Unfortunately, a lot of indy authors don’t pay for editing. I think the primary reason for this is most people don’t know how much it costs. I’m here to help people with that and tell you how much my experience cost. I believe you should edit your manuscript before you publish, but before you decide you should know what you’re getting into. At some point, I’ll talk about choosing a good editor and my experience in working with her.
On a thread on one of the forums I frequent, the prices people thought editing was varied greatly. For your standard 300 page manuscript, people thought it was as little as $100. Others thought it was as much as $50,000. Most people thought the price of editing as at least $10,000. To be fair, the $100 quote was someone who thought that was just basic copyediting, but most of the people either grossly overestimated or underestimated how much editing was.
The type of editing I was looking for my 90,000 word manuscript was a developmental edit. That type of edit dealt mainly with the structure of the story. There was also some light copyediting involved. I emailed about a dozen editors to get their quotes. To the eight or so editors that could take me on, their prices were as low as $1500 to as high as $6000. The average ranged from $2000 to $3000. The editor I chose cost me $2000. You don’t have to pay all at once. You put a deposit down, about a third of the price, then pay the rest when she’s finished.
The one thing I’m not sure about is if prices are different based not only on the type of editing you want and how long it would take, but also on the genre of your work. I’m working on a fantasy series. Would that be harder to work on because it’s based in a made up world than working on mystery series set in today’s world? In any case, I emailed editors that worked in my genre.
A few thousand dollars might seem like a lot of money to charge but it’s based on the time of how long they worked. Each of the editors gave me a quote for their hours and hourly rate. Their hourly rates varied from $35 to $50. Now, if you believe your manuscript is perfect. It will only need some copyediting and will be far cheaper. Despite what your beta readers say and what you think, your manuscript is far from perfect. It’ll need some professional editing and it will probably need a lot. The problem with editing is that it’s not something someone can go to school for. There are no classes or majors for editing. I wish there was a major for it though.
This is what I received for $2000. She went over my manuscript with a fine-tooth comb. She wrote very detailed notes on each chapter totaling approximately 60 pages. These notes dealt with everything from plot to character to setting, pointing out every problem she found or questions she had. She also wrote down directions I could go in and ideas I should think of or explore. These notes were extremely detailed, helpful, and scary. On top of that, she also included notes in the margins. Lastly, there was a one hour phone conversation included.
For all that, I believed the money I paid for was well worth it.
In the grand scheme of things, $2000 isn’t a lot of money. However in my world, $2000 is a lot of money. Luckily for me, I’m saver, extremely good with money, and unlike most Americans I don’t care much for stuff. I don’t understand people that pay to go to writer’s conferences spending hundreds to thousands of dollars for those. I think those are for people that are already in the business not for writers trying to get into the business.
Since I never attended a four year college, I like to think of my editing experience as a very personal class I paid for. I learned a lot from my editor. It’s one thing to read something in a book and another to have someone tell you about how to write. She opened my eyes not just on editing but on writing. She made me understand lessons I’ve heard for yet couldn’t get for years. I don’t know if all editors are like this but mine more than justified the cost I paid for. She was damn good. So make your own coffee, go on vacations in your area, get rid of your cable, and save your money to hire an editor. It’ll be well worth it.