Paying the Piper - Editing

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Some of you might know that I’m planning to self-publish some of my work, by year end.  With that in mind, I’ve been studying the self-publishing business and editing the book I plan to publish. I made contact with a wonderful editor last week and asked about costing. The person was quite gracious and advised that I wouldn’t need more than one thorough round of editing based on my book now in the publishing pipeline. The rates were very reasonable, but when you live where I do, that translates to $113,000.00 Jamaica dollars.

Wait! Don’t go!  I’m not about to pull out my can and start asking for donations.

To a certain extent, now I understand why some writers opt not to get an editor. Do not read that as any kind of copout or endorsement of shortcuts to publication.  In no way, shape or form do I condone putting out work that isn’t properly edited. Those who go the editorless route owe themselves and their potential readers the obligation of publishing something that’s error free or as close to it as they can come, based on their resources.  

In many ways I’m a purist, so if I put a piece of my writing out there, it has to be of the highest quality. I come close to melt-down if I read a published post and see a typo I left in there. That said, it’s a good thing I’ll be working with a group of writers who are young in the business, but have put out really good work to date. (Yes, I've read a couple of their books on Kindle.)  If I can’t afford an editor when I get to that point, I have the assurance that two sets of eyes will also be reading. And before that, my critique group will have gone though the book.

Still, every day brings new adventures and opportunities, so I’m going to be looking around to see what else exists. Maybe I’ll really have to sell an arm, leg and kidney to pay for what I want, but until then I’ll keep them in premium condition. After all, we have to make sacrifices to achieve our dreams. 

All of this reminds me that I’m slacking off on my editing. 

Are you up to date on all the stuff you’re trying to get published?  


  1. All those expenses can add up fast. I have a few friends who are going the self-publishing route, and instead of paying an editor, they're having a few critique members proof their manuscripts. Some of us are pretty good at catching punctuation errors, etc. So it saves some money. When I need a ms critiqued or proofread, they'll return the favor. So the barter system is a good thing for us. Wishing you a smooth road on your self-publishing journey.

  2. You know I'll help out in any way I can. I'm good with copy edits! Been doing it for a living for nearly 20 years :)

  3. I don't know much about self-publishing, so this is very interesting, and daunting.

    I must say that I never feel up to date in the sense that I always wish that I've written more than I have (or revised more). There are never enough hours in a day.

    Good luck with your latest venture! : )

  4. Lyn, so true - there will be a cost attached with the route I'm taking, but based on what I've seen so far, the effort will be worth what I'll pay.

    Jeanne, I do know you're excellent at catching those typos. Thanks!

  5. Cynthia,

    Trust me. I'm daunted BUT I know it's a challenge I must overcome. The good thing is that I don't have to do all this myself. I do need to know as much as I can though since I'm planning to do a book of short stories. Just thinking about e-formatting is giving me chills, but Smashwords is a place to start. Biding my time before I look at their 70 page guidelines. Yikes!

    I agree there never seems to be enough hours in each day, but I more than concede that God knew what he was doing. Imagine if we had more hours. We'd run ourselves to wrecks.

  6. Editing is probably some of the most soul crushing work a writer can go through. That's why I really like writer's groups; there's always at least one person in there who is really good at copy editing and won't ask for a huge sum of money to do it. I could not imagine paying that much for an editor.

  7. Having your book edited is very important, but that price seems so high (about $1300, if my google money conversion from Jamaican to US dollars is correct). I work for an editorial services, and we charge around a third of that price to our clients.

    Nothing beats a good editor, though. They can take an okay book to a good or great book.

  8. It's all a learning exercise, too. Thanks for sharing.

    I would be hesitant to pay so much, unless I was confident that I would see a return. Is there some way you could dip your toe in the water?

  9. Marlena, it’s weird, but I don’t enjoy editing until I’m knee deep in it. It’s the hardest thing to get started, but once I hit my stride, I’m good to go. Writing groups are a blessing. I know I wouldn’t have been published without one.

    Cherie, that conversion is about right. I do agree that a good editor is wonderful to have. I may have to speak with you more on that.

    Deborah, yes, this foray down the self-publishing path is so much of a learning experience. I understand exactly what you mean. I have no guarantees I’d sell enough books to recoup the cost. I’ll see what happens as I go along. Thanks for stopping in.

  10. I'm really happy I didn't have to pay for an editor. I am happy to have my publisher assign me one.

  11. I don't think we appreciate just how much editors improve our stories until we have to pay for me. Striking out on my own really makes me appreciate even more what it is they do to improve our books.

  12. First off, I love the new look of your blog!

    I also think you said it perfectly when you wrote: "I agree there never seems to be enough hours in each day, but I more than concede that God knew what he was doing. Imagine if we had more hours. We'd run ourselves to wrecks."

    I'm also thinking I need to ask for raise at my day job, if the going rate for book editors is $1,300. :)


  13. Good luck. For my last manuscript, I had about 5 readers. Now I think it's polished enough to query. It's amazing what my readers find that I miss.

  14. I read extensively and i think most authors who forgo editing do so at their detriment. A layperson like me even though I am pedantic about gramma and spelling when I look at someone's book I can't replace the expert advise your editor would give about how to make the story tighter where it looks sloppy, etc. I sometimes see that the indie author had a brilliant idea but execution suffers because their was no professional eye to help with the writing/structuring process.

  15. Thanks, Michelle. As you can probably tell, I like changing stuff up and this wallpaper gives more space for writing.

    Ah, yes, in a free market economy, anything is possible for a freelancer.

    Theresa, that gets me every time too. Each reader brings something unique to the table.

    Wendy, that's true. I suppose this is the main reason why writers tend to gravitate towards writers' groups. Eventually, we find people who help take our writing several levels above where we started.

  16. Then again, maybe you're not wrong, Joy. I've put the question of price out to one of my colleagues at my day job who in addition to being a published author is a freelance book editor. I'm wondering if the disconnect between the two prices is about the level of editing promised, e.g. content vs. copy editing. I'll let you know what I learn.

  17. Editors that are affordable are hard to find. From the quality of your posts, however, I'm guessing you won't need too much editing. Good luck!

  18. Editing is costly, isn't it? It's hard sometimes to justify the cost.

    Good luck!

  19. Thanks, Michelle.

    AA, thanks. Time is on my side so I can decide what I should do.

    Talli, yes editing does cost a fair bit, but I do know that editors are worth their salt.

  20. Yeah... I'm in the same situation. $1=ZAR7 so prices can become pretty scary to me. Good luck with your edits!

  21. Yeah... I'm in the same situation. $1=ZAR7 so prices can become pretty scary to me. Good luck with your edits!

  22. Currency difference does make things very complicated. Thanks, Misha!

  23. Best of luck with self-publishing. There's a definite allure to having such total control of your book in the publishing process.

    P.S. Thanks for your note on my blog yesterday! I do not receive the NetGalley emails so I was not aware. Nice to see that my 'lil book got a mention. :-)

  24. Thanks, Liz. More control is definitely looking good right now.

    Hopefully, Net Galley readers/reviewers will have a big impact

  25. All I can say at this point, not having published a novel, is that I soak up everything I read/hear about it. I know people who have gone the self-pub route and love it (and SmashWords comes highly recommended), and I know people who have gone the traditional route. I've been considering trying traditional first then possibly moving into self-pub once I have been through the experience and learned from it. Who knows, though!? This is such a tricky, but exciting, time in publishing, with so many changes.

    I hope you find an option that doesn't require the selling of body parts!

    Tina @ Life is Good
    and I are joining forces in a followup A to Z challenge. We're going to visit and comment at each of the original A to Z participants, and we hope you'll join us!

    Shannon @ The Warrior Muse

  26. Have you checked out this post about WiDo publishing?

  27. Shannon, thanks for dropping in. I've done traditional and I'm still in the process with another book to be released later this year. The experience has made me want to try the self-publishing route.

    Wendy, thanks, will check out the link you left.


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