Question: Are book coaches and freelance editors a scam? No one used them a hundred years ago.
Answer: It’s essential to understand the HISTORY of the publishing industry to understand how it has evolved in the 21st Century.
Independent book coaches and professional editors with integrity (—unfortunately, shady folks exist within any industry—) did not arise and do not exist to prey on aspiring authors.
Rather, the rise of the Internet led to a glut of free content, resulting in the inability for traditional journalism, publishing, and advertising industries to remain viably profitable after +/- 2005. Their staff and budgets were decimated.
Editors working at large houses who used to have time to develop books (and relationships) with new writers were soon able to devote resources only to top authors. Agents were then expected to take over many developmental and editorial tasks once done in-house. Today, even traditionally published authors hire independent publicists, as marketing resources shift more and more to sure-fire bestsellers. (Think a memoir by Michelle Obama, or the latest by J.K. Rowling.)
At the same time print publishing was shrinking, the rise of e-books enabled self-publishing (once prohibitively expensive) to suddenly become available to anyone. Today, literally inclined anyone can become an author.
The upside to this? Many wonderful, experimental, niche books now find a direct route to readers.
The downside? 80% of self-published work is slop.
So you can see how it might prove challenging for readers to FIND these wonderful needles in the self-published haystack without authors either:
1) Doing a great deal of self-study in both writing AND fields related to writing
2) Employing expert editors and professional marketing strategists to help them categorize, launch, and promote books to actually reach aligned readers.
After all, the final step in The Writing Cycle is to be read and impact the lives of readers.
This is to say: the industry evolved; hence, independent professionals evolved with it. Comparing publishing today with publishing a hundred years ago makes little sense. The art and craft of writing presents similar struggles; the landscape of publishing has changed.
(NOTE: This is true of many fields in the wake of the Tech Revolution: 30% of jobs filled today did not even exist 20 years ago.)
Book coaches and freelance editing professionals are merely reflections of the gig economy’s proliferation, as well as downsizing at agencies and publishing houses. They fill the void once occupied by full-tine employees in these industries. They are not scammers. If you wish to ensure your work is as polished as possible before sending it for submission or publication, rest assured you will benefit from their services.
That said, do your homework when considering which coach or editor will be the best fit for your project. Most specialize in specific genres, work with authors at particular stages of experience or book development, and prefer to align with material that speaks to their passions, much as traditional editors always have.
Have a question? Contact me and I’ll answer it on the blog!
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