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Choosing an Editor? Writer Beware!

So, you have written your magnum opus. Congratulations. Now you need the services of an editor. But which one do you choose? More importantly will they help or hinder?

In these days of the internet, more and more people are advertising their services as an editor. Some even start up their own publishing business. But how good are they really? Do you simply engage one at will? No – ask pointed questions. after all you are about to pay them for their services.

If they are genuine, they won’t mind being quizzed. The first question I would ask them is which best selling books have you edited? If they are genuine they will be happy to list the books. The second question I would ask them is why, if they profess to know more about the English language than the average writer, have they not become a best selling author themselves?

Just because they may have a university degree, doesn’t mean they can write to save themselves. Far to many so-called editors these days are nothing more than failed writers. Once upon a time they wrote what they believed was the next perfect literary work of note, only to find that it appealed to no more than a handful of equally academically minded individuals like themselves.

With some of these editors, there is always the very real danger that they will try to impose their own will on your story. Don’t let them! Just remember that apart from taking note of the grammatical and punctuation errors they found, and making the necessary corrections, the story is your intellectual property not theirs.

The same thing applies to a lot of people who offer their services in cover design and formatting. Like the aforesaid editors, they tried their hand at writing and failed. So what did they decide to do? Make money instead by offering their services for a fee. No one could ever blame them for wanting to earn a living. I certainly don’t.

Just remember this – engaging any of the above is no guarantee of literary success.

The truth is that no matter how much you try, no matter how well your editor and you edit and polish your manuscript, no matter how eye catching the cover of the book may be, no one can ever predict what will be the next best seller.

Plus, remember this – before you can turn a profit, you have to sell enough copies of your book to get back the amount of money you handed over to your editor etc. A lot of people forget that tiny detail.

Last year to my great delight, one of my books took off, selling well over eight thousand copies. Compared to a book published by one of the big five conventional publishing houses, its sales were minimal. But in ‘Indie’ terms it was a best seller. What appealed was its scenario – a story written around the so-called Mayan calendar predictions for the world ending in 2012. When I was writing it, I didn’t give a thought to whether or not it would appeal. All I wanted to do was entertain the potential reader. Apparently I did just that.

Most writers of my acquaintance, whether they publish conventionally or self publish, would ever consider giving up to become an editor. Instead we plough on writing that next book. If you are a writer, you are a driven, some would say pig-headed, individual. Writing is very definitely not the occupation of choice for the faint hearted, or the academically minded…

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