What is a Frankenedit? This is a term I’ve been using since before 2010, and it’s an easy way to picture a terrible thing some authors create. Think of Dr. Frankenstein’s Monster, a creature that was pieced together from several different dead bodies and “brought to life” by a scientist.
Now apply that to the editing on a book.
A sample edit from Tyrell gives you the head. One from Katia forms the neck. And so on. If an author sends samples to enough editors, that author would get their entire book edited for free, right? How does that work, and is it a good idea?
Here is how a Frankenedit works.
Stingy Steve gets sticker shock when he finds out that good editing costs ten cents a word. He doesn’t want to pay thousands of dollars to have his book edited. He doesn’t think the book is good enough to even make that much money. So, rather than write a book that will bring him a return on a wise investment, Stingy Steve sends contacts 100 editors and asks all of them for a free sample edit.
The editors agree to edit the sample he sent them.
Steve sends each of them them a few pages (not the entire manuscript).
They each do the sample and send it back. Steve then compiles the samples into a mess of a manuscript and thinks he gamed the system and won. He got his editing for free! What he actually did was create a Frankenedit, a monster.
Here’s why this is the worst idea Stingy Steve has had all year.
Each editor has their own style. There will be zero consistency from piece to piece, and as people read the book, they might not see the stitching where the hand sample edit is connected to the wrist sample edit, but they will detect changes in the tone and texture. It won’t seem right to them because it isn’t. Their reviews will reflect the mess the book is in. Readers want books to be done well. They expect excellence, and they deserve it, so give it to them. Say no to Frankenedits.
Editors unwittingly help authors to game the system.
Every day, editors unwittingly help authors to game the system. They help cheap authors cheat.
Wait a minute, you say. Where did the editors go wrong? Isn’t it right to do a free sample edit? Yes, it is right to do a free sample edit.
Where the editors went wrong is in allowing Steve to send only a piece of the manuscript and not the entire thing, and to select the sample for them.
First, let’s address the fact that Steve sent only a sample and not the entire manuscript. In order to do their job properly, editors must look at the entire manuscript.
- Before they select a portion for the sample edit, they must look at the entire manuscript.
- They cannot know whether or not they have a good author–editor fit until after they examine the entire manuscript.
- To be able to set a price, they must evaluate the entire manuscript.
So, you see, an editor can in no way do their job right if they do not see the entire manuscript. If any editor agrees to edit even a sample of a book without having first examined and evaluated the manuscript and its needs, run, because they are not a real editor. Find a Real Editor has more information on this and other things you need to know.
Allowing the author to select the sample creates problems.
The editors should select a sample themselves. They should pick a piece that has a large number of errors or a wide variety of errors. Doing that will serve the author better than doing a homogenous sample would. Editors should take the sample from somewhere around the middle of the manuscript. The sample edit should never be from the first or last chapter of a manuscript, and a real editor would know exactly why.
Some authors mistakenly believe that getting a Frankenedit will serve them. It actually hurts them, and anyone who helps it to happen is hurting authors and readers. Every Frankenedit is a sad creature that should not exist.
If each editor insisted on seeing the entire manuscript and selecting the sample edit themselves, there would be no Frankenedits lumbering around anywhere in the world.
To get a free sample edit on your book, and have it done the right way, contact us now.