Guest Post: “How Not to Get Duped By Editors” by Elizabeth Harvey

Hey gang!

So about the radio silence lately…the move finally took place. After weeks and weeks of packing and stress and dealing with a realtor whom we wanted to have hung, drawn, and quartered, we sold our house, and we’re trying to settle into the two-bedroom apartment we’ll live at while our new home is being build. Key word is “trying.” That was two weeks ago, and I’m still unpacking. And I’m exhausted. There are boxes everywhere. For someone as clutter-phobic as I am, this would be like me being in an episode of “Hoarders.”


Don’t even ASK me how my writing’s been so far. Just don’t. Pretend I don’t even write, okay? I’m just a writer groupie right now, until the dust settles and all the boxes finally get unpacked.

Anyway, I thought this would be the right time for a guest post. This one’s a different guest post, as it comes courtesy of Elizabeth Harvey, a freelance editor whom I met through a Linkedin blog swap. You can find Beth over at her own site, E. Harvey Editing, which I highly recommend you pay a visit to.

Because Beth’s a freelance editor, I was keen on having her submit a guest post reflecting her perspectives on editing and editing services. Her guest post, “How Not to Get Duped By Editors,” I think does exactly that.

So, have a read, and be sure to visit Beth’s site and say hello.

Now, without further ado…


How to Not Get Duped by Editors

I’ve heard this horror story a lot when I encounter writers. It was even more frequent when I was working as an Acquisitions Editor for Divertir Publishing. It usually came out when we sent out the rejection letter.

“But my manuscript was professionally edited!”

Unfortunately, whenever I hear that argument my first instinct is to tell them they got ripped off, but that isn’t the most delicate way to put it. It is, however, true. I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen authors being ripped off by so-called “editors” who don’t know anything about writing or editing. They may think they do (which is almost worse than people intentionally lying), but these books end up needing so much work that they are unpublishable without literal months of editing.

So how do you avoid this trap? There are a few ways to make sure you’re working with a professional who will treat you well. The most obvious is to ask for references – if they can provide other authors that they’ve worked with that speak highly of them then that’s an obvious plus. If you’re looking at going with a company (or a self publishing group) start by putting their name into Google alongside the word “scam”. Then check out the results. If nothing comes up screaming then you’re probably in better shape than if they do. If they do I’d suggest reading what is said and see how much there is. A few angry customers do not a scam make, after all.

The second is to ask for a sample edit if they don’t already offer one. That way you can see what they will fix. After that go through and carefully look at their edits. Did they catch typos? Grammar mistakes? Granted, yes, this will change depending on what you’re asking them to do. A proofreader will not edit for content, for example, since that’s not what you’re paying for.

Also remember that you are paying them for a service. They’re (theoretically) a professional and deserve respect, but don’t be afraid to ask questions or question things they’re doing if you think something’s off. A good editor won’t be offended by that. I know I’m not. Just make sure that if you question something they’re doing do so politely. We’re people too.

If you keep your head in the game and stay aware of what the editor is doing and how much they’re doing for the price they’re charging you, you should be okay. Don’t be overly impressed by the title of “editor”. We’re skilled, and we’re professionals, but that doesn’t mean that we’re unable to make mistakes or are “better” than anyone else.

3 thoughts on “Guest Post: “How Not to Get Duped By Editors” by Elizabeth Harvey

  1. Great post, Elizabeth. I never thought of typing a name and then scam. Nice to know. I’ve worked with a few editors and I know how hard the selection process is, not to mention time frames. Thanks for your post.

    Gus, maybe some boxes will never be unpacked. Oh, wait, maybe that’s just me. 🙂 Good luck with having your house built. Patience does help. I’ve been good at moving in the past ten years. Who am I fooling? Bad at moving the past ten years. I hope you give up being a writer groupie soon. Hang in there.

  2. Good to have you back, Gus.
    Elizabeth, thanks for the post. If we were interested in your services (I’m not ready at the moment, but others may be) how would we go about getting them?

  3. Been wondering where you were. You missed my anniversary post. No biggie, it came and went like any other day.

    Congrats on the move—FINALLY! I know it’s hectic, but only temporary. I’m in a declutter mode myself and feel the same. When did I become such a hoarder?

    Elizabeth, very nice article. I was just talking to a friend about “editing” services offered by people who can’t even fix the typos on their own blogs. Thanks for the pointers of finding a dependable one.

    Gus…I’m emailing you something.

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