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  • Writer's pictureJohn Lim

MF 235 : More on finding a great editor for your book

Updated: Jun 22, 2022

On this episode, I go into more detail on finding a great editor and why it’s not just about fancy credentials. More at

Moving Forward is also available on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher Radio, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and Amazon Music.

Part 1: A smooth exit

This past week was a definite calm after the storm from the week before. First, we were able to resolve the issue we had with a customer on Poshmark. We accepted a return, she shipped the items back in the same condition, and Poshmark even reimbursed us for the overage shipping. Concurrently, we also had several major sales on the platform with 5-star reviews from those same buyers. We’re continuing to learn and move forward.

Second, I had an exit for one of my side hustles. Back in 2014, I started a small ATM business. How small? We never got past one machine. I live in an area where there are lots of restaurants, bars, salons, and town center developments. Many of these businesses take credit cards but prefer cash. In 2014, I did some market research, asking the manager and proprietors of many of these businesses if they would be interested in an ATM for their business. Many gave enthusiastic yesses. My buddy and I invested in one machine, which over time had fairly regular traffic. The machine did well, never making a lot but not losing a lot either. It provided a source of stable, albeit irregular, supplemental passive income.

Once we learned the ropes with one machine, we wanted to expand but ran into two issues. First, most of the local businesses we spoke to were in fact owned by larger entities. When the proprietors or managers ran it “by corporate” there were a lot more obstacles than we first anticipated. Our leads turned us over to various numbers and departments. We did a lot of calls and sent out letters that pretty much went nowhere. The initial enthusiasm died in corporate bureaucratic limbo. The second obstacle we ran into is that any equipment-based business, be it vending machines or ATMs, requires significant capital to scale up. Since we had limited funds and only one machine that did just ok, we never achieved the right momentum to expand. However, we kept this one machine going with me filling it every Wednesday when I would work with my dad at his shop; most recently on his Poshmark business.

Last week, we hit the end of our 5-year contract with the ATM. If you ever get an ATM for your business or go into the ATM business, you’ll quickly learn that it’s not as simple as getting a machine and plugging it into the wall. You need a service provider to handle the fees and money transfers into your business bank account following withdrawals. It happened that we had a service contract with the same company that sold us our machine. Each month, they would transfer the fees we set for withdrawals minus their fees. Some months, we made quite a bit, especially during peak months when there was a lot of foot traffic and transactions. Other months, we would have one withdrawal and end up owing a few dollars to cover the service fee. In the end, it was probably a wash. So last fall, my buddy and I decided to close out this venture and exit out of this business. We notified the service provider that would not be renewing at the end of our 5-year term. In the meantime, we tried selling the machine to any local businesses that might be interested but got few nibbles. Then, a few weeks ago I was on the phone with the service provider going over last details for the service end-date and mentioned we were interested in selling the machine. To my pleasant surprise, they expressed interest in buying the machine back. Over the years we kept the machine in great working condition with regular software updates and we were early adopters of an EMV reader, a specialized card reader for credit cards with microchips; new in 2014, now a global standard. Today, EMV compliance is required for all ATM and card reading devices.

Thank you for all the great years! May your next home bring you lots of foot traffic and business.

Within a week, we made a deal to sell back the machine to the company. We cleaned out the machine, took out the remaining cash, and last Wednesday, they came to pick it up. This marked the end of one of the many side hustle ventures I’ve done over the years. While the ATM business was not a great fit for me or my business partner, it was a valuable learning experience and I have no regrets.

I’d love to hear about any side hustles or ventures you started that didn’t quite pan out the way you thought it would.

Part 2: More on finding a great editor (it’s not just about the credentials)

[NOTE: the books mentioned in this episode are out of print. For more, check out episode 388.]

Last week, I got a number of comments and questions on editors so I want to continue that discussion today since it’s vital to the success of your book.

1) It’s not just the credentials

Finding an editor can be confusing and intimidating if you’re going the self-publishing route. As you start looking for freelance editors to hire, you may experience sticker shock seeing multi-thousand dollar rates. Many freelance editors come from big publishing houses and command large fees. However, don’t assume that a person with an impressive resume and a big price tag is necessarily the best fit for your first book. Case in point: a friend of mine is working on his first novel. It was supposed to come out several months ago but he’s been having trouble getting through the editing process. He’s gone through two editors and has spent several thousand dollars in fees. The first had great credentials and was super expensive but ultimately wasn’t a good fit for the book or the author. My friend is now on his second one – another person with great credentials and a large price tag to boot. I hope this one works out better. While there’s nothing wrong with hiring an expensive editor, don’t assume that will automatically make that person the best fit. Most of us aren’t influencers or have the money to spend on a high-priced editor. And frankly, unless you’re a big name with a big audience, you may not need someone with mega credentials. For your first book, try to keep your costs to a minimum. Take your time with this process to find the right person for your book.

2) Find someone who cares

I said this last week but it’s worth repeating again. Find someone who cares about the book you’re writing. This is critical no matter who your editor is. Whether it’s someone who used to work at ABC Publishing House or your best friend who happens to be a grammar and writing nerd, you need someone who is invested in the success of your book. That person should understand the story you’re telling and clearly see who the intended audience is. Moreover, your editor should be genuinely interested in what you’re writing even if they’re not an expert on the topic. Megan, my editor, wasn’t a Star Trek fan, still isn’t one even after editing my book, and probably will never be one. But she was invested in the story we had to tell. In fact, one of her early notes to us was that the main story was about us and our experiences, not the Star Trek fan film. That was a big aha moment for me in shaping the final drafts. Find someone who cares.

3) Consider your content

While expertise may not be necessary for many topics, if you are writing a highly technical book; for example on real estate or finance, you may need to get a separate content editor who is a subject matter expert. Find someone who can vet or buttress your ideas. In that regard, you may be able to find a content editor very easily within your own network or circle. This person may be separate from your line editor who will focus more on the technical aspects of the writing – grammar, structure, flow. Consider your content when it comes to finding the right editor(s).


Lay out a realistic budget for an editor, whether it’s in the thousands, hundreds, or zeros. Even a small budget can net you a great editor. Keep in mind, you may have to take a chance on someone who is new and doesn’t have the credentials of someone more established or experienced but if you can find someone capable, hungry, and invested in your success, you and your book will be just fine.

[NOTE: the books mentioned in this episode and in the book writing series are out of print. I am leaving these episodes mostly as is and strictly for informational and instructional purposes only. I have retracted my story from the book discussed in this episode and its sequel with full reservation of my copyright. For more, check out episode 388.]


Scrivener (available for Mac, Win, IOS) is a book writing program that auto formats for self-publishing on Amazon’s KDP and other platforms. It’s a great tool with rich features that allow co-writers to collaborate through Dropbox. Scrivener has a bit of a learning curve but I’ve been a fan since 2017 and have talked to many authors who use it as their go-to. If you’re interested in Scrivener, you can use the coupon code MOVINGFORWARD to get 20% off your purchase (for Mac or Win). It’s a one-time license fee and available for Mac, Win, IOS.

Note: this section contains affiliate links and coupon codes for which the author may receive some compensation.

Part 3: What I’m reading / read

The Pursuit of Happyness (****) by Chris Gardner. This is the book that inspired the 2006 movie starring Will Smith. What surprised me most about the book was how little the movie adapts from the source material. I love the film and still do but it only encompasses the middle section of the book, which tells a much larger story. If you’re interested in Chris Gardner’s story, this will give you a much fuller picture, starting from his troubled childhood and the turmoil, abuse, and tragedy he endured while finding just one spark of inspiration from his mom who instilled in him the idea that he could be more. The middle section is what is adapted into the film, detailing his struggles as a single parent, being homeless while trying to learn the ropes at an investment film. The later third goes beyond that, detailing what was only a presented as a title card at the end of the film. This book is an engrossing, engaging biography. Gardner is also extremely candid, confessing many flaws and mistakes in addition to his triumphs. I:m surprised this spawn launch a trilogy of movies. Given the success of the 2006 film, they could have easily adapted a prequel and sequel. These days, I think it would work better as a limited run mini-series.

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