a woman with her hands up and palms out in a defensive position

5 reasons NOT to hire me to edit your manuscript

Let’s keep this simple … why should you NOT hire me to edit your manuscript?

This post covers:

  • common reasons why editor–author collaborations fail
  • why you may not want to hire me to edit your manuscript
  • how you can save money, time, or both, by finding the right person for your manuscript
  • several differences between indie fiction and academic publishing processes

1) You don’t want to be edited at all

Not all writers want to be edited. An involved edit is a collaborative process. It’s a bit like working with a therapist or mentor – building a good working relationship is crucial. If you’re not open to the process, then it’s much more likely to be a bumpy one.

If a publisher or experienced colleague has told you to find a proofreader or copyeditor, but you think the text doesn’t need that, then I’m not the editor for you.

2) You don’t want to be edited by me

Let’s continue with the therapist metaphor. For an involved edit, you should find an editor you want to work with and you should feel comfortable with their edits. Not every therapist is compatible with every person seeking help. The same applies to this level of editing as tweaking someone’s style is often a deeply personal exercise. While there are industry standards, involved editing includes many subjective judgment calls too.

And all editors work differently. While we strive to keep the author’s style intact rather than imposing our own, the depth of intervention does vary. This is why I always recommend we work on a sample first.

As for my personal approach: I’m at the descriptivist rather than prescriptivist end of the editing spectrum, while respecting style guide conventions. Typically, I offer guidance on conscious and inclusive language. If edits such as ‘the elderly’> ‘older people’ OR [used in a general sense] ‘men and women’> ‘people of all genders’ make you feel uncomfortable, then we’re probably not a good fit.

3) You’re in a rush

I usually book out one to three months in advance for big projects (books). For short projects (short stories or journal articles) my turnaround time is two weeks. This means I can fit these smaller jobs around the big project I have on at that time.

This is how I enjoy running my business: leisure and the avoidance of unnecessary stress are important to me. I’m free to set my own working hours and schedule, and this is how I like it.

If you are a cultural anthropologist in an extreme rush to send a journal article off, this is often a red flag for me. Why? Because articles are often in peer review for months. If you are unwilling to wait just two weeks for the edits, and you don’t have a really good reason worth paying a premium for, my guess is that you don’t value the editing process or that you are creating unnecessary stress for yourself. Either way, please look elsewhere.

4) You’re a cultural anthropologist and you ONLY need light copyediting OR your text needs a rewrite

Light copyediting is about preparing the text for publication and checking for editorial style, spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors etc. It requires specialist editorial knowledge but not necessarily any genre (fiction) or subject (academic) expertise.

For indie fiction clients, I’m currently available for all levels of editing.

But for cultural anthropologists, many journals provide light copyediting (expert tip: always check what editing they provide before clicking send on the final, peer-reviewed version). I wouldn’t want to waste my time and your money if a journal is providing this service.

Developmental editing and line-editing play to my strengths – my subject expertise, academic publishing record, and publishing knowledge. I love reworking manuscripts to improve the style and writing quality. And I love giving big-picture feedback on how the text hangs together (developmental editing).

If light copyediting is all your text needs, you will probably find other editors who are a better fit – you don’t need a subject expert for a light copyedit.

Equally, from time to time I receive texts that have clearly been through translation software and sometimes I quick editorial pass from the author: I’ve seen this happen with both fiction and academic texts. If this is you, please don’t contact me.


First, you should hire a translator. It may cost around three times as much but that is the service you need.

Second, it is often a red flag that you don’t care much about the writing quality. That’s totally legitimate, especially for academic writing – many academic authors write to communicate ideas, not to communicate them well. But editors love improving style, readability, clarity, and so if that’s not a focus for you, our collaboration will probably be a waste of time.

5) Our budgets don’t match up

I have carefully calibrated my prices, and I review them each year. For most services, I charge per 1000 words – this means you know what the price is when you hire me. You will always know the full price before you hire me, and my rates match the EFA median rates for editorial services.

When should you hire me to edit your manuscript?

If you’ve read this far and haven’t been put off. Feel free to get in touch to discuss your project in more detail!

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.