Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Ask the Prez

The Ask The Prez questions are trickling in and I'd love to have more! This is your chance to ask the president of Pikes Peak Writers any question about our organization, our conference, The Zebulon writing contest, or anything else related to writing. I enjoy answering these questions, so let's have them. See the bottom of the post for more details on how to contact me.

Speaking of a questions related to writing, our next set comes from Ann:

Can you suggest a way to find a good editor for a reasonable price? Some of them charge up to $4 a page. How do I justify the expense?

J.T. Evans's Answer:

First off, a reputable editor is going to work off of word count, not pages. This is because formatting can drastically change the page count. Yes, "standard manuscript format" reduces the variance, but even a swap between Times New Roman (acceptable in standard manuscript format) and Courier (also acceptable) will boost your page count. By way of example, a 208-page manuscript in Times New Roman will turn into 272 pages in Courier. That difference could cost you (at $4 per page) a whopping $256 extra! Honestly, there are two groups of people who care about number of pages: Readers and layout experts.

Paying someone to focus on your manuscript, read through it, give you feedback and edits, and ideally improve the work is a perfectly acceptable approach before sending it out in the world. If you're going the self-published route, I would say a freelance editor is necessary. This will allow you to produce the best possible manuscript before the public sees it.

Finding a freelance editor can be tricky because you want someone who knows your genre, can work with you in a friendly, yet businesslike manner, and knows what they are doing when it comes to edits. Finding someone who fits these criteria can be rough, but it can be done.

In my case, I met Stuart Horwitz through a Pikes Peak Writers Write Brain. I interacted with him in social media, read his books on writing, checked out his web site, and felt comfortable handing over the money I did for the edits. Not everyone gets lucky like that, and they have to do a "cold search." Join social media groups/forums for writers and see who has hired editors. Yes, you could Google for "freelance editors for hire" and see what bubbles to the top. That’s probably going to be time-consuming, and if you’re not careful, a waste of time and money. I would start at and see who you can find. Always vet them on your own. Google their name. Use review sites. Ask for a past client list with contact information and reach out to them.

If you get recommendations from fellow writers, keep in mind that not all editors will make all clients happy. If I were to send my urban fantasy novel to a highly respected and recommended romance short story editor… it probably wouldn’t work out so well. You have to find an editor who ideally should be a partner with you. Someone that meshes well with what you write.

As far as justifying the expense goes, you want to make sure you measure the return on investment. Will spending the money (potentially thousands of dollars) result in a novel that will pay back that expense? Unfortunately, that's not really something I can answer for you. In my case, I wanted to put my best foot forward when approaching agents and publishing houses. I needed the cleanest copy, the best ideas, the smoothest storyline, and the most intriguing characters I could produce. I'd done a good job of it already, but I needed to elevate the novel to greatness.

Good luck, Ann!

Ask me questions!

I want to learn more about what's on your mind in the PPW universe. Quite a bit goes into what we do to keep the ship running smoothly, and I'm sure many of you out there want to know some things. How do we do what we do? How can I help you keep PPW a great organization? What's the history of PPW? Who does what within the organization?

These are just some sampler questions. I'm certain your immensely creative minds can come up with more (and probably better) questions.

If you have questions for me, please email me at with the subject line of: Ask The Prez

Within the email, let me know your question(s), and if it's okay if I use your first name in the blog post. Also let me know if you want an urgent answer in private email, or if you can wait for me to queue up the question and get it out here on the blog. I expect to answer 1-2 questions a month here in this column.

Please do me a favor, and restrict your questions to the email address given above. I'll lose track of them if you send them via Facebook, Twitter, text message, or some other media.

Now open up your inbox and hit me with some questions!

About the Author:  J.T. Evans writes fantasy novels. He also dabbles with science fiction and horror short stories. He is the president of Pikes Peak Writers. When not writing, he flings code at the Day Job, homebrews great beers, spends time with his family, and plays way too many card/board/role-playing games.