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A Writer’s View: Am I An Author Idiot?

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Photo courtesy Southland writer and USA Today bestselling author Rebecca Forster

Photo courtesy Southland writer and USA Today bestselling author Rebecca Forster

Am I An Author Idiot?  Working with a freelance editor

I face each new project with a combination of angst and self pity, positive I will never write a decent book again much less publish one. After 23 published novels, one indie and two scripts (one in development) you’d think I’d be over all that. I’m not. Enter, my freelance editor Jenny Jensen*. I work with her because she is in my corner and because I sell more often when I do.

Still, I have to wonder, why can’t I edit myself? Haven’t I learned anything from her? Am I an author idiot?

Thankfully, the answer is no and Jenny gave me a couple of good reasons why I’m not:

  • Writing is a fast and furious process when it is going well. Grammar and spelling are not top of mind when an author is ‘in the zone’; words and ideas must flow freely.
  • Self-editing is prone to ‘blindness’. The author often sees no difference between her intent and the typed words. A good editor understands and respects the author’s words and voice while cleaning up the grammatical flaws that set the signals – signals that allow the reader to effortlessly navigate the story.
  • Some writers see punctuation as a bother. A well-punctuated manuscript will catch the eye of a publisher and so will one that is not punctuated well. Only one will sell.
  • Finally, some people are writers and others are editors. Like a writer with an instinct for story, an editor has an instinct for a pause, a rolling stop and when to quit. She knows when creativity and inspiration becomes awkward and interferes with story.

Knowing why I use a freelance editor usually leads to the question…

Can Only Rich Writers Afford a Freelance Editor?

Prices for freelance help ranges from ridiculously cheap to the astronomically expensive. Some projects only need grammatical assistance and others continuity or story editing. Story editing is more expensive but, in my case, it is critical. I write thrillers that rely on a trail of clues and red herrings and I cannot assess the effectiveness the webs I weave on my own.

In this roiling market, those who offer the cleanest, most professional product will be noticed. In the e-book market, those who present a flawed product will be called on the carpet instantly and very publicly. That is the worst kind of publicity and hard to recover from.

How Do I Work with a Freelance Editor?

The same way you work with a New York editor attached to a publisher. You respect one another’s expertise and perspective. You have discussions, not confrontations. You recognize your weakness and her strengths. You pay on time and she turns the project around on time.

Oh, don’t forget to say thank you to your freelance editor when that publishing house cuts you your advance check.

*Jenny resides at Note the wonderful example on her home page of what a difference punctuation can make.

Visit Rebecca at for writing tips, lots of pictures and a sneak peek at her latest book.

Rebecca Forster's "Beyond Malice," is a bestselling digital release.

Rebecca Forster’s “Beyond Malice,” is a bestselling digital release.

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