Easter's Lilly

Monday, August 29, 2011

How much editing is enough?

The QOTD (Question of the day) on one of my writers groups the other day was simply… “How much is reasonable for an editor to charge?” That is a very good question. Something even more important, I found, was the different kinds of editing that writers were looking for. Some want total content editing, while some are simply looking for a second set of eyes. Some editors will charge more than $2000 for a manuscript of 100,000 words and some will charge 5 cents a page. I have friends who self-publish and pay exorbitant amounts for people to edit their work. But I do have to ask. If they are editing content, how do we know that they are right? And even if they are simply editing grammar, how much training do they have in this area? I will be the first to admit that I certainly need a second set of eyes. Dyslexia has made identifying homonyms a bit of a challenge for me. And certainly if I was part of a publishing house that wanted me to alter my content, I would comply. But how much content do we want edited? Especially if we’re self published or using an independent publisher. Just a little food for thought.


  1. Wow, these are great questions and I think the answers will vary by person and his or her needs. I hesitated on replying because I'm not self-publishing and I'm really not sure how much is too much to pay to have a book edited. I know self-published authors who have formed groups and work together to do a lot of what an editor does. This works well for them.

    My 2 cents on hiring an editor: I believe it's important for writers to do their homework if they are going to hire an editor, just like it's important to do your homework when submitting to an editor to be published the traditional way. A writer should ask for references and a list of books the editor worked on in the genre of the work to be edited. Contact a few references and read the books before choosing an editor. I also think that a writer has to trust that her editor understands her book and what she is trying to convey in it. Editors are there to help writers make a good story better. They want to see a writer succeed. You want to find an editor who is passionate about your writing (not just the check they are receiving to work with you), then you can be sure your story is only going to get better by going through the editorial process.

  2. I don't hesitate to hire a professional editor and I generally pay around $1200. After the editor is through, I go through the whole thing again and change anything I didn't agree with - sounds weird I know - but it works for me. I need that extra pair of trained eyes because I stop seeing problems after a while.

  3. Cherie, although I am not self-published either, I do belong to a few writer's groups where I would say most are self-published. I have considered doing a little editing on the side. :) Just kidding. I just found it to be such a highly debated topic that I was wondering what the general consensus would be. I do my own editing but certainly an extra set of eyes never hurt anyone.

    Brenda, I think that is wonderful that you could do that. At this early stage in my career, I could never hire someone at those prices. But obviously the ones who can charge more must have some serious credentials.

    Thank you so much ladies for your input.

  4. I wanted my very best product out there, but to pay someone $2000 or even $200 to do this was out of the question. A lovely ex-school teacher, who is totally anal about grammar and punctuation, volunteered to do my editing because she found SO much that bothered her in my first book.

    She does a wonderful job and I am SO lucky to have her. She researches and advises me instead of simply changing things.

    So, as we have proceeded along this path together, I've grown as a writer and can look out for more of these issues on my own. I love it when she says, "You don't need me for that anymore!" Then I know I've grown.

    Personally, what irritates me the most is reading a book with multiple 5 star reviews and finding issues of to/too/two their/there your/you're etc. Books with such issues should never receive 5 stars in my estimation.

    I try to (1) praise what I did enjoy about the work, then (2) provide examples of what I found that needed fixing (not the story, but word usage such as the old to/too/two or punctuation) so that the author as the opportunity to do fixes.

    I can only hope that other writers appreciate the information as much as I would.

    One author got so nasty about the spreadsheet (yes, that's how bad this guys book was) of spelling, grammar, character inconsistency, names spelled multiple ways for the same character, and other issues that absolutely permeated his so-far 5 star novel that his fix was to add to his work.

    His fix was to include a new preface in his that literally made excuses for each of the items I mentioned (I interpreted this as, "I'm too lazy to fix my work and my ego is too wounded to admit my mistakes), and then added that for those who are punctuation OCD--you probably wouldn't enjoy a book about 1700 pirates anyway.

    This guy forgot that while your story can be 1700 pirates, your punctuation and character consistency cannot (speaking as if college educated one minute and using 1700 pirate-speak the next). And yet he has perhaps eight 5 star reviews, and now he also has one 1 star.

    My point is, whether we use a professional editor or not, we should value any help that gets a better product out there.

  5. "I'm too lazy to fix my work and my ego is too wounded to admit my mistakes),

    Yes, I caught it AFTER I hit the button to publish. This is an excellent example of not enough editing. Ugh...where is my Pat when I need her?

    "I'm too lazy to fix my work and my ego is too wounded to admit my mistakes",

  6. Thank you for your thoughts, Linda. I think we always need to keep in mind that when criticizing a fellow author, the human aspect is still there. If we are too harsh, it won't be picked up as helpful criticism but more as an attack. Plus, not all people who you critique will follow your suggestions. Let's not forget that that's what they are; suggestions.

    I appreciate your ideals. It's wonderful that you have such a friend to edit your work.

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