Ok, so you’ve read my previous post on my not-so-great experience with Jessica Hollis-Brown, a fraudulent, so-called editor. I’ve had an enormous response from a lot of people, many of whom I’ve never met. This has restored my faith in humans. Along with this fantastic support has been a lot of good advice from people who have had a lot more experience in the world of getting a book edited, than I have. I am going to share that advice with you right now, and hopefully we’ll all be a little bit wiser and more able to side-step the evil minions of the literary world.

  1. The biggest tip I can give you, which I didn’t do, (excuse me for a moment while I slap my own hand) is to talk to other people who have used their services. Don’t be afraid to ask what other work they’ve done, and get the contact details for their clients. If they won’t provide them, walk away.
  2. Ask what their qualifications are—this, unfortunately, didn’t save me. She said she had a degree, which she very well might have. A degree in English, literature or anything else, is not a degree in honesty.
  3. Check any memberships they claim to have. Ms Hollis-Brown claims to be a member of the Editorial Freelancers Association. I didn’t check at the time, but a friend who saw my blog post decided to check, and guess what? She isn’t on their member directory (slap number 2 coming my way). http://www.the-efa.org/contact.php
  4. Always pay with CREDIT CARD. I paid with paypal. Paypal doesn’t insure services, only goods. They said if I’d paid with credit card my bank could recoup the money. I, of course, direct debited money from my bank account to Paypal, so I wasn’t covered (I’m off to the naughty corner for my third misdemeanor).

So, if anyone has any other tips they’d like to share, please do. I’d like to thank everyone who has sent me words of support; you are all the silver lining to this cloudy situation. Thanks also for helping to spread the word via Twitter, Facebook and Google. There is a wonderful community of writers and readers out there and I’m glad to be a part of it. Cheers and thanks for visiting.



11 thoughts on “How to Find a Trustworthy Editor

  1. Excellent suggestions. Your previous post about your experience with this “editor” was frightening. I hope your future contracts prove more worthy.

    1. Thanks Michelle. And I’m happy there are more comments on what to expect from legitimate editors as well. It’s information we can all benefit from.

  2. Hi Dionne,

    This sounds like a very frustrating experience, and I hope you get your money back. As a professional editor, it’s very important to me and to members of my community that editors deliver what they promise. I actually heard about your situation from the EFA listserv, and editors there were upset to hear that you’d encountered this situation.

    If I might offer a few more tips on vetting a professional editor:
    1.) Always take advantage of an editing sample if it’s offered. This should help give you a sense of an editor’s skill level and professionalism. Obviously, however, since most prospective copyediting clients are not copyeditors themselves, if you’re able to ask an eagle-eyed friend or two to review the sample for a second opinion, you may want to do so.

    2.) Most professional editors should have recent projects and clients lists available on their Web sites. Do check out these books on Amazon or BN.com, and read the first few pages if they’re available to view. Sometimes, if an editor has been instrumental in editing or developing a project, they’ll be listed in a book’s acknowledgements.

    3.) Don’t be afraid to call an editor for a brief consultation or ask if they’ll connect via Skype if that’s easier. A fifteen-minute conversation could tell you a lot–whether the editor is right for your project, to be sure, but also if they seem unable or unwilling to answer your questions.

    4.) Many professional editors work with a contract for each project. This generally outlines the project schedule, the work being performed, your right to confidentiality, and the fees involved, but it should also include a protocol for refunding your money if the work is not delivered. Don’t be scared off by a contract–this gives you as well as your editor guidelines should a dispute arise.

    Two caveats: Though this hasn’t come up very often, prospective clients have occasionally requested samples of work I’ve done for other clients, which I’m unable to provide. Please understand that by not providing you with these samples, I’m protecting the confidentiality and intellectual property of my other clients, a protection that will also be extended to you.

    Also, a professional editor *should* be able to provide you with some references to contact if requested, but sometimes the question of confidentiality also comes into play here, especially if the editor is performing a service like ghostwriting, where their involvement in a project is confidential by nature. There are some cases in which an editor won’t be able to give you a list of phone numbers or emails, and it doesn’t necessarily mean the editor is a fraud.

    Professional editing is an investment, so it’s definitely worthwhile to research service providers carefully. Best of luck with your writing, Dionne, and sorry again that this happened to you.

    Hope this is helpful,

    1. Hi Lindsey. Thank you so much for taking the time to give some very helpful advice :). I did get a sample from her, which was ok, but not great, but I didn’t have anyone else to tell me if it was quality editing or not. I was very green. After learning a lot more since then, I look at what she did and am thankful she didn’t edit my book. Professional editing is an investment and all writers, if they want their book to shine, should have it done. It’s heartening to see the ‘goodies’ outnumber the ‘baddies’ :).

  3. Hi, Dionne. I saw your previous post, but didn’t have a chance to get back to comment. I’ve been busy with those two graduations in my house. In any event, don’t beat yourself up too badly. We’re surrounded by evildoers and it’s hard to stay vigilant for all of them.
    The first query I ever sent out for my debut novel came back a home run. They wanted it. I signed a contract and then the next day found out it was all a fraud. I got out of it, thankfully, but it broke my heart to go from such a high to that low. It took 18 months before I heard “we want you” again.
    On the other hand, there is a wonderful community of writers, readers and like-minded folks out there who are supportive as hell. Right?


    1. Hi Jimmy 🙂 You are an example of the supportive writers. Sorry to hear you almost fell for a publishing scam, there are so many to avoid—it’s kind of like walking in the unkempt backyard of a person who has a couple of dogs lol. Thanks for the hug, you’ve made me feel so much better 😉

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