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,
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.
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 the Author: Henry Baum
I’m the author of The American Book of the Dead. The novel won Best Fiction at the DIY Book Festival and the Gold IPPY Award for Visionary Fiction. Largehearted Boy says it's "reminiscent of Philip K. Dick and Haruki Murakami, a book that boldly explores the future and defies genre." I'm also the author of North of Sunset, winner of the Hollywood Book Festival Grand Prize, and The Golden Calf - first published by Soft Skull Press, with editions in the U.K. (Rebel Inc.) and France (Hachette Littératures). Visit henrybaum.com for more information. I’m the editor of Self-Publishing Review.