Yves Brown McClain: Literary Fierceness

To the Cloud! (part one)

Posted by Dahlia on March 1, 2011

I mentioned in my “acceptance speech” for the Stylish Blogger award that I’m a huge fan of color ultra-fine point Sharpies. They are great aids for when I do edits. I consider myself to be a good editor; I keep my style guide handy and have some professional experience editing. It can be easy to believe that because of this, I am capable of editing my WIP, right? That would be a negative.

Here’s why: Writers tend to know their works – left, right, backwards, forwards, upside down, and sideways. We know exactly what that MC is going to say and the setting that it’s said in. Because we know our stories, our minds trick us into seeing words that we just knew we typed in. In our minds, the story flows like it’s supposed to and every character and scene makes sense. We are no longer objective, which can make us the worst kind of editor, much like a doctor is the worst patient. A writer who edits without outside help can wind up producing a book so littered with typos, grammar issues, and plot holes a reader can’t get past a few chapters. Which is never a good look, especially if it’s your first book. ( I did not intend for that to rhyme, by the way.)

I knew that I needed a copyeditor. I also knew a copyeditor can get expensive. It was an investment that needed to be made, but I wasn’t prepared to spend more on an editor than what I pay in household expenses each month. So, I decided to turn to the “cloud”. Or Elance, one of many freelance websites filled with well-qualified contractors competing for work.

It was fairly easy to do. I put in a description of my project, the timeframe for completion, attached the first few pages of my WIP to give the prospects an idea of what I was doing, and set my budget. Within a matter of minutes, I was set up. Within a few hours, I had 10 proposals. I got so inundated with proposals, I had to stop taking bids once I passed 40 within 24 hours. There was no way I could take bids for two weeks. It would’ve been overwhelming.

After a few days of going through proposals, weeding out the ones that were charging way too little (you do get what you pay for, after all) and ones that didn’t meet my criteria, I had it narrowed down to two editors that both took an immediate interest in my story and impressed me with their portfolios. However, one stood out by asking me some very pointed questions, such as to what my end-goal for the book was and explaining her process. She even returned my sample pages with a sample edit. A few others did this as well, but she did it best. Because of her qualifications, professionalism, and genuine desire to assist me with my WIP, she won the bid and became my copyeditor. It turned out to be one of the best decisions I made in regards to this book. She not only edited for grammar and spelling, she edited for style and flow. She pointed out issues with the story from the perspective of a reader. She gave me a ton of suggestions to improve the work. Ultimately, the story was an improvement based on her edits and feedback.

I will follow up with a few tips for picking a copyeditor for your WIP, especially if you go the virtual contractor route like I did. I did my research before diving in and I found it to be well worth the expense. Plus, can you say tax deduction? As the girl in the Microsoft commercial says when she finds she can watch the DVR recording of Celebrity Probation on her laptop at the airport…”Yaaay, cloud!”

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9 Responses to “To the Cloud! (part one)”

  1. that sounds very interesting – bearing it mind

  2. I hope it all works out in the end and you are happy with the person you pick.

  3. Great article. I actually found my editor on LinkedIn. Where there’s a will there’s a way.

  4. Michael said

    This is a fantastic article. I struggled for quite a while to find a qualified copy editor (I have one now that is amazing). However, if she ends up moving on to other projects after she is done with the present one that I hired her for, then I’m going to go to this service that you’ve talked about here.

  5. Diana said

    I’m really curious what an editor would say about my stuff. Kinda scary too. lol. I know there are a few places that will do a 10 page run through for free and then give an estimate for the rest of the script.

  6. Haha. Your title caught my attention right away, thanks to those stupid commercials. It’s true. I used my best friend as a copy editor. Which, yes, I know some people say you shouldn’t do it, but she’s also a writing genius, a grammar nerd, and one of those chicks that got a near perfect SAT score, so I stuck with her. I was AMAZED at all of the misplaced commas and appostraphes I had, not to mention all of the horribly spelled words and passive sentences. I looked back at some of her edits and thought “how did this EVER make sense.” It’s really interesting what you learn about your own writing from seeing someone else’s edits of it.

    ❤ Gina Blechman

    • I agree about what the right editor can do for you…and as a side note, yes, the cloud commercials are silly, but I like them better than the “windows 7 is my idea” campaign 🙂 As you can tell, the Celebrity Probation @ the airport really stuck out in my head.

  7. Wow. I didn’t even know such a thing existed. I’m going to pass this along. The Cloud, huh? That’s exciting stuff.

    Yeah, we as writers shouldn’t only rely on our own editing skills. We miss stuff, just like you said, but I did hear one trick. When we decide to go back through our stuff ourselves (before sending it to someone else) we need to print it out in hard copy and do one of the following: either change the font, resize the font, print it out in blue or red–something different.

    Thanks for the post. Good stuff.

  8. Thanks for sharing. Grammar is one of my weak points and I know that I am going to need an editor. I have been doing some looking around and as you pointed out they are expensive. I will keep this in mind when my time comes.

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