>> Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Jeff King asked: Do you know any good editors or anyone who you would recommend to edit a manuscript, someone you would trust...
If we're talking professionals, I have to say, in a word, no. However, just because I don't know of one personally doesn't mean there aren't reputable manuscript editors out there. The thing is, they are very expensive, hundreds even thousands of dollars, according to this page on Editors and Preditors. The link also provides a good description of what editors do (and don't do), the best impetus to use one, what to look for and what to look out for when it comes to hiring one. I'd read it thoroughly before looking for an editor. The page has some editor links at the bottom, including this one for the Editorial Freelancers Association - which would likely be a good place to start. There are also a set of links for alternatives, including how to choose writer's groups and the like. I would definitely read this whole page. There are also some links to publishing and writer's forums on this page of AgentQuery.
That same page offers some suggestions of alternatives before you go to an editor and, if possible, I'd recommend trying those first.
A friend who can read your manuscript critically and respects you enough to tell the truth. Seriously, if you can find a friend like this, it's excellent. Of course, finding a friend who likes the same sorts of fiction you're writing or can give you useful feedback may be challenging. Many people who love fiction (particularly genre fiction) may get too caught up in the writing to provide meaningful feedback (and some people can get caught up in bad writing as easily as good writing). Optimally, someone who has some experience writing or a serious student of literature is best. Perhaps if you know someone who reviews books for a blog it might be a good place to start, or an English professor at a local college or, ideally, a published author you might know.
Writer's group, critique group, on-line forum. In my experience, this can be hit or miss, because it can run the gamut from a congratulation circle (where everyone gushes over everyone else's work no matter how good or bad) to a group completely obsessed with being published (rather than writing good stuff) to elitest club where published work is almost beneath their haughty noses as they try to write something so meaningful no one understands it. BUT, if you can find a group of honest people who genuinely like to read and will look over your work with an open mind but a critical eye, it could do wonders.
Getting good honest critical feedback is, I think, crucial for an aspiring writer and no small feat.