It’s that time of year when we are bombarded with sales adverts. Those gadgets you bought as Christmas presents are now massively reduced; discounts abound and most of us will head for the High Street or Shopping Centre in a bid to get a bargain. We might not need any new napkin holders or jelly molds in the shape of a star, but they’re reduced – so we have to have them – don’t we?
How many times have you used those miniature coffee cups that you bought last year? (Surely we all prefer our coffee in super-sized mugs, not tiny little thimbles with impossibly small handles!) But I bet they take pride of place in your glass-fronted cabinet, don’t they? What’s that you say? They’re not on display? They are still in the box, in the loft with all of the other junk acquired over many years at the annual sales.
You’re not alone! Most of the time, we make silly, impulsive purchases that don’t really amount to much, but when it comes to those larger, more expensive items, we really should take much more care. Now you might think that the sofa you’ve had your eye on in the local furniture store is virtually ‘free’ now, but do you seriously believe that it has been discounted that much? Or is it rather that the stores bring out all of the stuff they haven’t been able to shift (I mean sell!) and price it at some extortionately high price for one week, before reducing it to get your attention? They assume that as nobody was interested in it before, the general public won’t even notice the price hike. But you did, didn’t you? Now you are under the misguided impression that this monstrosity of a sofa is really worth much more than you can afford. So, when they reduce it in the sales, you jump at the chance to grab such a bargain. Does that sound familiar? Am I being overly cynical?
As in all cases, the devil is in the detail. Check out the claims made by these big stores, are they really offering you a great deal, or just disposing of excess stock at your expense? Don’t be fooled into believing the hype, read the small print, ask questions and look around. There will be great deals to be had, but these are not always the most obvious ones. Ask yourself if you really need the item concerned (need, not want) and be certain that it will meet your requirements (the blue leather sofa might be a bargain, but will it match the burgundy and cream decor in your home? – I think not, but that’s just my opinion!)
Anyway, now you’re wondering what on earth does all this have to do with books, writing and the other associated nonsense that I usually write about on this page? There is a connection – honestly! I’ve been looking at using an editor for my book and have come to discover that these services can be quite expensive. First of all, you have to decide what type of editor you need – proofreading, grammatical or developmental to name but a few. Then, once you have resolved that, how do you choose the best editor for your book and budget? I’ve seen many such services promoted on social media sites, some are recommended by fellow writers and other just seem to advertise their own ‘impeccable’ skills at every opportunity.
I’ve decided to take a two-pronged approach. I’m only going to look at those editors recommended by friends and I also intend to look at the work they have done to date. I began using this method this week and by golly, am I glad that I didn’t just go on recommendation alone. The first editor under consideration makes frequent posts about the services she offers and claims to be inundated with editing work. Fortunately for me, she added a link to one of her recent projects – a now published book available on Amazon. I downloaded the book – free for a limited period – and immediately set about reading the story and checking out the quality of the editing. (I might add that the book seemed to have quite a decent plot, interesting characters and I thought it might be a fun read for me – a double whammy!)
The first sentence or paragraph is supposed to grab the attention of the reader, draw him in and demand his utmost consideration until the end. Well, this certainly got my attention – for all the wrong reasons. A grammatical error in the first line! ARGH!! I continued, a little more reticent than before, but still hopeful of better things to come. After reading for no more than ten minutes, I found two more grammatical errors, one spelling mistake and the most carefree approach to punctuation that I have ever encountered. This is the final, polished, edited version? Someone actually paid to for an editor to read their book and make it the best that it could be – and this is the result! So, editor choice number one has been eliminated from my list and will never be allowed anywhere near to my story – unless she wants to read a really good book!
Now you see the connection with impulsive purchases at the sales? Check, check and double-check the small print and your own needs before you squander your hard-earned money on trivial frivolities which may cost you much more in the long run (either redecorating your lounge or your reputation as a writer!)
“Caveat emptor” is not just for Christmas!