#SaystheEditor Bogged Down


…and there it was again. A post in a writer’s group on Facebook. “I got a bad review! Oh, no! What do I do!”

I don’t understand why it’s so hard for us to understand how to respond: you do nothing.

However, this turned out to be the exception. A few others in the group did a bit of digging into the reviews this book had generated. “You need an editor,” a bunch of people responded. “Every single review that’s been posted mentions the bad proofreading.”

So… I chimed in. “I’d be glad to proof your book for you. I actually do a fair number of proofing books that have been published but have gotten dinged for bad reviews.” The author asked for my rates. I gave them and told her that if they were too high for her, I’d work with her to reach something she could afford. Implicit in that was the idea that I ain’t working for Oreos. I extended the offer to anyone in the group in need of what I can do for them.

And then… the thread bogged down. The people who told her to do nothing, including editing her book. The people who loudly told her to unpublish the book and have it edited. A few told her to take advantage of the people offering their services (at that point, it was me and someone who offered to let a friend do it. No clue what the credentials were, which means there probably weren’t any).

My favorite was the author who said the reviews had been left by editors who were trying to drum up business.

Wow. Just… wow.

I doubt that author’s going to reach out to me, to be honest. Look at all that advice, and look at all those opinions. How does a person know who to trust?

By the time I gave up on it, people (again, of dubious qualification) were offering to proof this poor book for free. A debate was raging over the spelling of the title. But it’s a fantasy book, and in fantasy, you can take liberties with certain spellings.

But once again, it makes me wonder. It makes me wonder about so many things, I get bogged down, myself.

* What’s it take to raise above the noise and prove how very good I am at what I do and help more of these people?

* Is it worth hiring a staff of really good subcontractors to reach out to these authors and offer a Post-Publication Oh, No service? If so, what would be a fair charge?

* How the heck do I even find a staff of really good subcontractors? Most of the people I talk to have their own client lists, their own full calendars. The folk who are struggling often (but not always) reveal themselves in various ways to not be up to my standard with their knowledge base. Sorry, but if you’re sourcing on Facebook for help, you’re not West of Mars material.

And more.

I get both sides of the equation. I do. Good editing isn’t cheap. Finding a good editor isn’t easy, especially when you have been surrounded by the wrong people — the ones who bog you down in false flattery. That makes it hard to hear a good editor’s truth. It makes you feel like maybe you threw an awful lot of money away. That maybe you’re not as good as you thought you were.

I get it. I do.

But I also get the idea that if you want to make a serious go of a career as a writer, you can’t get bogged down in this false flattery. You can’t get bogged down by the bad reviews. You need to assemble the best team you can to help you be the best writer of the best book. Nothing else should be your goal. Ever.

So that when you are in that “Oh, no! Bad review!” panic, the advice to do nothing is the right advice. Because let’s face it: you can fix a poorly edited book. You can’t fix the online reviews that talk about how poorly edited your book is. (well, if you unpublish and then republish under a new title, you can, but even that has serious pitfalls.)

It’s your career. Get it right before you hit that PUBLISH button.


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