That price listing was something that I kept because I wanted to be reminded that people will do almost anything to separate you from your money. They will sacrifice your friendship if indeed there was ever a true friendship in place.
Money and friendships are poor bed mates, and I've learned never to do business with friends because if anything goes wrong, it will almost always result in the demise of that friendship. In a previous article, I wrote about 10 things that I wished that I had learned before I had entered the writing industry.
I needed my story edited. It was my first book and I knew that I would have only one chance to make a first time impression on my readership. A friend of mine...someone that I had a tremendous amount of respect for, had started her own publishing company and referred an editor to me. The catch was that it was going to cost a lot of money to get this done. I was on unemployment at the time and didn't have the money to spare, but knew that I needed this to be done.
The editor in question was a friend of hers at the time and it was agreed (after signing many contracts) that I would pay for the editing services in increments of $240.00. This wound up being a $1600 bill. I never checked for references and I never checked for examples of this woman's work because I told my friend up front what I was looking for and was assured that this could be done without a problem.
What I got back wasn't even something that could remotely be called editing. By the time I received the final file back, the bill had been paid in full. I had to re-edit my book myself (which we as authors know that we can't do.) The end result was that the book, while it looked okay because it was typeset very well, the editing was poorly done. When I voiced my dissatisfaction, I was tearfully asked if we could "move on." This only made it worse because I was now being asked to forget about the money lost. And the editor? She lost her professionalism by refusing to speak to me ever again because she told me that she couldn't meet my deadline after promising that she could. Not only did she do a sub-par job, she had spent the money as it was coming in and then gave me "something."
I've never felt the same way about either one of those women. The editor was a lost cause. My book still looks good and as the reviews come in, what is said is that there are mistakes noted but it doesn't take away from the story. What could have been a really good book was only mediocre. This was a painful lesson.
And this won't happen happen again because I realize that when people need money and they see a need in you, they will often claim to be able to fill that need, even if they know they can't. They will try to give you something but that something will not be what you asked for. Lesson learned?
Don't do business with friends because most times you will lose more than just money.
Link to article 10 Things I Wish That I Knew Before Entering The Writing Industry:
~ J.L. Whitehead