Selecting an Editor: It Takes Two to Tango

Whether or not we work together is my choice as much as it is yours.

If you’ve been following my blog, you know I’m a freelance editor. My focus in on substantive edits and manuscript evaluation reports for romance (romantic suspense, paranormal romance, romantic thriller, contemporary romance, and romantic comedy), mystery, thriller, suspense, horror, crime, paranormal/supernatural, fantasy, urban fantasy, NA, and YA. While this may seem like a long list, these are the genres and subgenres that I read, and I’m familiar with their readers’ expectations. (I also critique query letters and synopses, and teach online classes.)

I don’t edit or read science fiction (for the most part), westerns, historicals, erotica (though I will edit an erotic romance as long as there’s a romantic storyline), or any type of religious or political novel. When I read for pleasure, I like to get lost in the story and religion and politics doesn’t allow that. And, because I don’t read these genres for fun, I’m not familiar with them, their rules, or their readers’ expectations.

While I have a list of my preferred genres on my website, occasionally, an author who writes in something other than those genres will contact me. That’s okay. Not everyone reads my website. Sometimes, an author hears about me through friends or sees me mentioned in someone’s book, so he/she e-mails me. I hate to let anyone down, but I won’t accept a project if I wouldn’t feel confortable editing it. Despite my explanation as to why I must pass on a project, every once in a while, this really frustrates some people. Lately, I’ve had two men tell me how they knew I would be the right editor for them. What made them think this when I don’t edit their genre? One of them said he was so impressed by my testimonials that he needs me to help make his manuscript the best it can be. Okay. I understand that he liked what others have said about me, but I don’t edit science fiction, so I can’t help him.

He shot me an e-mail that basically said he didn’t understand why I couldn’t just edit his manuscript. Didn’t I want to earn money? Of course, I do. This is how I make my living. However, just because my family wants supper tonight, and a part of what I earn will help them receive it, doesn’t mean I should take advantage of this poor soul. There’s no way an editor can do a good job on something with which he/she isn’t familiar. I’m not one of those editors claiming he/she can edit everything because he/she reads EVERYTHING. I specialize and am a stronger editor because of it.

Then, he sent another e-mail saying if I couldn’t help him, he wanted me to recommend someone who could. I get where he’s coming from. He thought he found an editor he could work with and now he feels lost in a sea of potential editors. He wasn’t successful this time, and he doesn’t want to face that rejection again. BUT. It’s not my job to vet editors for anyone. I have no way of knowing how qualified one editor is over the other without testing them through samples (which I’ve done with the copy editors on my editorial team). Of course, I’ve heard good things about certain editors, and I could ask my friends, but I won’t recommend anyone unless I’ve seen their work. Period.

The other guy went on and on about how much he loved my website and felt connected to me. He knew I would be his editor, and he wouldn’t take no for an answer. He followed me on Twitter, Facebook, and even e-mailed me at my author website to show me he’d found it. As flattering as this may be, it’s was kind of creepy when he responded to anything and everything I posted online. Then, he sent me his phone number and asked me to call him so we could discuss his manuscript. I’d already told him I don’t edit erotica, and I passed on his project. He mentioned he’d read that I will edit erotic romance, and now, suddenly, his manuscript was an erotic romance. How perfect. And he had a dream that I’d edit this book. See? It was meant to be. Ummm… No.

Like I said at the beginning of this post, whether or not we work together is my choice as much as it is yours. It takes two to tango. I chose to not work with either of these guys. I’m sorry they weren’t happy about my decision to pass on their project, but I won’t let someone manipulate or bully me into accepting a job. That’s ridiculous.

Vent over.

My next available substantive editing slot is in October. I can often fit query letter and synopsis critiques into my schedule. Ask me about my private classes. The copy editors on my editorial team are usually available within a month’s notice. Contact us for a quote today.

Lynnette Labelle

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