Using a professional editor

I was told recently that every indie author needed to use a professional copy editor. I posed the question on an author’s group I’m a member of and many of the authors recycled the same same speech about indie authors and editing.

We’ve all heard it: “If you don’t use professional editing services, you don’t deserve to be published.” Or, “…My manuscript went through thirty drafts before it was ready…”

I decided to give a professional editing service a chance and sent in the first twenty pages of Two, as per their submission guidelines.

The result is hilarious, but disappointing. The line posted here is what I received from a fifteen year veteran of the profession.

“I have looked over your sample pages and would be pleased to work with you on your manuscript, sword and sorcery being right up my alley. “

To which I replied:

Obviously you did not read the story.
“I have looked over your sample pages and would be pleased to work with you on your manuscript, sword and sorcery being right up my alley. “
This sentence kind of illustrates that point. There is no “sword and sorcery.”
To which she replied:
 I am very sorry. I did read your excerpt and I found it quite interesting. I even did a quick check to make sure the time zones that you say overlap are the ones that say overlap. But I was working off a template and made a mistake as I have a nasty cold. There’s really no excuse and I completely understand you are angry and offended but please don’t write off all editors because I’m having a bad day. 

I do wish you good luck with your manuscript and am truly sorry for my error.

But wait! It gets worse.
The sample she sent back, a one page ‘editing’ sample to show off her professional services and fifteen years of experience was rife with redundancy.
This is through the full page:

Overlapping occurred daily at all times; for instance at two P.M. St. John’s John’s Newfoundland overlapped with two A.M in Darwin, Australia. Seoul and Sao Paulo overlapped as did Casablanca and Anadyr, Russia.

Regardless, he kept track of them and recorded deviance in the sun’s sun’s radiance and the moon’s moon’s movement at each location.

She re-wrote words I had written and then crossed out mine.

I know all editing services cannot be this bad, but if this is representative of what I’m going to find, why would indie authors use the services?



5 thoughts on “Using a professional editor

  1. that’s hysterical! i’ve only worked with one editor – named Ben Allen (link on my blog) – with good results, but he approached me after reading one of mine and had good suggestions. I’ve never sought one out (probably because I’m too lazy!)

  2. It was funny, though I didn’t think the $900. price tag was so funny. I think I need to find an editor that is specific to speculative fiction and one that’s recommended. Thanks Tom.

  3. Ah, I see that they were charging $900 for the service. I read somewhere that a decent copy-edit for a 100k novel should be about $2000. So unless your book is 50k words, the copy-editor is probably charging so cheaply because he/she’s bad at what he/she does, lol.

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