The idea for this post comes from this post from The Publishing Revolutionwhich let me know of another self publishing company outsourcing book editing along with a number of other things to the Philippines with a number of nasty other things going on. To find out what else happened at Tate Publishing read that post. The purpose of my post is to share this news about editing outsourcing and what it means to you (new authors).
It’s no secret that Author Solutions’ companies (as many of them that there are) have been outsourcing most of their staff to the Philippines for book production and editing. However, I think that all Author Solutions’ companies (including Xlibris) have been outsourcing a lot longer than what they tell us. I have a couple suspicions:
- They are dishonest about everything and that wouldn’t surprise me.
- Part of my trouble at Xlibris that wasn’t shared in “My Horrible Xlibris Xperience” was in regards to how bad the editing was. I only shared it in brief detail. I believe my book was edited in the Philippines back in 2009 before they mentioned outsourcing in early 2010.
There is nothing wrong with outsourcing, but when it comes to the book industry and to book editing, the publishing industry is a quirky one. The people doing the work in a foreign country aren’t going to know the subtle differences and intricacies of [insert country name here]’s book market according to the above post written by publishing expert Mark Levine. For example, the book industry wouldn’t exactly be the same in the US as it is in the UK or Australia. In this sense, I don’t think it would be a wise idea for a UK publisher to outsource book production and editing to the US or vice versa unless (keyword unless) the UK publisher gave specific, up-to-date publishing standards to the US production team. Editing, on the other hand, should be handled by a UK editor. Period. Even though the UK and the US both speak English, there are differences in slang and other differences. Now, sending a book to be edited in the Philippines by both the US and UK publisher would a complete disaster; it makes no sense. Someone from the Philippines would not know the difference between US and UK English and all the other things in between. BTW, this is the way it is with all languages not just English. I may have taken some Spanish courses in high school and college, but that doesn’t make me qualified to edit a book written by a Latin American or Spanish author!
Now, how have I come to the conclusion that my book was edited by someone in the Philippines when I published with Xlibris? Well, for one, I couldn’t pronounce and can’t remember my “editor’s” name. Until I worked with real editors and grew as a writer, I didn’t see how bad my “editing” was. Also when my book was being edited, some normal, day to day, figures of speech were changed to something off the wall that I had to change back, other things were really screwy too. I fixed those mistakes, but there were ten others (per page) I didn’t see … So, in other words, if your book is being edited by someone in the Philippines or any other foreign country by non-native [insert language here] speakers, expect a subpar edit (unless they are editing their own native books).
OK, we know AS has outsourced their editors, so who else is doing it? Tate Publishing has jumped on the bandwagon for one, and who is to know others are doing it and not disclosing it? Not everyone has been busted, and there are still self publishers popping up everywhere. Could this be another biggie to weigh in on aside from author friendliness (for those who wish to work with a self publisher rather than do it themselves)?Possibly.
If you don’t plan hiring your own editor and plan to use a self publisher’s editors, by all means ask questions! If they are a decent publisher, they will answer your questions. Ask for your possible editor’s credentials and experience if they aren’t posted somewhere. You have every right to know who you are giving your baby to–you would want to know about a doctor’s credentials before you took your child there, right?. As I said in earlier posts, editing is life or death for you and your book. It is too costly to your wallet and to your career to not be done right the first time. Then all marketing will be a waste.
Things like this make it more imperative to network or do background checks on self publishing companies. Outstanding publishers will have good word of mouth, so you should be OK, but when in doubt it is okay to hire your own editor who you know and trust!