Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like

Taking Indie-Scribable underground

Remember my editorial service – Indie-Scribable?

After two years, I’m ready to let the website go. It turns out that, strangely enough, there’s not much demand for affordable editorial help with indie books.

To be honest, I think there are plenty of “editors” out there who’ll do the job for a lot less than my reasonable rates. My experience with one of those freelance databases, which are a lot like Match.com, tells me that they have amped up the competition between editors so that prices have crashed through the floor. I took a few jobs that netted me $10 or $15 for a couple hours of work, meaning my effective rate was sometimes less than $5/hour. It’s like giving away my books for promotional purposes. You hope to build a reputation. But then the clients learn that they can always find an editor who’ll edit a whole novel for $50.

I don’t know what kind of job those editors do, but if nothing else they give the author license to say, “I’ve had my novel professionally edited.”

I see a lot of indie novels that make that claim, but the errors on page 1 tell me otherwise.

As I mentioned before, I’ve had a lot of potential clients inquire about my services via the Indie-Scribable website, but when they get the estimate for the job they vanish. I understand that budgeting for a self-published book is hard, but I don’t see why I should subsidize their projects.

All of this said, I want you to know that I’m still available to proofread, copyedit, or beta read your stuff – as loyal readers of What The Hell. Most of my clients have come from writers who read this rag anyway. And I love working with writers I already know, because I know their style, their quirks. I respect what they’re trying to do. More than anything, it’s a real pleasure to help them make their work as good as it can be.

So though the Indie-Scribable website will go away in January, I hope you’ll let me bid on your projects when the time comes. Reach me at kevinbrennan520(at)gmail(dot)com.

12 comments on “Taking Indie-Scribable underground

  1. kingmidget
    November 8, 2017

    This is a shame. It’s disappointing to hear that you haven’t been able to get more exposure and business for your editing service. You are very good at it, committed to the authors you work with, and more writers should want the kind of service you offer. The lack of editing work for you is indicative of a few things — many authors are likely afraid of the feedback a really good editor will provide (yeah, just tell me about the typos, but leave everything else alone, no really, I don’t want to hear … what, the story is crap). Not that you would ever put it that way, but constructive advice is frequently viewed by the recipient as “you don’t like me.”

    And then there is the whole problem with the self-publishing business — or at least a good part of it. Authors just want to put their story out there with as few roadblocks as possible. I’ll admit that when I published One Night in Bridgeport, my intent was to “put it out there and see what happens.” But I also, had a number of beta readers read it and the first two (my parents) provided me with comments that convinced me to completely re-write the thing. Then I put it through two of my own major editing efforts — one of which cut out more than 20,000 words. The reality is that one of the biggest reasons I’m not writing right now is that I care too much about the end product and I can’t turn off that voice in my head while I’m writing.

    And, unfortunately, there are far too many self-published writers who simply don’t care about the typos and mistakes. One in particular amazed me. He has written and published a four book series. I follow his blog. The second book in the series, I offered to beta read before he published it. The reason was that the first book, which I really, really liked, was filled with typos and I didn’t want to see the rest of the books in the series have those mistakes. So, I read it and sent the manuscript back with all of the typos pointed out. And he published the book without making any of my edits, and later posted on his blog about how he doesn’t care about crap like that. There’s another author with whom I’ve had a similar experience.

    They are killing the self-published world for the rest of us because of how they damage the quality of the product.

    Anyway, if I ever get around to finishing something, you’ll be one of the first people I contact for a test reading. Guaranteed.

    • Kevin Brennan
      November 8, 2017

      Thanks for the words of support, Mark! I appreciate it.

      I have a sneaky feeling that indie publishing has a lot of people who talk the talk but don’t walk the walk. And it always boils down to money, of course, because when they realize how much real editing costs, they decide to put their resources into the cover or the marketing. But nothing can hide typos or just clumsy writing.

      I won’t ask who the writer is you beta read, but I’ve seen a lot of the same syndrome. To writers like that, the main goal is to rack up lots of publications, preferably in series, and to do it as fast as they can. The skinny is that’s how you sell more books. But they overlook the fact that if you get a reputation for publishing poorly edited junk, nobody will buy all those books.

      And, as you rightly say, writers like that smear the rest of us as amateurs.

  2. Carrie Rubin
    November 8, 2017

    I’m sorry to hear it. A good editor is one of the most valuable tools a writer can have. I’m thrilled you’ll still be available for beta reads and such though. I was hoping to hire you as a beta reader for my future novels.

    • Kevin Brennan
      November 8, 2017

      Thanks a bunch, Carrie. I’ll still do full edits for certain someones, so do keep me in mind.

      BTW, I was jazzed to see you’re getting The Bone Curse out there!

  3. Eric the Gray
    November 8, 2017

    I’m trying to imagine what a $50 manuscript edit could offer. It probably takes at least five hours simply to read it, so you’re already down to $10.00 per hour. Stopping to correct 30 typos might drive the earnings down to $9.00 per. Correct the dangling modifiers and the parallel construction issues and you’re down to about $6 per hour. Margin comments to recommend rewriting of passages and rearranging of sentences brings it in around 40 cents per hour, if that.

    To quote several characters throughout movie history, “What?”

    • Kevin Brennan
      November 8, 2017

      No, a $50 edit can’t be good. It’s like asking a plumber to clean out your sewage line for $25. There will still be shit in that line when he’s done. 💩

  4. Audrey Driscoll
    November 8, 2017

    I’m working on something now that will need a reliable beta reader, probably in early 2018. I’ll check with you then.
    This whole writing thing isn’t easy, any part of it!

    • Kevin Brennan
      November 8, 2017

      Super! If it’s your Egypt project, I’m jazzed. 😉

      • Audrey Driscoll
        November 8, 2017

        Yep, that’s the one! It’s a slow write, though, but the end is almost in sight.

  5. Phillip McCollum
    November 8, 2017

    Oh no!

    It’s like hearing about an old friend passing away, but I’m glad you’re still up for working with your extended family here on the Interwebs. I’ve learned so much from both your written and editorial work.

    • Kevin Brennan
      November 8, 2017

      No, just a website passing away. Too expensive when there’s not much traffic. But I’m happy to help my buds! 😉

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