This post, by Jane Friedman, originally appeared on her Writing On The Ether site.
Be sure the editor (or editors, if it’s an editing service) is qualified. You’re looking for professional publishing industry experience–preferably, as an editor for reputable publishers–and/or professional writing credentials (legitimately-published books, articles, etc.). If the editor has a website, a resume or CV should be posted there.
We do a lot of yelling and screaming these days about how authors simply must get outside, professional editing services. To my mind, this is true whether you’re trying to self-publish or sling-shotting your MS on a flash drive at the rococo facade of a legacy publisher.
I’m a little concerned only about her first comment about considering free alternatives such as:
…a friend who’s not afraid to criticize, a local writers’ group or critique circle, an online writers’ group (such as Critters Writers Workshop for SF/fantasy/horror writers), a peer critique community (such as Book Country or Authonomy), or a creative writing course.
In a hardship case, do what you have to do, of course. And if you’re in earlier stages with a book, you do want less expensive avenues of feedback, sure. But I’d say — and again, this is me, with no desire to put words into Strauss’ blog post — there’s a point at which a true run at the market goes far past the friends-and-family stage. And a professional developmental edit isn’t the same as exchanging input in a mutual-critique community.
It’s raining slush and nonsense. Readers who’ve bought unreadable books are muttering ‘vanity press’ all over again.
Morris is asked by a reader, “If people won’t use editors, can we realistically replace them with critique groups and beta readers?”
Morris’ answer is typically straightforward and refreshingly honest: