A Cautionary Tale: Editors for Hire

By Mark Antony Rossi

In the world outside of the arts no one, even the hiring party, trusts the mercenary. They are loyal to currency. They trust themselves above all else. Integrity in the modern day is a trait of those who pay others to do their dirty work.

So goes the class of vipers called editors for hire. Like their joined-at-hip cousins the vanity press, these so called editors prey equally on the naive and the arrogant, both a set of people who would rather pay a stranger than listen to good advice.

Here are some facts that will help you decide against spending hundreds of dollars on debit-hungry pretenders:

There are no professional editors: these people have no license, accreditation, regulation or registration. There are no rules to follow. They take your money and you can’t do much to stop them from barely looking at your manuscript. In short you can get friends and relatives to do a better job for the cost of a dinner versus $750 to $1200.

There are no honest brokers on social media about these Editor for Hire types:

If you make a request you will be swarmed by as much as three dozen people offering these services. If you question these services three dozen more people will shout down the doubters. But these folks are the same people with different names. It’s a set up and your money is the target.

If you insist on believing the urban legend that intertwines its snake-like presence throughout the social media pages, please consider this:

I surveyed 25 editors for hire which a proposed project of 75,000 words. I got the following:

Price quotes from $500 to $1200

19 were unwilling or unable to provide 5 references ( writers whom they honestly helped)

6 provided 1 reference and who knew if thus were a friend at the other end or then disguised as a past customer.

1 asked me if I represented law enforcement.

Combined these people claimed to have over 100 books in the market place. I could only locate and verify 17.

How lovely. This is the results of 25 all claiming to be “professional” editors for hire.

Google these fools to see if any past complaints or successes. Check their FB profiles. Do they have books out in the marketplace you can verify?

How comfortable are you if you are hiring a person who doesn’t even have a formal webpage? Who looks like the last time they held a job they were in college?

Is an email address and a college photograph on their FB profile enough to hand over $750 up front?

Draw up your own contract that gives a time limit and a installment plan. Like a good story have a schedule of beginning, middle and end for payments.

Test their skills with a free demonstration of 1000 words ( about two pages.)

Don’t hire anyone with just one reference. Don’t believe anyone on how great this editor is versus no editor. Remember endorsements tend to be fake people or other editors scouting out writers to round up. They get a cut of the action. Check their profiles. You will be shocked.

Final word: Use logic and common sense. If this incredible profession can help you for a boat load of money why can’t they produce 5 solid references, 2 books published in the marketplace. Why does everything about them seem unprofessional but their claims?

I love writers but when it comes to business we have our heads stuck in our rear ends. None of us would accept a plot twist this lame yet somehow we are convinced a class of brilliant academics are floating around ready to help us — for a high price. I wouldn’t go to the bar for marriage advice. You shouldn’t converse with failed writers about shaping up your novel. Step back. Be patient. Consider your options. This is more than saving money. This is about your judgment. That’s a damage harder to heal.

About the Author: Mark Antony Rossi is a poet, playwright and author of the bioethics volume “Dark Tech” now available from Amazon. His most recent plays have been produced in Liverpool and New York. He also hosts a podcast called Strength to be Human.


  1. Well said, Mark Antony Rossi. I could not have summed up my thoughts a well as you have in this article. Bravo.

  2. As a former literary agent, magazine editor-in-chief, current freelance copyeditor and proofreader for several major publishers AND a fellow writer, may I congratulate you on a piece filled with misplaced paranoia, inaccuracies, and falsehoods, and additionally riddled with typos and errors. Bravo, dear writer! Thanks for your personal contribution to all the bullshit going around on the internet about editing.

    For sure, there are unscrupulous editors about, as there are in any profession, but don’t tar them all with the same brush. I doubt that you as an author would enjoy being subject to stereotypes and prejudices concerning those who write. Would you recoil in horror if anyone, based on what you wrote here, described all writers as overly sensitive, incredibly defensive cheapskates who don’t possess the talent necessary to pen a coherent ransom note? I don’t think you would appreciate it a bit.

    Here’s an excerpt from your tour de force above:

    “6 provided 1 reference and who knew if thus were a friend at the other end or then disguised as a past customer.”

    Besides the fact that “6” should be “six” and “1” should be “one,” what does “thus” mean? What does the final clause, “or then disguised as a past customer” mean? Do you mean to say “if this were a friend at the other end or _____ (unable to figure out what word you mean here) disguised as a past customer”? Clarity, dear boy, clarity above all.

    If you don’t want an editor to touch your work, please at the very least buy a copy of the Chicago Manual of Style and refer to it. Toodles!

  3. My thanks for you defensive reply which does nothing to discount what I discovered regarding the fraudalent nature of a mercenary nature of your industry. I would love to get a comment about the arts or writers from fake editors but all I get is a tired defense of your money. I have persuaded many to stay away. Hope that puts more and more of your ilk out of business.

  4. Not all true. I am an author and an editor, but there are few people who can afford to pay for an editor. I have a friend who has made his living as an editor for many years. Personal recommendations are best and if possible meet in person, but there are honest editors who work on the Internet from other countries. I just googled ‘recommended editors’ and got positive feedback.

  5. Mark Antony Rossi, if this article is anything to go by, I sincerely hope that you used an editor for your book. The errors are quite embarrassing.
    Well done Nancy, I could not have said it better!

  6. There is no errors in my writing only frauds who would rather side step the truth to continue to rob naive writers. There are no professional editors. More evidence of Bigfoot than those fakes.

  7. A concerned editor

    “There is no errors in my writing”

    There are no errors in my writing, please.

  8. Thank you very much, Nancy, for taking the corrections out of my mouth. My question is for Mark is whether he believes there are professional writers if his paranoia on professional editors is at all warranted. A lot of writers that are highly regarded have no training and many authors have never published before. How dare they expect us to pay money for their books! Every industry and service has fraudulent workers, and editing is no exception. However, this article is fear-mongering and intends to diminish the value of professional editing. Mark, your fear of editors and the fact that your publications on Amazon were self-published makes me fear for your poor audience that must be submitted to your awful grammar. Try giving it away for free and see if that helps.
    – Sincerely, a professional editor

  9. There are no professional editors. That is not an opinion, it’s a fact. And again instead of answering my questions like can you provide five verifiable references or how editors are not licensed or regulated it’s far easier to hurl insults. The truth is writers don’t need more people in their pockets stealing money. Your defense is lame and only serves to prove your profit margin is more important than proving editors are valid.