Interesting Lessons in Self-Publishing


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At the outset of this blog, I said it would be about Happiness and Self-Publishing.  To date, it seems that almost all of the posts have been about Happiness, so it’s time to throw in a little Self-Publishing.

On the advice of everyone who has ever written a book, I decided to have my book, Happiness as a Second Language, professionally edited.  This will not be a difficult task, as it’s been read, re-read and proofread by three professional writers already, so really this is only asking for the last set of eyes.

Needing this, I published an ad on elance.com, saying what I needed (proofreading) and my offered pay range.  Two things have come out of this that are very interesting. Well, three actually, with the third being that there are many highly qualified people offering very competitive rates in this area.  Yay!

But the two other interesting results are that about one third of the replies came in with a quote outside my proposed price range, and several have had gross typos in their responses to me.  For a proofreading job.  Are people that dumb?

The higher-than-the-range bids anger me, because I think it reveals a flaw in the elance community where people who don’t want the job can still goose the average by bidding above anyone who is actually competing for the job, and the poorly written replies amuse me, as it makes it very clear why some people succeed and some people probably never will.

This is my favorite reply so far, from the person who submitted the lowest bid.  I have not changed a word or a space or a punctuation mark, this is exactly what her proposal said:

Hi i’ll proof read the whole of your book on time. Please consider me.I really need this job. Thankyou. 

When you have three grammar/spelling errors in the first three words, maybe proofreading isn’t your best choice for earning a living.  I feel bad that she needs the job, but I’m about to contract with someone who is asking more than twice as much, and is clearly a superior choice.  You get what you pay for.  (Although some of the really high bids also had proofreading errors…go figure.)

So if you are self-publishing, (1) hire a proofreader; (2) use elance.com to find him or her – there are some incredible candidates there at reasonable prices; and (3) be prepared to be dismayed at what people who claim to want work will offer in response.


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2 thoughts on “Interesting Lessons in Self-Publishing

  • change it up editing

    Wow, I’m amazed by the example you gave. If that is what authors think they’ll get from a “professional,” no wonder so many feel it’s a waste of money. Thanks for sharing and for your determination to produce a professional product! True professionals salute you!

  • Heidi R. C.

    Actually it was the first four words, since the third word was incorrectly split in two. I can’t even look at that quote without some level of nausea. Here, let me fix it so that we can all breathe easier. “Hi! I’ll proofread your whole book, getting the job done well and within your deadline. Please consider me. I really need this job. Thank you.” (Note that I have also corrected and standardized the spacing after the punctuation marks.) P.S. The appropriate response to such a message would be: “Sorry, went a different direction. Kthanxbai.”