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Illegible Books from Editing and Proofreading Gigs?

I offer editing and proofreading services for books. I’ve been receiving quite a lot of orders from questionable sources. These books are often written in poor English and plagiarized (but the “author” seems to use a thesaurus to avoid legal issues). The buyers that send them to me also seem to run a business or work for agencies where they take these plagiarized books and send them to Fiverr sellers for lower prices, which is practically slave labor because they are so laborious to edit and difficult to understand. It takes ages to get past one page. Because of this, I am taking a break from editing.

I just finished an order from another one of these shady buyers, and it was, by far, the worst, longest, and least comprehensible book I’ve ever received. I barely met the deadline and would pull all-nighters just to fully edit it. Even then, it was still difficult to understand.

The buyer marked the order complete the other day, but now they are asking for a full revision. I don’t know what to do because I can’t even understand the contents of the book, so how can I possibly edit it to make sense? I also don’t want to cancel the order because the pay wasn’t good, but I urgently need the money during these difficult times. I can’t go into detail, but I’m experiencing an emergency. I’ve been contemplating bringing this up with the Resolution Center…

What should I do?


How many words is it?


These projects are usually copyright materials which have been put through a spinner which is software that changes certain words for synonyms. It takes no time at all to do.
However, these result in horrible text and should be refused by any proofreader. The only way to fix it is to use the words which were there originally. When you do that, the buyer will get a plagiarism result from their plagiarism checker and so they will want a revision.
As these people are using copyright materials I wouldn’t trust them at all. I would suggest cutting your losses on this as it may never end.


Around 90k words, but thankfully, I’ve managed to resolve this for now…

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I knew it! Thank you for your help! I’ve managed to thankfully put this to bed, and they’re probably off now to prey on other editors sigh


Maybe try prices that are high enough to discourage those buyers from direct orders and write in your gig description something along the lines that those prices are due to the amount of extremely illegible texts you get and that people can message you and send their files and get a cheaper rate for normal proofreading/editing which doesn’t require a full rewrite.

I agree with Eoin, and also, if support gets involved, you might have trouble to justify why you didn’t cancel right away if it’s so bad that you can’t even understand the contents of the book (how could you even do your job then), so, yes, I understand it hurts but I’d also rather cut my losses and be done with this as quickly as possible and use the time you won’t spend on Mission: Impossible Revision :wink: to figure out a way to discourage the wrong and attract the right kind of buyer to your gig :slight_smile:


This is why I no longer offer proofreading or editing services or rewriting services. Way too much work.

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I would tell him that I did my job and wouldn’t offer a revision, you’ll risk a bad review but if you need the money, take it.

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I had this happen only a few times, but the last one made me do a complete overhaul on my gig to be as specific as possible to try to avoid those buyers. For mine, they’d purchase my copyediting gig and then try to argue that I didn’t do a good job when their illegible manuscript came back to them with a light edit because–gasp–editing their manuscript was basically rewriting it. Which is…not what I offered in that gig. So, I made it so specific, down to the amount of edits I typically do per page just so they understand that “copyediting” isn’t rewriting to try to discourage the illiterate manuscripts.
It’s just not worth the headache, honestly, and I applaud you for trying to finish that manuscript, as I would have given up halfway through. Life is too short to deal with a book that butchers the written word…

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I do editing and proofreading, too. I have had a couple of books that I question if they were copied from something, but I did the best I could. I do solve this problem by not offering revisions, and I make that clear in my gig. I will answer questions about anything I’ve done, though. In my opinion, the book is theirs. They are the author, so it’s up to them to decide what edits to use. I’m an author, too, and I don’t always agree with the edits from my own editor. I’ve not asked for revisions from my editor so why should I do them for others? I’ve had a few people ask me to look at something they’ve fixed, which I don’t mind doing (and I’ve gotten a tip for the extra help.), but I don’t think revisions are necessary for this type of gig.


I used to offer proofreading services but I learned my lesson long time ago and stopped offering such services, it’s not worth it. Now I only offer translations from scratch.

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