When Do I Want My Name on the Book?

One of the challenges of being a freelance book editor is abiding by the desires of my clients. I can be engaged as a substantive editor, an organizational editor, a copyeditor, or a proofreader. Each comes with different tasks and a different price tag.

Of course, the more substantive the edit, the higher the cost, so many authors choose the least expensive alternative…often when they shouldn’t. It is difficult, as an editor, to perform mere copyediting when the manuscript cries out for so much more. In this situation, I diplomatically inform my client that I believe the manuscript could be improved with further editing; this is always a dicey task, given that I don’t want to appear to be trawling for more work. Some accept, others decline (always because of the cost).

It has been a challenge to accept the limits on my editing options for some clients. But they know what they can afford. However, given the abysmal state of some texts even after I have done my part, I prefer to not have my name listed as editor.

A case in point. I just finished reading a self-published, and freelance edited, novel. Finding errors like “every legend has some bases in fact” and a seemingly total lack of understanding of the compound past, I immediately checked to see who had edited the text. Given the general state of the writing throughout, I would have left my name out of the credits.

There are some books I point to with pride. Others might never have existed.

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