It can be a headache when you start to look for editors if you’re unsure what one is truly worth.  As an indie author, you probably don’t have much of a budget, especially for your first novel, but it is very important to not only hire an editor but find the right one.  Every author needs a good editor, but the amount an author should pay depends entirely on the type of editing they may need. As we discussed last week, there are two types of editing: developmental editing and copy editing.

Developmental editing is more extensive and is primarily a critique of story elements. copy editing is mainly an examination of the grammar and syntax of a manuscript. Authors must determine for themselves whether they want to pay for both developmental editing and copy editing, but I highly recommend copy editing at the very least. While development editing may be required for authors who are unsure about the development of their plot, even the most attentive author will miss some mistakes in grammar and syntax.

Whichever type of editing you choose, you’ll need to be cautious about how much you pay for that editing. This is because editing can be costly-even when an author thinks they are getting a good deal.

In the upper price range, copy editing costs 2.4 cents a word and developmental editing costs 18 cents a word (Source: Editorial Freelancers Association). This tends to be for more professional editing, whereas editing on freelance websites like UpWork or Fiverr could cost you pennies on the dollar. Yet, indie authors should be cautious when using an editor from a mass freelancing site. Often, these editors are untrained freelancers, sometimes from foreign countries. They have little experience with the editing that is required and can miss obvious mistakes, or even make it worse.

Another thing to watch out for is that hiring a developmental editor on these sites is difficult because freelance editors may not have background in your book’s genre. This means that these freelancers will not only miss grammatical errors but mislead authors regarding plot development. Many times this leads indie authors to pay double or more for the services they wanted in the first place.

On the other hand, many self-published authors have a limited pocketbook and might be unable to pay someone more than a few cents per word, especially for larger manuscripts like ones in the fantasy and science fiction genre. For example, basic copy editing for a typical fantasy manuscript, around 70,000 words, would cost $1680 and developmental editing would cost $12,600 (based on the prices quoted earlier). This is way more than most authors can afford to spend. Furthermore, indie authors will lose profit from their books if they are spending large amounts of money on editing services. This is because they have to make-up for the costs of editing through sales, which means they have to sell more books before they can start making a true profit.

At this point, indie authors may consider rushing to a neighbor or friend for editing. However, there is another solution: finding a balance between cost and quality. Costs should not be ridiculously low, otherwise an author may end up paying double because of low-quality editing. Neither should costs be tremendously high because that would be too much for many authors and slash profit. Instead, an author should make a budget for editing according to how many books they project selling. From that budget, they can determine how much they should pay for editing and then go shopping around for editorial services. On each company’s website, indie authors can see testimonials or credentials that make an editing company worth the dollars they are spending on it. From this research, they can determine which company and which services fit both their budget and their desire to have a quality manuscript.

So answering the question of how much you should spend really isn’t an easy one, but finding a copy editor for between 1 cent and 1.5 cents per word is probably where you want to be.  For developmental editing, you’ll be looking at between 2.5 and 4 cents a word.

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Steam Powered Dreams strives to be that company which indie authors can trust. Steam Powered Dreams offers both Developmental and Copy editing at a price MADE for indie authors!  We also offer many different discounts throughout the year!  Check out our Writer Services for more information.

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