As I have said many times, I love my clients. I love working with them and I feel privileged that they choose to share their writing with me. I am often the first person to have read their work and I really appreciate how brave that can be.
So I do feel a little bit protective towards the writing community. And I am a little tired of seeing people taking advantage of these lovely writers.
I have seen lots and lots of people recently selling their services to writers. Not a problem – it’s what I do. But increasingly these people have no experience whatsoever – they just seem very, very good at giving the impression that they do.
Now, I have no problem with entrepreneurs, or people trying to make a living. What I do have a problem with is people who have maybe written one or two books (not necessarily good ones either) setting themselves up as experts. I have seen in the last few weeks the author of one book (a book that hasn’t sold many copies and has few reviews) pitching themselves as an editor, proofreader, and self-publishing advisor. This person also sells books on how to write.
Now, I may not be a wildly successful author. But, I do have a first degree in English Language and Literature, a master’s degree in creative writing, I’m a qualified and experienced freelance journalist and copy writer, and have had hundreds of articles published. I have edited three hundred fiction and non-fiction books. I have plenty of testimonials. I know lots of other editors with similar backgrounds, all of whom provide excellent services.
We have qualifications and experience. We know what we’re talking about. We earn the money you lovely writers pay us.
Over the years I’ve been editing I have worked with so many clients who are paying me after they’ve already paid an inexperienced, unqualified person who has set themselves up in business. These manuscripts are often full of the most basic grammatical errors, unnatural dialogue, cliched descriptions and similes, and dreadful dialogue tags. In short, the author has been diddled.
And the big problem is that often new writers don’t realise they’re being given the wrong advice. They assume that what the editor is telling them is correct.
Please, lovely authors, you’re worth more than that. Look really carefully into your editor’s background. Ask for testimonials, look for experience and qualifications. Be very, very careful.
And arm yourselves with knowledge too. If you know basic grammar rules, understand what helps to make good writing, can punctuate properly, you’ll be able to tell if an editor is all they’re cracked up to be.
And would-be editors, proofreaders, ‘experts’ – I’m not saying that you’re excluded from some club if you lack these things. These skills can be learnt, after all. But don’t charge authors money for old rope. Learn your skills, practice, get experience first.
And remember – writing a book doesn’t make you an expert on writing.