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”

Readers for Writers: Beta Readers, the Superheroes of Your Writing Team

One of the writers I’ve come to know and admire through writing this blog is JH Mae, who asked me to write a guest post about beta readers.  Please join me at By, JHMae, and while you’re over at her blog, I hope you’ll take a few extra minutes to read some of her amazing work!


After you complete your manuscript, it’s time to send it out into the world.

Or is it?

If you are serious about publishing, your first readers should be beta readers.

And just what is a beta reader?

Think of beta readers as superhero partner/readers for your WIP. Correctly employed, your superheroes can save you a lot of time and money. How? I’m glad you asked!

Ideally, you want to assemble a team of beta readers. By getting focused, constructive criticism from multiple viewpoints, you’ll be able to identify (and you’ll have the opportunity to address) potential problems with your manuscript before you spend money on professional editing. Then, when you do hire an editor, you’ll get more bang for your buck. (I wrote about that in Three Things You Shouldn’t Hire an Editor to Do.

Each one of your superheroes will have a different strength, and no one beta reader will offer the same level of advice in every area. (That’s why you’ll get the most comprehensive feedback from a team.)

Some will be generalists, some will be detail-oriented, but they’ll each see your story in a new way, because

Beta readers approach your manuscript from a fresh point of view. #betareaders #writetip Click To Tweet


Happy Writing,


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Candace Johnson is a professional freelance editor, proofreader, writer, ghostwriter, and writing coach who has worked with traditional publishers, self-published authors, and independent book packagers on nonfiction subjects ranging from memoirs to alternative medical treatments to self-help, and on fiction ranging from romance to paranormal. As an editorial specialist, Candace is passionate about offering her clients the opportunity to take their work to the next level. She believes in maintaining an author’s unique voice while helping him or her create and polish every sentence to make it the best it can be.