#SaystheEditor You Deserve Better Than This


I woke up the other morning with my good eye swollen shut and an unsolicited e-mail in my inbox. A so-called publisher was looking for editors. The scope of the work was unclear, there was no pay rate given, there were errors in the body of the e-mail — we editors may be important in the life cycle of a book, but not so important that our job title should be capitalized — and… then I noticed it.

Immediate recoil.

I’ll paraphrase, but it comes down to, “Most of our authors are first-timers and experience has taught us that first-timers don’t know what the hell they’re doing, so your job is to do this work for them, without teaching them, without guiding them. Just shut up and do it for these incompetents so they can earn a ton of money and you can earn some amount that we won’t divulge. Oh, and here’s an unsolicited attachment.”

Like I said, that’s a paraphrase, but the essence is there: Our authors are too stupid to do the job.

WHY would any person want to partner with someone who treats them like this?

Oh, I know. Because the person on the other end is promising them lots of success and money. Which is what I confirmed when I Googled the publisher and… wow. Red flags all over the place. They are revolutionary in publishing! Their authors are featured in major media outlets! Services and seminars to teach you how to do this!

And then I noticed the typos.

But know what I DID NOT SEE?

A link for submissions. Apparently, the only way to get your book published by these people is to attend one of their seminars.

Right there’s the final red flag. You should never have to pay to attend a seminar about something you can easily research for free.

For me, though, that final red flag happened much, much earlier. It was in that implied slight to the author. That you guys aren’t smart enough or good enough or experienced enough to know how to write compelling back cover copy about your own book. Why would you ever want to work with someone who doesn’t respect you and your creative talents? Why would you want to partner in business with someone who looks down his (the company’s figurehead is a man) nose at you?

You are better than that. You deserve to be treated better. You deserve to be respected for your vision, for your hard work putting words down on a page, for your dedication to your craft.

You deserve to be taught, to be guided, to be corrected, to be respected.

You deserve to be helped in your quest to make the best book possible.

Don’t be lured in by the siren’s promise of money, and gobs of it. Don’t be lured in by a flashy, slick website and sensationalistic copy. Publishing is a business. It is incredibly hard work, mastering the craft of writing, putting words down on a page until they form a story, revising and shaping that first draft into something you’re proud of, putting yourself out there to critique partners and beta readers and hearing that you’ve got a ways to go yet, hiring an editor (Hey, pick me!) and hearing you aren’t there yet, and then finding your production team, then your promotional team, then seeking reviewers…

Publishing is HARD. Don’t be suckered by promises of an easy path through it.

You deserve better than these scammers. You really do.



  1. Mary Anne

    June 29, 2017 11:20 am

    Fantastic advice for debut authors. There are so many companies willing to exploit naivety. Thanks for sharing!

    • Susan Helene Gottfried

      June 29, 2017 11:26 am

      Thanks! To make it worse, this wasn’t even a company who publishes fiction. It was about how to make a book you can sell to give yourself bona fide expert status. And by book, it sounds like 20k words.

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