If you are a new author, you have probably read a lot of online advice about why you should hire an editor once you have written your book.
It is sound advice too, and in a perfect world, all new authors would want to engage professional editors and proofreaders.
If you are fortunate enough to have signed with a traditional publishing house, your manuscript will receive professional editing.
A publishing deal usually includes developmental editing, copy editing, and line editing, as well as cover designers.
However, for most authors nowadays, the dream of getting a deal with one of the major publishers is just that—a dream.
Self-publishing is now the most common means of fulfilling the goal of becoming a published author.
But without any kind of manuscript critique, editing, and rushing to publish a book, it can turn into a nightmare of awful reviews and abysmal sales.
Logically, the solution for self-publishing authors is to look for book editing services to help avoid publishing a book full of typos, spelling and grammar errors, and plot faults.
But it comes at a cost.
How much does it cost to hire a good editor?
Based on estimates by the Editorial Freelancers Association.
Here are some rough approximations of what you might expect to pay a professional editing service for editors who work in book editing.
As an example, let’s take a novel between 65,000 to 75,000 words.
1. Developmental editor
At an hourly rate of between $45.00 to $55.00, the cost would be in the range of $5,000.00 to $6,000.00.
2. Basic copy editor
An hourly rate of between $30.00 to $40.00, the cost would be in the range of $2,000.00 to $3,000.00.
The price for heavy copyediting is estimated at almost the same as for developmental editing.
An hourly rate of between $30.00 to $35.00, the cost would be in the range of $2,000.00 to $2,500.00.
In total, the cost estimate for these three editing services would total around $9,000.00 at a minimum.
This is only a very rough rule of thumb guide.
If you want an accurate quote, you should contact an editor and send a sample of your book so they can give you a firm offer.
There’s just no way I can afford to pay that much!
Let’s get real now.
I know, and you know. Very few authors, apart from bestselling authors, can afford to pay thousands of dollars for professional book editing or a full-time editorial director.
But every author knows that you need to edit books meticulously before you can publish.
However, the cost of professional developmental editors and copy editors is way beyond the reach of most.
So how can you bridge the Catch 22 gap between your modest budget to produce your book and the expectation of readers?
Readers want to buy a high-quality book that is free of errors and typos.
Well, there is a way, but it is certainly not perfect. Well, what is perfect in today’s world, anyway?
It will require a small investment and lots of hours of work for you.
You need to use tools, and make friends
You can spend your money, or you can spend your time editing your book. It’s your choice.
For most authors, they have more time than money, so the answer is obvious.
So let’s get you started on spending your time and money wisely.
1. You absolutely need beta readers
It’s tough finding beta readers.
But it is by far the best way to get feedback on your book’s plot and also your use of grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
Think of them as your free quality control team. The more of them you have, the more input you will get back.
Every one of them will give you the information that you need to make corrections and improvements to your manuscript.
I get a lot of authors asking me where they can find beta readers. Well, there is no magic fountain where you can wish them on to your book.
However, there is an easy way. Offer to become a beta reader.
You will have little to do while you are trying to connect with new beta readers.
Even when you do, you will be waiting quite a while for their feedback. So you have plenty of time to spend.
But the big benefit is that by offering to become a beta reader, you will get a lot of responses.
Then BOOM, you now have a list of potential new beta readers streaming to your door.
The other huge benefit is that by beta reading for other authors, you will learn from what they write and the mistakes they make. You can then apply this knowledge to your book.
Remember, you are spending your time, which is saving your money. So spend big!
2. A premium grammar checker is a must, and cheap
When compared to the cost of a copy editor or line editor, online grammar and spell checkers are inexpensive.
Sure, it will never replace a qualified editor. But for the price, it can do a lot to help you improve the quality of your manuscript.
There are many online writing checkers. But from my experience, there is only one that does everything I need when working with a long manuscript.
Prowritingaid for ideal authors
ProWritingAid is my first choice writing assistant.
It is similar in some respects to Grammarly, but it has the advantage of being much more suited to long documents such as a book manuscript.
There are more than twenty in-depth reports available in the editor to help you analyze and improve your whole text. You can integrate Prowritingaid with Word, Google Docs, and Scrivener.
It is much much more than a standard online grammar and spellchecker. It is truly an online book editor program.
The good news is that Prowritingaid is also affordably priced.
Grammarly is another option.
I have used Grammarly for years now, and while it is certainly not cheap or free, it has become an indispensable tool for me.
Unlike many other tools, Grammarly has different subscription choices, which can make it reasonably economical. I have a yearly subscription because I use it all the time.
But if you only want to use it for the time you are preparing your book, you can pay for a month by month subscription for as long as you need it.
At around $11.50 per month, it sounds a lot more attractive than $9,000.00 for an editor.
The best feature for me is that Grammarly gives me sensible and actionable suggestions while I am editing.
It can suggest using an active sentence structure, different pronouns to avoid confusion, and best of all, words that are repeated with better synonyms choices.
3. Beg, borrow or steal a proofreader
Find one person who you know is a whiz at grammar. Do a stocktake of all your friends and family, online contacts, or on social media. Perhaps an English teacher from your school days?
You need to find that one person to do the very last important step before publishing.
You need someone with an eagle eye for detail and who will check your manuscript, line by line and word by word, and letter by letter.
You have two real choices when it comes time to prepare your manuscript.
You can spend your money, or you can spend your time.
But you have no choice in the fact that your book will need editing and improving before you can hope to publish a quality book.
So take your time.