Freelance editors, and book doctors

There is a rather interesting discussion going on about editors and book doctors in the comment section of "Agent C gives you financial advice". It all started when a Snarkling inquired what the best use of $500 would be (Im stunned that her first choice wasn't flying to NYC to offer up gin and choccies to Miss Snark..but yanno, devotion isn't what it used to be)


The conversation about editors has produced comments that agents who send you to editors are scammers; that anyone would be wise to send their book to an editor because NY editors don't edit anymore; and, that even freelance editors don't edit very well.

All that can be true, but it's not the general rule.

First, agents do refer people to editors all the time. Yes we have lists. How can you tell if an agent is trying to scam you by sending you to an editor? Here's how:

1. If I send someone to an editor, it's not the FIRST thing I say. It's not in a form rejection letter, or a personalized rejection letter. It's not in a rejection letter at all.

2. I don't give people ONE name. I give them several names AND the url to the editorial freelancers association, Publishers Marketplace and the Womens National Book Association.

I let the author seek out, interview and hire the editor they want to work with. I've been happy with some of the results, unhappy with others.

3. I tell the prospective client in writing that I have no financial or vested interest in the editing arrangement.

If you query an agent, and they write back "you need help and here's where to get it and it only costs X", run, run like the wind. THAT is the Sign of the Scam.

If you query an agent, and they look at your work, you have conversations, you've sent in some redrafts or had discussion about changes, and the agent says "this really isn't my strong suit, you should consider an editor, here's how to find one", that's ok.

And by the by, New York editors edit all the time. I've had editors who worked so closely on books they knew it better than the author by the time we were done. I've also had editors who knew the book was finished when I sent it to them.

Bottom line: I don't send a project out unless I am willing for it to be published, as is, no changes, with my name prominently displayed in the acknowledgments. You shouldn't either.
The idea that you should send something to an agent to "get an idea" if s/he's interested or s/he'll help you polish it is rubbish if you're a first time caller to the Snark Radio Show.


spaulson said...

Thank you for clarifying, Miss Snark. Everyone had a different opinion, and I was really wondering what the truth was.

Dave Kuzminski said...

P&E agrees with Miss Snark on this. We do not recommend against agents who suggest that a writer seek editing, so long as they leave the choice to the writer. P&E also prefers that two or more businesses be listed if asked for suggestions by the writer. P&E also recommends that agents make it clear that obtaining editing will not make their work a shoo-in for representation.

alexandra said...

Us poor editors get a bad name by scammers and, tis a bunion on the arse. No, I don't own an ass.

Mark said...

And do they pay this editor up front?

Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little said...

Thank you for clarifying the issue, Miss Snark!

Mark said...

Teresa has this on it.


If the agent prescribes a bill a priori to a sale, I'd sure have a problem with it.