This week’s post relates to today’s post on the blog I maintain on LinkedIn. In short, I took my own advice and hired an editor for a short story intended for submission to a magazine.

The RFP was pretty clear, I thought. I went through Fiverr, which places a limit of 300 characters on buyer requests. Here’s what I wrote: “A second pair of eyes is needed to proofread and edit a 9,600-word fantasy short story for published author. Pick out grammar errors, missing words, malapropisms, etc. Identify defects in the story. You must be able to work through Google Docs. Native US-English speakers preferred.”

My solicitation gave a 3-day deadline for delivery, which would be adequate for a thorough editing job on a work of that length. I did not specify a budget, because I knew what I’d charge for the job and wanted to see what others would charge.

Within minutes I received over a dozen proposals. I’m a seller, too, on Fiverr and thought that this might be an interesting way to check out my competition. Of the 31 offers received, here are the first three:


I don’t think it’s just me, but the offers seem to be lacking. I noticed:

  • Little mention of qualifications to do the job
  • No indication of true understanding of the service I seek

Most of the vendors promised 24-hour turnaround, which I didn’t specify because I’d rather the vendor edit the work properly the first time and take three full days than rush through it and deliver crap.

So, on with the experiment. I chose someone who promised to do the work in only 24 hours. I asked her a few questions before selecting her. Her replies were terse, abrupt even. But I can live with that. I’m not necessarily chatty myself.

The story is one that begins where the fairy tale ends. (No, it’s not The Diamond Gate.) I asked if the vendor were familiar with fairy tales. No, she replied. I thought that might actually give her an edge in identifying what worked and didn’t work in the story.

It turns our that her brevity was only an indication of a failure to comprehend the gig requirements and/or her demonstrated lack of competence. Sure, she delivered the edited document to me within the 24-hour deadline; however, I rejected about three-quarters of her suggested changes because they were simply incorrect: improper capitalization, comma and semicolon errors, word changes that would have substantively altered the meaning of their sentences, etc. In short, she provided basic proofreading, poorly done at that. I’m not sure how I misled her into thinking that I wouldn’t recognize incompetence.

Now, on the Fiverr platform, ratings are king. Every vendor wants a 5-star rating. I rated that vendor five stars for completing the assignment on time and three stars for mediocre performance. She contacted me asking how I would like to receive a negative rating. I replied that I hadn’t rated her negatively and pointed out where her performance fell short of what was asked in the RFP and what was expected. I added that I was OK with honest ratings. A nasty message later, she gave me a 1-star rating.

You know, I don’t care. I won’t compromise my ethics to deliver a glowing rating for work that doesn’t deserve it. The rating was honest.

The subpar performance of the vendor didn’t surprise me. Her absolute lack of professionalism did.

I hired someone else today to edit that story. Perhaps he’ll do a better job.