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Where to Find an Editor for a Self-Published Book

Take a look at our editing packages here.

There’s been a lot of talk on this site about why editing is important to the quality of self-published books, and how poor editing is the reason self-published books are not taken seriously.  One could imagine the impulse of some writers: well, the book’s already been bought, so what does it matter if there are some typos inside – the sale has already been made.  Bad impulse – if you’re at all interested in generating good reviews and for gaining any kind of reputation to sell books in the future.

OK, so it’s all well and good to say books need editing, but where can authors actually find freelance editors to take on a book?  The trouble with editing services is that they can be exorbitantly expensive.  This is certainly true with the editorial services offered by some subsidy services.

Check out the editing service at Infinity Publishing: .013 per word for copyediting.  That’s not editing for content/theme/structure, but for nuts and bolts issues such as,

  • Spelling
  • Grammar
  • Capitalization
  • Punctuation

At .013 per word that comes out to $910 for a relatively short 70,000-word book.  Generally, the editorial services that come with subsidy services are priced in this range – unless you buy an overall package that includes editing, which is an argument for getting one of these packages.  At AuthorHouse line editing services are $.029 per word, but their packages do not include editorial.  Llumina press offers book editing on scale from .01 to .08 cents a word for a full rewrite.  At iUniverse, you can get an Editorial Evaluation for $599 that has a fairly vague description:

Assesses your work to be sure that it has fulfilled the basic requirements of a published book. The editorial evaluator will not only provide you with a general overview of your manuscript, but also educate you through constructive comments on how to write a better book.

However, with iUniverse, this editorial evaluation package comes with an overall publishing package for the premier level ($1099) and up.  Given that these packages include cover design as well, this is actually pretty economical when compared to buying subsidy services individually.

One of the advantages of using Lulu is that their individual service packages are well-priced.  So you can get an editorial analysis package for $299.  This is included in Lulu’s publishing packages for as low as $619.  In general, Lulu’s services are a better bet in terms of price than other subsidy services.

Selfpublishing.com’s got a good editorial analysis package for only $99, but mechanical analysis is .014 cents a word.

Independent Editors

The trouble with using a subsidy service is that they can be pretty cold and corporate.  It’s a kind of factory line of editorial help.  Of course, not all freelance editors offer the personal touch, but it is more likely.  A good editor is as much an artist as a good writer, so a skilled freelance editor can be tough to come by, but there are a number of people offering these services.  With editors it’s extremely important to know that you’re dealing with someone who has dealt with your genre or type of book in the past.  This is why it’s not always a great idea to go with a generic service offered by a subsidy press.  If you write literary fiction, this is a much different process than if you write hard sci-fi.

It’s also possible to get testimonials for independent editors that you might not be able to get about the editors who work for a generic subsidy service, and these testimonials are highly important.  Editing can be a sensitive and touchy process, so if you’re not working with somebody you’re comfortable with it can be a bad experience, if not a waste of money.  In the end, a private referral is perhaps better than a list like this, but if you don’t have any referrals, you need some place to start.

This post couldn’t possibly list all of the book editors available, but here are a few that are accustomed to dealing with self-publishers:

SPR’s own Erin Stropes: She charges $18/hr for copyediting and $20/hr for developmental feedback.  For a 70,000 word book, this generally comes out to around $550-$700.

Book-editing.com: This service offers writers to deliver a price quote, so you can stay within budget.  The site has different editors on staff that may offer different price quotes.   Click on the genres on the left to find editors who are experienced in your type of book and mention that editor in your query.

Manuscript Editing: Thriller and science fiction oriented, but not entirely.  Includes a free edit of 5 pages if she intends on taking on the book.

Writer’s Helper: “Editing Services Making Self Published Writers Better”

The Fiction Doctor: Offers $1.50 a page for proofreading and $2.00 a page for critique.  Her quote is for 200-300 words a page, which is industry standard.  For a 300 page double-spaced manuscript, that’s $450 for proofreading, $600 for critique – cheaper than subsidy services, as is often the case.

Accentuate Services: Contact the site for a price quote.

Gary Kesslar: A lot of political-leaning non-fiction, but an impressive list of edited books.

Compass Rose: Fairly expensive.  The lowest rate is for express proofreading:

  • $2.00/page when marking hard copy
  • $1.95/page for corrected file copy

You could also put an ad on a job board like Craigslist and find editors who are more desperate for work, and so cheaper.  Quality control is of course more difficult.  Ask for a list of credits.

Finally, check out Preditors & Editors list of editing services, and another list of freelance book editors.  There are hundreds of book editors working, and each book is different, so it’s difficult to say: choose this one.  But this should help get you started.

About Henry Baum

Avatar of Henry Baum
Author of three self-published novels and one traditionally published (Soft Skull Press, Canongate, and Hachette Littératures). Recipient of Best Fiction at the DIY Book Festival, the Gold IPPY Award for Visionary Fiction, and the Hollywood Book Festival Grand Prize. He lives with his wife Cate Baum in Los Angeles. He's the founder of SPR.

25 comments

  1. A cheaper alternative is to use something like the AutoCrit Editing Wizard. It’s not the same as having a human read your work, but it sure improves your manuscript.

    At the very least it means that you’ll get the most out of your human editing partner since you’ll have removed most problems with the Editing Wizard.

  2. I’m a freelance editor, on retainer at City Image Press in Santa Monica, CA, but I can always use some work.

    Lori Stassi

  3. I realize that software and such may seem like a “cheaper alternative,” but the problem with software is that it can never add feeling or tone to your writing…..especially if you are looking for someone to modify your fiction for you. However, there are a lot of very costly professional copy and content editing services out there, some ranging up to $75 an hour!

    I have been professionally copy editing since the late eighties, and my rates have never gone up – they are $1 a page, regardless of how comprehensive a copy edit or proofread you require. Because I have kept my rates so low over the years, I have had the opportunity to work with businesses, students, publishing houses, and independent authors in a variety of formats and genres from all over the globe. As a published author myself, I think it is important not only to focus on proper grammar and where to put that comma, but also on making sure the writer’s “voice” is being amplified properly and not hindered by poor word choices or organization…

    …and on that note, I’m always looking for work too! I can be reached at autiej@gmail.com if anyone needs a copy editor!

  4. Cheaper is not always better–make sure you are getting a professional if you want professional-quality work.

    I recommend looking for organizations like the Northwest Independent Editors Guild (http://www.edsguild.org/) for advice on finding an editor, freelancers for hire, and job boards on which you can post your project. You can be more sure you’re getting a professional who will do quality work, and most will provide a cost estimate based on the level of editing your project needs.

    Wendy Wetzel
    Freelance editor
    wetzeledit@gmail.com
    Twitter: @wetzeledit

  5. Hello there, Henry. Very informative post.

    I’d to throw my hat in the proverbial ring. My company, inWrite, offers copy editing and proofreading services for around $20 an hour. The price includes quality control, so you don’t have to worry about your manuscript not being checked thoroughly enough.

    We have just won a contract with a major US publisher, and we edit and proofread thousands of words every day, so you can be assured that we know what we’re doing.

    Check out our Web site: http://www.inwrite.org

  6. I recommend looking for freelance and editing organizations in your area, like Authors Guild, which can give proper, reputable advice on how to approach the process from the start. Schiel & Denver Book Publishers, also offers editing and proofreading services, drawing from a pool of experienced editors that have conducted regular freelance work for NYC publishing houses such as Penguin, Inc.

    For US & Canadian authors, http://www.schieldenver.com
    For UK & European authors, http://www.schieldenver.co.uk

  7. Hi,

    I’ve been enjoying editing novels for self-publishing authors for two years now. I wanted to give it a go (I had been asked before and turned it down) in the recession. I’m a female English freelance journalist usually – full-time for around 20 years. I write a lot of true stories for national women’s magazines (www.storieswanted.com), have a psychology/health expertise and a Masters Degree in Screenwriting.

    I think you do get a personal touch with using a write like me as your editor. Everything is highly bespoke and works really well – in polishing up the copy/manuscript and also dramatically improving your writing skills. It’s one-to-one tuition direct from an expert. I really enjoy doing it too!

    I’ve set up a webpage – http://www.noveleditingservices.com for anybody with a novel they want editing.
    Susan Wallace.

  8. I couldn’t agree more that self-published books need professional editing. One of the advantages that commercial publishing provides is the understanding that the book will have been professionally edited (and proofread!). For self-published books to have that same credibility, they need to be edited well.

    Nobody can catch all their own mistakes, whether we’re talking about typos or entire concepts that somehow don’t make sense. A professional editor brings that essential “reader’s perspective” that no author (no matter how good) can bring to his or her own work.

    Most of my book editing experience in the last several years has been with non-fiction self-published books and ebooks. The quality has ranged widely. Some manuscripts are already beautifully clean. Others are a confused mess. But every manuscript always benefits from editing. Since I also have design experience, I can bring that understanding to self-published books and ebooks as well, which enhances the editing experience.

    You can’t expect to get careful, accurate, professional work on the cheap. By hiring an independent editor, you get the quality you need without the extra expense of the “middle man.” I offer those services through my website at http://www.santorecommunications.com. I try to keep my rates as low as I can afford, and offer bids on a project basis based on word count and complexity (lots of footnotes, endnotes, long bibliography, etc.).

  9. Thank you for saying such kind things about editors, and the necessity of editing! I’ve worked on all kinds of fiction and nonfiction books over the years, and even the best of them had an occasional typo. I do especially love working with authors who are planning to self-publish; they take their work really seriously and are very responsive to editorial suggestions. I’m very proud of the good manuscripts I’ve helped turn into great books.

    More information about my services is on my website:

    http://rosejasperfox.net/

    Thanks for giving editors this space to reach out to potential clients; it’s much appreciated, and I think everyone will benefit from it.

  10. I eliminate every editor who states they have “over x years experience.” The correct term is “more than” and every editor should know that. I also love that there are typos in the posts above. Note: If you are selling your services as an editor, you had better not have any typos in your copy. One typo and you are out.

  11. Are you a self-publisher who can’t afford high editorial rates? I am offering reduced rates as I try to get my freelance business off the ground. I am currently employed as a proofreader for a direct mailing company, and I am pursuing a copyediting certificate through UC San Diego Extension. So although I cannot offer ten years of experience and numerous testimonials, I do have experience and education.

    I can correct grammar and punctuation errors and comment on overall flow and organization. The self-publisher I am currently working with has been impressed with my ability to comment on content and structure.

    I am offering low rates to self-publishers right now, so please contact me for a quote. You can email me at meganwengerediting@gmail.com and visit my website at mwediting.wordpress.com.

  12. WAKE Editing, the business I opened in 2011 after teaching writing and doing personal freelance editing for years, is expanding and accepting new clients. With this expansion, I am currently offering a 15% discount on top of my low price of .006 cents/word for a standard proofread. Other services are also offered to meet your needs.

    In addition, I’m an author and have three books under my belt at the moment, so I know what you go through. I feel that any author should know what they’re getting ahead of time, so I offer a free line edit of your first thousand words on any manuscript over twenty-thousand words. WAKE Editing is contracted with publishers and authors alike, and there are fiction novels and anthologies in circulation now that I have had the opportunity to edit. Feel free to check my past projects and customer reviews at http://www.wakeediting.com or submit your manuscript and take advantage of this 15% discount for a limited time.

    Weston Kincade

  13. I paid a lot of money to a “children’s book editor” I found at book-editing.com (she’s also listed at an outfit called Children’s Book Editors and Illustrators). Completely worthless. Be careful–there are people out there who claim to have impressive resumes–like being an editor at a major publisher for 16 years- but whose actual skill, ability, and work-ethic are negligible, if at all existent.

  14. LOOKING FOR A EDITOR WHO’S PRICES ARE NOT TO HIGH BUT WILLING TO DO CHRISTIAN MATERIAL..(BOOKS)

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