We all experience disappointment in our daily lives and those of us pursuing a career in writing have to expect that we will have rejections and accept that this is simply part of the process. Whilst it's not enjoyable it is inevitable and for these we are at least in part prepared.
A couple of months ago I decided that I would use an editing service to help me improve a book I was working on and help me increase my chances of securing representation. I had had some rejections and really wanted to know whether I was flogging a dead horse and needed to move on or if in fact there were steps I could take to improve my manuscript which would help open some doors.
This was a big deal for me. I have some trust issues when it comes to this sort of thing. I'm not of course saying that my work is so amazing that I am terrified that someone will steal it, although I think if everyone was honest they would say they do think about things like that. But in reality my concerns were about value for money and whether you really get honest helpful opinions if you are paying for a service.
I had been researching people for a while and then with what seemed like divine timing someone I already knew about and had a lot of respect and admiration for came on to the market place offering the exact thing I was looking for. It seemed like a sign, finally all the things that had concerned me fell by the way side.
I made initial contact and got the lie of the land, the service was a perfect match for what I wanted and we were on the same page so I made the decision to go ahead. The turn around time was fairly fast and fitted perfectly with my work schedule at the time and I really thought that this was ideal.
I had no qualms about making the payment of £150 ($203 us) through PayPal and because I was already familiar with this person I made my first mistake. I paid her as though she was someone I knew not buying a service. And I did this because I know that PayPal would have charged her if I had paid the other way. But I trusted this person so I had no doubt that this would not be a problem.
I was told to expect my feedback in two weeks time and of course I was excited and nervous to see what she had to say and I had the date marked in my calendar. That day came and went and I was a bit disappointed but completely understood that sometimes life can be a pig and get in the way so I waited and when the deadline was about 4 days overdue I sent an email politely asking when I could expect it. I got a reply saying manuscript was read and enjoyed and the report would be with me the following Friday.
I was a bit frustrated as that was going to make it almost 2 weeks late but it still fitted around my planned schedule so I made my peace with that.
That was 2 months ago and I still don’t have the report. In that time I have been patient and I want to emphasise this, I have been extremely professional and polite. I have never been rude or publicly shamed this person. I have sent emails at reasonably spaced times, I have communicated privately via social media and I have been promised my feedback over and over again never to have received it.
After a certain point I decided to accept that for what ever reason this person wasn't able to provide the service any longer. I tried not to judge, I understand that there could be a number of things that render a person unable to follow through on commitments. I asked for my money back, this was met with silence and despite making several attempts to achieve this I have been unsuccessful.
In conclusion I’m left with a myriad of emotions. I’m angry because I paid for a service and I haven't received it. I’m confused because I simply don't understand the lack of communication. I’m frustrated because I have really tried to get this issue sorted out to no avail. I’m £150 poorer, money that was not an inconsiderate sum to me. But mostly I’m extremely disappointed and let down because I feel I have lost a lot, I’ve lost the chance to get the feedback I wanted and probably needed, I’ve lost respect for someone I previously admired and looked up to and that is perhaps the saddest thing.
The lessons I have learnt here have been painful and expensive. I’ve deliberately not included the name of the service or the person because that's not important and I pride myself by behaving in a professional manner.
I’m sure there are people out there who offer reliable, excellent services. I would encourage myself and anyone else wanting to engage this kind of help to take caution. Use someone who has reviews and always pay in a way that gives you the most protection.