word. There was a long list of suggested polishes. A bunch of comments with advice of what works, what doesn’t, as well as t why and effect that was having. There was well thought out summarised comments at the end. It was also reassuring, having two different people looking at my manuscript. Two minds are better than one, as they say.

Ok editing box ticked. It’s been an adventure. The next few weeks, it was taking ‘The Observer’ manuscript to points of publication. Basically constituted sending the manuscript by email or through online submission portals. Then came the waiting weeks or months to send it to the next one (Places don’t like taking simultaneous submissions, which makes it very hard on the author). I got a few rejections so far, but this is an ongoing process. I’m not particularly stressed.

So here we go, in for a penny in for a pound. I sent my next manuscript, ‘The Solar Wind of Dreams’ to the same editors again. This time the fee was cheaper, because the manuscript was in better form. What do I take away from that? If you have the extra time, go over your manuscript again. Even a few more passes before sending it to the editor, can help with the editing cost. Otherwise maybe keep running it by an editor, as your final part of the process (Yes I know how tempting it is to get back in and start changing things after you have finished your painstakingly long editing process).

I have really enjoyed having my work edited, because I feel it really did help. It also gave me the opportunity to bounce ideas and thoughts off people who have industry experience. I can’t say that means my manuscripts will be instantly, a published done deal, but it sure has made them shine that much more.

Hopefully some of my experiences can help the next person, starting out on the journey to being published.

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