Editor vs. “Professional” Editor

Some people (who shall remain nameless) are trying to convince me to spend well over $1,000 for a “professional” editor for Librarian, rather than using the volunteer editor I’ve sent the manuscript off to. The fact that at least one of these people is himself a “professional” editor kind of makes his advice a little suspect, I think.

Also, given some of the stuff I’ve read that comes out of the Big Publishing Houses after being given the green light by their “professional” editors makes me wonder exactly what value they offered to the book and the company. I’ll highlight two that I reviewed on OG out of all the books I started but did not finish.

The Magician’s Guild by Trudi Cavanan has approximately half (I didn’t do a word count so that’s an eyeball estimate) of at least twelve of the twenty-nine chapters devoted to repeated instances of “girl on the run from the Guild moves from Point A to Point B, learns something new about using her magic, then the Guild starts zeroing in on her location again.” Once or twice is fine, but over and over and over again, ad nauseum? As I said, that’s about half of most of those chapters, the other half is the Guild looking for her, but there’s more variation in those scenes. The “professional” editors at Hachette Book Group apparently thought this was just fine, because the book ended up in print.

Faith by John Love had different problems, but no less serious. In essence, the protagonists are highly unsympathetic. As I pointed out in my OG review, at one point one of the crew of the Charles Manson — yes, that’s the name of a starship in this book — suicides on the bridge and no one bothers to clean up the mess his gray matter makes on his consoles. Not only that, but the whole thing builds on this big mystery, but when you finally learn the secret, it’s a huge letdown. Again, the “professional” editors at Night Shade Books thought this was at least good enough to put into print (and charge nearly $11 for the dead-tree version, over $10 for Kindle edition).

Again, these are just two examples. If these “professional” editors are so great, why did books with these flaws make it to print? The fact that they did really doesn’t give me a lot of faith in the skills of anyone calling themselves a “professional” editor.



Filed under Writing

2 responses to “Editor vs. “Professional” Editor

  1. There’s a lot to be said about editing on both sides and it’s something I’m trying to get to the bottom of myself. Bad editors are surely worse than no editor at all – no editor means no cost. But it is true that a lot of self-published novels are utter dreck and should have been edited better, but the author doesn’t see it and doesn’t realise how bad their work is. It’s a tricky one, to be sure, and a debate I will continue to watch and consider.

    • Quite true, but my point is that bad editors also exist among those that call themselves “professional” and that just because someone doesn’t slap the “professional” editor label on themselves doesn’t mean they’ll be a bad editor.

      Certain people, methinks, are more interested in the title and less in the job the editor in question is any good.

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