For my first self-published novel, I plan to pay for a professional editor. I'm really excited and nervous about the process. I've been researching all over the place to find out WHY, HOW, and WHICH KIND of edit to get. Here's what I've learned so far...
Different Kinds of Edits:
- There are many kinds of services that fall under the scope of "editing." But in general there are two types: A Developmental Edit / Story Edit / Structural Edit is very involved. The editor makes suggestions that really shape or re-shape the story, regarding things like character development, style, point of view, plot lines, pacing, and genre-specific revisions. On the other hand, a Grammar Edit / Copy Edit / Line Edit focuses more on the nuts and bolts of grammar, punctuation, mispellings, and all the small, nagging mistakes.
- A Developmental Edit will cost more, anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000 to $5,000, depending on the size of your work, because this kind of edit requires a lot of work from the editor, and a lot of back and forth between the editor and writer. A Copy Edit will cost less, from $100 to $1,000 dollars. A copy edit is more straightforward, more "black and white", and involves less back-and-forth between the writer and editor.
Can't I Edit My Story Without Paying $1,000?
- You can definitely find editors on the cheap. Sites like Upwork and Fiverr are good places to find freelance editors. The advice from authors is always the same: Get a sample edit first. Read reviews and credentials. You get what you pay for. Ask around for recommendations from other writing groups and forums.
- If you have to, get your friend or spouse to edit your work. Just by all means don't do it yourself. The more eyes you get to comb your story before it's published, the better.
The Process - How Does it Work?
- Standard Practice goes like this: The writer gives a "story sample" to the editor - usually a 10 page excerpt from your story, or something in that neighborhood. Editor makes corrections and suggestions, offers those to the writer, along with a proposal for further work. All of this should be done for free. Then the writer can choose to go forward or politely decline.
- Editors can charge however they want. Some are pay-by-the-hour. Some will give you a bottom-line cost for the entire project, depending on things like, the length of your work, whether you're a veteran or a newbie, and how much hand-holding you're looking for throughout the process.
Why I Want to Pay for Developmental Edit
- I know that the leap from "writing in your closet" to "publishing your work" is a huge one. I've often heard that your first developmental edit is sort of like a crash course master's degree in writing. New writers are going to make a huge leap in their abilities after that first edit, simply from having a professional point out their most glaring mistakes.
- For me this will be a long term investment. It all depends on what your goals are. For me it has to do with, not just publishing a book, but becoming a better writer. That's why I'm so excited to discuss one of my stories in depth with an editor. Because the learning curve is steepest in the beginning, and the gains most visible.
These are all just notes I've picked up, as I try to learn things myself for the first time.
When you're new to the game, this kind of stuff can be daunting. So hopefully this helps new writers get a clearer picture about the process.