To Pay, or Not to Pay? That is the Question …to the editor I mean.

Sunday July 17, 2011 | By Hieronymus Hawkes | Blogging

I’ve been thinking a lot about editing lately.  I can’t judge how good my own writing is, I’m too close to it and have read it so many times I can’t evaluate it objectively.  I also want to know where the glaring problems are so that I can fix them.  Thankfully I have a writing partner, but even after that process I might want to have a “Real” editor take a whack at it (no offense meant Stacy).  Looking at the average cost for a novel of 500 pages or 120,000ish words it runs around $1500.  It can vary up and down from that several hundred dollars, but let’s use that as a baseline figure.  In order to recoup that cost I have to sell books.  If I put it up on Amazon for $3.99 I get to keep 70% of that or $2.79.  That would require me to sell 536 books to hit the break even point and that is not even counting the cost of getting it published.  If I choose to sell it at $2.99, I get  $2.09 and have to sell 718 copies.  If I choose the $.99 price point many new authors are using I get $.35 a copy and that requires 4286 books to sell to hit the break even point.

Honestly, I’m sure having a real editor give my book a good going over is really worthwhile, but it’s a real leap of faith to make that investment on something that may only sell to my family and friends out of kindness.  I think anyone that is self-publishing should have their book edited by a professional.  The other option is to try to get it as good as I can and get a publishing company to buy the rights and do all that stuff on their nickel 

I’m really curious how many of you are using an editing service and if you think it’s worth it.

6 Responses

  1. I hired Kristen Lamb to take a look at my first 100 pages of my mss. She didn't need that many. I'm convinced a good editor can tell you what your book needs in three chapters. Sometimes in three pages. I recommend that, if you hire an editor, you hire them for the first 50 pages. And for me, it was a game changer. Good luck!

  2. Before you fork over any money to an editing service, make sure you've had plenty of people reading & critiquing. If you need more people, you might look for a writers group in your area (check the library, although I found mine through or just look for readers (again, the library is a good place!). I think the editing part should be the LAST thing you do before publication (of which I agree, every book should be edited before publication, whether the traditional route or self-pubbing).

  3. I hired an editor for the book I just self-published. It was the largest expense, and I believe the most worthwhile. But I just hired someone for line editing and continuity, and not for developmental editing – this is the same book that had gone through my reading group, my own edits (by my count, six while I was going through the query stage) and my former agent's edits twice. Save the edit for the pre-publish stage to catch things like your overuse of a particular adjective. Stacy's suggestion of finding a writing group or critique partner is solid and will save you money and time.

  4. Piper that may be a good solution for me, thanks for the idea! Good to see you again!Ivy, I've only helped one person so far. I'm still looking for more writing partners, but just not too actively at this point, I still need to finish and make a few passes on it, why do you ask?Hi Stacy! I will definitely do that,just thinking ahead a little about the costs involved and wondering how many self-published authors are paying for their editing. =)Hi Caryn! Welcome to the Verge! Thanks for the info on your self-pub, it's definitely less expensive if you fore go the developmental editing, I guess I will have a better idea when I get past some beta readers. Thanks for stopping by!

I would love to hear from you!