It’s no wonder authors are searching for cheap, affordable book editing services – editing your book can cost more than the formatting and cover design combined. At an average of 2 cents per word (often for just proofreading) editing can be a major cost.
Even worse, it can be difficult to figure out the different levels of editing, or choose an editor. These days, anybody can put up a website and charge for editing, even with no experience or special skills. At the same time, a degree or excellent resume isn’t always proof of a great editor: a sharp-eyed book enthusiast might do just as well. Here are some things to keep in mind:
1. Anything they do will seem great, because they’ve improved it. You’ll see what they fix, but not what they missed.
2. Even the best editors rarely catch everything. You need to self-edit your book as much as possible before you hand it to anyone else.
3. If it’s your first time writing a book, you may need a writing coach or developmental editor to help you get the structure right. An editor can’t fix the story (the most important part), and just editing or proofreading what you’ve got won’t really increase sales or even reader satisfaction much. Improve your own book as much as possible.
- Do the first few pages immediately introduce the main protagonist in a sympathetic way, hook with action and provide a rich, compelling situation or setting?
- Does each scene change the story with new information?
- Is there a balance between slower, thoughtful chapters and heavy action chapters?
- Are you repeating common phrases or unusual words?
- Are your characters properly motivated and emotionally balanced? (They don’t just get angry and storm off to get eaten in the woods they know are full of wolves, etc).
When it’s as good as it can be, you may want a developmental editor (who looks at the big picture) or a line-editor (who makes detailed revisions and some rewriting, polishing the writing and improving the flow). They should be able to catch most typos and grammar issues while they’re making bigger changes as well, but remember, nobody catches everything – that’s why there is usually also a separate proofreader, who does a final check after formatting usually, for typos or mistakes.
How much does book editing cost?
There’s a wide range, but editing will usually cost at least $500 for an average sized book (65K to 95K). Make sure you know whether you’re getting editing or proofreading (or both, or two separate passes). Check testimonials and previous books they’ve edited (ask the editor what books they’ve edited, look up the book on Amazon, use “look inside” and see how smooth and polished the writing is).
Also find out what kind of plan they have in case you’re dissatisfied with the work or find problems they missed later. Again, no editor is perfect, but they should catch 95% (which doesn’t mean 5% of the whole book is still terrible… it means out of 100 typos or errors, they might miss 5 or less).
High quality editing can cost as much as .06 per word.
The more errors and basic mistakes editors have to sog through, the less time they’ll have to revise the sentence structure and word choice – so get it as clean as possible so your editor can take it to new heights and really focus on the language of the story.
As far as cheap or affordable editing services…. you can find providers on Fiverr.com for cheap, but keep this in mind: if you’re looking for a GOOD+cheap editor and find someone willing to do the work, don’t rush them.
If you need a FAST final proofreader for cheap, the quality may not be great.
HOWEVER, I don’t think every self-publishing authors needs editing. I don’t like hearing people talk about how “nobody should publish unless they can afford an editor.” Not everyone has that much disposable income lying around. Plus, I know from experience (a decade editing books and 5 years writing my own) that editing can only improve a story, not fix it – many polished and clean books with very good writing still bore readers.
Editing won’t solve all your problems – but it might get your book clean enough not to immediately alienate readers (two many typos and they’ll be too distracted to get into your story). So having a clean manuscript will at least give your book a chance. But if you can’t afford it, trade services with other authors, friends and family, or give out lots of ARC copies to potential beta readers for feedback. If you get enough people to read through and mark typos, you’ll catch most of them. If you hire a professional book editor, it may be worth the investment because you’ll learn so much from them; but if you can’t, don’t be afraid to self-edit to the best of your ability, before sharing it with more readers.
PS. If you’re looking for more exact details on how much book editing costs, and a comparison of editorial services for authors, check out this post: How much does book editing cost and are you being ripped off?