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Editing Scams and How To Avoid Them

If you write anything and want it published, sooner or later you are going to run into a scam that has been milking authors like cows for years. The scam I am talking about is the editing and proofreading service industry.

If you want to protect your work, save yourself a ton of time and money, this is the blog for you!

Today, I will explain the three reasons why today editing and proof reading are usually a scam. You can watch this blog as a video HERE

The History:

Since the birth of the digital age, in the 1990s, the Legacy Publishing Industry has lost over 40% of its market share to self-publishers. But at the same time, as literacy rates have increased, ironically, people tend to read less. As it turns out, the man that can read but doesn’t has no advantage over the man that can’t, certainly not in terms of selling books.

Today over a third of the adult population never read a book and of those that do, they only spend minutes a day reading.

As the Legacy publishing industry, mostly, family run businesses started to lose serious amounts of money, the first victims to be thrown under the bus were the editing staff and when we lost them the world lost another unique skill base.

Anyone old enough to remember the 1960s will know that over the years our civilisation has devolved. Many of the trades, that people once took for granted, have been lost: like tailors, boot makers and Jewelers and, of course, publishers.

In the modern world, we may call a company, a “Publisher” or someone an “Editor” but they are not what we think they are. They are not what we imagine them to be.

Most modern publishing houses are just a place where useless degrees go to die.

And none of that would matter, if it were not for the rise of digital printing technology. Just as the Legacy Publishing Industry died, the Self-Publishing industry was born.  All of a sudden there were thousands and thousands of would-be authors willing to pay money to see their work in print, very few of whom understood the publishing business or its jargon and this made them singularly vulnerable to being ripped-off.

Naturally, human nature being what it is, companies began to circle, like so many sharks around a shoal of wounded fish. They quickly began to feed off these would-be authors by taking advantage of their ignorance, their desire for recognition and their hope.

As we will see, most of these publishing companies don’t know a comma from their elbow or a full stop from their arse, which brings me to the three cankers on the body of what was once a proud publishing industry: Jargon, Non-Editor Editors and the myth of AI.

Firstly, let’s look at Jargon.

To be honest, in a way, it’s not their fault! Most of the people working in the Publishing Industry are Millennials who  have inherited terms that they don’t understand that refer to a printing process that no longer exists.

Once upon a time, these terms were used to describe an organic process of manuscript development but today these terms are used interchangeably and so HAVE become EFFECTIVELY meaningless.

In all of the top ten Editing and Proof reading companies, proof reading is the same as line editing, which is the same as structural editing.

And why is this a problem?

Most would-be authors, have a vague idea that they should have their work edited before they publish in order to be professional – in order to be a real writer!

These publishing companies seem to use anachronistic terms – these terms left over from a bygone age – to intimidate and confuse their customers into paying for something that they really don’t need at that stage of manuscript development.

Secondly, the Non Editor Editors.

Who are these millennials – these literary shysters? – who are milking writers like cows?

The vast majority hide behind intimidating qualifications that are entirely irrelevant to the process of writing. These non editor editors, have PhDs in subjects as helpful as physics, geology and philosophy. And here’s the thing! Even a PhD in English literature has no bearing on your ability to write or to edit.

It doesn’t matter that your name is Philomena and you have a PhD in the history of art, if the only thing you ever write are texts to your boyfriend you have no business calling yourself an editor. If your client is talking about the history of art in their work you can check their facts but not their writing.

And how do I know that they are not real editors?

Nearly all of these companies charge a set per-word-fee and this is suspicious. The amount of time it takes to physically edit a manuscript must – logically – depend on how many errors it contains and what you are being asked to look for. So there’s something going on here.

The other clue that you are being ripped off is the fact that human beings cannot read a text for structure and style and correct spelling and grammar at the same time. The brain doesn’t work that way. If we are engrossed in a book we don’t notice misspellings. So what is going on?

Nearly all of these “Editing companies” use a computer program to edit your work. Some of them are proud to say that they use A.I. and some pretend that they don’t.

Which brings me to the third Canker: They Myth of A.I.

It’s not just the Editing and Proof reading companies that are ripping you off.

Some companies have even created programs, like Grammarly, that  can be installed on your computer to edit your work as you write and they too call these programs A.I. Artificial Intelligence.

As we said, a lot of these editing farms only use systems like Grammarly and a few of them even admit it.

So what is the problem with A.I?

Until ten minutes ago, everyone agreed that the term A.I. referred to a sentient computer. A self-aware program. It is part of our cultural assumptions.

And that is why they use the term A.I. They are counting on you thinking that having Arnold Swatsaneger, Mr Smith or Data from star trek to edit your work would be worth paying for. They are counting on you feeling more comfortable being edited by A.I. than condescending Philomena.

But there’s a problem. Artificial Intelligence only exists in science fiction novels. All we have today and all we will ever have is a “Machine Learning Algorithms or MLA”

And here’s the problem with MLA

MLA systems like Grammarly only see words as relationships, ones and zeros, they know that the word “Rose” might be a name, a flower or an action but they don’t know what a rose really is and what it means to you. They have never experienced a rose because they are not alive.

Zoe Bee is a professor of English and she did a great video on Grammarly and on A.I. systems like GPT-3. If you are a nerd like me check them out. I will leave a link in the description.

And this is why Grammarly, and programs like it, are useless to writers – whether you use them yourself or pay someone to put your work through the program.

Using systems like Grammarly will actually retard your ability as a writer and make your work soulless.

So how are we different

The Writers 4 Writers approach at Libertad Communications is to go back to basics – to resurrect the old skills and reattach them to the creative process.

With us, Proof Reading is something that is only done after all the editing is complete and the book has been laid out for printing. It’s usually free.

A structural edit is usually done by our elite team of Beta Readers at a fraction of the cost that the big ten will charge you.

Our structural edit is cheaper than our line edit and we won’t give you a price for line edit until we can calculate how long it will take.

If you want to know what these terms really mean – go to our website and read blogs – email us and we will send you a free guide.

We are Writers working for other Writers. Most of us are highly qualified in other fields but that is entirely irrelevant to the process of editing. We aim to be Olympic standard in our writing and our reading because your dreams are our products. No computer can simulate that.

If you would like to know more and would like to discuss you work with us, why not take advantage of our free 15 video chat.

Until next time – be well.

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