I need to be clear, this is a rant. I am not going to try to stay calm or present an argument for both sides. I know you probably think that someone must have given me some really harsh feedback, or I am whining about being rejected. The truth is, I was just reading horror stories on the website Writer Beware, went onto Facebook, and saw some posts that screamed, “HEY WRITER, WATCH THE F*CK OUT!” This is a rant against people who prey on writers, and they’re everywhere.
Don’t believe me? Go on Facebook and join any writers’ group with over 1000 members. I guarantee that there are people who will act as if they are an editor, cover designer, publisher, etc. They are either so inexperienced that they have no idea what they are doing, or they make their living by taking advantage of new writers. Either one can completely destroy countless hours worth of work.
The reason why I feel so strongly about this is because writing isn’t just a way to earn money for me. Writing is my dream. When I see somebody say, “Pay $3.00/page and I will edit your book,” I feel that they are damaging other writers’ chances at achieving the same goal. If that, “editor,” is trying to run a scam, they might fix a few typos or adjust some sentences, but they really don’t care about the finished product. They will take your money and run. I think that most of these posts are from people who are simply inexperienced, but this is just as dangerous. Editing is more than fixing typos. Cover art is more than pasting some images together. Just because someone has written something, does not mean that they have the skills required to guide another’s story.
Let’s say I hired an editor based off the scenario above. Here are some things to note before I continue rambling:
1) Established editors do not charge per page; they charge per word. This eliminates funky tricks of pt. size, spacing, and whether its in Times or Courier. The only publishing people who think in page length are those that are too new to know better.
2) The term, “Edit,” does not mean anything. It is too vague. A copyedit will usually cost less than a structural edit. Line editing is different than proofreading. If an, “editor,” doesn’t know the difference between these concepts, then they are not qualified to do the job.
Now lets talk about what could happen if I hired the, “editor,” anyway. I would pay the money. One of my current WIP’s is just over 102,000 words. With Microsoft Word it stands at 340 pages. This means I would need to pay the editor $1020.00. They would read my manuscript, mark up the things that they thought needed fixed, and send it back. Now that I have an, “edited,” manuscript, I would send it out to my top agents and editors. Best-case-scenario, someone’s interested and I get a book deal. Then the publisher uses their own editor to go through the book, and I get the book edited anyway. In the end, I might have gotten published a little sooner, but I could have gotten roughly the same result by running the work through a writing group/beta readers.
More likely what would happen is that the facebook editor is actually just another writer at roughly the same point in their writing career as you. Why else would they be in a Facebook group where every other post is shameless self-promotion? Back on topic, some of their advice might be helpful and some might not. Maybe they didn’t feel confident enough to say, “Hey, the idea of mutant monkeys shitting their way across universe, probably isn’t going to make the best historical romance.” Maybe, they were so focused on proofreading your work,that they don’t notice that the plot itself is atrocious. Eventually you get their feedback and make some changes. Since you’ve had your book, “edited,” you think it’s ready. You send your book to your dream agent, and they reject it. Since most professionals in the publishing industry will not allow unsolicited resubmissions of the same manuscripts, it is essentially dead to whoever received it. The novel that has taken months, if not years, of your life is dead, because some idiot decided that they wanted to be an editor.
I have seen “Artists” who charged writers for some faces slapped on picture of a forest. In one example, you could see the outline of the previous photograph around the edges of the people. Think of how that cover would affect the success of your book. I’ve seen anthologies who do not pay writers anything aside from getting to say they are, “published.” (most major agents & editors only consider paying markets as writing credits anyway, so these anthologies do not hold much weight) Once those anthologies get a few good stories, they put up an e-book through createspace and keep all of the royalties for themselves. This means those writers get nothing for their work, and they can’t submit it to most other paying markets because it has technically already been published.
I have no tolerance for people who prey on others’ dreams. For those who are wanting to get into the publishing industry, please refrain from presenting yourself as a professional if you are not. Go to school, get an internship, be a beta reader, volunteer as a slush reader for a magazine, there are countless other options. You can destroy major portions of others’ lives by simply not having enough experience. For writers, please look at Writer Beware before you hire anyone. Just because an editor, artist, etc. posts on social media, doesn’t mean they are a fraud, but you should do your research. At a minimum, get a sample of their work before you agree to anything. I apologize for the long post, also I completely understand any backlash I get for this post.