Tuesday, April 24, 2018

U = Undervaluing the Work Leads to Disaster

Welcome, A to Z bloggers, visitors, and of course all my faithful regular readers! This year's theme for my A to Z:
Short & Sweet Reasons Why You Need an Editor

So without further ado . . .

Undervaluing the work leads to disaster.

I understand that most people are not independently wealthy and therefore don’t have money to throw, all willy-nilly, at their book project. However, beware the race to the bottom when it comes to hiring an editor. There are “editors” on places like Fiverr who can’t string a coherent bunch of words together to advertise their own services. And yet people still hire them, perhaps in the hope that they’ll get something decent for almost nothing.

Unfortunately, most of those situations end up causing more harm than good, and the authors who get stung end up hiring someone else to fix things.

The real problem with undervaluing the work of a skilled professional (whether it’s an editor, formatter, or cover designer) is that there is always someone who will argue, “I can get someone else to do it for half that much.” Well . . . all I can say is, go ahead. I wish you the best but don’t actually expect it, and that’s unfortunate. Each professional invests a certain number of hours into the work, and trying to do it for a living wage is often a challenge when there is always someone out there, waiting to lowball a bid to secure the job.

In general, you get what you pay for, though a lower cost doesn’t necessarily negate quality. Just don’t let the dollar be your deciding factor if the quality is not there.


  1. Hi Lynda - I guess it's what 'we' value our writing for ... and our knowledge of life in general ... our education and realising that we all need to learn - I agree why pay for something you've no idea about ... cheers Hilary

    1. I've now re-edited seven books over the years that were edited by less-than-qualified people. My job was to fix the damage done. A few of the authors realized the errors prior to publishing, but one did not, and it did irreparable damage to her readership.

  2. The best person to evaluate an editor is one who has taken the trouble to learn as much possible about editing.

    The best person to evaluate a doctor is one who's taken the trouble to learn about health in general and in particular - it's a relationship, not a visit to a guru.

    Paying an editor is not the same thing as getting your work edited. I recently got pulled into a group discussion about a writer's first thriller, which he happily provided to anyone who asked for a copy. I couldn't get through the first chapter. He took criticism very badly, said it had already been through four editors and was thoroughly edited, published it, and was doing well by many parameters with the book. I'm sure you're heard many of those stories.

    I shrugged and said I couldn't, in good conscience give him a good review because it wasn't my usual purview (which was a white lie of sorts as I used to read quite a few - but don't now), and because I had not been able to finish. He did not have any interest in my mildly-worded suggestions about the chapter I had read, so we parted ways.

    I try not to be envious of financial success of things I can't read, but comfort myself with knowledge that the good stuff tends to last better (assuming it first gets any traction). And bend my nose to my own grindstone.

    1. I might have struggled with the writer you dealt with, had I been in the same situation. If there were four editors and a reader still took issue with the quality, I don't see how a reader's opinion is valueless. I understand that each reader expects and gains something different from a book than another reader might, but it's not as if you were saying, "This sucks," and not telling what put you off from continuing.

      Readers are not to take the place of critique partners, and authors should certainly be prepared for the idea that not everyone will be enamored of their books. However, if this gentleman offered his book for review and then didn't want to hear a genuine review, I'd say the problem doesn't sit on the reader's side of the fence. Why did it have to have four editors? That's an excessive amount—even if he had a developmental editor, copy editor, and a proofreader, three would be plenty.

  3. I know a few people who always say "You should have asked me before you rented that apartment," or "before you bought that car," or whatever... but only after the fact. They could have gotten you a better deal, of course. It's like those who hear about something that happened to you, and then tell you about something similar that they went through, only their experience was much better, or much worse.

    1. Don't you love those people? If the deal the got/can get is so great, why didn't they share the information first? Maybe it's not all it's cracked up to be.

      I've heard tales of the race to the bottom from editor after editor, cover designer after cover designer. Everyone wants something for nothing or next-to-nothing. Money is not always a good bottom line when it comes to judging someone's work. Unfortunately, there is always someone out there who is willing to do something cheaper, either to snag a job from another, because they don't know the value of their work, or some other reason. I've come to the point where I need to evaluate where my time is best spent, and whether X amount of hours is actually worth whatever money those hours will bring in.

      I do enjoy giving someone a decent deal, or a freebie now and then, but I have no tolerance for a stranger trying to lowball me. Maybe I'm getting cranky in my old age (haha my "old" age being only 53), or maybe I'm finally realizing the value of what I specialize in.

  4. Many people adopt the "I can get it done for far less" mentality.
    Well, good luck to them.
    We all exercise freedom of choice - but first investigate and then make an informed decision.

    1. Everyone is free to make their own choices, yes. Unfortunately, many of them feel the need to tell others their prices are out of line when in actuality they have no idea of the value of the work.


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