I have been looking for an editor and in the middle of my queries I received an interesting response. Now, this is after I have explained that I want to keep my story in the present tense. This email takes place after the editor read a few of my sample chapters.
It really kills me that she doesn’t even address me by name.
I’ve done a quick sample of several pages and here are my professional findings and opinions:
Writing in present tense is always a problem – most writers (even very experienced ones, have a difficult time staying in the proper tense because it’s human nature to use past tense when telling or “showing” a story). I won’t edit and leave a novel in present tense.
The only editing I did was to fix a few basic verb issues and some punctuation errors – because there are so many issues with the writing itself – too many uses of “I” and “me” and “my” … entire sentences would need to be restructured … there are too many sentence fragments that don’t belong together … incomplete comparisons … wrong uses of words.
I’m sending the sample back to you in a proper sample format – paragraph indents – no extra space between paragraphs – at least 1.5 line space (preferred for Courier typeface that you used, if Times is used, it reads even better with 2.0 line spacing). For editing purposes, I accept manuscripts in any format, but for publishing you should look at these ideas and compare them to other books.
If I were to accept this manuscript for editing, it would take more time than my current schedule allows, and my charge would be a penny a word. The text needs several edits … one to work on building the excessive pronoun use (that would involve major rewrites) … one to clean up the verb and punctuation issues … one to tie it all together … and then, after the rewrites, the proofreading phase. I didn’t have a chance to read enough copy to know if the characters and plot are properly built.
Although I enjoy assisting new writers, and enjoy a challenge… unfortunately, because of the time required for this book, I don’t have space on my calendar until possibly September.
My advice, in order to save you a lot of money, is to have friends, coworkers, or relatives read the book and help you clean up some of the issues I’ve mentioned. Then find several people who will Beta read it for free for the story itself … don’t ask them to correct spelling, punctuation or grammar … just to give you their opinion on how the story flows, if it ties together properly and if they like the characters and plot. Try to fix some of the verbs yourself and reword sentences where you’re not using so many pronouns, or repeating the same words in a sentence. Then … if you’re still interested, send me the manuscript and if it’s feasible to edit at that time, we can go from there.
I know I’m not telling you what you want to hear … but I won’t accept an editing job just for the money from people who need additional assistance or coaching. My edits are honest and that’s the only way you want an editor to be. Whoever you end up working with should be honest and offer praise and encouragement where possible along with teaching you proper grammar and the rules of the confusing English language 🙂
Now, let me get this straight. I’m basically so awful that I will require several edits? Okay. I can admit that I’m doing this in a different way and I have faults. Yes, I take full responsibility for not being a perfect writer. That is why I have come to an editor. Is that not the point?
Here’s my response:
Dear (name withheld),
Thank you for your email. I realized I’m not the type of client you usually deal with. Apparently, these people have a better grasp on the English language.
Let me apologize for providing a horrendous document where the errors were so intense you could not devote time to read further regarding character development.
I agree with you that it needs work. I understand that, I truly do, and I will try my hardest to make that happen.
I believe I will change the tenses to past. Thank you for showing me how important this is through your clear disinterest.
Perhaps I will pick up a grammar book first to avoid embarrassing myself before contacting another editor.
Silly me for thinking this was the editors job, non? Also, I looked at the edits she made and all she did was change everything to present tense and mention two fragmented sentences. I hardly call that horrible. Lady, I’ve seen worse writing than that. Bah.
I have since found an editor that I believe will work out rather well. I sent her this email and she did mention it was negative and there could have been a nicer way to say this. I don’t want to surround myself with yes people, but honestly. I’m not trying to run away from someone saying something negative, I welcome a critique, but I don’t enjoy a holier-than-thou attitude.
THEN…wait for it…wait for it…SHE WROTE BACK.
Please don’t worry about embarrassing yourself … with me or any other editor. From the little I read, there’s a good story underneath the errors – that’s the most difficult thing to do (write an interesting story).
I was serious about being the type of editor who enjoys helping writers … if there’s anything else I can do while you work on this project, please just email and I’ll try to do what I can.
Um…okay. Apparently sarcasm is completely lost on her. After this I really have no words.