Tuesday, 7 May 2019

Reedsy - what was it like to use them?

A couple of weeks ago, I shared with you how to find an editor via Reedsy. So, how did I get on?

I used Reedsy, mostly because I found the idea of going through a list of editors, checking their websites to see if they edited fantasy (as it's an editor for the Trilogy I'm after), reading testimonials, sending them a sample to edit and asking for a quote, etc... just too daunting and too time-consuming. Even going through an 'approved' list, such as on Joanna Penn's website, would have taken me days. Instead, I looked at Reedsy, where I could easily filter a list of several hundred editors, by what I was looking for (copy edit, genre = fantasy, language = English UK etc.). I could then read over their CVs, look at their testimonials and draw up a long-list and a shortlist. I wrote a brief to be sent to five editors, included a sample of ~3000 words, and compared the offers. The ms is about 78,000 words long. I'd hoped for quotes of about £11-12/1000 words (based on what I've paid in the past and what seems to be 'the going rate'), but was prepared to pay more if the copy edit was what I was looking for.

Well.

I sent the same brief to 5 editors via Reedsy, and one who I'd found on Reedsy, but then approached directly through their website. I won't name names, but here are the results I got:

Editor #1:
£560
Did a sample edit that was very superficial. Whilst it was 'nice' in some ways to be told the ms didn't need much work, the sample edit felt more like a proofread, and I wanted a copy edit. Although the price was well below what I was anticipating, I felt as if it would have been a waste of money.

Editor #2:
£900
Did a sample edit of about 500 words which looked really good. The price was a bit higher than I was hoping for, especially as there would be another £90 as Reedsy's commission on top. But, I thought that the edit would really tighten everything up and that it would be money well spent. It was one of the first offers to come in, so I waited for the rest, before making my decision.

Editor #3:
£1350
Didn't do a sample edit. The price was based on an hourly rate of £26/hour and an estimate of doing 1500 words/hour. Since they didn't do a sample edit for me to see, I had no idea whether this was value for money or not, but I suspected not, as the £900 person was an excellent copy edit (and this person was charging 50% more).

Editor #4:
£858
Didn't originally do a sample edit, but as the price was so close to another, I asked them to do it. They came back with it promptly (and I have to say, had excellent levels of communication as there was a delay over when they were able to do it, and they were in great contact via Reedsy, keeping me informed). Sadly, the sample edit had a few errors in it and I didn't really like some of the changes they were suggesting.

Editor #5:
Initially, they didn't do a sample edit and said they only took on clients with whom they matched, personality-wise. They wanted to know more about me before giving me a quote. This struck me as a bit odd. I was potentially hiring them to do a set piece of work on a manuscript. Whether they liked me or not didn't seem relevant. I gave a bit more information about me and the project and asked for a sample edit, to help me decide.
They came back to me with the copy edit and it went above and beyond what I was looking for. They not only did the copy edit, but also gave feedback on other things such as opening a chapter with dialogue or not, plus pointing out if a phrase was cliched, and also said where things were working well or if they especially liked the way I'd written something. Writers can spend so much of their time agonising over what they've written and being crippled by self-doubt that when someone comes back and says, "I love the way you've done this" it feels amazing. The cost was €1200, which was higher than I'd hoped to be paying, given how awful the exchange rate is, but I really felt that this would be money well spent as there was some developmental editing as well as the copy editing in that.

Editor #6:
It took a while for them to get a sample edit to me as there were family illnesses (which, believe me, I understand entirely). When it came in, I wasn't sure about a few things and really didn't like a couple of the suggested changes, but it was very thorough. However, the cost would have been ~£1400 and although this would have been a thorough edit as it included two passes through the ms, the price was just too high for me.

It's been an interesting experience. There were clearly some editors who were very client-focused - great communication, a clear outline of what they were offering and for how much, and what their availability was.

There were also a couple who were very self-focused! Not offering a sample edit seemed to be a bizarre choice. How is a client supposed to assess whether the editor will do a decent job or will make changes that the author will hate, if there's no option to see their work? What I wanted was someone who would do the job well, for a reasonable price, with clear lines of communication and be able to stick to an agreed schedule. The person I went for in the end not only did a cracking sample edit, but also seemed hugely interested in the project.

I suspect there are client-focused and self-focused editors wherever you look for them. I don't think Reedsy is anything special or different, on that front. But what I liked about Reedsy, was how easy it was to use. Yes, that came at a price (10%), but I was overwhelmed at the idea of trawling through website after website to find an editor, and although I earn very little, I still like to think my time is worth something. And spending time trawling through a list of editors is time I wouldn't be able to spend on writing or editing.

So, who did I go for? Well, you've probably guessed already, but it was editor #5!



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