When I was in high school, I was very fortunate. I was introduced to all of the right people– editors, writers, and those who had been in the publishing business for a long time. My first novel, Taking 1960, was edited by a wonderfully talented woman. Not all writers meet the right people. Some flounder– some meet the wrong people.
If you have not already, please check out Preditors & Editors, the site that pinpoints scams in the editing and publishing world.
With every editing job that I am hired to complete, I strive to do only my best. After all, I know what it’s like to be a poor writer, and to want nothing more than to see your work in print.
That being said, I am always disappointed when I hear of an editor who has provided mediocre results (or worse) and charged more than they should have. Two of my closest friends have had this experience very recently. In both incidents, the authors were led to believe that they would be getting crucial feedback, as well as in-depth editing.
One friend was charged three hundred dollars. The editor supposedly had a great background and had “been in the business” for many years. They gushed about him at writer’s groups, and my friend thought he was a sure thing. She forked over her money for a couple small changes, and a lot of disappointment. He had charged her all that money and had done next to nothing with her manuscript. He didn’t even provide feedback. She paid him because she had already agreed to pay, without seeing samples of his work. The second case was very similar. The author expected a lot, and got very little.
Here are a few ways that you can prevent this from happening to you.
An editor should be prepared to show that they know their stuff. I offer to review the first fifteen pages for free, and provide honest feedback. This gives the author an idea of how I operate. Any editor should be able to provide some kind of sample, even if it’s only two or three pages. I don’t see why this should be a problem. If they expect you to hand over your cash, they should be willing to show you their stuff, so to speak.
An editor should also be able to provide references. If you’re hiring someone to replace your flooring or fix your air conditioner, your first thought is to ask around. “Hey, have you hired this guy? Is he good?” The same goes for an editor. You should be able to read about their background, who they have worked with in the past, and get an idea of their work ethic.
Do your research. Cross reference companies and independent editors with the Preditors & Editors website. It’s a shame, but there are a lot of people out there who would be more than willing to take your money for absolutely no effort on their part.
If you are careful, and you do proper research, you shouldn’t have a problem. Never hand over your money without knowing for sure what you’re paying for.
The promise of a good editor is “worth a thousand words”. Just make sure that you’re actually getting a good editor before you agree to pay.