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Thread: Any Scams Aimed at Editors?

  1. #1
    Nefarious Ghost Fan AnneMarble's Avatar
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    Any Scams Aimed at Editors?

    Besides scams aimed at writers, I was wondering if there are scams aimed at editors. Note: By editors I mean copyeditors, proofreaders, techie editors, etc. rather than in-house editors doing structural and/oror line editing. (Is the opposite of an in-house editor an outhouse editor?)

    A couple of years ago, I remember one scam where a vanity press was trying to get editors to work on a royalty basis. Someone on the copyediting list serv was warned away from that one, but I'm sure she wasn't the only one who was tempted.

    Also, I remember a couple of scams where people got free editing by putting up an ad for editing services, and then telling all interested persons they had to do an editing test to qualify. It turns out that each person got a chapter of a book to edit, and in the end all were told that they weren't selected for the job. :faint:

    Are there any others? If so, let me at 'em!
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  2. #2
    Writer Beware Goddess Absolute Sage victoriastrauss's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AnneMarble
    Also, I remember a couple of scams where people got free editing by putting up an ad for editing services, and then telling all interested persons they had to do an editing test to qualify. It turns out that each person got a chapter of a book to edit, and in the end all were told that they weren't selected for the job.
    There's an article about that very scam on Writer Beware.

    - Victoria

  3. #3
    Nefarious Ghost Fan AnneMarble's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by victoriastrauss
    There's an article about that very scam on Writer Beware.
    That's the one! Yikes! I remember mentioning it on the copyediting list. Isn't that the publisher that quoted a review that said one of the books they had published was "a mortifying work"? Yes, they should have been mortified for scamming people.
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  4. #4
    The late, the great XThe NavigatorX mdin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by victoriastrauss
    There's an article about that very scam on Writer Beware.

    - Victoria
    That's brilliant! It's so deliciously evil you gotta give the guy some credit. Of course a poorly-written book with each chapter edited by a different editor would probably read like it'd been written by a schizophrenic.

  5. #5
    durazno3
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    How Much Paranoia is Right?

    Hello Everyone,

    I have heard the story about the editing "test" sent to several editors that was actually parts of one book that got edited for free. I have heard about fake poetry contests and vanity publishers...

    My question is, how much paranoia is too much?

    It seems to me that as a beginner here, that I should expect to be ripped-off some, and maybe, I could chalk it up to experience. Maybe some of the "scams" that I see are actually viable offers for work, even if the pay is bad.

    And, lastly, if I find myself ensnared by some unscrupulous publisher, how do I untangle myself and how gracefully should I do it? Should I care?

  6. #6
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    Trust but verify.

    You wouldn't buy a car without checking Consumer Reports, would you? Same way with publishers and agents. Publishers are in the business of making things public. Legitimate guys, there's tons of information on them.

    Here's the first quick sort: Yog's Law. Money flows toward the author.

    Some scammers have figured out elaborate ways around tripping that trigger by hiding and disguising and renaming their fees, but it's a good first line of defense.

  7. #7
    I am a pretty pretty flower Galoot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by durazno3
    Hello Everyone
    Welcome to AW, durazno.

    I have heard the story about the editing "test" sent to several editors that was actually parts of one book that got edited for free. I have heard about fake poetry contests and vanity publishers...
    Then you're already further ahead of the game than a lot of folks.

    It seems to me that as a beginner here, that I should expect to be ripped-off some, and maybe, I could chalk it up to experience.
    Bull****. Nobody walks around expecting to be mugged and chalks it up to experience. Take steps to learn which side of town is safe, and how to handle yourself if you wander to the bad side. But don't plan to be ripped off. Protect yourself.

    Maybe some of the "scams" that I see are actually viable offers for work, even if the pay is bad.
    A low-paying market is just a low-paying market. There's no shame in working for them. We've all got to start somewhere. If you hear something is a scam, or simply aren't sure one way or the other, ask someone who's further up the ladder than you are. Stick around. There are a ton of helpful pros at Absolute Write who, lord love them, take time away from their work to give the rest of us a hand.

    And, lastly, if I find myself ensnared by some unscrupulous publisher, how do I untangle myself and how gracefully should I do it? Should I care?
    Yes, you should care. Especially if you're hoping to build a career out of writing.

    How graceful should you be? I don't know. How much can you afford to lose? If you've just been ripped off for thousands of dollars or thousands of hours worth of work, get a lawyer. If your name will be forever tainted by your association with a rip-off artist, use a pen name for your next book. But if you got paid $325 instead of $340 for your article because your editor rounded his word count down while you rounded up, don't sweat it. You'll make it back on your next sale to that same editor.
    Okay, I'll stop referencing you in my sig, reph. Happy now?

  8. #8
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    lawyers

    "How graceful should you be? I don't know. How much can you afford to lose? If you've just been ripped off for thousands of dollars"

    In the state of California at least, anything under $5,000 goes to small claims court where lawyers aren't used. Lawyers don't take small cases, and thousands of dollars is pocket change.

    Depending on the nature of work, lawyers may charge hourly fees, a percentage of the case that they win for you (or money that they otherwise bring in for you). Either way, thousands isn't a lot to work with unless you're talking about 5 or 6 digits.

  9. #9
    I am a pretty pretty flower Galoot's Avatar
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    I defer to the Californian as far as California law is concerned.

    From my perspective--one check away from living under a tarp for the next year--thousands of bucks is a lot of money, and I'd scream bloody murder after losing such an amount to a fraudster or an incompetent. As I said, "How much can you afford to lose?" I can't afford to lose that much.
    Okay, I'll stop referencing you in my sig, reph. Happy now?

  10. #10
    Quixote without a cause Jeff's Avatar
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    Hello Durazno3,

    Pay close attention to what James, Galoot and Justino are telling you, it is great advice.

    Further, I would suggest that as we learn the craft of writing, we all need to spend some time also learning about the Business of Writing. There are enough people out there willing to give you a lesson in it the hard way, only you can educate yourself to do your best to avoid that.

    I recall my first lesson in writing as a young man. In reading one of my favourite authors, the main character - who was a photographer/writer in the beginning of the series - said something that I have always carried with me. To paraphrase it: "Why should I show my work to someone who cannot pay me for it?"

    I did not take this as an indication not to join writers groups, or not to mave a mentor, or not to take writing classes, rather I took his meaning to be this: Once my work is up to the very best my current ability, have faith in it and send it out to the best in the business. The market will decide if I am publishable or not. In the meantime, I will keep writing and refining my craft.

    I recall reading the story of Stephen King's first novel sale "Carrie". Living in a trailer in the cold northeast, writing in his tiny furnace room, working for a industrial laundry (about which he wrote a chilling story later in his career), he and Tabitha and their first child were *this close* to not being able to pay their bills. It was then he sold the novel. While the author of the bio never noted what Kings advance was, I did. I noted that it was enough to move out of the trailer, put a down payment on a new place and pay off the bills he owed.

    Obviously, Mr. King did not publish with Publish America or one of their ilk. Lesson learned: A writers work has the ability to generate good monetary return, but only if you are marketing it to the right places.

    Sorry to ramble a bit, Durazno, but it is my hope that others out there also come to understand that you should use all that you see, hear and read about the business in order to protect yourself and your work. Don't let the scammers scare you off, they will always be out there preying on those who do not do their homework (and sometimes the slickest of them can ensnare even those who do). Your job, aside from writing to the best of your ability, is to work to find the *best* home for your work.

    Never sell yourself short.

    The job does not stop when you write "The End".

    -Jeff
    Last edited by Jeff; 03-12-2005 at 09:59 PM.

  11. #11
    durazno3
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    Thanks, everyone, for your generous and helpful advice.

    I will take it to heart and re-read your comments.

    D-

  12. #12
    practical experience, FTW jackie106's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff
    I recall reading the story of Stephen King's first novel sale "Carrie". Living in a trailer in the cold northeast, writing in his tiny furnace room, working for a industrial laundry (about which he wrote a chilling story later in his career), he and Tabitha and their first child were *this close* to not being able to pay their bills. It was then he sold the novel. While the author of the bio never noted what Kings advance was, I did. I noted that it was enough to move out of the trailer, put a down payment on a new place and pay off the bills he owed.
    -Jeff
    According to his autobiography, King's advance on Carrie was $2500 for hardcover and $400,000 for paperback. On Writing is the only King book I own (I'm more of a mystery buff), but it has some awesome advice about writing.

    I can think of 2,499 reasons why the hardcover advance was better than what PA offers.

    Jackie

  13. #13
    mommywrites
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    Beware of Robert Sandie- looking for an editor!

    Robert Sandie came to me in regards of looking for an editor. He is not loking for anyone, he is only looking for a quick sample edit. He then says- ok, well don't expect anything from me soon whether or not you complete it. I have heard this now from a few different people. When I was approached, I refused to do a sample writing. I just wanted all you out there to be aware of this scam going on. From what it seems- it looks as if he hs something written, and just wants a quick freebie with no thoughts as taking anyone as an ediotr or writer.

    Take care ya'll and think fast!

    Amanda

  14. #14
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    Another scam aimed at editors is this: the Editing Test.

    You apply for a job at at "publisher." You're sent a chapter from a book to edit as a "test." You're then informed that you didn't get the job.

    What you don't know is that a Clever Bugger has decided to get his book Edited for Free by sending out the whole thing, in the form of individual chapters, to different editors. Say there are 20 chapters in the book. Twenty different tests, and there you are! A professionally edited book!

    This doesn't help the Clever Bugger, though, because those chapters edited individually won't tell if the plot works, if scenes are missing, if the climax rises naturally from the opening ... all of those things that really getting edited can tell you.

  15. #15
    practical experience, FTW Tsu Dho Nimh's Avatar
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    I have heard of the same scam - take a test - aimed at translators. They keep a list of which businesses to avoid.

    I've seen one "do a chapter" aimed at tech writers: the sleaze asked each writer he interviewed to edit and format a sample of material for a respiratory therapist school.

    I did a few pages of the chapter and stopped because it was a reasonable sample. He was angry, I smelled eau d' con-man, so I took my pages and left. Much later I discovered a bunch of other writers who had all been asked to provide samples. ALmost all of them did what I did - a partial chapter. The newer writers were the ones who did the full chapters.

  16. #16
    hanging out in near-permanent lurkdom Mags's Avatar
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    I've only ever taken a few editing tests in my day, but isn't it usually pretty obvious that they are, indeed, tests, and not raw text?
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  17. #17
    Hagiographically Advantaged AW Moderator HapiSofi's Avatar
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    No. Most of the editing, copyediting, and proofreading tests I've seen have consisted of one or more hunks of very bad text. You mark it up and give it back. This has the virtue of testing for the same training and abilities you'll be called on to exercise as a freelancer.
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  18. #18
    Preditors & Editors Requiescat In Pace DaveKuzminski's Avatar
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    This kind of scam even happens in programming. I recall being tested for a programming position where the business asked how to solve a particular programming problem. Yep, you guessed it. They didn't hire anyone because they had the solution to their program problem.

  19. #19
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    Editing tests.

    I had one editing test that I didn't return because of the instructions. The publisher essentially said "Don't query us about ANYTHING -- just edit it all" and that that was their policy for work.

    Having the attitude spelled out that no queries were acceptable... I kept trying to figure out how to reply to that. I couldn't. So I didn't return the test.

    I can't imagine a publisher who thinks there's nothing to query except inside the manuscript itself.

    Any new client without a style sheet, I have to ask them what style preferences they have.

    There's always something, even a little thing, that ends up being a global query. Sure, I can mark that every time the MC appears, his eyes have changed color like a rainbow cycling through the spectrum...

    Or a format issue because the characters are telepathic, but the author is almost evenly split between using bold for telepathy and bold ital.
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  20. #20
    Mildly Disturbing Filigree's Avatar
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    Not a scam, but after taking one publisher's editorial test I figured out that 1) I am not editor material, and 2) I didn't want to publish with that company.

    This M/M space opera
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  21. #21
    Absurd and Obscure ash.y's Avatar
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    This isn't a scam in the traditional sense (I don't think most small publishers set out with the intention of doing this), but I consider it one: small presses hiring editors (and other staff, and signing authors)...and then never paying them. Contracts be damned!

    Remember Entranced Publishing?

    My advice for editors who don't want to get scammed: err on the side of older publishers, get someone w/ experience to review your contract, and do not accept royalty-based payment.
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  22. #22
    Copy editor
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    Quote Originally Posted by ash.y View Post
    My advice for editors who don't want to get scammed: err on the side of older publishers, get someone w/ experience to review your contract, and do not accept royalty-based payment.
    Agreed. Anyone who tells me they pay editorial with royalties, I don't work for. I can't control the book sales. I shouldn't have to wait on the book maybe selling to get paid.

    And I'm production: I do the job, I get paid.
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  23. #23
    I grow my own catnip JulieB's Avatar
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    You guys beat me to it. I'm tired of the people who provide the content and make it ready to sell being put at the bottom of the payment pile.

  24. #24
    Mildly Disturbing Filigree's Avatar
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    I think that's going to have to be its own detailed entry in Filigree's Rule, my list for reasons to reject publishers.

    I hear from small publishers: 'Oh, we don't have the capital to pay all of our staff upfront.' I always want to shout back: 'Then you shouldn't be in this business.' Often, the same companies misuse their unpaid interns, as well.

    Small presses sell royalty-based income to editors largely as a daydream and best-selling scenario. For most of their books, selling into the thousands of copies is pure fantasy. It would be nice if editors got at least base pay.

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  25. #25
    I grow my own catnip JulieB's Avatar
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    Exactly. If I wanted to hire people to help me out, I'd be darned sure I had the capital to pay them as they perform their work, not to mention doing whatever it takes to be on the right side of the law in regard to taxes, 1099s, and so on.

    I understand the dream. I have big dreams - followed by nightmares about taking other people down with me. (Really, you don't want to be in my responsibility dreams. )

    I wish these startups well, but "I'll gladly pay you Tuesday for some editing today" doesn't cut it with me. In my experience, Tuesday rarely comes.

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