0a3f6fad
Member

Client's Book (I'm Editing) Increasingly Unreadable - How Do I Maneuver This?

Hello All! 

 

Thanks in advance for any help. 

 

As the subject states, I am editing a book for a client. I was offered the first chapter as an example and edited it. The chapter had glaring grammatical and spelling issus, but it was generally readable. 

 

Since the first chapter (I'm now on Chapter 6) the grammar, spelling, and plot have all become both unreadable and muddled. I am debating adding any examples as I feel bad for "ragging" on the author. 

 

I recieve 10 dollars an hour to basically rewrite this book that has no clear path, no plot points, no driving events, and absolutely no understanding of:

-Punctuation

-Dialogue

-Capitalization 

 

On top of all that the author throws in random (and incorrect) "thee's" and "thou's." Furthermore, main characters have no name. The "straw" so to speak was that we agreed on the ten main characters (and their names) still alive by Chapter 6 and I found an 11th that came out of nowhere. I asked where he came from and the author told me he had been there since Chapter 1. Again, we confirmed the ten characters alive from Chapter 1 and this character was not there.

 

There are frequent sexist and racist under/overtones such as:

-sexualizing and not naming the women characters

-calling a tribe he created "neanderthals" and "savages"

-disparaging his Persian and black characters for their ethnicity

 

Additionally, Chapter 4 (after copious edits for grammar and to make the whole thing make sense) comes to 9796 words. That combined with nothing happening in Chapters 6 and 7 (besides copious explanations of travel, feeding horses, and weather patterns) and it being almost equally as long is making my head spin.

 

The author continues to press that the book doesn't need much editing and it's nearly publishable. It is absolutely not. I can provide examples of the original novel if need be, but I don't want to feel like I'm being mean by sharing his work without his consent. I also don't want to add excerpts here because another problem is that the paragraphs are whole 1-1.5 pages long. 

 

The whole thing has stressed me out to the point of coming here for advice. What can I do? What should I do?

 

I'm worried about getting a negative review if I ask to end the contract and I feel bad giving him a negative review but he's hard to work with. 

 

((I could also go into suddenly pausing the work and asking for a refund just because he didn't have the money, but he eventually paid me and resumed the work. Now, however, I have also accumulated a few other contracts because he was not exact about when the work would start again))

 

 

 

 

 

ACCEPTED SOLUTION


Jennifer D wrote:

Hello All! 

 

Thanks in advance for any help. 

 

As the subject states, I am editing a book for a client. I was offered the first chapter as an example and edited it. The chapter had glaring grammatical and spelling issus, but it was generally readable. 

 

Since the first chapter (I'm now on Chapter 6) the grammar, spelling, and plot have all become both unreadable and muddled. I am debating adding any examples as I feel bad for "ragging" on the author. 

 

I recieve 10 dollars an hour to basically rewrite this book that has no clear path, no plot points, no driving events, and absolutely no understanding of:

-Punctuation

-Dialogue

-Capitalization 

 

On top of all that the author throws in random (and incorrect) "thee's" and "thou's." Furthermore, main characters have no name. The "straw" so to speak was that we agreed on the ten main characters (and their names) still alive by Chapter 6 and I found an 11th that came out of nowhere. I asked where he came from and the author told me he had been there since Chapter 1. Again, we confirmed the ten characters alive from Chapter 1 and this character was not there.

 

There are frequent sexist and racist under/overtones such as:

-sexualizing and not naming the women characters

-calling a tribe he created "neanderthals" and "savages"

-disparaging his Persian and black characters for their ethnicity

 

Additionally, Chapter 4 (after copious edits for grammar and to make the whole thing make sense) comes to 9796 words. That combined with nothing happening in Chapters 6 and 7 (besides copious explanations of travel, feeding horses, and weather patterns) and it being almost equally as long is making my head spin.

 

The author continues to press that the book doesn't need much editing and it's nearly publishable. It is absolutely not. I can provide examples of the original novel if need be, but I don't want to feel like I'm being mean by sharing his work without his consent. I also don't want to add excerpts here because another problem is that the paragraphs are whole 1-1.5 pages long. 

 

The whole thing has stressed me out to the point of coming here for advice. What can I do? What should I do?

 

I'm worried about getting a negative review if I ask to end the contract and I feel bad giving him a negative review but he's hard to work with. 

 

((I could also go into suddenly pausing the work and asking for a refund just because he didn't have the money, but he eventually paid me and resumed the work. Now, however, I have also accumulated a few other contracts because he was not exact about when the work would start again))

 


I have returned books to authors when the story went sideways. Sometimes they are just not aware of that. Depending on my mood and time, I would just read the rest of the book and highlight the main characters.

Ask him if the is aware of his tone and if he wants to keep it. (He is the client and it is his books after all.)

Maybe he needs coaching more than editing it would help him in the long run and you do not have to feel bad about it.

View solution in original post

9 REPLIES 9
roberty1y
Member

One option is to cut your losses by abandoning the project and refunding all the money the client has paid you. This will remove any publicly visible feedback he gives you. 

 

If your contract stated that you had to make make the plot coherent and comprehensible as well as correcting grammatical and spelling errors (and I think this is implied by the word editing), there's not much you can do at this stage. It does sound like a job from hell.

 

 

You can end a contract whenever you like. Tell the client that unfortunately, you've become busy with other projects and won't be able to work with him any more. (You don't need to give a refund, btw.)
petra_r
Member


Jennifer D wrote:

. I can provide examples of the original novel if need be, but I don't want to feel like I'm being mean by sharing his work without his consent. I also don't want to add excerpts here because another problem is that the paragraphs are whole 1-1.5 pages long. 


No, you can't! That would violate confidentiality. You obviously can't share any examples as that would be a gross violation of Upwork's terms of service! 

 

How many chapters are there? Can you bear to stick with it to the end? At least if it's hourly you are paid for the work you do. 

 

In future, look at the WHOLE book before accepting something like that and look at several pages all the way through. I, too, learned that the hard way.

 


Jennifer D wrote:

The whole thing has stressed me out to the point of coming here for advice. What can I do? What should I do?


If you can bear it, muddle through to the end.

If you can't bear it, gently disentangle yourself and walk away. Both actions have consequences-

 

If you want to avoid feedback, it makes sense to close the contract yourself. That will not prevent the client from leaving feedback, but it will mean the client won't be FORCED to leave feedback. 

 

Can I demand to look at the whole book before agreeing? Is that appropriate? 


Jennifer D wrote:

Can I demand to look at the whole book before agreeing? Is that appropriate? 


It's what I do. At the interview stage I am happy with a random chapter, not the first or last one. Before accepting I need to see the whole thing and I look at random pages throughout.

 

I learned that the hard way...  with fiction translations that start well enough and then gradually disintegrate into gibberish word salad as the translator lost the will to live around chapter 3 and the plot completely by chapter 5.

zoe-barnett
Member

What should you do? Get out of this as cleanly as possible (other people have given advice) and then read Petra: in the future, don't accept a project like this before you see the whole manuscript.

 

Books are a big project. Don't go into them blind.

tlbp
Member

End the contract and walk away. I'd try to come up with an "It's not you, it's me" reason and point out that you think the client will be better served by someone else. They may ding you on the feedback, but your JSS can probably take the hit. As Petra mentioned, if you are the one to hit the close button, the client might not even leave feedback. 

 

If the client brings up the issue of a refund, be prepared with an answer. A flat no is fine since you were paid by the hour. But, if you think giving them a small break might help you exit gracefully, it is worth considering.

 

Don't forget to include the value of your mental well-being and the opportunity costs of working on this instead of other projects when deciding how much escaping from this situation is worth. 😉


Jennifer D wrote:

Hello All! 

 

Thanks in advance for any help. 

 

As the subject states, I am editing a book for a client. I was offered the first chapter as an example and edited it. The chapter had glaring grammatical and spelling issus, but it was generally readable. 

 

Since the first chapter (I'm now on Chapter 6) the grammar, spelling, and plot have all become both unreadable and muddled. I am debating adding any examples as I feel bad for "ragging" on the author. 

 

I recieve 10 dollars an hour to basically rewrite this book that has no clear path, no plot points, no driving events, and absolutely no understanding of:

-Punctuation

-Dialogue

-Capitalization 

 

On top of all that the author throws in random (and incorrect) "thee's" and "thou's." Furthermore, main characters have no name. The "straw" so to speak was that we agreed on the ten main characters (and their names) still alive by Chapter 6 and I found an 11th that came out of nowhere. I asked where he came from and the author told me he had been there since Chapter 1. Again, we confirmed the ten characters alive from Chapter 1 and this character was not there.

 

There are frequent sexist and racist under/overtones such as:

-sexualizing and not naming the women characters

-calling a tribe he created "neanderthals" and "savages"

-disparaging his Persian and black characters for their ethnicity

 

Additionally, Chapter 4 (after copious edits for grammar and to make the whole thing make sense) comes to 9796 words. That combined with nothing happening in Chapters 6 and 7 (besides copious explanations of travel, feeding horses, and weather patterns) and it being almost equally as long is making my head spin.

 

The author continues to press that the book doesn't need much editing and it's nearly publishable. It is absolutely not. I can provide examples of the original novel if need be, but I don't want to feel like I'm being mean by sharing his work without his consent. I also don't want to add excerpts here because another problem is that the paragraphs are whole 1-1.5 pages long. 

 

The whole thing has stressed me out to the point of coming here for advice. What can I do? What should I do?

 

I'm worried about getting a negative review if I ask to end the contract and I feel bad giving him a negative review but he's hard to work with. 

 

((I could also go into suddenly pausing the work and asking for a refund just because he didn't have the money, but he eventually paid me and resumed the work. Now, however, I have also accumulated a few other contracts because he was not exact about when the work would start again))

 


I have returned books to authors when the story went sideways. Sometimes they are just not aware of that. Depending on my mood and time, I would just read the rest of the book and highlight the main characters.

Ask him if the is aware of his tone and if he wants to keep it. (He is the client and it is his books after all.)

Maybe he needs coaching more than editing it would help him in the long run and you do not have to feel bad about it.

1First of all, thanks for the outpouring of care and solutions! 

 

This is probably the short term solution I will take to see if moving forward is worth it. Any money right now is good money. 

 

The plot does eventually pick up but then it's rushed and then it goes back to randomness. 

 

I'm not kidding when I say it's pages of weather patterns. 

 

I think he was going for an old school scifi vibe but that exact type of writing just doesn't fly anymore. 

 

I will say the contract does say "furnish and edit" and that's how I got throught he first five chapters. But I'm losing my ability to clean up a book when it feels like it's going no where. 

 

I'll let you guys know how it goes In the future. For now, I am actually on a big project so I've told him I can't work on the book and finish the contract that I took when he suspended the job. 

 

Again, thank you so much!