#AmEditing: GOING PRO–Finding the Right Editor

SUFFICE TO SAY I was moved when my client Gerald Freeman sent this post on finding the right editor. Writing and editing have always been transformative experiences for me. The honor of critiquing and copy editing his forthcoming memoir reaffirms my belief that we can all help each other in more ways than one when it comes to this crazy journey called life. 

 

Finding the Editor

 

As you feel your way along the writing process there are a number of experiences which are signs of you becoming more adept at your craft and evolving as a professional. The first major change I saw in my writing came after quite a few years of editing the same books over and over again. Looking back at what I used to write is both shocking and exciting. Shocking that I was ever so bad, and exciting that I have made such progress. Another major milestone for me was finding my editor.

 

I was very confident of myself, once I realized how much my writing had improved over the years, and I finally felt I was able to publish something that met enough professional requirements to be considered worthy enough for the market. I am also a teacher of English, and so my confidence in my punctuation and editing was such that I felt I could take on the whole project myself. I even made the cover from an old photo, which I thought turned out quite well and told the story of the whole book. I was driven to this decision mainly through financial restrictions, which is the case for many.

 

Picture of a writer's desk.

 

I have just spent one of the best years of my life on the self-publishing learning curve, and I have had an enormous amount of help on the way from bloggers, editors, writers and readers. I have also met a small minority of people who are intolerant of newbies, but I even took something away from those experiences. I made a few faux pas on the way, namely not addressing people by their correct names, posting too many links on Google+ (which I still don’t completely understand), and I guess spamming a bit on FB.

 

But, I have always had the honest intention of being a professional and friendly colleague, and the mistakes were part of the journey. It is very easy to get swept up in the you have to advertise and tell as many people as possible about your book marketing whirlwind going on before you.

 

One year later, I found myself with the next book, I Don’t Believe God Wrote The Bible, ready for publishing, and although I have had some great reviews for my first book Kill Daddy, I knew the punctuation was not perfect. I also wanted to get a professional cover made this time, especially as I was turned down by BookBub because they said my cover was from a template they had already seen. Therefore, I set about looking for an editor and someone who could help me polish my book without it costing a fortune.

 

Cover image of Kill Daddy by Gerald Freeman

 

The first few editors I met were wonderfully helpful, and gave me the first few pages of editing for free in order to show me what they would do. One of them frightened me so much, I didn’t think there would be any more of my story left after he’d finished with it, so I politely declined his offer of removing all the fluff. Funnily enough, I did offer to pay him something because I learnt so much from what he did in just those first few pages. The main thing he showed me was to use more contractions to make the story flow more naturally for the reader. Just by going through the whole book and doing that improved it tenfold.

 

I was on the point of doing the project myself again. I’d read and reread the book fifty times over a period of ten years and after adding in all the contractions, I felt quietly confident. However, as fate would have it I came across an editor in America, who appeared friendly and professional, and so I gave it one last try to see if we clicked. It was amazing for me, especially as I genuinely believe that the right people meet each other, if they are open to it. Finding Jeri was like finding a friend I already had, but didn’t yet know, that’s the best way I can describe it.

 

Moreover, Jeri had a genuine interest in memoirs and travel writing, which resonated strongly in the way she interacted with me. From the get-go, I felt confident she would guide me through the process, knowing I was a little naïve and contribute constructively to my project. Why did I click with her? Why did I not feel confident or inspired by the other editors I had met? There is a holistic element to the projects we undertake and I truly believe that it’s not about finding an editor, but about finding the editor.

 

When the right people come together on a project it adds another dimension to the work. Finding the editor for my story has given it the polish and the depth I do not believe I would have achieved, had I gone with someone I did not feel a hundred percent about. As I mentioned before, it was like finding the missing team member.

 

I am now waiting for the final proof and I am excited to be finally publishing the book, knowing that I have made my story the best it can be, which in turn will provide readers with the most enjoyable reading experience possible.

 

What types of experiences have you had working with editors, teachers, or mentors who have helped you achieve your goals?

 

Picture of Gerald FreemanI have spent my life following my heart and living the life I dream of. It has taken me to all kinds of far and distant places both physically and mentally. I want to relay my experiences to others, identify with other people and share experiences and emotions. Most of all I want my readers to enjoy the time spent reading my stories.  My concept is to write about life and identify with people all over the planet. I also express myself through art, principally sculpture. Check out my website or visit my author blog. SEE GREAT FOTOS OF AFRICA FROM MY BOOK KILL DADDY on Flickr.

 

 

Permission must be granted by Gerald Freeman to use the images in this post.

 

Author: JeriWB Guest

If you would like to write a guest post on a writing or literature related topic, please contact me. Aim for 800 words and be keyword specific.

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68 Comments

  1. I could not agree with you more. Jeri is a gem and I would not even think of trying to find another editor. She is talented and genuinely cares. Best wishes to you on this project.

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    • Thank you Cheryl, I wholeheartedly agree.

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  2. What wonderful testament to Jeri! And happy to be in the company of those who are satisfied with her work, and gratified by her friendship. A total pro…with a heart:)

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    • Yes, professionalism mixed with the right amount of heart is an unbeatable combination, but does not occur that often.

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  3. ***When the right people come together on a project it adds another dimension to the work***

    this sentence must be shaded in vivid yellow!

    Jeri, what an honor it must be to have you as an editor. xx

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    • So glad you get the fourth somewhat intangible dimension, which I was lucky enough to have found with Jeri. As someone already mentioned, it’s the heart.

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  4. I agree with you Gerald, I’m using Jeri for my editing and she has far exceed my expectations. She has gone above and beyond to accommodate my preferences while leaving the manuscript with my tone and story. Not only did she edit, she has taught me a lot as well, providing several documents to explain the rules behind her edits and help organize information in my book. Couldn’t be happier with her work.

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    • And I can see the experience is hugely positive for you, as it was for me. Good luck with your new book.

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  5. Related to quite a bit of this here (except for the flooding of the market thing, which I just can’t bring myself to do, and feel that, with everyone else doing it too, a less than professional marketing effort largely goes unnoticed).

    I found the contraction point interesting though; when I went through my first professional editing experience, the first thing that was done, was for every single contraction to be separated – which I just didn’t agree with on the whole, and put many of them back during the continued editing process as I felt it did interfere with the flow of my voice, making it seem unnatural – especially in dialogue. My editor ‘allowed’ many of them, but wouldn’t accept most, and when I read other author’s work from the same publisher, it is something, I can’t help but feel, sounds a little stilted for the most part. So I was glad to see that some editors have a different opinion on that.

    I think, though, a part of my issue in general, together with many other ‘disagreements’, over my natural way of doing things, has to do with the differences in our common language between the UK and parts of the USA – and not just in editing, but this can become evident in the readership. And it was something, I told myself, that if I’m going to be with a publisher from the States, then I would need to meet them halfway. They did however wholly support my British spelling, if not, perhaps understandably, idioms (which, to me, took away from the underlying humour that I like to implement in most of my work, as it just didn’t translate by wording it any differently, and so I removed those parts altogether (with a little bit of a hissy fit, lol)) which I was impressed with.

    I’m glad you’ve found working with Jeri a great experience; always great to get recommendations (even though I am well aware of her professional approach to writing in general) and best of luck with the books.

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    • Thank you for the comment. Actually, the American vs English issue was something that came up in the writing of this book. I suppose I have come to the conclusion that if it affects comprehension, the sentence should be tweeked, but a tad of Britishness can give the book charm for the American reader. Best of luck with your work, too.

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  6. Hi Gerald,

    I appreciate your honest and candid approach to working with Jeri. It infuses a new confidence in the readers that Jeri is the right person to approach for editing. It gives me great satisfaction that I am interacting with real friends and writers, who would prove so helpful when I would be ready with my next book. Thanks for sharing.

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    • Dear Balroop,
      I also am very happy to have found a blog where there are so many normal, calm, like-minded professionals.And of course, a fantastic editor.

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  7. This was a terrific post, Gerald, and I’m glad Jeri shared your post. I especially like that you mentioned newbies of which I am one. Jeri is always so incredibly patient, approachable and wonderfully instructional for someone like me learning from the ground floor. Thank you for having him here, Jeri 🙂

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    • Thank you for the support Mike, and yes, Jeri must be blushing by now, but she is a great teacher and we are lucky to have her.

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  8. What a great post. Jeri is indeed an excellent editor, and I think the important thing , aside from actually knowing what you are doing, is to click as you did in having the similar interests. Without an exotic having some connection with your work, then I think it’s hard for them sometimes to understand where your voice is coming from. It’s a real testament to Jeri’s work & her professionalism that you went ahead & wrote this post. Good news for both of you:-)

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    • Thanks A.K.
      I don’t think enough people get enough praise, so this guest post has actually taken on another dimension in that so many of you have worked with Jeri and know exactly what I am talking about.

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  9. I am in total agreement. Jeri is my editor and I do not know what I would know what I would do without her help and guidance.

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    • There are a lot of happy writers here. I agree with you completely.

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  10. I do not as yet have any experiences to relay regarding editors or professionally created book covers. I do however know a great recommendation when I see one and it makes me feel fortunate to have Jeri read my posts and comment. All the best with the book “Kill Daddy” when you have it published in the near future.

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    • Thanks Tim,
      Kill Daddy is already out. I Don’t Believe God Wrote The Bible is the one Jeri worked on, due out in Jan 2015. I think you will find a great many recommendations on this post endorsing the same person. All the best for your work, too.

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  11. I have written just one book and it took awhile for me to move from doing it all myself, to accepting the offer of help from capable friends, who never had enough time, to an editor who did some good work, to finding the one who took me to completion. What a joy to find The One! (I didn’t know Jeri then.)

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  12. Gerald, I am glad you found Jeri and that she became ‘the’ editor for you! I totally understand what you mean about clicking with people as I have had that with one author who helped me when I was stuck on a book draft. I wish you much success with your book and happy to hear Jeri is your go-to editor!

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    • Hi Christy,
      thanks for the encouragement, I am also glad you recognize the feeling.

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  13. There is nothing more professionally rewarding than helping people. It doesn’t have to be something dramatic like curing a disease it can just be, as is the case here, making them feel better about themselves. You should be proud. Being a professional editor is not necessarily perceived as something that produces great benefits for society at large, but how you work individually with people is just as important.

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    • Well Jeri certainly helped me and she has made me feel better about my book, for sure.

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  14. I am considering hiring Jeri to edit my next book, too, the one I’m going to write once Letters to Julian is completed… and I’m an editor myself!

    I think Jeri is talented, too. 🙂

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    • Ha ha. Well, I completely understand why editors need editors, too. Apart from the usual professional input they give, there is also the word blindness syndrome, which I don’t think anyone can avoid, so you must need someone just to read it over for that reason at least.

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  15. What a nice recommendation for Jeri. I know she has been wonderful in her support of my blog and if I need an editor, I now know who to consider first. It doesn’t surprise me at all that she is a pleasure to work with. Good luck with your book.

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    • Thanks Lenie, it was a rewarding experience in many ways.

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  16. Good to see you found the right editor. These guides and guest posts keep selling me on you, Jeri. I’ve yet to work with any editors but I consider people who comment on my site as “mentors.” Jeri gives positive and honest feedback, where she can. Definitely can’t complain about that.

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    • Thanks for the comment Duke, if you decide to look for an editor, I would definitely recommend starting with Jeri to see if you click.

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  17. Gerald what evidence to attest to the wonderful work from Jeri: comparing it to your previous editor! In the books I released, a couple co-authored, all self-edited. My publisher’s editors are excellent. At first (like about 48 hours) my ego was hurt and then I realized, not only were all there corrections for the good, but their advice was something I could take forward if I write another book. But it is so true, in particular as an indie writer, GET an editor you click with! Jeri, bravo.

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    • Thank you for your words Patricia. I did not even go into details about all the gaps that were filled during the edit, which I was blind to- that will be another guest post.

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  18. I love it when people and things come together that way! Agreed: Jeri has some great talent and heart, and a willingness to share it. Yay!

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    • Nicely said, thank goodness for people who share.

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  19. What an amazing post. Great people make great things happen. She is a really amazing person by heart.
    Goodluck for your book:)

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    • Thank you for the luck and positive comment.

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  20. Inspiring story and like so many others here I agree with the power of coming up with the right mix – the right story, the right hook for your reader and of course the right publishing team. Good for you and kudos to Jeri – I know this is a business, but obviously she loves what she’s doing and it shows.

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    • Well, I am lucky enough to have most of those ingredients, let’s see what I can do about a publishing team.

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  21. It is great when the right people come together on a project. I think the editor and writer relationship can be a tricky one at times, but a wonderful one when they work well together. Your post is a great recommendation for Jeri (as are all the comments from others who’ve worked with her).

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    • Luckily, I struck gold first time, Donna.

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  22. Fantastic recommendation for you, Jeri! If I ever write a book I know where to find my editor.

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  23. I think that this is the most important step a person could take. I am very good at ideas and concepts, but my writing can become ramblings. I need that good editor to straighten my writing out. If that is not done, it never goes anywhere. Thanks for sharing with us.

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    • Thank you for taking the time to read my post and comment. I really believe the teacher is in all of us, we only have to share what we know.

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  24. IT was really a great story and it is true that most productive work comes forward when you meet with people of same ideas.
    Jeri is really a nice and talented lady.
    I am not much in this as just started writing few months before but met two of friends who edited my early posts and I was shocked with one editing as whole post that I had written was gone and a new post took place but the experience with my second friend was great but as she was so busy with her life (as was not editor but helped me as was English language teacher) and I did not disturb her again.
    So one experience was great and one was shocking.

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    • Ha ha, I love your honesty. No one has an easy ride x

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  25. I’m relatively new to freelance writing so your experiences are a timely reminder of what I may yet have to face if I come across any of those intolerant editors. I totally agree that we shouldn’t be afraid of making mistakes but we do need to learn from them, however harshly the lesson might have been delivered.

    Thanks to your glowing recommendation for Jeri meeting the wrong type of editor may yet be an experience that I can avoid.

    Good luck with the new book Gerald.

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    • Thank you so much. and yes, I definitely try to learn from everything. When you are ready to take the plunge, I wish you as great an experience as I have had.

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  26. I haven’t had any editing experience yet. I have had mentors throughout my life to help me stay motivated.

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    • A mentor is something I have never had, of any kind, size, shape, or form. Ironically, I have been looking for one my whole life, isn’t it funny how different our lives are?

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  27. What a great post! Good luck with your book Gerald. Jeri, I won’t be looking far for an editor in the future 🙂

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    • Thanks for the encouragement D.C. it will go a long way.

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  28. Hi Gerald,
    This is a wonderful testament to Jeri’s skills. I’ve never enlisted Jeri’s help as an editor but I do know that she is kind and genuinely wants to help others succeed. That differentiation sets her apart from many others. It’s good to hear that you two work so well together.

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    • Hi Sherryl,
      thank you for taking the time to comment. Yes, for me the experience has been great and I do not think I have been a difficult client for Jeri. But, I guess you will have to ask her that.

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  29. Finding the people that you click with can be one of the hardest parts of the creative world we live in now. Good luck with the books.

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    • To be honest Jon, I have become spoilt, I am not surprised anymore when things come together. However, you have reminded me how lucky I have been. Thank you for the support.

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  30. I love your candor, Gerald. I mean, who among us really understands google plus! And Jeri, this is a great quote: We can all help each other in more ways than one when it comes to this crazy journey called life.” Looks you guys make a great team!

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    • Thanks for that Meredith. Glad to hear it is not only me that is confused about Google+. The wonderful support this guest post has generated has made my week. Thank you

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  31. How many nice supporting peopel are there out there! 🙂 Maybe I’ll write ” my book” one day at the age of 68. With Jeris support and encouragement I think I will!

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    • Yes my darling wife you should write your book X

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  32. Great story on experience and lessons learned. I have not had the pleasure of working with Jeri as an editor, one day I hope, but I know she’s a terrific writer and I always learn something from her posts. I can only imagine that she carries her wealth of knowledge into the process.

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    • Thanks for reading Debra. I hope I learnt enough from Jeri’s editing advice to make the story as good as it can be.

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  33. What a beautiful post and a great recommendation. I see quite some of my blogger friends commenting here, so if I ever write a book, I will for sure ask Jeri as well to be my editor.

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  34. Thanks Freya,
    Your comments are much appreciated. Yes, I have nothing but good things to say about Jeri’s services.

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  35. I always hear how beneficial it is to have an editor if you’re a serious writer and want to be taken seriously. I wish I had great ideas that just flowed out but my mind is a jumble. I know how great Jeri is! Susan boasts about her 🙂

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    • Krystle, I’m lucky to have such a great woman as Susan as a client and a friend. Even though I love to edit and proudly profess I do it well, as a writer I readily admit to not always being able to get my thoughts and story ideas down on paper without a lot of fuss. I guess the old saying is true. Even the editor needs and editor 😉

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    • The thing I personally noticed the most after the whole process was done and dusted was the fact that it flowed. I read my own book with ease in a matter of a couple of hours, whereas normally, I would have taken a couple of days. It is this kind of intangible mechanism that has been worked into the story, where the brain doesn’t have to think or make an effort. Yes, an editor is a must, even for editors Jeri lol.

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