Those who are new to writing and the wide world of publishing, may have run into the same obstacles I experienced. My own expedition began with learning InDesign’s temperamental boundaries, international copyright laws, discovering the pros and cons in the self-publishing industry, setting up my publishing company, website designing for the first time on user-Unfriendly Wordpress, and finding a reasonable printer who wasn't trying to jack me (rip me off). Albeit difficult, this has been a journey like no other.
Hardships of Picking an Editor
As demanding as the production of my first publication was, my biggest obstacle was trying to find the right editor. Now granted, I wasn’t one of those types that felt I knew all there was to the English language. I definitely wanted and felt I needed an editor. I was not going to publish my 756 page book with hundreds of grammatical errors. On my low income, I was actually able to create a budget for my book because I knew a good editor would not be cheap.
Editor Number One
My first editor came from one of the universities out here in California. The day came and we met. She didn't have a clue. She spent most of the week telling me the facts from court cases I acquired from the Law Library should be kept hidden. She didn't like the direct approach in my writing where it pertained to my Black experience (she happened to be a White millennial). The last straw was when I walked in on her snapping photos of my manuscript with her phone. Okay, I was done. A few dollars more than I had hoped to have lost, but at least I didn't lose the whole bundle.
The first mistake I made was not recognizing how editors attempt to change your words to fit the status quo, or what their life experiences just so happen to be. My second mistake was believing that finding an editor would be a cinch. That I would be among honest individuals making the "I'm an editor claim" to be true. All I had to do was inquire at a few universities, look online for professional editors, and/or scoop out a few magazine’s and newspaper’s editing departments. BOY! Was I wrong. What people tell you they are, Cab Calloway coined perfectly, “Ain’t Necessarily So.”
Editor Number Two
My second editor came highly recommended. She received her Masters Degree in English Literature. However, she didn't know how to use a semicolon. More of the editing budget gone down the drain, and to top it off I had to go back and correct her grammatical errors.
Editor Number Three
My third editor was lazy and attempted to negotiate payment upfront. This was a no go for me. He held onto my manuscript for two weeks before I was able to reach him. He said it was taking him too long to finish what he had started. When I got to his house to pick up the manuscript, I saw he only managed to read through part of the Introduction. Later I discovered how he charges for editing manuscripts, but hires others at a low rate to actually do the editing which explains why a couple of chapters hadn't been edited.
Editor Number Four
Fourth, couldn't handle historical words such as "Colored" and "Negro," and felt African Americans should be confined to writing only about topics White liberals defined for us. She thought I should have been writing about Little Richard and not Elvis. In addition, she wasn't reading the manuscript. This was quite noticeable when she left unnecessary inquiries in her edits, that if she had been reading the manuscript, she wouldn't have inquired. When I pointed her unnecessary questions out to her, all she could say was, "Oh, sorry, my error."
Editor Number Five
The fifth editor was interesting. Lucky for me, it didn't cost a dime. You see he neglected to tell me over the phone that he didn't know who Elvis Presley was. When this little fact became clear during that time of going over the manuscript in person, I didn’t bother any further.
Editor Number Six
Sixth, was the worst of all. Any indication referencing any Black man in my book he crossed off stating it was not important. He actually crossed out Otis Blackwell, who wrote "All Shook Up" and "Don't Be Cruel." He was also offended by the detailed definition of envy in "Introduction Two: The Faces Of Envy." After our bitter encounter regarding his edits, I kept ALL references to ALL Black men in my book, right down to the corny comparison of Aesop's Fox and Michael Jordan.
Trust your own words, because there isn't a soul on this earth who can speak for you.
After all was said and done, after most of the editing budget was spent, I'm glad I had that experience. In order to edit someone's work, you need to be familiar with their life experiences. Unfortunately, most editors in the United States are White liberals with tunnel vision concerning what African Americans should write about and what they believe we should be allowed to write about. These same liberals speak about a great many subjects they know nothing about (one of the big problems with professors at American universities). However, the most important lesson this experience taught me is that had I gotten a really good proofreader and not wasted time and money on editors, I would have been well ahead of the game.