Costs Worth Paying
I engaged in a conversation recently on The Twit (@katrchrdsn) and FurryElephant (@firstname.lastname@example.org) with an #IndieAuthor, and others, about editing costs. She was quoted $6K for an edit based on word count and is aghast. I’m not, but then, I’m old and have been in the editing game since 1991.
Editing and Cover Art are vital to any book’s success and they are worth paying for. Yeah, $6k for editing may be high, however, cost depends on how much work the edit represents; word count, genre, level of edit expected, degree of interaction the editor offers, and so on make a big difference in the cost. Also the editor’s rep and hourly rate have a price. In-demand, well-regarded, and/or award-winning editors charge more for their time.
My editing prices start around $2.5K for developmental edit on 90-120K genre fiction manuscripts. Longer books, Coaching, Non-Fiction, line-edit, and Technical editing cost more. I don’t do Copyedit or final proof. Those are specialized skill sets and they should be performed by someone other than the author or dev/line editor, if possible (it helps to have new eyes on a project at that point, among other reasons.)
I will occasionally do “single pass crits,” which are super-light and get the client a short—usually bullet-point—crit letter to work from, but I still have to charge $800 for my time, because it takes most of a week to read 90-100K and write up the notes (plus my bookkeeping/invoicing). I try not to do a lot of these, since they take more hours than I charge for, and I bill at less than half my normal rate.
If the writer’s new to the self-pub systems, getting some help on formatting can also be worth some cash first time through (or trading services with another writer who’s more experienced). This is also something I don’t do, and which writers should not expect from a freelance editor.
If a writer doesn’t have the money for some services, they’ll have to settle for something less than their ideal. Shopping around and being willing to spend less on some things, and do more themself is necessary. If you consider yourself an Indie Writer, you are also, effectively, an Indie Publisher, and that comes with all the hats. You either wear them all, with varying degrees of success, or you farm some out. Editing is worth paying for, whether you pay in cash or with an exchange of services with another member of the Writing/Editing community. I don’t say this just because I’m an editor as well as a writer, and I want your money; I know first-hand that I’m a great editor when I’m working for someone else, and a bit blind to my own writing faults when working for myself. YMMV.