Every writer needs an editor.
It doesn’t matter how good you are; we all need fresh eyes to look at our manuscript and see what we’re missing, what we’re too close to see. We know our story so well that our brain fills in the right character’s name or the “an” that’s missing.
Most writers going the self-pubbed route know this. But when it comes to doing the editing, the sticker shock of a content edit and a copy edit can chase them the other way.
We need it, but we can’t afford it. What to do?
There are some ways to make editing more affordable. First shop around. Some editors are well-known and busy, and they charge top prices. But there are others out there who are just starting out as freelancers. They’ve got the skills but not the customer base yet. They’ll be more affordable. Check places like the Christian Editor Network and the Christian PEN (Proofreaders and Editors Network).
You’ll need to do a bit of research to make sure someone who’s newer is legitimate. Check customer referrals. Ask for a sample edit, even if it costs a few dollars. Most editors will put that fee toward the overall editing price if you work with them.
If you’re looking for a content edit and can’t afford to do the whole book, ask the editor what they’d charge to do half of the book. Quite often the comments I give clients don’t change throughout the book. There are a handful of issues that need to be addressed, and what exists as a problem in the first half exists in the second half as well. If the editor gives a summary letter or an overview of what they see, you can take the problems they point out and check the second half yourself.
Don’t be afraid to ask an editor to tweak a service to better fit something you need. I’ve done this a few times myself, most recently for a new client that I knew was a talented writer who just wanted an overview on how well the plot worked. Also tell the editor if there are certain areas you’re wondering about. It shows the editor that you’re teachable, that you want to see your work improved, and it can help you get the most out the money you spend.
If you’re in need of a copy edit, make sure you brush up on current grammar rules. Yes, current rules, because language does change over time. What you learned back in high school isn’t entirely right today. Book publishers use The Chicago Manual of Style, and Christian publishers also use The Christian Writer’s Manual of Style. Reference these books for areas you’re not sure of. It may take time, but it’s time well spent.
Why? Because the cleaner the manuscript is, the less the editor has to do, and that means the edit will be cheaper. It takes a lot of time for someone to read it, understand what’s being said, and catch and fix errors. If you’re careless with your grammar and punctuation or just don’t know, it will take an editor hours and hours to fix the problems. And you’ll pay them a lot for it. If you don’t bother with an edit because it’s too expensive, you won’t sell many books.
If grammar and punctuation is a real struggle for you, find a great copy editor and ask if they would do a teaching edit for you. Hire them to edit the first fifty pages and explain the rules you’re getting wrong. Then you can go through the manuscript yourself and fix it. It’s still a good idea to get it proofread when you’re done. Remember those fresh eyes that we need? Since the manuscript’s so much cleaner now, it won’t be nearly as expensive.
Even after all these tips, you’ll still pay for editing. It won’t be free because a good editor is worth their knowledge and time. But you’ll sell more if your books are well-edited. And just think. It didn’t take an arm and a leg to do it.
Do you have any ideas on how to cut the cost of editing? Share them with us.
Sally Bradley has worked for two publishers, writing sales and marketing materials, sorting through the slush pile, and proofreading and editing fiction. She has a BA in English and a love for perfecting novels, whether it’s her work or the work of others.
A judge in fiction-writing contests, Sally is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, The Christian PEN, the Christian Editor Network, and Christian Manuscript Critique Services. In 2000, she left the working world to have her first child. She now runs Bradley Writing and Editing Services from her home outside Kansas City. A mother of three, Sally is married to a pastor who moonlights as a small-town cop.
You’ll find Sally at http://www.sallybradley.com. Tell her you found her at SelfPublishingNavigator.com.