Need Your Book Edited? Don’t Fall for a Snake-Oil Salesman

why hire a freelance book editor
© 2012 Hugh MacLeod’s gapingvoid

If you’ve searched the Internet looking for an editor for your book, you’ve probably come across a few of the more unusual editing “services” available. Unusual isn’t bad, but in some cases, unusual is definitely NOT good for authors.

One blogger I found by accident runs a membership site that proposes to save authors money on professional editing by trading editing with other members; in other words, you and another writer edit each other’s books, thereby eliminating the cost of having your manuscript professionally edited.

What’s wrong with that? Nothing, as long as you understand that the chance of getting a professional edit of your work that way is slim to none. In reality, this service is a beta-reader service, which is very useful in its own right—but let’s call it what it is. I’ve written about my enthusiasm for beta readers here, and I personally encourage my clients to use them before they hire me or any other professional editor for their WIP.

But beta readers are no substitute for professional editors or proofreader.

Beta readers are no substitute for professional editors or proofreader. #writetip #editingtip #amwriting Click To Tweet

“Oh, come ON, Candace,” I can hear you say, “I’ll still get editing, plus I will save hundreds of dollars on editing costs.”

No, you won’t. You won’t get editing; you’ll get critiquing. Maybe even really good critiquing, if the writer assigned to your manuscript is good at it. But what if that writer’s comments are more in line with what your teenager’s best friend would say about your writing: “Really, really good story. I like the part where the werewolf turns into an alien and falls in love with the librarian. But I got confused about who was talking, so you should put ‘he said’ and ‘she said’ after every sentence of dialogue.” Oh yes, that is helpful editing. Not.

And you won’t save money in the long run. Remember the old adage, “It takes money to make money”? If you skimp on editing, you’ll spend more time and money in the end—you can read about one of my clients who did that here.

“Snake-oil salesman” is a term that has come to refer to someone who sells a product that has a questionable benefit. As a professional editor, I believe this particular company is run by a snake-oil salesman, one who hopes to get your money by promising you a product that just isn’t available. And in the end, you are the one who pays the price—in lost sales, a tarnished reputation as an author, and poor reviews. Continue reading “Need Your Book Edited? Don’t Fall for a Snake-Oil Salesman”

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