Thursday, August 27, 2009

PANEL: Freelance Editors

These freelance editors are here to answer your editing questions
and tell you about their business.
Savannah Frierson, Michelle Chester and Rakia Clark


Bana said...

Hello, everyone,

I am Savannah Frierson, author and freelance editor. I started professional proofreading in 2003 in the academic field, which gave me a solid foundation and in 2005 I began freelance editing academic essays and admissions letters. I also began critiquing and editing fellow authors' manuscripts, which eventually led me to a term as a content editor at Red Rose Publishing. Since then, I have been freelance manuscript editing as well as editing and proofreading Web copy, contracts, and even book covers. I also format books and do basic cover design. For more information, you may visit my Web site. My rates vary and I do my absolute best to make sure the client is happy. I welcome any questions about editing in general, such as pricing and what you as a client should look out for while shopping for an editor, and the difference between a copy editor and a proofreader.

I hope everyone has a great day!



Makasha Dorsey said...

Good morning Savannah.

As a freelance editor, how do you stroke the egos of new authors while providing the feedback needed to bring their manuscripts up to par?

Bana said...

Good morning, Ms. Dorsey,

I can generally the strength of a writer within the first five pages, what his or her tendencies are, and I go from there. I also lean heavily on the grammar aspect of writing, because speech is a bit more lax than writing, and, especially as a new author, you want to give readers the very best. I always try to show authors the right way before we compromise on how they want a sentence to be. And I don't stroke egos, I am as honest as possible while at the same time respectful. My job isn't to make the author feel better; it's about making that manuscript the best it can be. But I think it's important a new author give the book to an honest friend, that friend who will say "oh, no, you need to do this..." instead of a "yes" friend. Readers can be very vocal about what they like and don't like; you want to make sure they're more vocal about the likes!


F. D. Davis said...

Good morning Savannah,

I'm just stopping by to show some love.


Rakia Clark said...

Good morning, everybody. Like Savannah, I am also a freelance editor. I live in New York City, and I've been freelancing since earlier this year. Prior to that, I worked for a few publishing houses as an editor.

I've worked on fiction and nonfiction. Romance, women's fiction, and literary stuff mostly for the fiction side. And biographies, autobiographies, self-help and business books on the nonfiction side.

If you have any questions, shoot.

Bana said...

Hi, Ms. Dyanne! I hope you're doing well!

Ms. Clark,

How did you break into the freelance industry business, and how would you recommend those who wish to offer their services to get in contact with potential clients?


Rakia Clark said...

Freelancing has been a pretty seamless transition for me because I had already worked in the publishing industry for many years. I knew a lot more people than I initially realized. And most publishing people -- even if they're not editors -- are constantly running into aspiring authors. So word-of-mouth has been invaluable for me.

Also, I've been able to get a little press here and there. And it's driven traffic to my website, which I strongly recommend every freelancer have.

Bana said...

I agree about the Web site. Even if it is just a blog, Web presence is very important.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your comments. You have a good background for freelance editing. I have two questions, however.

As a freelancer and a professional editor working for a publishing house, can you advertise your freelance services and reveal your clients?

And, I have this notion that an editor should know something about the writer by visiting their website (if any) and communicate with questions and answers before editing their work. Writers are not sterotypes and have strong opinions that will show up in their work, right or wrong. I don't believe that can be ignored when editing a writer's work.
What say you?

I should tell you I've had 3 editors and self-published two books.

Thank you.

Bana said...

Ms. Miller,

I am uncertain to whom you are speaking, but as for myself, I always go to the author's site if she or he has one to familiarize myself with what type of writing the author does. And then we go back and forth with conversations because I think personality is just as important as the services. I recently had someone inquire about my work, and we went through several e-mails before ultimately deciding that for this particular project she was fielding, she would have to pass. However, we both knew we would love to work together in the future because our personalities vibed well together. There will be that "getting to know you" stage whenever you work with a new client, but I try to make myself as available as I possibly can.


Rakia Clark said...


My freelance clients are almost all aspiring authors, though since beginning my full-time freelance career just a few months ago, I have edited on novel for Simon and Schuster, as well as two novels for two separate literary agents (Adrienne Ingram and Claudia Menza).

My services include developmental and line editing.

When I was employed with a traditional publishing house, I worked with lots of different authors, some of them well-known. Bill Cosby is probably the biggest name. This was about six years ago. I was the editorial assistant for his book, I Am What I Ate...And I'm Frightened. That was a lot of fun. As an editorial assistant, I also worked on novels by Sue Monk Kidd and Kim Edwards, who had big bestsellers a few years ago. Let me be clear, though. I was not the acquiring editor; my boss at the time was. But I read everything she read and worked on the books with her.

Books that I worked on alone include The Journey of Crazy Horse, a Native American history; Don't Let the Lipstick Fool You, a memoir by WNBA star Lisa Leslie; and then there are lots and lots more novels. I encourage you to check out my website to see a full list of projects I've worked on. (

Re: communicating with writers, I think the appropriate level of communication depends on the book. A personal memoir would obviously require an amount of inquiry on the editor's part that I wouldn't find necessary for a historical romance.

That said, it's important to have a rough idea of the author's goal with the book. And talking and asking questions achieves that.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful, Bana. The question of getting to know each other was directed at you--should have made that clear. My bad. Your answer is what I was looking for.

Please tell me a bit about copy editing.

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Rakia, thank you for responding as well. I'm really getting an ear full today.

Bana said...

Hi, Ms. Miller,

From Wikipedia: Copyediting.

That entry gives a very comprehensive explanation of what copyediting is and does (I always do this for my clients, give them a site where they can go read just in case my own explanation of something isn't enough). Copyediting tightens up the manuscript; makes sure it flows; makes sure it is economical without losing the wealth the author has poured into his or her work; makes sure it is accurate; and makes sure it is consistent in style, theme, voice. There is some overlap with proofreading, but that is not the copyeditor's primary focus.

I hope that is helpful!


Rachel Berry said...

These questions are open to each editor.

1. What is the going rate to edit a manuscript for grammar?

2. What if you feel a book should open or be introduced differently from the way the author has begun it? Do you offer your opinion and allow the author to make the changes if they want, or insist that your ideas be implemented else you feel your time is being wasted if your suggestions aren't being chosen?

3. Ever had anyone you refused to work with? If so, why?

Bana said...

@ Ms. Berry,

1.) That rate more than likely varies from editor to editor, so I would shop around for that.

2.) Ultimately, for me, it's the client's story. I can only strongly encourage, but I can't make the author do anything, especially about something like that. It's the client's story, not mine, and I, as an editor, have to respect that.

3.) I haven't had that issue, luckily. But I think if an author won't take anything I say into consideration, then the relationship has to be terminated. Nothing is getting done, and the editing process is already dogged enough without having a reluctant client to consider.


Rakia Clark said...


1 - The price varies widely. It often depends on the experience of the editor. But even then, each editor charges differently. Some charge by page; some charge by the hour. You just have to ask each editor individually.

2 - As a freelance editor, I can only suggest changes. I always give my reasons, but at the end of the day, it's the author's book.

At a publishing house, it can be a little different. If the author's a big bestseller with a long reputation at the house, then (s)he can disagree with an editorial suggestion more effectively. An author with less leverage will be pressured more to make the editor's changes. But usually there's a meeting of the minds between editor and author. It very rarely gets contentious.

3 - No, but sometimes if the subject matter isn't something I'm comfortable with, I'll decline the project and recommend another editor.

Anonymous said...

Thank you all editors. Your information has been helpful.

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