Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The next step in content editing: the traditional publishing route

Yesterday, I declined a potential editing client. Two gentleman have collaborated on what they describe as a "labor of love;" they have decades of experience in real estate and have been working on a related book together for quite sometime. They were looking for an editor who does nonfiction, and I certainly fit the bill. I have lots of experience editing nonfiction, both academic and standard. I charge more for academic pieces, because there are many, many more components to copyediting and content editing an academic piece of work.

The piece that I declined skirted a fine line between the academic and non-academic, doing an excellent job of keeping the manuscript well-cited and fact-based while also keeping a voice that the average person can understand. I admire what they're doing. So why did I decline it?

I declined to edit it because they're no longer at the editing step - they just didn't realize it. They had utilized beta readers as well as a copy editor, and they were looking for someone to content edit. Particularly, they were looking for the kind of content editing a traditional publisher does, regardless of what you've done to your manuscript before it's gotten to them. For anyone pursuing traditional publishing - using a query letter, finding an agent, etc. - especially in regard to nonfiction! - the final content editing is publisher-driven.

These potential clients are definitely not self-publishing, which is excellent, because the quality of nonfiction books on the self-published market is truly lousy. That makes me sad, but if they want their book to go anywhere, they need to go the traditional route. I told them to get the 2015 Guide to Literary Agents, put together a chaptee-by-chapter outline, and have three sample chapters polished and ready to submit (they already do). An agent and a publisher take it from there.

This is very rare - a potential client who does not in fact need the services I require - but when it happens, I am (and always will be) up front!

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