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On Editing

Updated: Jul 26, 2023

Anonymous asked: So I'm noticing what seems to be a pretty chronic theme of the paucity of editing in the self-published romance writing industry. What sort of editing will best serve a self published author and what sort of rates might be reasonable for an editor to charge (in your opinion)?

Hi Nonny!

That’s a great question. But you probably aren’t going to like my answer.

It depends.

  • It depends on your self-awareness as an author.

  • It depends on your own skill as an editor.

  • It depends on how new you are to writing.

  • It depends on if you wrote fanfic before turning to original works. (Feedback on fanfic can be an amazing writing tool and the support groups from betas to writing groups aren’t to be overlooked.)

  • It depends on if you took a creative writing course where honest and valuable critique was given.

  • It depends on if you have a strong grasp of grammar and spelling and a very detailed eye.

  • It depends on how familiar you are with the genre.

  • It depends on if you have main characters outside of your race, religion, gender, and sexuality.

It depends on a whole slew of factors.

Things that ALL authors need a separate set of eyes on are the following:

  • Spelling, Punctuation, and Grammar.

  • And if applicable: Sensitivity.

Most authors can use a good line editor (aka copy editor) to catch things like repeated words, repeated phrasing, awkward phrasing, filtering, inconsistencies, incorrectness, etc.

Most authors can also use what I essentially call a manuscript assessment - which tells you in broad terms if there is anything missing, anything you can cut, impressions, opinions, and general problem areas.

Self-editing really depends on your skill level and how self-critical you can be. I’ve been writing since I was a child, and editing professionally since I was 18 (over 20 years). With my skill level, I really only need a manuscript assessment and SPAG (Spelling, Punctuation, and Grammar) edit, plus sensitivity edits when I write outside of my race/experience. This is helped by the fact that for many of the books I write, I have a co-author who is a strong author herself as well as a very good proofreader.

Now rates are very dependent on what you are looking for, editor experience, turnaround time, and your ability level. The cleaner the manuscript you send, the less it costs.

The Editorial Freelancer’s Association recommends $12 per 1000 words for proofreading.

Most authors can’t afford that – we couldn’t.

You can find people on fiverr who will do basic proofreading for $5 per 1000 words.

Or if you don’t mind a bit of shameless self-promotion – you can hire us. We do charge under the going rate, but there is a huge caveat… it is dependent on our schedule. LOL

For most editors, you can submit a sample (generally between 500-1000 words) to see if they hit what you want them to. Just don’t submit a 1000 word story and expect to get that for free because editors give you the free taste in the hopes that you will contract them.

For each level of editing above proofreading, basically multiply the amount by 1.5 because each level takes that much more time.

Also expect to pay a portion up front – this is because editors have been stiffed in the past. Depending on the size of the project, expect to pay three times. Once at the beginning. Once at the 50% mark. And once at the end.

Hopefully this helps you out!

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