Editing 101: Hiring a pro on a budget

We’ll be honest with you. We’re hoping you read this post and immediately send us an email to hire us for editing. But editing isn’t cheap. So, if you’re a new author, just starting out, should you hire an editor?

Short answer? Yes. Absolutely.

Longer answer: We firmly believe that every author should hire a professional editor before publishing.  Good editing can turn a mediocre story great and bad editing (or a lack of editing) can take what would have been a great story and tank it before it ever has a chance.

That said, if you look up editors’ rates online and are suddenly worried about how you’re going to choose between editing and paying your heating bill, we have some tips and tricks for you. Starting with what you should expect to pay.

The bare minimum you should consider paying for editing a 70,000 word novel, is $800. On average, a quality edit on that length novel is going to be closer to $1,000-$1500.

Yes, you will find cheaper quotes out there. Yes, you should probably consider them suspect. A quality edit takes time. Your editor should spend approximately one hour per thousand words to give you a developmental and copy edit. Now, think about that. A 70,000 word novel will take 70 hours of editing. If you consider a minimum of $800 as a fee, your editor is making $11.43/hour. That’s only slightly more than your barista at Starbucks.

What should you do if you want to hire a professional editor but can’t afford it?

  1. Consider reaching out to an editor and asking them to edit 1-3 chapters of your book for a small fee. This might seem silly, but it can provide you with valuable information about the types of mistakes you make and how to fix them. For example, one author we worked with has a terrible love affair with the word just. She used it more than four hundred times in her manuscript. We were able to tell her that she needed to fix that and she went through and did all of the changes herself. Then, when she wanted an editing quote for her manuscript, we were able to give her a discount.
  2. Ask your editor if they will work on a payment plan. We typically ask for 50% down and the remainder upon delivery of the edited manuscript, but we, like most editors, are happy to come up with other plans. If you’re planning on having a manuscript ready for editing in six months, try to find an editor now. Send them a sample of your work and ask them for a quote. Then ask them if you can book time on their schedule and start making small payments. This way, you can spread out the payments over multiple months.
  3. Use the same editor for multiple projects. Repeat customers often get discounts.
  4. Pick up a copy of Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Second Edition: How to Edit Yourself Into Print. It’s a good little book that can help you with all sorts of editing issues: dialog, point of view shifts, and more. A cleaner manuscript will often garner a cheaper editing price.

Looking for a quality editor? Contact us and let us polish your NaNoWriMo manuscript to a spiffy shine!

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