Friday, October 30, 2015

Don't Limit Your Novel with Poor Editing

with guest Naomi Rawlings.

You’ve spent the past six months—or twelve, or twenty-four—slaving over your novel. And whether your book is going to an agent, an editor at a publishing house, or Amazon through self-publishing, you’ve personally done everything you can to make your novel the best it can be.

Except novels are big. Novels are bulky and messy and sloppy. If you’ve written a novel, you know they’re not easy to write. And even if you have a dozen published novels on your resume, you still know novels aren’t easy to write. At some point, you need help. At some point, you need… 

(Imagine scary music playing in the background here.)

An editor.

I say you need to hear scary music, because having your novel edited can be very, very scary. A bad editor can suck the life and originality from your novel. A bad editor can obliterate any semblance of your personal voice until your novel sounds like something written by a computer. A bad editor can, quite simply, kill your story.

But just like a bad editor can kill your story, a good editor can take your novel from pretty decent to astounding. A good editor will enhance your story, making the plot tight and flawless and your voice sparkle. So how do you know whether an editor is good or bad? And if you’re looking for a freelance editor, how do you know whether an editor is worth the price they quote you? (Some of those price quotes can be quite astronomical.) 

I experienced my own editing horror story this summer, when I learned that my usual line editor couldn’t edit my new release Love’s Sure Dawn. Since I do a bit of freelance editing myself and belong to The Christian PEN (Proofreaders and Editors Network), I didn’t think finding a good editor would be hard. 

Boy was I wrong. Half the editors out there don’t post prices on their websites, and the ones that do all seem to want $2,000 for touching your novel. After spending two weeks searching and getting sample edits done, I ended up with one, maybe two, editors from the long list I’d started with.

I’m fairly experienced author. I’m traditionally published and award nominated with an English degree in my back pocket. So I had the expertise to write off some of these editors after one glance at my sample edit. But I’m well aware all authors looking for editors don’t have my experience. I was rather horrified when I realized that there are editors getting unpublished writers to pay $2000 for a horrendous edit. 

So in an attempt to save poor little authors from being abused by big bad editors, I decided to make a list for my fellow Seekervillagers. 

The Editor You Hire Needs to: 

1.  Be Familiar with Fiction

Look for an editor experienced in fiction. This can be tricky if you’re hiring a line editor or proofreader. A lot of nonfiction editors think that they can edit fiction because they know grammar, but the rules for fiction are much different than the ruled for nonfiction. Furthermore, you need an editor who knows enough about craft and story structure to either make suggestions or refer you to a developmental editor if they spot larger problems in the story.
If the editor doesn’t have experience, then they should be editing your novel for free in exchange for learning and using you as a reference in the future. And if you agree to be an editor’s guinea pig, go into the experience with eyes wide open and be aware that not everything the editor says will be correct. An editor’s website should have a list of fiction authors they’ve worked with.

2. Understand Informal Grammar

Your novel shouldn’t sound like a legal brief, yet some editors edit that way. This is the difference between formal and informal grammar. Novels are written with informal grammar so that they express the way people talk and think. If you find your editor turning fragments into full sentences, crossing out and and but at the beginning of a sentence, or inserting he or she for the word they, then turn down their services unless you want your novel to sound like something written by a robot.

Example: I know of an editor that charges $50 an hour and doesn’t like using they as a singular pronoun. Note my sentence above: “If you find your editor turning fragments into full sentences… then turn down their (not his or her) services.” Using they like this is perfectly acceptable in informal grammar, but not for formal grammar. Yet this editor doesn’t like using the word they informally, and so she rewords sentences for her clients to avoid using both they and he or she. I don’t know about you, but I’d be pretty steamed if I paid $50 an hour for a professional edit only to have the editor charge for rearranging perfectly fine sentences. 

3. Correct Only the Things That Are Wrong or Confusing

I know, I know, we’re told to tighten our writing so that there are no extra words, cut out telling words like felt and know, write with active voice, etc. It’s true that an experienced writer isn’t going to do any of the things I just mentioned very often. However, these things should be the author’s choice, not the editor’s. If you have an editor that’s crossing out every single time you use the word very, then the editor is probably also crossing out a lot of other things that could stay in your novel. 

Over-editing is an actual thing, and this is probably the trickiest thing for an author to discern about an editor, which is why you should always, always, always get a sample edit before ever sending an editor a penny.

Love's Sure Dawn

Example: “Why did he try keeping up with his brother? He would only fail in the end. Always had.” 
This is from the second page of my novel Love’s Sure Dawn. One of the people who gave me a sample edit crossed out in the end because she deemed it unnecessary. While that phrase doesn’t have to be included, it does help complete the idea I’m trying to convey.
This editor was a little difficult for me to turn down because she caught things that were genuinely wrong with my sample. But she also marked up several other things that were opinion. I ultimately decided not to hire her, because I didn’t want to pay an editor to markup things that were fine, nor did I want the hassle of asking myself, “Is this actually wrong or is she being overly zealous?” for every single comment and change.

Example: Look at the opening line to A Tale of Two Cities. “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.” One of the most famous novels ever starts with passive voice, and not just passive voice, but it plus a linking verb. Everybody knows not to start a sentence with it or there plus a linking verb, right? 

I’m really glad Dickens’s editor didn’t tell him to change the sentence. And the same can be said of the first line to Pride and Prejudice. “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.”

Unfortunately there are editors out there who would mark up both these opening lines. You don’t want these people editing your novel for free, and you certainly don’t want to pay them for an edit either. Find an editor that respects your voice and focuses on correcting things that are wrong rather than rewriting your novel in their own words.

Now that I’ve covered what your editor needs to know before you hire them, let’s talk about what the author needs you need to know regarding editing in general.

1.  Know what type of edit you need.

Edits come in three stages: macro (or developmental), line, and proofread (or copy edit). Please don’t ask me why there are a couple different names out there for the same type of edit. I have no idea. It’s yet another point on the long list of Things That Don’t Make Sense in Publishing. 

A macro edit looks at the entirety of your story all together. It looks at whether your characters are deep and have a strong enough goal and motivation to propel them through 300+ pages. It looks at whether your plot is cohesive and you have enough tension in the story to keep readers’ interest. In short, a macro edit looks at all the craft aspects of a novel. It doesn’t look at individual sentences or words, nor does it look at small errors. It asks, is this story publishable? And if yes, can the story be strengthened before it goes to press?

Example: A comment bubble that looks like this: “This chapter has a lot of internal tension, but no external tension. If Evelyn’s goal is to find a place to live on her own, then you need something to go wrong with that goal. Yes, it’s good that she ran into her former beau and that exchange is just rife with internal tension, but still, you need something to hold Evelyn back from procuring that apartment. Maybe the boardinghouse owner tells Evelyn she can have the room, but at the end of the chapter, the owner changes her mind and decides to rent the room to her niece instead. It doesn’t have to be that, exactly. But you do need external conflict along these lines in this scene.”

A line edit looks at the flow of the novel. All the big problems with your story have been solved during the macro edit stage, so this edit focuses on any smaller parts of the story that might be confusing or need more explanation. It will also look for consistency errors and anything that might be unrealistic.

Example: A comment from your editor that looks like this: “You have Ella entering the conversation in the parlor here, but on the previous page, Ella was in the kitchen baking with her mom. You need to either have Ella come into the room at some point between this page and the last one or cut the line.”

A proofread is the final edit your novel gets before being published. All craft and story problems, big and little, have been handled by this point. And the proofread looks mainly at grammar, spelling, and other little inconsistencies. A good proofreader will create a stylesheet for your novel, which records specific details, names, and grammar rules that affect only your novel. 

Stylesheet example: Are you going to use a serial comma or not? Are you going to use a comma before words like either and to at the end of a sentence? (Personally, I don’t put commas like that in my indie novels. That type of comma isn’t needed for clarity, and I think stories in general read better when they’re not broken up by unnecessary punctuation. I encourage my editing clients to move in that direction for their indie novels too.)

Love's Unfading Light

Proofread example: “Your heroine’s name is Tressa Danell, but here you spell her last name Dannel instead of Danell.” In a proofread, this change will be made via track changes, and you won’t get a comment in the sidebar. And unfortunately, yes, this is a true example from my own novel, Love’s Unfading Light. It’s been published for seven months, and I just found the misspelling last week. Ugh!

2. Understand that your crit partners, as wonderful as they are, probably aren’t experienced enough to spot all the problems with your novel. 

“My novel has been through my critique group, so it’s going to be really clean when I send it, and you shouldn’t find much wrong.” I hear this from 90% of the unpublished writers who contact me asking for a price quote and sample edit. But unless your crit partner is a multi-published, award winning author, she doesn’t know everything about story craft and editing. If your crit partner(s) have never even been traditionally published, then your novel needs to go to a professional if you’re planning to self-publish. If you’re sending your novel to an agent or publishing house, then it’s your choice as to how much editing to give your novel. Agents and publishers expect novels to be somewhat rusty when they’re acquired, knowing full well the novel will be polished during the in-house editing process. However, keep in mind that while agents and editors will acquire novels with misplaced commas and dangling modifiers, no agent or editor is going to acquire a novel that has huge craft problems. If traditional publication is your goal, hiring a writing coach or developmental editor is probably a better move than hiring a line editor or proofreader.

3. Understand that no editor is perfect.

Yes, I get that you’re paying good money to have your novel edited, but the truth is no editor is perfect, and if you have a 100,000 word novel, a handful of things are still going to be missed. You’ll end up with fewer errors if your line editor and proofreader are different, but even traditionally published novels have errors. Editors are people just like everyone else, and words like through and though are easy to mistake when reading because your brain looks at words as a whole and reads the word that makes the most sense in the sentence. In my opinion, five errors or less is a realistic expectation for a full length novel, and this is true of both traditionally published and self-published works.

4. Understand that editors deserve to be paid a fair wage for their labor.

Since I straddle the worlds of both publishing and editing, I’ve realized that there’s a huge disconnect between how much money authors make and how much editors think authors make. Unless you’re an Amazon bestselling author with several titles constantly ranking in the top 5,000 on Amazon, you can’t afford to spend $50 an hour on an edit. The problem is that some editors are very good and very experienced, and they are actually worth $50 an hour. If you need to hire a freelance editor, you’re best option is to find a decent editor who will work for a fair price. Your low end prices for a good edit will be about $20/hr., $1.25/page, or $0.005/word. (You can probably find edits cheaper than this, but likely not from editors with credentials, experience, and a solid resume.)

Again, unless you’re one of those bestselling authors, you’re probably not making $20/hr. writing, which means that editing costs are a definite loss from a business perspective. It’s not fun, I know. But just because you’ve chosen a job that pays $10/hr. or less doesn’t mean that everybody you hire can afford to work for that same pay rate. I guarantee you’re paying your cover designer and formatter more than $10/hr. as well, but because both of those jobs take a lot less time than an edit, you don’t notice the wage discrepancy as much.

In Conclusion—Looking for an Editor:

So if you’ve read all this and you’re looking for a recommendation for a freelance editor… It’s complicated. I recommend myself, of course (you can find the editing page of my website here), and I can recommend a couple very experienced fiction editors, but you’re looking at $50 an hour and a price tag of at least a couple grand for any of those. 

My personal theory is that if you find a traditionally published author who moonlights as an editor, then you’ll be in good hands. A traditionally published author has been through all three stages of the editing process for their own work, and they innately understand how much editing is too much. They’re going to be more inclined to leave your voice and preferences alone and focus on only thing things that are wrong or unclear. Just like an author wouldn’t want an editor coming in and neutering the life from their novel, they’re not going to do that to you. When I did my editor search, Liz Tolsma was the one affordable, good editor I found. You might also have some luck with Robin Patchen who is a more hands on editor. For all three of us editors, you’re looking at the prices I gave you above, which amounts to $400-$1,000 for a full length novel edit. The more specific price will depend on what type of edit you want and how clean your manuscript is.

Have you ever had one of you novels professionally edited, and if so, what did you think of the experience? That seems like the most logical question, but I'm guessing most readers will just answer no. Maybe, Have you had any scary editing experiences, either with crit partners, contest judges, or professional editors? If so, share in the comments below.

Love's Sure Dawn

No matter how hard she tries to help, Rebekah Cummings always ends up causing more problems than she solves. This time, though, things will be different. She'll find a way to pay her family's debts, even if doing so requires leaving Eagle Harbor. Maybe then they'll finally accept her.

Gilbert Sinclair is going to marry an heiress. With his latest business venture sunk at the bottom of Lake Superior, he needs money to replace the steamship he lost, so he heads to Chicago where his father's business connections should land him a suitable wife. Like most things in his meticulously planned life, everything goes as expected—until he discovers Rebekah Cummings working as the new cook on his ship.

Though forgotten feelings might swirl between Rebekah and Gilbert, so do the storms of expectation. Gilbert can't afford to pursue a working class woman—no matter how badly he might want to. And Rebekah well remembers the pain she endured the last time Gilbert broke her heart. Should she step aside and watch him marry a stranger for nothing more than money...or can she convince him he deserves so much more?

Naomi Rawlings is a mother of three who’s exhausted after writing the longest ever Seekerville blog post and getting woken up three times last night. And speaking of getting woken up, her baby just woke up and is screaming, so Naomi doesn’t have the time or energy to write a creative bio. But if you want to take pity on this poor, sleep-deprived mother, you can head on over to Amazon and check out her Eagle Harbor Series, starting with Book 1, Love’s Unfading Light.  

Eagle Harbor Series
Naomi is generously giving away an ecopy of the winner's choice of any of her Eagle Harbor series releases to two commenters.

And Seekerville is throwing in this fun editing mug a writer. Raise your hand if you want your name tossed in the mug for the book or the mug! Winners announced in the Weekend Edition.

Can you relate?

Additionally, anyone who comments today is entered into this week's final drawing.


Marianne Barkman said...

I think before I ever say "yes" to reviewing a book I will need to ask have you read Naomi Rawlings post on Seekerville? It is very obvious that some have never heard of the things you write about. I guess I'll need to make sure that I review only for Seekerville authors or guests. Great post, Naomi. Welcome here
Happy Birthday, Seekerville!

Sarah Claucherty said...

Welcome to Seekerville, Naomi!

My writing class is talking about editing and the editor/writer relationship now, so this post is awesome! Thanks for visiting :)

I'd love to be added to the drawings today, please and thank you!

Lyndee H said...

Hi Naomi,
Thanks for this post. I don't know why I don't understand what editors are saying to me. I would rather have specifics than generalizations - although specifics sometimes stump me, too. I suppose editors would think I'm arrogant or a know it all because I'm so slow sending back copy. The truth is, I'd be more than happy to fix things if I understood their input, which to me, is the same as written in Greek. I only know one Greek word. Generally, not too helpful.

Have a great weekend!

Cindy W. said...

Thank you for the great post Naomi. I know as I write I tend to be my own editor and it is a habit I am trying to break as I can't complete my WIP if I'm constantly editing. I know I need to leave that to the professionals.

I would love to be entered for the ebook or the mug.

Blessings and Happy Birthday Seekerville!

Cindy W.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Naomi, nice to have you here! Thanks for being with us today!

Your words are quite true. Finding a good editor is tough, but I'm also going to add this: Finding someone whose work ethic and view reflect yours is very important, too. I've worked with over a dozen editors now, most have been absolutely wonderful. On the few occasions where it wasn't a made-in-heaven experience, I chalked it up to a learning experience and got the job done. And that's a crucial lesson in traditional publishing: Suck it up and deliver the goods.

Now for my indie books, I use my daughter Beth from Jamison Editing. I love her work, she's not afraid to offer advice and she's very reasonably priced. I've got friends who've used her as well, but it has to be a good fit. I love her honesty, affordability and quick return, the very same reason I chose The Killion Group for covers... I work a lot, and I respect people who are willing to meet me on my work level. As you pointed out, it needs to be a great match.

We've got Ericka McIntyre coming here in February, she's marvelous. She's my Franciscan editor, (Refuge of the Heart and More Than a Promise), she's a free-lancer, and I love working with that woman. She understands Christian fiction with a keen eye, but not an over-zealous hand, and that's huge. She's been an absolute delight and if anyone wants her info, I'd be glad to pass it on.

I use a lot of conversational English in my stories, I love it, it's an invitation to the reader to feel at home with the people and the story, but you're right, not all editors "get it" easily... But I've had pretty great experiences for the most part, so no complaints here!

Tina Radcliffe said...

Welcome back to Seekerville, Naomi! Today is day thirty of our birthday bash and it's time for bagels and schmear.

Great to have you.

Naomi does editing for me on most of my books and while she was out of commission in the baby ward, Beth from Jamison Editing also edited for me.

A good editor is like a good hairstylist. They make you look good.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Oh, Lyndee, I so relate. It has taken me years to learn editor-speak!

Tina Radcliffe said...

And Naomi, I think we deserve a little baby update. How is your first girl doing??

Bettie said...

Oh dear! You have opened my eyes to things I did not know about editing. I'm not sure how many beginning writers will find this discouraging but l think the cost of a good editor may be a big gamble if you don't have a contract...just my opinion.

Please throw my name in the hat for the book. NO mug...I'm a teacher who's drowning in teacher mugs. Save me!

Bettie said...

Happy birthday Seekers!

Kate said...

Wow! I don't know editing was so complicated! It sounds a bit like a nightmare. I edit college papers, but that is much different from a book!

I'd love to win the books. Thank you!!!

Helen Wakefield said...

So ... is it safe to show my face here as a start out editor? :)

At times I'm very discouraged by what some writers expect to pay for editing, when the volume of work you need to put into it can be huge.

That said, most of the time this problem comes from manuscripts being submitted for editing too soon. So my encouragement to all the new writers out there is to learn learn LEARN your craft (which you're obviously doing if you're following Seekerville!), and revise and polish that manuscript as much as you can yourself. Then you're far less likely to have a heart attack when you get a quote from an editor :)

But definitely, get sample edits from editors before you hire them. This will give you a feel for their work and for them. After all, writer/editor relationships are like any other relationships - some people inevitably clash. After a sample edit, a good editor will also tell you what level of editing your manuscript needs, and even tell you it's not ready for an edit yet :)

Great post, Naomi! Thanks for sharing your insights. But don't put me in the draw, I'm too far away to post a mug to :)

cathyann40 said...

I love the cup.

Jill Weatherholt said...

This is great information, Naomi! One of my favorite stages in the writing process is editing. I love to cut and layer to make the story the best it can be. For the first time, I'm working with a professional editor and so far, the experience has been wonderful.
Please toss my name in for the mug. If I don't win it, I'm buying it!

Rose said...

Hi Naomi!

I've never used a professional editor before submitting my work. I am thinking about finding one for grammatical errors. My agent does edit for content at the proposal stage.

It is scary to think about hiring an editor, but you gave great tips on what to look for when I ever take the leap.

Naomi Rawlings said...

Hey Marianne, I'm glad you stopped by, and thanks so much! There really is a strong group of writers that hangs out at Seekerville, isn't there? We're all really blessed to have this community and to have so many Seekers willing to spend the time it takes to run this blog--especially Tina Radcliffe. I don't even want to think about the hours she puts into making things run around here. Thanks, Tina!

Naomi Rawlings said...

Thanks for stopping by, Sarah. The editor/writer relationship can be interesting. A lot of it depends on whether your editor is right for you personally. Sometimes an editor can be a really great fit for one person but not the other. Working with an editor who's a good fit for you should make you feel like you're learning all the time. If you don't feel that way and you have a choice about your editor, then you should look for someone new.

Margaret Douglass said...

This may be a silly question, but do you hire an editor once you have a first draft of your novel done or throughout the process?

Naomi Rawlings said...

I'm sorry to hear that, Lyndee. Something is off there, because that's not the way things are supposed to be. How long have you been writing? If it's not long, it could be that you need to read a couple craft books to brush up on some of the terms used in the publishing industry. But if you're paying for an editor or writing coach, they should be explaining these things to you as they edit. Without knowing more, I can't say what's wrong one way or the other, but if an editor's comments aren't helpful, then something is definitely wrong.

Naomi Rawlings said...

I think there's a balance, Cindy. Not all writers are created equal. Some writers will write a full novel without revising anything and then go back and revise. I'm not like that. I've tried to be. I'm told I'll write faster if I don't revise or edit as I write. But I have to. I just can't move forward with the novel while wondering if what I've written at the beginning is wrong. I have to know my novel is working before I continue. And there's nothing wrong with that.

Where you get into trouble is being too detailed while revising. Correct the things you see that are wrong, like a misplaced comma, but there's no need to reread the chapter over and over for misplaced commas. You do need to move on at some point.

Caryl Kane said...

GOOD MORNING NAOMI! Thank you for this informative post. As a reader, I am amazed at ALL that goes into writing and publishing. I am raising my tea cup and a plate of cranberry scones to you and the amazing authors here in Seekerville.

Please put me in the draw for the book.

Glynna Kaye said...

Good morning, Naomi -- With more and more writers self-publishing, the practical information you've put in your post is SO valuable, just as is a professional edit of our work.

I'm so fortunate, as a Love Inspired writer, to have an editor who "gets" my stuff and does a beautiful job making my story even better than it was. Catching redundancies. Asking for clarification on confusing passages. Trimming out unnecessary verbiage. Pointing out where an idea needs more fleshing out or tightening--or that a stronger ending is needed for a scene. Asking questions and letting ME decide how to address them. A good editor is definitely worth his/her weight in gold!

Naomi Rawlings said...

You're exactly right, Ruthy! I'm glad you've had such good experiences with your editors. I've mainly had good experiences with mine--until I went looking for a freelance editor this summer. Ouch! What an eye opener, and not in the good way.

And yes to conversational English! That's why I say your editor needs to understand fiction and not turn white when they read a contraction in your dialogue. I know an author who had a copy editor from her publishing house strip all the contractions out of her dialogue once. It was a Regency, and didn't the author know that nobles didn't use contractions back then? Sigh... It took the author hours upon hours to make the corrections. Actually, I think they ended up scrapping that edit completely and starting over. :-(

Jill Kemerer said...

Congratulations on another baby, Naomi! And thank you for all the terrific information. Bookmarking this one!

Jackie said...

Hi, Naomi! Congratulations on your new baby.

Thanks for the information on editors. So far I've not been able to afford a full edit. I've hired editors to work on contest entries. The first time I did this, I took every suggestion the editor gave me and thought it turned out great. An agent had requested the first three chapters and synopsis. After a few weeks, the agent kindly told me he couldn't hear my voice. As in, there was no voice in the story. He suggested I move on to the next story and for me to find my voice. I did this, and only recently has it occurred to me the after the first three chapters, the story would have my voice. Maybe one day I'll return to that story.

Your post has helped me understand better about hiring an editor. Thanks!

Debby Giusti said...

Thanks for shining a light on what can be a confusing process. You've given us great tips on how to find an editor, as well as defining the various types of edits. Great post!

Don't know how you do it all with three little ones, a writing career and an editing business. You must have Tina Radcliffe and Ruth Logan Herne genes. :)

Is October really ending? Like tomorrow? Boo-hoo! I want our Seekerville Birthday Month to continue. It's reason to celebrate. So again, I've brought cake. Today I'm serving inside out chocolate cake, baked in a bundt pan and oozing with melted chocolate chips. Goes well with coffee or tea! Enjoy!

Sally Shupe said...

I so enjoyed this post! This part made me chuckle: “My novel has been through my critique group, so it’s going to be really clean when I send it, and you shouldn’t find much wrong.” I am a freelance editor, line and copy, and when someone sends me something and makes a similar comment, I chuckle. Then I go tell my husband, "Watch this." One big thing I've learned about editing, you can't edit your own stuff. Your brain knows what you meant and that's what it sees. There is one author I edit for who has his family read his book for errors. I've determined your family thinks like you do and can't spot some of the errors either. I'm still trying to prove that theory lol.

Thank you for posting editing prices. I always wondered where my prices stood. I've worked with several authors who told me I wasn't charging enough. When I first started out, I didn't feel I had the experience. But now, I have an English degree, have worked with several authors-unpublished and published, and have awesome references. But I would still edit for free because I so enjoy it. My name is not on the book, but it's my work. I want it to be the best it can be.

Track changes is the greatest invention ever. When I spot something, I can leave a comment. It's up the author whether they want to leave it as they had it, or take my suggestion and make changes. One of the things I do not want to do is change the author's voice. That's what makes the story theirs.

If you're looking for a line or copy editor, or a proofreader, check out my website: I'd love to hear from you. I also have references listed on my website.

One question: if you are doing an editing project for someone and you feel it isn't a match, how do you handle that? I've not had to do that yet, but wondered what would happen. If you got paid so much up front or something, do you keep a part of that for the work you did, return all the money, or what? What would be a fair way to handle that?

DebH said...

I haven't gotten to the point of needing an editor, but as someone whose day job requires a QA process, I appreciate the need for the right editor for the correct job. Wow... this post is great about explaining the different edit types and what makes a good editor. THANKS!!!!!!!!!!!!

Love your bio, btw. I, too, do not know how you accomplish what you do with children and especially the new baby. Impressive.

put my name in the mug draw for either books or mug. awesome swag.

I must say I have thoroughly enjoyed Seekerville's Birthday Month. It's gone by so fast because it's been so fun and educational. Many thanks to the Ladies of Seekerville for being such wonderful, graceful hosts. Yayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!!!!!!

Tracey Hagwood said...

Hi Naomi,
I can say from a reader's point of view, yes, editing is SO important! I finished a really good book recently, but on one page the girl getting soda bottles from the fridge and a couple of pages later the guy was crinkling his soda can.

I can overlook a few things, like you say five or less is a good number, but too many and I'm pulled out of the story.

A question, if a book is indie published, in your opinion is it beneficial to hear from a reader about a glaring mistake like the one I mentioned, or not?

Thank you for all your excellent information!

J Baugh said...

Great post! I will be needing an editor. Is there any genre you don't edit? Thank you!

Kav said...

I'm completely captivated by the whole editing process so thank you for sharing the gory details. :-) I've seen a lot of chatter from readers expressing their frustration over reading a poorly edited novel. I haven't run into that problem much but I usually read traditionally published books which would have their own in-house editors. It seems like a lot of poorly edited fiction is in the self-pubbed category and with the cost of editing services I can see why. Still -- ticking off readers will guarantee they won't try another one of your books. First impressions are everything.

Susan Anne Mason said...

Hi Naomi,
Thank you for this incredibly insightful post! With actual dollar amounts!!
Very informative.
I have books published with 3 different traditional publishers and each one handles things a bit differently. So far, I have been incredibly blessed, with every experience being a positive one!
I will keep this post for future reference and pass it along to friends who may find it helpful.
And congrats on your self-pubbed series! They look great. I'd love to be in the draw!

Meghan Carver said...

Good morning, Naomi! As probably most writers do, I've wondered about self-publishing someday. Thank you so much for the great tips for finding an editor! I'm saving this to Evernote for future reference.

(And raising my hand to be put in the drawing. :-) )

Wilani Wahl said...

Naomi, thank you for this great post. I need this. Having just finished my first novel which I know needs a lot of work. Plus I am getting ready to do Nanowrimo so will hopefully have another one in a month. I have no clue about selecting an editor so will be printing out this post. I love your Eagle Harbor Series.

Helen, I just saw on facebook that you have another series out which I just purchased and hope to start reading asap. This is why I am currently reading over 90 books at the moment. I just can't wait to read great books. I have finished 3 books so far this week.

I am raising my hand I would love to be in the drawing for the mug. I already own Naomi's series.

Naomi Rawlings said...

Editors are not that bad, Tina! Goodness, you make it sound like we speak a foreign language or something. And yes, Beth sounds like a good editor, and I'm glad she's able to do work for some of the Seekers. I'm sure her mom isn't the least bit biased, either. ;-)

Marianne Barkman said...

Yes, you are right, Kav, though there used to be publishing companies of poor was as if they took the manuscripts not of high enough quality for the other upblishers. I try to stick to traditional, and from the posts this month, I know why!

Naomi Rawlings said...

My daughter, Eliana, is doing well. For those that don't know, I spent the last 6 weeks of my pregnancy with her in the hospital, and she was under 4 pounds when she was born at 36 weeks. She's still really small for her age, but other than that, she seems to be doing really well. We have a well child scheduled for Monday, so I'll know more then. So far she's had to see a couple specialists, but everything has checked out normal. We go to a geneticist in December to learn if there's something causing her slow growth. I should have given Tina a picture of her to post, but didn't think of it. Sorry. :-(

Naomi Rawlings said...

Hi, Bettie. The cost of a good editor--or good writing coach--won't be a gamble. A good editor or coach is worth every penny they charge. It's all the editors out there who aren't good with fiction that cause trouble. And yes, it can be so very hard for a newer writer to know whether an editor is good or not. Hopefully this post will help writers discern between the two.

Naomi Rawlings said...

Hi Kate, yes, editing a novel is much different than editing college papers. If you love editing though, maybe one day you'll have the knowledge and skill you need to edit novels too! :-)

Sandra Leesmith said...

Wow Naomi , This is the longest post. chuckle. But packed with great info. Thanks for joining us today. What a delight to hear all about your writing and motherhood. I'm in awe of mothers who can write as well. Hats off to you. smile

Thanks for all the editing tips. You are so right. Everyone needs a good editor because what is in our head may not be on the paper. We need a set of eyes looking for those flaws we all have.

And in my experience an editor brings the best out of a writer.

Naomi Rawlings said...

Hi Helen, thanks for stopping by. I hope your editing business goes well and that you become one of those really good editors who helps a lot of writers. One of the biggest problems with the amount of money editors usually quote authors goes back to what I said in my post. Most writers make below minimum wage, and editors expect to get paid $20-$50/hr. That doesn't present a workable business model for writers, and I don't see a simple solution to the problem coming anytime soon.

Also, I think it's good for some writers to hire a coach or mentor early on, while they're learning craft. I have one client who paid to have multiple novels "edited" but by someone who didn't know a thing about fiction. He's got over five novels that need to be completely rewritten because the editor didn't even know enough to say "Before I fix these periods and commas, you need to work on your conflict and story goals, and the best way to do that is to hire a writing coach."

That's a really sad story to me, because thousands of hours and dollars were wasted because of a poor editor who should have spoken up on page ten of book 1.

Debby Giusti said...

We were praying for you throughout your pregnancy. So glad to hear that your little one is doing well. Continued prayers for all of you...

Naomi Rawlings said...

Hi Jill! Awesome about the professional editor! I'm glad they're helpful and you're growing as a writer.

And I'm a little jealous of your love for editing your novels. I do not love editing my own work. It's something I have to force myself to do. I wish I liked editing my novels because I'm sure that part of the writing process would go much faster if I didn't have to force my bottom into the computer chair.

Naomi Rawlings said...

Okay, my husband's truck won't start, so I've got to go rescue him. I'll be back in a couple hours.

Jeanne T said...

Great post, Naomi! I've never hired an editor. I've heard both good and horror stories from friends who have. I think one reason I haven't is I don't have the spare cash right now. But I can definitely see the benefits of hiring one! Thanks so much for sharing your wisdom. I'm keeping it in mind for the day I can apply it. :)

Seekerville, that mug CRACKED ME UP! :) So fun!

Naomi Rawlings said...

Hi Rose, the good news is that proofreaders are the easiest kind of editor to find--and the cheapest to pay for. But if you're submitting to traditional houses, I'd probably forgo the proofread. A traditional house expects the manuscripts they buy to need editing, and they have teams of in-house editors. As long as your grammar good enough to not confuse the reader, then you should be fine simply submitting the story to through your agent. If I were in your position, that's what I'd do.

Naomi Rawlings said...

Okay, false alarm. The backwoodsman I'm married to got his truck started, so I don't have to leave quite yet. :-)

Heidi Robbins said...

Amazing and eye-opening post! As readers I'm sure we don't understand or realize the extent of the editing process. I have to admit that my biggest editing pet peeve is the misuse of broach/brooch which sadly happens often in western fiction.

Myra Johnson said...

Wow, Naomi, thanks for this comprehensive checklist for finding a freelance book editor! Reading this brought back unpleasant memories of certain editors I've worked with--thankfully only a very, very small few. One was insistent on whacking every single use of "that" in my manuscript, to the point that sentences no longer made sense.

Ruthy is right--Ericka McIntyre, who also edited my novel The Sweetest Rain, is a pleasure to work with! (I'm saying that now because she hasn't yet sent me the edits for book two in my Flowers of Eden series, so depending on how that goes, I might be crawling under a rock soon.)

Candee Fick said...

Naomi, thanks for the great tips about what happens with a good editor. I loved the fact I could nod along with my memories of the whole process with my first book. And I'm extremely blessed to have the same general editor working on my next one. My critique partner and I try to point out the inconsistencies along the way as well as any spots where we're confused or a scene could use more internal or external tension. Sometimes I'll suggest an alternate wording, but only in the comments so she can take it or leave it.

Will be praying for you and your little one's growth. My oldest stopped growing in uterero at 34 weeks and was born at 38 weeks weighing 4 pounds five ounces. She continued to grow at her own pace and was eventually diagnosed with CdLS, a rare and random genetic syndrome. While I hope your news is better than ours, I wouldn't change a thing about the journey. I'm available to talk mom to mom if you want.

I'd love the mug, if only for my mother who loves to proofread. She was one of my beta readers and helped with the galleys stage as well. I still remember the day she called thrilled that she'd found an honest-to-goodness mistake!

Naomi Rawlings said...

Hi Margaret, that is an excellent question. What I do and what other writers with different skills and experience do will be a little different. Personally, I have a critique partner, Melissa Jagears, and I use her for the first draft of my novel. She does the macro or developmental edit.

If you're going to hire a developmental editor, that's the time to do it, after the first or second draft. So if you're looking for an editor to point out plot holes and character motivation problems, write your story and get it as good as you can on your own, then maybe do one more read through to catch glaring errors like the first word of a sentence not being capitalized, and then send it somewhere. Don't stress over getting every single sentence right when you might end up needing to rewrite half of them.

You could also consider hiring a mentor, who will work chapter by chapter through your novel with you. That's a really good approach for writers who want to learn craft quickly.

Naomi Rawlings said...

Cranberry scones, Caryl? I'm so having one of those. Thanks for stopping by!

Naomi Rawlings said...

Now that I've been here a while, I suppose I should bring out a little food. How about some brunch? How do fried potatoes and scrambled eggs with bacon, sausage, and sweet peppers sound? Hopefully they sound good, because that's exactly what I had for breakfast this morning! :-)

Naomi Rawlings said...

I'm glad you have a good editor at Love Inspired, Glynna. When I was writing for them, my editor was awesome at line edits. I really do miss having her work on my novels at that stage these days.

Naomi Rawlings said...

Thanks for stopping by, Jill. I'm glad you found the information useful.

Naomi Rawlings said...

Hi Jackie. What you mentioned about your contest entry is probably a bigger problem than most people realize. I made the same mistake with my first novel, Sanctuary for a Lady. Before I got a contract, I submitted the beginning to four different contests. I got told to strip this, then add it back in, then turn it upside and try it that way, they try it with a cherry on top. Goodness! It was exhausting. The thing I learned from that whole experience was when to move on from a chapter. You can fiddle with words endlessly, but if you do that, you're book is never going to see the light of day.

Over editing is also a real thing, and it sounds to me like that's what happened your contest entry. Without seeing the story, I can't say for sure, but I do see some of the questions that come across the editor's loop I'm on. An editor will post a sentence where they have a question about one or two words, and before you can blink, half a dozen other editors have jumped onto the thread telling the editor to completely rewrite the sentence. And really, all they're doing is rewriting things in their own words because they like the sound better. I feel sorry for those authors paying good money to have words with nothing wrong completely rewritten. And if an editor ever tried that with me, I'd be steamed and tell them I wanted a refund for the time they wasted changing words that were just fine.

But yeah, it's safe to say that nothing is left of the author's original voice in those situations.

Naomi Rawlings said...

Oh Debbie, I totally want some of that cake! And yes, October is ending, snow is coming, can I get everything done that needs to be done before the snow comes?

Yikes! I hope it's a late snow year. Last year we got it the second week of November, and that's way too soon this year!

And honestly, I don't know how I juggle everything either. It feels like something is always suffering a bit, so I just move around what's suffering. Time with the kids, housekeeping, homeschooling, writing, they all go through periods where they're neglected more than they should be before they get bumped back up to the top of the list. When I edit, though, I usually put my own writing on hold. But I don't do a whole lot of editing, and I don't really want to do a super lot either, because I'd rather be writing. :-)

CatMom said...

Thank you for this very informative post, Naomi!
Congratulations on your books (so far - - I'm sure you'll have many more in the future too!). :)
You moms with young children who are able to write amaze me - - wow! When my kiddos were small I felt like I was going in circles, LOL.
Blessings from Georgia, Patti Jo :)

p.s. Please enjoy the peach cobbler I've just baked - - it's sure to give you some energy to help with sleep deprivation. ;)

Janet Dean said...

Welcome back to Seekerville, Naomi! Thanks for all the savvy tips on finding an excellent editor that will fit the needs of the writer of that particular book. The information on pricing is also helpful. Especially for those wading into the waters of indie publishing.

I'm blessed to have had wonderful editors at Love Inspired Historical. My books are always better for their insightful suggestions. Thinking about having to pay for the service out of pocket makes me appreciate them all the more. Still, indie pubbing gives authors a larger share of the pot. So it all works out in the end.

Couldn't resist typing "in the end." :-)


Naomi Rawlings said...

Thanks for stopping by, Sally. I've seen your name around before, so you clicked in my brain as an editor before I read you comment. I'm glad your editing business is going well, and as for raising your rates, I think that's going to depend on the projects you're editing. It seems to me that nonfiction can actually support higher editor wages because the payout for nonfiction is usually better. If you're focusing on fiction, you'll have to be at the very top of the editing list to expect authors to afford much more than $25/hr.

As for finding out an edit isn't a good fit, I think I'd finish the project and then say you're not comfortable doing work again next time, but you can refer your client to another editor. However, I've never had that situation happen either, and I chalk that up to using sample edits. Usually something pops at that stage, and usually the client is the one balking at at paying money for an edit they didn't like.

Naomi Rawlings said...

Glad you've found the information useful, Deb H. Hopefully it will come in handy when you're reading look for an editor.

Naomi Rawlings said...

Hi Tracey, that's an excellent example of something a line editor should catch. If the line editor somehow misses it, then the proofreader definitely should find the error.

As a hybrid author, I can honestly say that yes, I'd want to know about such an error in one of my novels. Actually, when I send my review copies out, I ask my reviewers to point out any errors they find, and they do find them. Usually it's a handful of missing words or an occasional missing period.

However, I suggest you try contacting the author privately to let them know about the error. Leaving a review on Amazon that lists a bunch of specific errors is going to rub the writer the wrong way. If you do feel you need to warn other readers because the editing is atrocious, just make a general comment to that effect without going into specifics.

Naomi Rawlings said...

Hi, J Baugh. I'm sure there probably is a genre out there that I'd make a poor editor for. You wouldn't want me to touch horror, and unless I was doing a simple proofread, I probably wouldn't make a very good YA author. I'm most familiar with romance, both historical and contemporary, but I've also worked with a thriller author before too and didn't have any trouble. The best way to tell whether a project works or not is by doing a sample edit.

Naomi Rawlings said...

You're exactly right, Kav. A poorly edited novel will probably turn away readers (though I've read a couple novels that have sold really well despite atrocious problems). But yes, indie authors are constantly balancing things. How much can I afford to spend on an edit without it hurting my profits? Will the edit be good enough? Does the editor know what he or she is doing with fiction or do they mainly do nonfiction? It's a lot to juggle. I'm really glad I went into things having four novels traditionally published first. I don't know how indie authors manage everything if they don't have previous publishing experience.

Naomi Rawlings said...

Hi Sue, thanks for stopping by, and yes, you've had quite the publishing experience over the past couple years. I've heard great things about your Irish Meadows book, but I'm sorry to say I've yet to read it. Hope things continue to go well for you!

Naomi Rawlings said...

Hi Meghan (did I spell that right?), I'm glad you found the information useful. Thanks for stopping by!

Sally Shupe said...

Thanks for your reply, Naomi. I have no plans to raise my rates since I am happy where they are. I charge by page rather than by hour. So far it has worked out for me and I've been very pleased with the feedback after my edits. This way, too, the author knows up front how much it is going to cost.

Tracey's comment made me cringe. That bottle to a can should have been caught, as well as names being spelled differently on different pages, a character's name just randomly popping up halfway through the story and you have no idea who they are (usually it's where the author changed a name and missed one), and changing hair or eye color. I have stopped reading books before because of the amount of errors. It pulls me out of the story. If I'm pulled out of the story, I'm not enjoying it.

Thanks for a great post, Naomi, and thanks for the update on your little one.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Tracey, Amazon has a service where if you report a mistake, they'll contact us and let us know about it...

If it's me, darlin', just tell me! :)

But if you're not close with the author, then letting Amazon/KDP know fixes it... at least to the point that they then contact the author (or whoever posts the book to amazon in a collection) and all we have to do is go in, find the error (easy) fix it (easy) and re-upload the new file.

So it's really good to know when we mess up!

And Naomi made a great point there. Every now and again the transfer from one device to another messes with formatting. I've had folks tell me things don't line up , or a sentence is missing, but on my Kindle it's there, exactly where it should be. So if it's something you wouldn't get crazy about in a paperback form... (missed commas, printing errors, those little things that happen to every manuscript) then keep it off the review column and either e-mail the author or Amazon.... but those device sharing mistakes are just one program not loving another, and I've seen that happen with Kindle apps on iPads and other notebook devices.

But we're way closer to getting it right than we were even five short years ago!

Naomi Rawlings said...

Hi Wilani, thanks for stopping by to enter the drawing. :-) Just keep plugging along with your writing and look at it as one long learning experience with lots of different options. Some writers will hire a developmental editor to help after writing their first novel, and others (like me) will go on to write two or three more novels before seeking help. There's not a wrong way to learn all the components of writing a novel, just lots of different ways that all lead to the same place: publication.

Naomi Rawlings said...

Hi Sandra, you're right. This is the longest ever Seekerville post. I warned Tina, but she said it was fine. Gulp. Maybe we should ask for a show of hands to see how many people actually made it to the end of the post? I should have asked for two blogging days. Sigh...

Sandy Smith said...

Very interesting post, Naomi. I will keep these tips in mind if I ever need an editor. Have to write a book first, though!

Glad to hear your daughter is doing well. I followed the Facebook page and prayed for her and you. I will continue to pray for your genetics appointment in December.

Naomi Rawlings said...

Exactly Jeanne, I've heard both good and horror stories about editors too. And to be honest, I even know of several traditional house horror stories. Usually these horror stories happen during the line edit or proofread stage, and they're with a different editor than the one who acquired the manuscript, but essentially, the editor decides to rewrite half the novel in her own words. Authors don't look too kindly on that type of thing.

Naomi Rawlings said...

Oh, that's a good one, Heidi. I make a lot of those mistakes myself. Actually, the biggest is probably right/write. Since I'm a writer, I'm so used to everything always being write, write, write. I don't want to think about all the emails I write where I use write instead of right. :-)

Oh, and I just had reviewer catch this one from Love's Sure Dawn. "The sun peaked out from behind the clouds." Peaked/peeked. Sigh...

Naomi Rawlings said...

Hi Myra! I hope your new edit goes well. No rock hiding for you! And yes, unfortunately there are way too many stories of editors taking a writing guideline to ridiculous extremes. I know I've gone in and added "that" to my Love Inspired novels before after a copy editor stripped some of them. And don't get me started on all stupid commas an editor threw into one of my novels once.

Tracey Hagwood said...

@Ruthy-no, it wasn't anything you wrote, I "know" you well enough I would tell you, your writing is always on point!

@Naomi-before I saw your reply, I went ahead and sent the author a fb private message, figuring I'd want to know, most people would. I would never point out those kinds of mistakes in a review. Kindness has to prevail as far as I'm concerned, that's somebody's baby after all.

@Sally Shupe-btw:I sent you a question about your editing service :)

Evelyn said...

This is a really helpful post. I'm an avid reader and this makes me realize the journey to publication is really complicated. Salute to all authors out there who have to go through this stressful phase. Have a great weekend!

Kathryn Barker said...

Naomi, so blessed by you post today. What a lot of information and help you crammed into one blog post! Good job!! Definitely a keeper! Congratulations on your baby...and I'll be keeping you all in my prayers.

I just received the results and comments from a romance contest I entered. One judge looked at the big picture of my three chapters and offered very helpful suggestions. She/He happened to be a non-fiction published author...but, in no way tried to change my voice. One judge only scored my comments on pages. The other judge shouted at me in all capital letters on each page...kind of unnerving at first..some of her/his suggestions made no sense. This judge didn't seem to understand informal grammar and made several notations...all in caps!!

If I hadn't believed with my whole heart that writing/reading is extremely subjective, I do now!!

In one of your comments, you mentioned if we're planning to submit to a traditional publisher it's not necessary to pay for a proofread. I'm trying to clarify. Would you recommend paying for any professional help before submitting to an agent or say, a traditional publisher like Love Inspired? Or do you think having a friend, who is traditionally published, read through the manuscript and make comments is satisfactory?

Raising my hand for mug and/or book!! Thanks so much for your time and all your help!!

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!! It's a Football day for us...heading to a chilly game tonight in a hilly rural community! So glad My Sweet Husband is driving, 'cause I hate that twisting old mountain road in the dark!!

J Baugh said...

Thank you, Naomi! I'm going to keep your information handy. :)

Tracey Hagwood said...

Well, I just heard back from the author via fb.

She said, "Oh! Good catch, thanks for letting me know. And thanks, I'm glad you enjoyed the stories. How did none of my editors or beta readers catch that?!"

So it does happen and authors appreciate a private message to that effect :)

Sally Shupe said...

Tracey! Thank you so much! Sent you an email back.

Kathryn, I've learned with writing contests and judges, read over what they had to say, but weigh each suggestion/comment first. If all three judges have the same thing to say about something, I would pay attention to that. The one who left comments is probably the one that's the most helpful-at least you can understand why.

Just Commonly said...

Thanks Naomi! Not being an author, I never imagined this is what authors have to go through to get their works edited. I thought if it's published, the publishers should have an editor to edit the work. Sorry for my naivete. Thank you for enlightening someone like me. Thank you.

Julie Lessman said...


SOOOO fun to see you here, darlin', and BOY, is THIS an important post, my friend!!

You said: "A bad editor can suck the life and originality from your novel. A bad editor can obliterate any semblance of your personal voice until your novel sounds like something written by a computer."

I learned this the hard way on my very first book when the copy editor obliterated my voice and insulted me with comments to boot. Cried for weeks ... until I mentioned it to Natasha, who immediately contacted my editor, who said, "Julie -- it's your book and your voice. If you do not agree with your copy editor, change everything back the way you want except for a few hard-and-fast policy changes. I was overjoyed (except for the over 400 changes I had to spend HOURS converting back to my original since the gal did NOT use track changes -- just changed/deleted/added at will), and instantly requested a new copy editor for all future books. Needless to say, I LOVED the new copy editor, and it's been a match made in heaven ever since. :)

FAB post, Naomi, and I cannot WAIT to dive into your novel!!


Julie Lessman said...

Naomi also said: "I was rather horrified when I realized that there are editors getting unpublished writers to pay $2000 for a horrendous edit."

Ahhhhh, yesssss, you are MORE than correct and once again, I learned THIS the hard way as well, but live and learn, eh?


Mary Connealy said...

Naomi, thank you so much for this.
Great editor advice.

The editors at Bethany House are so good at seeing BIG problems, you know, like...this makes no sense. I don't like the way the hero is acting. Not just grammar and typos.

They always make the book better.

Sherida Stewart said...

Thanks, Naomi! You have saved me money and headaches in the future. The explanation of the different types of ending jobs helps me understand the scary world of editing a bit better. I have so much to learn. Congratulations on your new indie books!

Leslie McKee said...


Thanks for stopping by Seekerville!

I'm a freelance editor (and member of The Christian PEN), so I can agree with many things in your post. Editing fiction is certainly an art! I work with a number of indie authors, and many of them have been taken advantage of in the past. It's really quite sad to hear some of their stories about their past experiences. That's why I do the sample edit. It can often help determine whether or not I'd be a good fit for them and their story.

I'd love to have my name placed in the drawing for that mug!!


Chill N said...

NAOMI, this is a fantastically helpful blog post! I appreciate info based on experience. The only professional fiction edits I've had have been for short stories. Although we didn't agree on everything, those editors helped me improve the stories -- and they explained the reasons for the suggested changes, which added to my education about the craft.

I haven't read this series yet so am adding it to my wish list. Is it best to read the short story before Book 2?

Please put my name in the mug for the drawing for the mug :-)

Nancy C

Tina Radcliffe said...

No, I didn't say bad. I said they speak s different language.

Mary Connealy said...

Margaret this isn't a hard and fast rule but I think you'd only need an editor when your book is (in your eyes) perfect, ready to send in.

You polish it to the best of your ability, then when it's all in order, you send it to an editor.

Mary Connealy said...

Some people do it different but I don't think a first draft should go in to an editor.

Naomi Rawlings said...

Hi Candee, I'm sorry to hear about your daughter. I don't think Eliana has that because I'm assuming it would have shown up on the cord blood test that was run after she was born. But yes, I can totally sympathize with the fear that goes along with learning your baby has stopped growing.

It sounds like you've got a good editing process in place.

Naomi Rawlings said...

Hi, CatMom. Your name makes me want to sneeze! I'm rather allergic to the fury critters. :-( And the peach cobbler sounds great!

Naomi Rawlings said...

Well, Janet, in the end, every writer needs to have good editors help with their work. Whether those editors are freelancers or work for a traditional publisher just depends on the publishing path the author has chosen. ;-)

Naomi Rawlings said...

Sandy Smith, thanks so much for the prayers for Eliana. I really need to get back her Facebook page and update it, but things have been spinning so fast for me that I never get that far down on my to do list. If nothing major goes wrong with Eliana--which I pray is the case--I'll probably close down the page when she turns one.

Naomi Rawlings said...

Thanks for stopping by, Evelyn!

Debby Giusti said...


I read every word of your blog. It wasn't long, in my opinion. Packed with great info and so good to have as a reference. Thanks! Glad you didn't leave anything out!


Naomi Rawlings said...

Hi, Kathryn. Yes! Editing and reading are both very subjective, and I think everybody has had a similar contest experience before. With my first novel that I talked about earlier, I entered four contest, and I finaled in three (one of them being Genesis). The thing that kept me from finaling in that fourth contest was one judge who pretty much scored me a point lower for every single tally mark. So I had at least 11 judges who loved the opening, and one that didn't. It happens. Sometimes judges comments are useful and sometimes they're not. I remember judging a contest the next year, and there was an author with a lot of potential. I pointed out several problem places and scored accordingly. She contacted me later and I learned that, yes, I was the mean judge who'd kept her from finaling, but she loved my comments and thought they were exactly right, so she changed the story to incorporate them.

And guess what? She's published now. :-)

Okay, I really can't give blanket statements like "You need an editor here," and "you don't need one there," without seeing samples and knowing more information about specific cases. Periods, commas, and using lay instead of lie will not prevent a publisher from buying your story. A weak plot, sagging middle, and nonsensical character motivation will. So if I were you and I were thinking about paying for an edit before my novel went to a publisher, I'd either go for a macro edit or pay for mentoring. I offer both on my website, if you want to take a look.

Naomi Rawlings said...

Awesome, Tracey! I'm glad it all worked out. :-)

Naomi Rawlings said...

Hi Just Commonly, you're right to a certain degree. Once a publishing house buys a novel, they have their own editors do the work from that point on. But sometimes an author needs an editor to help get their novel to the place that publishers will consider it. And if an author is self-publishing, then the author needs to subcontract with a cover designer, editor(s), and formatter.

Naomi Rawlings said...

Tracey and Sally, I'm glad you two connected here. Makes me smile, and I hope things work out well. :-)

Naomi Rawlings said...

Julie, I should have known you'd be the one with the most editing horror stories. Seriously, woman, what gives? Actually, I have another writer friend that always seems to attract the worst ever line editors. I think that stage has been a nightmare for a third of the books she has out, and they're not all with the same publisher.

I'm almost finished with Isle of Hope. Awesome story! :-)

Melissa Jagears said...

Swinging in to say Hi! I've got a new house today and packing up an apartment.

One day I shall get to be an editor, and since Naomi says "multi-published, award-winning fiction writers" are the best, well the I'll be the best! ;)

Connie Queen said...

Thanks for that informative post Naomi.This is definitely a keeper.

I've entered contest on and off for several years and have received some great advice that helped me learn and make my writing better. I've also had that occasional judge that shocked me w/their rude comments.

"I hate this! I hate this! I hate this!" was the worst. And honestly, it made me laugh. Wow. Did I evoke the emotion or what? She was mad because I stated w/a prologue and she wanted me to go back and finish where I left off. She criticized everything from there on out.

I learned so much today about editing. This is definitely a keeper! Thanks!!!!

Jackie Smith said...

Good to see you Naomi! So glad Eliana is doing well. I don't do Facebook, but prayed for you all when I heard on Seekerville of the problems.
I would love to be entered for your Book #3; have the others and loved them. Thanks! If I don't win it, I will buy it!
Blessings on you and your family.

Pam Hillman said...

Sorry to be so late commenting, but I just got through reading "the longest ever Seekerville blog post". lol

Seriously, thank you, Naomi. I am always a bit confused about what constitutes a line edit, a macro edit, and proofreading, so your explanation helped. Thanks!

Sarah Claucherty said...

Oh that mug is perfect! :) awesome giveaways today!

Barbara Scott said...

OMG, there are over 106 comments posted! Normally, I read them all, but today I don't have the time. I hate to admit that.

Naomi, your advice is spot on. Wish I made $2,000 for an edit. Even when I freelanced for established companies, I never made that much. Although I do know a few who did at one time. Most have cut their budgets though.

The only thing I would add is that a "line" edit is also known as a "substantive" edit. Every publisher has its own nomenclature. Having worked as an editor at CBA publishers (now a freelance editor and writer) I can tell you that it takes almost a year to learn the culture, acronyms, nomenclature, and other assorted nit-picky stuff when you accept a position with one of them.

Please throw my name into the kitty bowl for either the e-book or mug!!!

Barbara Scott said...

Oh...I forgot to ask you who designed your covers? They're gorgeous!

Tanya Agler said...

Naomi, thank you for all of your suggestions. I'm not published so I've never hired an editor. I have my share of contest stories. I always appreciate the time people take to judge contests, and I am grateful for judges who send advice in a professional manner with respect for the unpublished author. But some of the comments can sting when they are not written in a constructive way, and I have had judges who sent back comments that are neither constructive nor instructive. So I definitely agree with your advice to look at the entire edit and find an editor who is professional and knows what he or she is doing.

Wilani Wahl said...

I tried something this afternoon. I have used Word Perfect for over 20 years but in the last two years I have learned that I must use Word when I am writing. I do not have Word but have the free download for Libre office. I struggle to figure out formatting so creating a new document for when I start a book is still a struggle for me so I decided to save a document with the basic set up done.

LeAnne Bristow said...

I am a little late to the party this afternoon. Sorry! Thanks for the post about the different kinds of edits. I've always wondered how that works. And I love the point about making sure the editor understands informal grammar. I had a friend "edit" a book for me one time. She has an English degree so I knew she could find all my major errors for me...gulp! She didn't understand the informal grammar either. :(

Please throw my name in the mug for the mug as well! :)

Terri said...

So true. To me the hardest to find is a good macro editor and I could really use one. Please throw my name in the hat for the drawing.

Loves To Read said...

Wonderful post Naomi - full of good information. Please enter me in the drawings.

Deanne Patterson said...

Congratulations on your book releases, Naomi. You were a new author to me until a few weeks ago when I started seeing your books being featured on blogs. I haven't had a chance to read any of them yet though. Your cover designers do a fabulous job on your books. Maybe being sleep deprived is when you do your best work.Being the Mom of 12 I think over time you just get used to it. So many excellent tips shared today. It sounds like you get what you pay for so it's worth doing it right. Please enter me for the book and mug drawings. I am most excited to read your books since they are not available at my local library. Thank you for the giveaway opportunity !

Deanne Patterson

J Baugh said...

Enjoying this site so much. Thanks again, Naomi, for the insights. Please enter me in the drawings.

Naomi Rawlings said...

Hi, Mary. I read a good number of books from Bethany and it seems like overall, the editing team there is very good at spotting problems. I'm glad you like who you get to work with there. :-)

Naomi Rawlings said...

Glad I could help, Sherida, and I hope your writing journey goes well. Thanks for stopping by.

Naomi Rawlings said...

Hi, Leslie! I remember a post you wrote about a year ago that talked about Romantic Times. Don't you review for them? You should have been on my list of editors to contact this summer, but I somehow left you out. I'll blame it on sleep deprivation and baby brain. You know how pregnancy brain is a thing? I'm convinced baby brain is a thing too.

Anyway, I'm glad you're helping other authors, and I can only imagine the horror stories you've heard.

Jess said...

So my question is how much would a macro, line edit and proof read set an author back?

Naomi Rawlings said...

Hi Chill N, I'm glad you found the post helpful. It sounds like you've got your own bit of experience working with editors. And no, you don't need to read the short story first. You can, of course, but you might actually enjoy it more after reading book 2 or book 3 or both. It shows the main characters from both those books in the story, and I think it will make you smile to see the characters as kids for a few pages. I originally wrote it as part of Love's Every Whisper, but since it didn't actually pertain to the plot of the story, my macro editors suggested I cut it from the novel. However, I was so in love with the chapter that I just had to publish it.

Naomi Rawlings said...

Well, Debby, the blog is terribly long, but hopefully it's useful enough that most people won't notice.

Naomi Rawlings said...

Happy moving, Melissa! Thanks for taking a packing break to swing by. I feel like I need to start singing "You Are the Wind Beneath My Wings." :-D

Naomi Rawlings said...

Hi Connie, glad I could be of help. And really? You had a judge say "I hate this?" I would have complained to the contest coordinators. That's completely uncalled for.

Naomi Rawlings said...

Hi Jackie, thanks for stopping by, and thank you so very much for all the prayers. I really appreciate it, and the baby and I really needed it last spring.

Jamie Adams said...

Oh, I need to print this one out! I appreciate your sharing with us, Naomi!

Naomi Rawlings said...

Thanks for stopping by, Pam. I'm glad the post was helpful.

Naomi Rawlings said...

I know what you mean, Barbara. Most publishers send their authors galleys for the final read through, but Love Inspired sends author alterations (AAs). I think there should be an international dictionary of publishing language that everyone has to use. It would make things so much easier.

Clarissa Yeo at Yocla Designs does my covers. And yes, I'm very pleased.

Naomi Rawlings said...

Hi Tanya, you know, I think everybody has contest horror stories. Honestly, when I judge (which it's been a while because my life has been so crazy), I judged the people who were talented and almost publishable but not quite harder than the others. I would give a few polite comments to the new writers, but I could never keep my natural love of teaching away from the authors that were so close to making their stories shine. Not everyone uses that kind of discretion, though, and I think it can be hard on the judges who go through entry after entry after entry and just want to be finished.

Naomi Rawlings said...

Hope it works out for you, Wilani. I can't imagine writing in anything other than Word, but then, I come from the generation that had Word installed for free on all their computers. Evidently that was some kind of monopoly thing that Microsoft got in trouble for, but I always thought it was really dumb to make people buying a computer pay for a separate word processing program. Shouldn't that be included on a computer the way internet is? Sigh...

Naomi Rawlings said...

Hi LeAnne, I'm laughing at your editing story, because I so would have done the exact same thing as your friend when I first graduated from college 10 years ago. They drill all those rules into you, and while someone with a creative writing degree probably learns that informal grammar is acceptable in certain situations, that's not stressed overly much with English education majors, who have to learn all the pesky grammar rules so they can teach them to everybody else.

Another good thing to remember is that editors grow and change and improve in the same way that writers do.

Naomi Rawlings said...

A mom of 12, Deanne? Wow! You probably take sleep deprivation to a whole new level. And I wish I did my best work when tired, but unfortunately, I do my best work first thing in the morning, when I'm awake and alert. Since I have a baby that likes to be up way too much at night, it's going to be a while before I get those quiet mornings back.

Naomi Rawlings said...

Hi Jess, the cost depends who's doing your editing and what your editor offers. I offer a light line edit with a proofread, which means two read throughs of your story. I charge a half cent per word for that, and a flat $500 for a macro. Personally, I don't understand why macro edits run into the thousands of dollars when editors don't even mark up the manuscript. All you do is read them, take notes, and point out problems.

Naomi Rawlings said...

Okay, everyone, thanks so much for hanging out with me today. Hopefully the post was helpful to the majority of you, and now this tired mama is closing her computer, reading a book, and going to bed.

Happy Birthday, Seekerville! And Goodnight!

Patricia W said...

Great post! As a freelance editor, I make sure my clients know everything is a reommendation, nothing cast in stobe. I explain rules of grammer and punctuation, but I can't force a client to follow them in the end. (Like that, Naomi?)

Before starting a job, I provide a sample edit which I tell them we jointly use to assess whether we can work well tigether. Editors have styles as far as what they edit and how they provide feedback. I realize my style is not for everyone, and some clients are more of a handful than I may want to deal with.

I've done established authors, which can be tricky because you want to match their previous books to a certain extent. Mostly, I work with first time authors,, which means I'm teaching as much as I'm editing. But I love it.

Patricia W said...

Great post! As a freelance editor, I make sure my clients know everything is a reommendation, nothing cast in stobe. I explain rules of grammer and punctuation, but I can't force a client to follow them in the end. (Like that, Naomi?)

Before starting a job, I provide a sample edit which I tell them we jointly use to assess whether we can work well tigether. Editors have styles as far as what they edit and how they provide feedback. I realize my style is not for everyone, and some clients are more of a handful than I may want to deal with.

I've done established authors, which can be tricky because you want to match their previous books to a certain extent. Mostly, I work with first time authors,, which means I'm teaching as much as I'm editing. But I love it.

Tina Radcliffe said...

I didn't know you were freelancing, Patricia! Good to now. Give us a link!

Trixi said...

Well, Naomi, from someone who has read all 3 of your books & getting ready to write up a review on "Love's Sure Dawn", I'd say you are a superb author! You must have chosen the right editor(s), proofreaders and the like. Your final product is absolutely flawless in my opinion :-) Even though this post may not pertain to me, I can see the value in what a good editor can mean for a writer. If they are really good, then well worth what you pay them. Just like anything in life I suppose....a contractor, plumber, electrician, doctor, dentist and etc. You find an excellent one & you stick with them because you know you are getting your money's worth!

I've really enjoyed reading the background "stuff" to being an author! It's given me insight to a whole new world (insert Disney's Aladdin song) I have no idea about & what goes into writing all those fabulous books. I always like learning something new :-) Thanks for teaching this reader all about what goes into being an author....published or Indie :-) Authors: thank you for all your hard work in bringing us some great reads, I really appreciate all you do!

No need to include my name as I've already read each of these stories! To whoever (whomever??) wins, I'm sure you will thoroughly enjoy Naomi's stories. They should be on everyone's TBR pile!!

Natalie Monk said...

Hi, Naomi! Thanks so much for sharing your editing wisdom and giving us a heads up about the whole hiring-an-editor process. I love the examples you share--they really helped me visualize what the individual types of editing would look like for my own writing.

Can't believe the Seekerville birthday month is almost over! Happy birthday Seekerville! :) Don't know what I'd do without ya'll!

Jackie said...

Natalie, thanks for your reply. You made me feel better! Have a great evening!

Donna said...

Naomi, thank you for all of the great information about editors! I'm sure you've helped a lot of people today.

Congratulations on the new baby & new contract!

Please enter me!

Tina Pinson said...

Editing. I love it so much. I am working on edits right now.

I must say editing and I aren't always on the same page. I think I find the errors and manage to miss so many. And I've had some fun with editors who have literally changed my writing with out asking or giving me the ability to accept the changes, leaving me to go back and put everything where I had it so I could start again. I wanted to cry. But the ordeal made me stronger at letting my editor know I didn't want things changed unless I okayed them.

Thank you for the list of edits.

Edwina said...

I love editing and have been editing for others for over 30 years. To me, editing is not just about finding typos, incorrect use of words, or checking historical facts, it's also about helping the author's voice comes through, that their writing is tight, succinct, yet descriptive and flowing, and the message God has given them to weave throughout the book is evident and clear, but not overbearing.

I believe editing is different for the various types of books. Editing for nonfiction includes verifying facts, scripture references, statistics, graphs, bibliography notes, etc.

And don't even get me started on dissertations! Once was enough!

Thanks for all of your great tips!

Please enter me in the drawing!

Pam Zollman said...

Great post!

Happy birthday, Seekerville!

(I'd love to be entered in the drawing.)

Unknown said...

This is the most helpful post I've read in a long, long time. As a traditionally published non-fiction author, former editor of 12 publications at Focus on the Family, and now a novelist who needs a fiction editor, I whole-heartedly agree with EVERYTHING you said. Thanks for sharing, and have a good night's sleep. Smiles. Susan G Mathis

Leslie McKee said...


Yes, I do reviews for Romantic Times (and a couple other places) in addition to editing. Feel free to contact me, even though we missed connecting this summer. You can find my contact info through my website ( or blog (

Yes, I'm sure baby brain is as real as pregnancy brain!

Have a wonderful weekend.


Marsha Bernabe said...

Happy birthday seekerville!

Please enter me in all the drawings. :-)

May the K9 Spy (and KC Frantzen) said...

How timely, Naomi, since I'm still working through the edits from my amazing editor/writing coach/bestselling author herself, Sandra Byrd.

Her hand has been on my writing since around 2003, when she was my mentor in the *sniffle* now defunct Christian Writer's Guild. And thank the Lord for her.

She has made EVERY book so much stronger and it is rare that, after some soul-searching on occasion, I don't agree with her notes. She charges by the word so depending on length, it could near $2K but since I write MG, no where near that.

I can't agree more with your points here so I'll leave it at that. Other than to say, that mug CRACKED ME UP. ACK! That's a must have!!! HA!

Happy birthday, Seekerville. It's been quite the month!!!

Missy Tippens said...

What a great post, Naomi! I'm sorry I missed it yesterday. I've been out of town. Vacation with the hubby! :)

bonton said...

I enjoyed your interesting post, Naomi - thank you!! I'd love to read your series!!

Please enter my name in the drawing for Naomi's book - thank you!!

Mary Albers Felkins said...

Such good info to consider. Editing and seeking an editor is a daunting task. It's difficult to know if they're qualified since one does not graduate from "editing school" with a four year degree and certified by a governing board, you know?

Thanks for good direction.

Enjoy your children. I have four of those things :)