Editing The Final Book: Gods has been rollercoaster so far.Getting it through the Alpha Reader process was extremely helpful and lead to so many great discussions about the book. It also gave additional sets of eyes to find all of my foolish mistakes. The most important thing I discovered, or that the Alpha’s provided, is that the book is not a steaming pile of hot garbage. I don’t expect most people I know to be completely honest with me (they think I have feelings), but the feedback was positive. The encouragement was there, they were excited about it, and it felt like it was on the right track. It was good for a group of people to see the book other than myself.
After another re-write, I needed to get the book to an editor that I had lined up. Editors, as most professionals in the world, have a schedule and their months quickly fill up with projects. The editor I was going to work with is also an author and she was giving me a great deal—we were basically trying to support one another. Well, just as we were getting started, she dropped the project due to Booktrope’s sudden and unexpected closure. All of her books, 6 or 7, were handled by the online publisher and she was left scrambling trying to figure out her own future. She told me that she would eventually get back to my book, but that it could possibly be months down the line. It was a polite way of suggesting to look elsewhere.
It was like a kick in the nuts at first. I didn’t know where to go or who to turn to, I don’t have vast connections in the publishing world. I went online and started searching editors—what a shit show. Buyer beware. There are a lot of companies out there preying on the hopes and dreams of inexperienced writers, and it’s almost impossible to sift through the deceit. I have a lot of experience working with producers in the music industry, an editor is a similar widget, and good producers are worth their weight in gold (and also very hard to find).
I finally came across Bibliocrunch and Reedsy, two websites that specialize in connecting authors / writers with industry professionals. It sounds too good to be true, and in many ways it is. On Bibliocrunch you post a listing for your project as you would for a yard sale on Craigslist. Professionals approved through their “vetting” process are then able to bid on your project. In theory, it’s great. The problem is that there are not enough quality writers or quality professionals in the world using this service. I'm sure there are high quality professionals on there, but they seem few and far between.
I understand that not every project needs top quality and sometimes things just need to get done—this sites seems fine for that. There’s a lot of young and eager professionals on this site, both probably because they understand technology / the concept, and also because they haven’t built up their client list. In general, I feel most of them would have been a good pair of eyes to catch spelling and grammar errors, but I didn’t have as much confidence in their ability to structurally line edit the content or thoroughly adapt it to the Chicago Manual of Style. With that said, my search continued.
The next site I found was Reedsy, which seems like Jameson to Bibliocrunch’s Jim Beam. The process was a little different. Reedsy’s vetting of their professionals seemed much more stringent and you, the user, are left with the task of finding the editor you want. It’s a lot more time consuming, but does feel more tailored. I selected the genre of my book, and then was given a list of 150 editors who claim to specialize in sci-fi. I then had to read each profile and decide who I thought would be the most interested and best suited to edit my work.
There is a catch, one which I agree with, that prevents flooding the site with phishing—me as the user, I am only allowed to select a maximum of 5 editors that I want to “pitch” my project to. You really have to be deliberate and conscious of your selections (to avoid wasting your time and theirs) as not every editor is required to respond to your pitch. In the end, if the editor has interest in your project, they will then provide you with a quote. From there, the discussions / negotiations begin.
To me, Reedsy seemed to have more qualified, experienced, Big 5-working editors. The professionals on the service seemed to work in the actual book publishing industry, rather than someone who is a proofreader / editor of medical notes (saw that on Biblio). However, industry experience isn’t cheap. Every quote I got from Reedsy was at least three times more expensive than Bibliocrunch...
It’s been a time consuming and agonizing process, especially not having a knowledgable support system who can guide you. An editor can make or break a book and I have no idea if these people are being honest in their profiles or in their conversations with me. I’ve been on Tinder, I see how that shit works. Yes, I am able to see their resume, notable titles they’ve worked on, and testimonials—but when was the last time someone put up a bad testimonial of themselves? It's also subjective. They could be a great editor, love sci-fi, and still be the wrong person for my book. It’s such a unique and specific experience, with a lot of money on the line.
To give you an idea, over the last few weeks I’ve received proposals ranging from $300 to $7,420 to copy edit 154,000 words. And, of course, each one of these people thinks they’re the right editor for the job. My only choice was to ask A LOT of questions, prove that they’ve worked on the titles they say they’ve worked on (Amazon or ISBN searches are great), I took my time and slept on things (no reason to rush the selection), and most importantly make sure my top candidates provided a 1,500 word sample edit of my work. I wanted to see what the process would be like with them.
Even then, it can still be very difficult to make a decision. I narrowed things down to two editors I found on Reedsy. Both had 20 years of Big 5 editing experience, both specialized in sci-fi, both had great credentials and best sellers under their belt, both were extremely pleasant to talk with and professional in delivering their quotes. Both sample edits were excellent and challenging… I dredged through Google trying to find anything on either of them that would tip the scales. Nothing. I simply had to go with my gut.
I’m still finalizing the contract but as soon as that is complete, I’ll be happy to share who I’m working with. Now that a bit of time has passed and things don’t seem as overwhelming, I’m feeling really good about my decision and am super excited to get to work with this person! We’ll see how it goes. I just hope to make the best possible version of the book that I can.