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Editing: All at once, or a chapter at a time?

Crumbly Writer

I'm using a professional editor for the first time, and I've noticed something interesting. Rather than editing a single chapter and responding (to determine how I work as an author), he's doing the entire book with absolutely no feedback in terms of what I want from him (I have yet to see it to see whether he's on or off-track).

That makes me wonder, what's everyone's expectations in terms of editing. I've long fed chapters to my editors/proofreaders a chapter-at-a-time. Now I'm thinking it would be better handing them the finished product (after I've already revised the entire book). The downside is that seeing something corrected early allows me (the author) to correct the other errors found in the story.

What's everyone's opinions? Am I off-base here?

Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

From what I know of professional editors, they do the whole work as one activity and provide feedback on the whole work when it's all done.

Zom
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


Am I off-base here


Not at all.

In my opinion the notion of whole book editing is seriously archaic and typewriter driven.

Probably the best way in this time of instant simple communication, is to share the story arcs with your editor so he/she can see where it is all going, and then feed arc segments of more than one chapter at a time so that editing can be done within a meaningful story segment. It can save an editor having to re-familiarise, especially if they are editing more than one story at a time.

I also appreciate it when authors post this way, posting some chapters at a time that cover some larger story part.

A lot depends on whether you want to collaborate with your editor to make a better story, or just use them as a post effort polisher. Some authors might be too "confident" to embrace the former.

Replies:   sejintenej
sejintenej

I have seen a number of cases where, in an early chapter I asked myself "what is this all about" and thirty chapters later the answer is revealed. I can therefore see why an editor would want to read the entire story before pulling the author up on the matter when it first appears.

awnlee jawking

@Crumbly Writer

What sort of job are you hoping from your editor?

If it's just proofreading, then a chapter at a time should be fine.

If you want what I term a 'hatchet job', where the editor also looks for continuity errors and sorts out any long pieces of exposition or technical details which bring the plot flow to a juddering halt, then the whole story at once is pretty much mandated.

AJ

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@awnlee jawking

What sort of job are you hoping from your editor?

If it's just proofreading, then a chapter at a time should be fine.

If you want what I term a 'hatchet job', where the editor also looks for continuity errors and sorts out any long pieces of exposition or technical details which bring the plot flow to a juddering halt, then the whole story at once is pretty much mandated.

I want both, obviously! 'D

Continuity editors are hard to find, and worth their weight in gold. However, cleaning up typos is equally vital, and typically requires multiple sets of eyes. Typically, the continuity editors will ask the additional chapters, even if they haven't been cleaned up yet.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
sejintenej

@Zom

A lot depends on whether you want to collaborate with your editor to make a better story, or just use them as a post effort polisher. Some authors might be too "confident" to embrace the former.

Joe J in one of his stories on SOL writes about the author of a novel (for publication on paper) who is assigned an editor. The editor makes extensive alteration recommendations which the author consider make the story far better.
Perhaps Joe J is writing from experience

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@sejintenej

The main character in one of Wes Boyd's stories is an editor and it lays out what he does very well, and he is talking from experience in that field.

http://storiesonline.net/s/69945/picking-up-the-pieces

Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

The main character in one of Wes Boyd's stories is an editor and it lays out what he does very well, and he is talking from experience in that field.

Is Wes Boyd's character available for work? Or is he too busy editing Wes Boyd's efforts? 'D

awnlee jawking

@Crumbly Writer

Since he's a professional, does that mean you're paying him? If so, I would have thought the onus is on him to agree what sort of job you want him to do.

AJ

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
awnlee jawking

@Ernest Bywater

The reviewer wasn't impressed by the lack of detail about what an editor might do.

AJ

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@awnlee jawking

The reviewer wasn't impressed by the lack of detail about what an editor might do.


The review was done since I read it, so I wasn't aware it had been reviewed. I just read the review and I have to disagree with the reviewer and wonder how well they read the story or if they just skimmed it.

There is no long list of the tasks to be done, but through the book there are places where what he's doing are mentioned and even discussions with other staff and editors. He ends up with reading a lot of the stuff coming over the counter (something a lot of publishers don't allow now), but there are notes and discussions about the plot development strengths and weaknesses of the stories he edits, and some other aspects. Like a lot of things, the details are down in amongst the grass and other details.

Some of the comments he makes about a story is about the plot development, character development, slow pacing in places, etc.

Crumbly Writer
Updated:

@awnlee jawking


Since he's a professional, does that mean you're paying him? If so, I would have thought the onus is on him to agree what sort of job you want him to do.


Yes, I'm paying him. Quite a bit, in fact. I was hoping we'd work together, a chapter at a time so I could learn the self-editing process better (mostly how to trim my own writing, since most of my editors won't red-line my work). However, he (the editor) simply disappeared from site once I gave him my work. There's another two weeks on his 2-month assignment (which I assumed was the time we'd work together). Now it looks like it's how long he'll work, and there are zero days of working together (aside from the time it took convincing me to use him).

All I can say is, I really hope I'm satisfied with his work, as he's already cost me about an eight month delay in publishing!

The other thing I'm curious about, is that many well-respected authors selling a decent amount of books comment about their first editor's telling them their books were "awful" and sending it back to them. I'm gathering from his silence that he finds my work satisfactory, but I'd think he'd get back to me with any content issues (plot holes). The fact he hasn't alerted me to any issues is bothersome. Either I didn't make any mistakes, or he's ignoring them all! (By the way, he assured me that "once I'm done, you won't make any changes to the story!".)

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