I’ve stated in previous posts that having an editor is absolutely necessary to publishing a good book, and if you read my post on The Beauty of Beta Readers you’ll know how much just having another set of eyes look over your work can do for you. But, a beta is not enough. So okay, get an editor, no problem… until you start looking for one and realize what they charge. Editing services can cost you in the thousands, and for an indie author just getting started that kind of money just isn’t in the budget. For example a company called Edit 911 gave me an instant quote of $1,610 for a 70,000 word document. (http://edit911.com/order-service/) Basic copy editing through Create Space is $120… for a document of up to 10,000 words, or $0.012 per word for a larger document. So, my 70,000 word novel would cost me $840, and that’s basic copy editing. Comprehensive copy editing is $0.016 per word and comprehensive copy editing plus is $0.022. (http://www.createspace.com/)
Prices like this I think are in part why so many indie authors have published un-edited work. It’s hard to dish out nearly a grand for a book when you don’t even know if you will make that back. But, there is a way to do it for less.
The solution: look for editors that understand how hard it is for authors just starting out. Some established editors will take into account that you are a new author and work with you on price. Or, find someone who’s just starting out editing and looking for experience. There are many good editors out there looking to get their foot in the door with their editing services just like you, as a new author, are looking to get the foot in the door with your book. These up and coming editors can be very skilled, they just don’t have a clientele yet. So, many of them offer very reasonable prices as they are still building their references. Obviously without a clientele there is more risk involved. You don’t have the same references of their work to tell you if they’re the right editor for you. However, the price, which from all the editors I enquired, ended up being less than $400 to as low as $200 (Less than half of what I’d previously been expecting to pay) is worth the extra time it takes to shop around and find an editor that’s right for you.
The process of finding an editor and finding a good one will mean sending out inquiries to more than one person. Ask around, inquire about editors in forums or ask other indie authors who they had edit their book. I made a post on Goodreads, (http://www.goodreads.com) in a discussion section specific to finding an editor (http://www.goodreads.com/group/show/52389) asking if anyone could recommend a good editor who offered affordable rates. After a day I had about five editors to look into. I e-mailed a few of them and found that most editors will ask for a sample of your work in which they will correct and send back to you. It is only after they’ve done this that they can give you an accurate quote. From here you can see what kind of work you can expect from them and decide if they are right for you.
I feel finding the right editor will be different for every author and possibly ever novel. Some manuscripts will need more attention than others. Some editors may favor certain kinds of books over others. So, not every editor will be the best for all jobs.