Discussion: Editors as Reviewers

If you visit my homepage or have been following this blog for a bit, you may recall that I am working toward a copyediting certificate. The goal is to create a freelance business once I get it (and some additional research) under my belt. However, for the past six months or so, I have been struggling with an idea.

How do I marry a reviewer with an editor?

The idea that an author, a potential client, could come to my blog and be put off by my past reviews is a bit scary. I don’t think I am negative for the sake of being negative or mean. I’d like to think my reviews are fair and critical, but not everyone may see it that way. They may worry that I’ll trash their book, even though reading for pleasure and reading to edit are two separate actions.

In order to lessen my anxiety and possibly attract more clients, I have a few options.

  1. Continue as I have been, hoping clients understand.
  2. Change my habits now, leave the old stuff.
  3. Change my habits now, but remove/edit the old stuff.
  4. Only use a new site for copyediting and professional posts.

The funny part about the last one is that originally, this blog was meant to be just my copyediting stuff. But then I enjoyed writing about books so much (and I loved my new URL more), that I imported all my old stuff and kept it all in one place. Essentially with number 4, I’d be doing that again.

So, what would changing my habits mean, exactly? It might mean no negative reviews, at all, only gushing about books I loved. It might mean no star ratings. It would mean focusing on positive things and books that make me happy.

However, in some ways, that feels disingenuous. And I think that is where I struggle to let go of writing critically about a book. I was a bibliophile first. It is why I studied English Literature. It is why I sought a career in books. I love to deep dive and explore ways a book could improve. Then again, shouldn’t I be able to keep negative critiques to myself? Why do I feel the need to keep writing as I have been? Well, for one, it’s fun!

I’ve gotten mixed thoughts from the small editing community I’m a part of. Some think it’s best to separate. Some say leave old stuff, but move on. My own copy editing instructor pushed me to continue doing both if that’s what I love, saying many authors would appreciate that critical eye.

So here’s where I’d love to open this up for discussion. I don’t get many comments on here, but I would love to hear your thoughts. If you were a writer looking for a copyeditor, how would you feel to stumble across their blog where they have negative reviews for books? Would you be worried about working with them?

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5 comments

  1. It’s a big advantage for your potential clients to see how your mind works. If you just have your glowing reviews on board, as a potential client I’ll see what kind of writing and plotting you appreciate, but I won’t see evidence that you can catch weak/slow/inconsistent parts of my own book. Also, maybe I’ll conclude that unless my book is like one of the ones you like, you won’t be interested enough to read my book carefully – so you give me a reason to count you out with those positive reviews.
    For me, a bigger issue is the ‘supported by ads’ notice that comes up when I access your site. I tend to un-follow as soon as that pops up on a site. I do think you offer something of value with your reviews of the copy editing course you’ve undertaken, so I stayed for now, but your ‘monetization’ of the site – the attempt to make money off the time I spend on our site (which is a big reason to ask for comments: people rack up time as they write) makes my ‘follow’ way more tentative. If I were looking to hire you I’d be very curious why you need to try to make money off me before you’ve read a word I wrote.
    That said, best of luck! You are putting in the work to serve your clients well.

    • Thanks for your take on the glowing reviews only. I never thought of it that way.
      For the record, I make no money from this website. The “supported by ads” you see is because I am using a free WordPress platform. I ask people to comment often because I enjoy having a discussion about books. It was why I started writing the blog in the first place. I am in no way monetizing this site. This blog is currently a hobby, hence the free software.

  2. Thanks for the info, good to know that about the ‘free’ WordPress platform.

    Was it Ben Franklin who said ‘a penny saved is a penny earned’ ? In other words, nothing in life is ‘free’ – implicit in the free deal with WordPress is that you give something in exchange for not having to directly pay for the platform: that something is exposing your readers to ads.

    So, unless they use a good ad-blocker, your readers pay the price of having their attention drawn to a product or service they have not sought out. That’s not ‘free’ by the definition of free that I go by.

    I know the jump to a business level account is steep, but you might want to consider the much more affordable ‘personal’ level. It’s a fraction of what you’re paying for the edit copy classes. You may still consider the blog to be a ‘hobby,’ but I think you’ve actually moved beyond that. A relatively small investment would help your site catch up to the actual level you are working at and serve you better as you move forward.

    • I appreciate your concern regarding what you feel I am giving up by having my site hosted with WordPress.com. However, as it stands, this is by and large a hobby blog for me. Nearly every site we visit nowadays has ads, which I admit can be unfortunate. It’s just how the online world works. As WordPress does not cause popups, I find the distraction minimal, if at all, when I visit other blogs that I follow. I would hope people feel the same when they visit mine, and I have never received a complaint until yours.

      While it may be helpful to point out the benefits of something, you may want to consider how it comes across when you question how people spend their money. You do not know their salary or budget constraints. Something you may see as minimal, could, in fact, be much bigger to someone else. To compare the cost to something that is actively benefiting my career does not sway me. One is for business growth, the other entertainment. I have long had a plan for a separate site when I form my business. Paying a monthly fee for a hobby has never been a priority for me or my family.

      While I have to admit I am a bit offended on what feels like a personal attack for using free software that 37 million people use, I appreciate the feedback regarding advertisements on a platform. I will use that when I build a site for my future business. Thank you for also thinking that this little hobby of mine has grown bigger than that. I will take your thoughts to heart if I consider stretching this blog further.

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