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No Free Lunch in Writing: Navigating Book Editing and Seeking Writing Advice

Hey fellow wordsmiths! Let's talk about something real that's got to me a little recently. We all know there's no such thing as a free lunch, and the same goes for book editing and writing advice. As someone who's been on both sides of the publishing journey (as a publishing coordinator and project manager and as an author), I've noticed a surge in requests for freebies. Specifically for me to read huge chunks of story (or even the whole book!) and give writing feedback or even whole edits for free.

That's a huge no, so let's talk about the dos and don'ts of approaching professionals for book editing and writing guidance (and the same will go for any professional in any industry, I'm sure).

Acknowledge the price tag on expertise

Book editing and expert advice comes with a cost. It took years of study and training and practise to hone the editing craft, and editing a book takes a long time, so appreciate the time and skill in book professionals and understand they need compensation for the time and advice they'll be giving you.

If you do want to work with us, speak clearly about your manuscript needs

When you reach out to book professionals, be clear and honest about your manuscript's needs. Understand what goes into book editing, the different types of editing, and talk to the editor to not only find out if what you need fits their skills, but also to let them know how much work it needs.

I've had a few people just ask if I can mentor them, or something, or didn't even say what they wanted. The next thing I knew their whole manuscript was sliding into my emails with the requests to read and edit. What?

And if they say it needs more work than you thought, consider it honestly. They're not trying to disrespect you or your work. Likely they know the condition and the level of work to be put in more, due to that knowledge they have.

Respect limits in the world of writing

Editors have their schedules, and many well-sought, quality professionals are booked out weeks or months in advance. Don't expect them to drop all work just to work on something for you. Recognise the limitations and respect the boundaries. This is normal in the publishing world. Not every request can be accommodated immediately, if at all. As I said earlier, editing a book takes a long time. Respect that.

Book editing and writing advice: you get what you pay for

If you're serious about writing, be prepared to discuss compensation. No-one will work for free, and both book editing and quality writing and publishing advice come at a price. It's an investment into your literary journey, and if you don't research the editor or price well, you'll be left with something potentially subpar.

Tight budget? Where CAN you get writing help for free?

I know it's hard to start writing. And keep writing. And there are places you can get the sense of community and advice you need for free without suggesting an editor needs to drop their experience and fees just for you. This is where writing communities and groups are perfect. I'd suggest joining a Facebook group or check out X for the writing community, or even some free writing workshops at local libraries or bookstores. Share your work, chat with people, swap advice, and meet some really amazing and supportive people. That's absolutely the first step you should be taking.

And speaking frankly ...

I love the enthusiasm writers have for their projects, but honestly at the moment I'm not taking clients on the editing front, due to personal and schedule limitations. If you reach out to me, I will likely straight up say no, or hit you back with an invoice at the level I will charge. But honestly, I work full time, I have a family and want to spend as much time with my child as I can, and then I have to fit in my workout routine, personal time, and writing time around that. It's hard enough to find my own writing time, and so within that, my own book writing is my absolute priority. Even if I wanted to, fitting in other people's projects is not in my ability at the moment.

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