Reply To: Where on earth would I start looking for an editor?

Forums Fiction General Writing Discussions Where on earth would I start looking for an editor? Reply To: Where on earth would I start looking for an editor?

Brianna Storm Hilvety


So are you saying that I would need $4k times three different editors (so $12k) to edit a 200k book? Or are developmental and copy editors cheaper? Either way, that seems slightly gratuitous–then again, I have no experience here. xD

You’ve packed two questions into this: 1) Should an author pay for a full-scale edit at every level? 2) Would all of those editors cost the same as the estimate I gave you for line editing?

My answer to both is no.

Editing rates are proportionate to the depth of the changes involved, so in order of most intensive/expensive to least intensive/expensive, this is how the list would go: 1) developmental editing, 2) line editing & copyediting, 3) proofreading. In other words, developmental editing costs more than line editing, and proofreading is the cheapest service of the three.

That said, unless the manuscript is complete garbage to begin with (in which case, it should probably be scrapped instead), an author does not need to shell out $10,000+ to get quality feedback at every level. I often recommend that authors purchase some kind of critique service/package/call instead of a developmental edit. It provides an overview of your novel’s structural strengths and weaknesses—and tells you whether your story is even sound (which is important to learn as early as possible to avoid pouring time and money into a project that needs drastic reworking). You’ll still be getting big-picture feedback from someone who’s knowledgeable in the publishing industry, but the service tends to be significantly cheaper than a developmental edit because either A) the editor is only reviewing the first 50 or so pages instead of the full manuscript, or B) she’s pointing out what you’ve done wrong/right without necessarily describing solutions and fixing issues herself like a developmental editor would. So it would equal more work for you, but most authors don’t mind that in view of the money they’ll save.

Also, due to the confusion surrounding whether line editing and copyediting are the same or two different services, I should probably clarify that if you hire a person to do sentence-level editing (regardless of which term they use), you do not need to hire someone else to cover the other one. So, if you hire a line editor, you don’t need a copyeditor, and vice versa. The step that should come next is proofreading, which only focuses on actual errors in spelling and grammar and minor inconsistencies (like a character’s eye color changing halfway through the book).

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