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Fringe Authors General Chat > How Much Would You Pay for a Professional Edit?

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message 1: by Tabitha (new)

Tabitha Vohn Hey Fringers, I'm attempting to give myself a realistic picture of what a quality edit will take from my bank account.

For those of you with experience, what's a fair price without getting swindled?

Anyone out there gone the prof. editing route? Successes? Failures?


message 2: by Courtney (new)

Courtney Wells | 1890 comments Mod
I'm not there just yet but I would look for someone who charges by the word rather than page and - ideal - does a sample edit of a chapter to make sure it's a good fit. I'm also hoping for someone who will accept installments for pay.

Maybe some people here can recommend an editor who worked well for a book they put out?


message 3: by Tabitha (new)

Tabitha Vohn Yes, I'm hoping that someone out there has already gone down this road.

I'm finding myself at a crossroads where I received some wonderful validation that my writing itself is great but my editing sucks some major tail, in ways that I didn't even realize it sucked!

I have one author friend who's made some generous rec's to me for editors, but as my head is spinning around this today, I'm also trying to steel myself for the reality that I may not be able to invest the kind of dollar signs what it takes to get a quality edit, mostly because if it's a substantial sum, I don't know if I can justify spending it on the gamble of selling more copies of this thing; the pay-off will never balance out the cost.

But at the same time, the alternatives are to play the trad. publishing game with future work and hope I get picked up or continue to self-publish novels that I now know are not up to par with publishing standards in terms of editing/mechanics. And who in good conscience can do that?!?

It's a quandary, but I'm hoping that a prof. edit will be something I can afford so that I can continue to pursue indie writing.


message 4: by Longhare (new)

Longhare Content | 60 comments Tabitha, I'm an editor so I can give you some ideas and some ballpark figures. First off, don't be shy about approaching the editors your friend has recommended. The most important thing is finding an editor who you can feel confident working with. Recommendations are a great place to start.

Freelance editors range all over the place. You have former in-house fiction editors that have lost their jobs because traditional houses have shrunk in number and staff. You also have fiction editors who have been working freelance for a long time and really know the business. These folks tend to be on the high end of the pay scale. You've also got lots of newbies entering the field, and these usually charge less. Somewhere out there is an editor who will give you the most bang for your buck.

The range of editorial services go from developmental editing (where the editor addresses structural and other issues), copy editing (where the editor goes after the usual suspects--typos, grammar, punctuation--in a draft manuscript), and proofreading (where the proofreader cleans up all the little things that snuck through to the final draft or proof).

Indies almost never can afford all the editorial passes a manuscript would get in a traditional publishing house, but that's okay. You can still get where you need to go by using alternative resources and shopping wisely.

1) Make sure your manuscript is as clean as you can make it yourself. It is a fact, the closer you get to your own book, the less you can see. It's your brain's survival mechanism, trying not to go nuts as you nitpick again and again at the same passages. No matter how hard you try to make it perfect, there will be errors. So while you are polishing up that first draft, run spell check. Editors don't rely on spell check--it misses way too much--but it does catch a whole lot, especially those words that look like they are spelled correctly if you aren't squinting at them just right.

2) Find some beta readers. There are good hearted, eager readers out there who will read your manuscript and tell you what they liked or didn't like about it. They may point out problems such as a character who changes names in the middle of the book or one who stays pregnant for fifteen months. They may suggest that the first four chapters are kinda slow or that the dialog feels stiff. They may also find some typos. Don't expect detailed analysis from betas, but you may get some very useful feedback. Fix what you can before paying someone else to get involved in your book.

3) Poke around and see if there is a writing workshop in your area--check the public library or bookstore. You can get some good free coaching this way.

4) When you have gone as far as you can go and feel it is time to let a pro tackle your book, make some notes: what do you think the book needs? A copy edit is the bare minimum, but are there areas you feel you need help with--pacing those first four slow chapters or making the dialog feel more natural?

5) Ask fellow authors for editor recommendations.

6) Check the directories at EFA.com, MediaBistro's Galley Cat, or the Editors groups on LinkedIn or Goodreads--there are lots of places to find editors. Personally I discourage authors from using sites such as ODesk, but that is your option.

7) Ask editors for a sample edit and a quote. Some editors do not provide free samples--that isn't necessarily a bad sign, but make sure you get recommendations and see some published works if it is an editor you are interested in. I insist on seeing a sample of the author's writing so I can see what I'm getting into/what they really need so I can realistically project how much time the project will take. I base my estimate on what I see in the sample, how long the book is, and what the author wants. Some editors have a more flat rate. Typically, the editor will want a word count--not a page count.

Newbies may charge as little as a hundred dollars--some even volunteer to do it free, just for the experience. The market rate for an 80,000 word novel ranges between about $1200 and $3000 dollars for a solid copy edit--more for a developmental edit. However, the competition for these jobs is hot, and there is usually room for negotiation. Many editors offer payment plans, as long as they can get a deposit up front.

My advice, if the market rate is out of your budget, is to ask for samples from many editors you can afford and one or two from editors that might be out of reach. You may find a gem among the newbies or you may decide to wait and save a bit more.

8) When you do have two or three candidates that you feel good about, call them and talk to them about your project, what you hope for, and what you can expect from them. Again, it is really important to find an editor you feel happy and comfortable with. The worst bad editor stories are from people who hired an editor who wasn't clear on the mission, rewrote the book, gave an hourly quote with no limit on the number of hours...you get the picture.

Good luck, Tabitha. And I hope you will share with the rest of the group the benefit of your experience. It's a very exciting process.


message 5: by Tabitha (new)

Tabitha Vohn Thank you for this wealth of info. I appreciate it!!


♥️♥️ Lanae ♥️♥️  (ramboramblernae) Longhare wrote: "Tabitha, I'm an editor so I can give you some ideas and some ballpark figures. First off, don't be shy about approaching the editors your friend has recommended. The most important thing is finding..."

1200+++ dollars? YIKES

You just scared the crap out of me because I've proven incapable of writing short chapters. While I've had feedback citing that they enjoy the details I can see all of that *detailing* is going to hurt my pockets lol


message 7: by Ashe (new)

Ashe Armstrong (ashearmstrong) I'm planning on using Rock and Hill Studio for my next book. I have a few friends who like them and I've gotten to know a few of the folks. They're good and their entire goal is to help self-pubbers hit a higher tier. They're still relatively new but they have artists and editors and offer a lot of options with a full package in the $1500 range, with payment plans.

Tim Marquitz has also started up freelance editing again as well, so you might look him up and talk to him. He said he was gonna be offering low prices. I think it's mostly to keep from having to go back to a "real" job again after some personal stuff came up recently.


message 8: by Tabitha (new)

Tabitha Vohn Thanks, Ashe. I'll keep him in mind.
I'm fortunate in that all I need at this point is a proofread, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I can afford that much.


message 9: by Lynne (new)

Lynne Stringer | 179 comments I'm a professional editor too and I know charges are diverse. Some people charge so exorbitantly it makes my jaw drop! It's always best to shop around. Some editors will be a better fit than others and there are always reasonably priced ones out there.


message 10: by Justin (new)

Justin (justinbienvenue) | 1398 comments Mod
I found a very good editor on Fiverr. The book was thoroughly and properly edited and I didn't pay that much at all.


message 11: by K.P. (new)

K.P. Merriweather (kp_merriweather) | 519 comments It all depends on who you find. Editing is not cheap, especially depending on what *kind* of edits you're looking for!
1200 is cheap for a thorough edit for a book that's around 80k words.
But yeah, you get what you pay for.
Better save those pennies!


message 12: by Tabitha (new)

Tabitha Vohn Thanks for the advice everyone!

I've gotten some good referrals and am in contact with some editors. Hopefully, I'll find a good fit within my price range (sounds like I'm shopping for clothing, lol).


message 13: by Amber (new)

Amber Foxx (amberfoxx) | 287 comments I've used the same editor for all my books. She charges me her lowest rate because my work is, she says, the "cleanest" she's ever seen. (I work as an editor under my other name.) I've paid from $650 to $750 per book. I hire a proofreader to go over the book after that, though, since neither I nor the editor can see small errors like missing words, after becoming overly familiar with the ms. Proofreaders typically charge less. Some are better than others.


message 14: by Tabitha (new)

Tabitha Vohn Thanks! I re-read my notes that the reviewers gave me; turns out I need a "proofread" or "light copy-edit" so thankfully I'm looking at lower prices. Yay!


message 15: by Tabitha (new)

Tabitha Vohn Andrea wrote: "Question:
Just out of curiosity....
Why not proofread your own book? Since you're well-qualified to edit it yourself, why pay money? Or is it that you think you would miss something?"


Lol, well, I thought I was qualified. I even had about four to five other pairs of eyes on the three novels I've published so far. But receiving notes and sample edits from qualified reviewers has been a revealing experience. There's a reason published authors have editors; indies need them just as badly if not more so.


message 16: by Amber (new)

Amber Foxx (amberfoxx) | 287 comments Every editor I know who is also a writer uses an editor for her own writing. We're too close to our own work to see where it needs improvement.


message 17: by Tabitha (new)

Tabitha Vohn That's what I've been told as well. Makes me feel oodles better about not being able to turn out publishable quality on my own!!


message 18: by Lynne (last edited Aug 30, 2015 12:49AM) (new)

Lynne Stringer | 179 comments An author will never pick up all the problems in their books, whether they are plot problems or spelling and grammatical problems. This is because they are too close to the story to see the problems. When it comes to the plot, they may not ask certain questions that will reveal problems, which a professional will be able to address. When it comes to the way they've written it, they may not have explained things well enough because they know what happens and may not realise they aren't making things clear enough. And no one ever sees all the spelling mistakes, as an author knows what it's supposed to say and sees what should be there, rather than what is.
While friends and family can help with some things, they'll never pick up as much as a good professional editor will.


message 19: by Amber (new)

Amber Foxx (amberfoxx) | 287 comments Well said, Lynne.


message 20: by Lynne (new)

Lynne Stringer | 179 comments Thanks. :-)


message 21: by Justin (new)

Justin (justinbienvenue) | 1398 comments Mod
Well said Lynne. To go off what you said I'm reminded of my first book when it was with PublishAmerica. They claimed to have had an editing team but yet asked me to go in and fix my mistakes. Since I wrote it and I'm so close to it I missed much of the errors. Well rather then fix up the rest for me, PA only fixed the errors I found and went ahead and published it. When I asked them about whether or not they fixed other errors I had not they said they did..I ended up finding over 40 more errors to which they said they'd gladly fix for $300...lesson here..when a company asks you to fix your own errors and lies to you that they will do the rest..look elsewhere!

Also, you know as the writer you just cannot rely on yourself as the sole editor..it just cannot be done.


message 22: by Lynne (new)

Lynne Stringer | 179 comments Yes, unfortunately there are plenty of companies out there that promise the world and deliver very little. Sorry you had to go through that kind of experience, Justin!


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