Two more stories from when I was shopping around for an editor a year ago. One editor wanted me to write a violent “escort” story and another decided to rewrite my book for me.

The details….

— One editor had a well-done, informative site. He charged a flat rate (I think it was a penny per word). He seemed like a pretty good guy. One of his main selling points was the he’d helped a current, very famous writer get started in the traditional publishing business.

His response to my query was very positive. So, I put him on the short list of people who said they’d work with me and moved onto the rest of the queries I was making. But he wrote back. He’d read my blog and liked it (the fact that he admitted to reading it was a big bonus point for him!). He edited a short-story collection that was published every couple years. The stories were extreme sex/horror/violence/gore. I’d read a couple of the books in the series and enjoyed most of the stories. I was flattered he was encouraging me to submit, although I’m not much of a fiction writer.

When I asked him what he wanted, he suggested that I write a story about an appointment gone wrong.

My gut reaction to his suggestion was incredulity that this could somehow be original. The news is filled with stories of women who are killed by the men they’re with (whether professionally or personally). And he wanted me to write yet another damn story about this too-real topic? I’ll admit my creative hat wasn’t on when I read his e-mail, but try as I might, I still can’t think of a good way to write something like this (nor was I interested in doing a man-bites-dog version). I think about having my name connected to a story like this and any thoughts I have about building credibility among escorts goes out the window.

I write back and tell him the problems I have with this storyline, but that I’d work on something (I wanted to try another theme, not work on his suggestion). I ask him for the submission guidelines I need to follow. I never hear back from him.

— I contact another editor during this same period. Following the usual process, I submit a writing sample to him and he returns only a paragraph of that sample to me, edited. (Most writing samples requested were 10 pages; most editing samples returned were 1-3 pages. Only one editor returned the whole writing sample, fully and wonderfully edited. That’s the editor I chose.)

The problem with this editor was that he completely changed my words! He didn’t just edit my mistakes or revise what I said to make it flow better, he took his own interpretation of the subject and completely rewrote my paragraph so that it said what he thought it should say. Um, excuse me — that is not editing. That verges on ghost-writing. Changing the tone/message of my book is not what I wanted to pay someone to do. I’m glad he thinks he knows what escorting is all about, but he can write his own book. Although I responded politely to his editing sample, I was seething inside. I have to wonder if he tries to rewrite every project he works on or if I got special treatment. If it’s the former — I can’t imagine how he stays in business. If it was the latter – sigh.

So…two more stories of my discoveries in the world of writing/publishing. This is the sort of stuff I can’t find anywhere, so that’s why I’m writing it down. Most blogs focus on sex or cats/children. (And writing/publishing books/blogs don’t even come close to touching these topics.) I hope that these posts are discovered by someone going through the same processes I went through and that it helps them.

2 thoughts on “a tale of two professional editors

  1. What was it Henry Ford said…
    “You can have any color you want as long as it’s black.”

    Editors too lazy to write.

  2. JW,

    Some certainly seem to be.

    And some are too lazy to even edit. One editing sample I received back (about 5 pages) had only one comment and it was a question. Believe me, that set of pages had plenty of errors that needed attention.


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