Offshore Editing? You Gotta Be Kidding!

Guest post by Sandra “Sandy” Rea

As an author and a publishing and promotions industry professional I receive a lot of emails. I was stopped in my tracks today by one that came through that touted all sorts of services that would be of interest to authors. Before I tell you about the crux of this offer, let me be very clear about something. If the offers I receive in my email are good, I will share them with my network. For example, I will share the one I received that brought me to this site. I love this site and I can easily support the people behind the site. However, when emails are questionable, I do not share them. I hit the delete button and usually ask the sender to take me off their recipient list. What I’d like to do is share them with my network in full, but I don’t. I do, however, respond to the sender with a few questions of my own.

In this case, the email I received today got under my skin. It was from an offshore company and the email was pretty long. Some of the services being offered were of a technical nature, like converting print books to e-books. I asked the sender if an actual human does the conversion or at the very least oversees the process so the e-book doesn’t end up looking like a mess with jumbled-up images and bits of headlines mingled in with other bits of content. That’s what can happen with automated ePub software. For manuscripts without a lot of complications and images ePub works fine, but for image-driven books, it doesn’t work the way we might hope. A human is necessary to the process. I asked this question and have received zero response.

The next thing in the sender’s list of offshore services was editing. That one really smacked me upside my brain. I read and re-read the email. Really? Are they for real, I thought.

In the first sentence of this long email, the company is very forthcoming about where they are located. What alarmed me about this particular offering is that in the email itself the wording made it apparent that the writer of the email (the supposed head of the company or the head of the marketing and sales division) didn’t have a good command of the English language. My mind took this a step further. How could an offshore “editor” have a firm grasp on all of the nuances within our English language? It would be like someone asking me to edit a manuscript that had been written in Spanish. I can speak Spanish, and I can read it well enough, but that by no means implies that I could possibly edit for someone in South America. There are nuances within nuances in the Spanish language, and things change according to which part of the continent you happen to be visiting. The same goes for America. We have 50 states, and each has its own flavor. Language varies state to state. The way people speak varies. The styles of writing across the United States are as varied as our people. Beyond that there are many different genres. There are also academic works. In the latter perhaps someone in another country who has an incredible understanding of our grammar and punctuation (and very long words) might be able to edit a piece of academia, but the same rules do not apply to, let’s say, dark humor. That’s what I tend to write, and I use a lot of tongue-in-cheek references and things one would have to truly understand before she could edit my work.

I am not saying that it is impossible for an offshore editor to edit a manuscript for authors here in the States, but it would be an awfully large undertaking. As for me, I wouldn’t chance it. However, since I received the email, there must be authors who don’t share my feelings about this topic. Otherwise, the emails wouldn’t be sent. Or maybe it’s a numbers game. The prices were dirt cheap, after all, and some authors might jump on that affordability factor. However, it is my never-humble opinion that you get what you pay for in life.

Sandra Rea is an author and co-founder of Full Circle Media & Author Promotions who writes dark humor and slice-of-life non-fiction. Currently, her books are available in e-book format only, except for one, Babies On Board, a work she describes as something she felt compelled to create. It can only be special ordered from www.booksforyoungreaders.com or directly from the author. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Sandra’s book And Then My Lawyer Died that was originally written under her pen name of Alexandria Rae continues to sell well. Sandra says she wrote the incredibly honest work to get people to think a little harder before they take the plunge into marriage or divorce. Sandra now works with authors across genres, helping them bring their books to life and to the market. Sandra writes at least one article per week on topics intended to help authors avoid the pitfalls and perils of self-publishing and promotions, which may be accessed at www.fullcircle-media.com.

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Posted on July 12, 2013, in Blogging Authors, Writing & Publishing. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Great post, Sandy. It's worrisome that some authors will receive this email at the right time, think the price is right, and jump on the "deal" before doing any research or blog-surfing to see what else is out there — and I definitely agree with you that an editor working in his or her native language will do a better job than in a second language in nearly all cases. (And personally, as an editor, I like this because it gives me a sense of job security in a world where jobs are always moving overseas!)

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