My Horrible Experience with FirstEditing

#PublishingFoul Logo Indies UnlimitedGuest Post
by Brenda Perlin

After my first book had been picked up by a publisher (not as good as it sounds), I figured my story needed to be cleaned up before I let it go to press. I was jazzed by the idea of my book getting some attention, but I didn’t want to use the publisher’s “paid editing” option. I had no idea where to turn. That was until, by coincidence, a radio ad for FirstEditing was broadcast while I was driving. Jotting down their number, I called as soon as I could.

The editing company said they were the best in the business, and their prices were lower than most. They told me my story would shine by the time they were done with it and within minutes, I gave them my credit card information, and we were set to go. Even though $1,100.00 was a lot of money for me, I wanted my novel to ‘shine,’ as they promised.

Everything was fine until I received my first edit, and my education with track changes began. At that time, the publishing business was completely new to me. It was like being in a foreign country, and I was expected to understand the lingo.

Once I figured out how to use the word processing tool, I was excited to view the suggested edits. That was until I started finding typos not caught by the editing company. This was not a good sign. After I agreed to the changes, we corresponded back and forth, and corrections were made, but still there were issues. Originally, it was recommended that I rewrite the story in past tense. I was okay with that suggestion, and agreed, but after the revision, I noticed that the manuscript was now a mess with both past and present tense syntax.

At first, the editing company was very helpful and assigned me a new editor.  However, that did not solve the problems. After having spent so much money, I expected more.

The second editor explained to me that this was not a complete edit because I didn’t pay for a level 3. This was the first I’d heard of a level 3. Why didn’t they tell me that in the beginning after having read my manuscript? I was dissatisfied and frustrated. But I needed my book back, and edited, so I could get it to the publisher in time. So I paid the additional $300 to bring it up to a level 3. We went back and forth so many times til I finally realized that their work was not going to cut it. Now I was at their mercy, and they blamed me!

I redid everything in a new document and sent it back. I was told they could not and would not edit that document – only the original one – or this would be considered a new project! But the original one was such a mess, and there was no way I could work with it. I asked them to please help me – and I threatened to dispute their charges on my credit card. They replied with:

“We do guarantee our work, however once you make changes to a document it becomes a new document. [Editor’s name] has been gracious enough to try to fix the errors in your documents, but will not start over on a, once again, changed document. She will make the corrections on the last delivered document, as is the policy of our company, otherwise we will need to charge you for a new order, as the document has been changed by you from what was deliver to you.”

The back and forth continued until the company stated they would not do any further work because the 30-day guarantee provision had elapsed.

When I signed up with this company, the representative told me my work was going to be squeaky clean but sadly, that was not the case. After the “final” edit, I continued to find tense problems and typos. The manuscript was not suitable to publish, but they didn’t care. They were not willing to do anything more to help me, and I was out of luck. I, however, was not ready to give up. I was relentless with emails and phone calls and was finally able to get a few hundred dollars refunded – basically the amount of the “upgrade” to the level 3 editing, but of course that wasn’t enough to make up for what I had been through.

Since then, I have met great editors on Facebook and have learned better than to trust an online company just because they advertise on the radio.

Editing is a very essential step to book publishing; bad editing will lead to bad reviews and even to death of the book. Word of mouth goes a long way. If you are looking for a qualified editor, speak to fellow authors, check out reviews, testimonials, and recommendations. Ask them to edit a sample chapter (most should do that for free) to see if they are right for you. I wish I would have done that. Might have saved a lot of time, energy and money.

Want to hear what others think of FirstEditing? Check out this RipOff Report.

Author Brenda PerlinBrenda Perlin is an independent contemporary fiction author of five titles and numerous short stories. From memoirs to illustrated books, Brenda evokes emotional responses in her readers by using a provocatively unique writing style. Her latest book in the Brooklyn and Bo Chronicles captures the soul-wrenching conflicts of a personal struggle for emotional fulfillment. Learn more about Brenda on her website and her Author Central page.

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32 thoughts on “My Horrible Experience with FirstEditing”

  1. The level of scammery (it’s a word because I said so!) out there continues to dismay me. Thanks for the heads-up on these people, Brenda.

    BTW, our Moldovan correspondent used FirstEditing, too, with much the same result — except that she didn’t know how bad a job they did until we told her, because English isn’t her first language.

    1. It’s a real shame. You expect a business to have scruples and integrity. Sad what one does not.

      Thank you for your hard work and support Lynne.

      Haha. Love #scammery 😉

  2. Brenda, you certainly have been through the mill. Painful as it must be, we are grateful that you have shred your experience with us. It won’t change things for you but it will help others.

    1. Honestly I have moved on but for a while this was all I could think about. Thank you for your kindness Yvonne. The support is so nice and appreciated. 🙂

  3. Brenda, it looks like you have single-handedly discovered the scummiest of the scammers, much to your detriment. Like PA, this place obviously has a lot of loopholes built into their contract, and not telling the whole truth at the outset had you at their mercy. Good for you for having the determination and perseverance to keep at them; many people would have given up and shoved the book in a drawer, never to see the light of day again. Your story is as inspiring as it is dismaying. Keep fighting the good fight!

    1. Thank you so much Melissa. You are awesome! I have learned the hard way and I am certain this is not my last lesson but I am grateful to have been able to move on and find better ways to put out my books. Editing is a huge part of publishing and not to be taken lightly.

  4. What a rip off! As a publisher I see many manuscripts that still do still need some editing. I post submisison guidelines on my web site and can always tell if folks have bothered to read them or not.

    1. Thank you for reading this Arline. Good for you! There are better ways to run a business. That is for sure. Best wishes to you.

    1. Thank you Greta. Yes, some hard lessons but I am at a much better place. Still, I don’t want others to get scammed like this. I was so green and knew nothing about the book business. Still learning but I would like to think I am a bit smarter about it now. Hope so. Fingers crossed.

  5. I go only go with people that are recommended by other writers. Plus, when I chose my editor, I had her do a sample edit. She did a 1-2 page sample edit. The other editing company were wanting to charge $200 just to look at it. The sample edit wasn’t free. That was a big tell. I went with my current freelance editor, because I liked the way we worked together. From your story, it looks I might have dodged a bullet. Money upfront before anything is done usually helps you stir clear of anything. Great article. Hope it helps others to avoid loss of funds and the pitfalls that are out there.

    1. Thank you Tiffany. I honestly had no clue about any of this. I should have asked more questions and got a sample edit. Sadly, I was naive.

      I appreciate you reading my story and sharing. So great! Best wishes with your books.

    1. That is wonderful. I will keep your name on file Lorraine. People are always looking for good editors.

    1. Thank you Jane. I am just pleased that I made it through some of these publishing horror stories. There is growth in hardship and I am thankful to have this forum to talk about it and for people like yourself who care. There are blessings in everything. Well, almost. 😉

  6. Brenda, thank you for sharing. It all helps.

    What is the deal with using the present tense?
    It inspires me.
    Do Lit Agents hate it?

    1. Nothing wrong with present tense Elina. Some don’t like it but in my case I had my tenses mixed. I had to decide the best way to deliver my story so I altered it all to past tense to make it easier. I actually prefer present tense.

  7. I’m an author currently suffering a long, long bout of writer’s block, so I’ve taken up freelance editing until I can get back into the writing pool. I’m sorry you’ve had a bad experience. As well as being an author and freelance editor, I read… a lot…and I cringe at poorly edited work. It reflects badly on the author and the publisher, and yes, the editor(s) as well. If you’re ever in need of very reasonable editing services, feel free to contact me. Good luck in your future writing endeavors.

  8. Thanks for sharing, Brenda. The first editor I ever tried was via an advertisement on LinkedIn. Apart from wasting over 3 months of my time doing nothing at all, that editor wasn’t too bad.

    The next potential editor scared the hell out of me by trying to push me into signing a contract with terms I did not like at all. When I queried some of the terms, he brushed my concerns off, saying they were just part of a standard contract and could be taken out. Then he kept on pushing. I dug my heels in and ‘escaped’, mostly because I could not see how I could work with someone so pushy.

    The third editor I found, and finally engaged was IU’s own Laurie Boris. Best decision I ever made. I found Laurie through /her/ books. We write in completely different genres but I loved her writing and hoped she could polish my prose to be as good as hers. I’m not sure I’ll ever get to the ‘as good as’ part, but I was immensely happy with the work she did.

    I guess the bottom line is that you can’t go into any relationship ‘blind’. Ask for a sample. Don’t just take people at their word. The internet is full of people who are not what they would like you to think they are.

    1. I so agree with you. I was blind, deaf and dumb. I wasn’t smart about the way I went into it but thankful to have moved on.

      So glad you found Laurie Boris. She is a treasure. 🙂

      Thank you for taking the time to read this and your input A.C.

  9. It’s best to ask to see a CV, so you can check the editor’s qualifications and experience. Then I’d ask for some references too, so you can ask other customers if they were happy. They should also keep your voice.

    1. Thank you so much Vickie. That is great advice. I could have used that a few years ago but pleased others will learn from this. 🙂

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