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Thread: How much does a quality editor cost?

  1. #1

    How much does a quality editor cost?

    Say I were to use kickstarter to pay for an editor and I'm writing a memoir and want a quality person, what's the ballpark?

  2. #2
    The Crazy Man in the Sun. Feel me. WillSauger's Avatar
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    Alot.


    If you edit it yourself, it's free and will teach you a lot.

    Otherwise, save up and count it as an investment.
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  3. #3
    space opera-popcorn lover!
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    I am on a slightly different page to a lot of people on professional editing. I have used two but - and it is a big but - both were developmental edits, as opposed to an edit for grammar etc (although they were kind enough to comment if I was making consistent errors, and my second one included a line by line, although very little grammatically was thrown up), and both were carried out by specialist science fiction/fantasy writers and editors. I agree with Will that you need to hone your self-editing skills - hence the lack of grammatical stuff - but what I learned from my first edit, by a well-respected American fantasy author and long-standing developmental editor, was:

    My secondary character arcs were non existent.
    I left a few too many, tiny, plots hanging.
    My description was generally weak. (It has improved on the back of the tips given, but it will never be my strength. But on a final edit, I always stop and think about it now.)

    On the one I've just had I got some really good advice regarding how to choose pov (and since the editor who gave me the advice got it originally from Patrick Rothfuss, you can imagine it was very illuminating), especially when you have dual protagonists, more about description (there's a theme, so work to do there), but I can see I've managed to nail character arcs better this time, although two need a final scene to finish it off.

    That sort of edit is, I think, worth paying for, although I can't see me paying for another one. (I have a very experienced writing group who are quick to pick up areas for development now.)

    I paid around the 3-350 mark for each, which was, I think, for the work carried out, good value. It is also below market prices for editors, I believe, (certainly, another well known SFF editor charges 500) but a line by line grammar nit will always cost more as it's very time consuming.

    In terms of how I found them: from a specialist website for SFF, so it might be worth having a trawl and see what you can come up with through that sort of arena. In both my cases, I selected by word of mouth and feedback from others, and/or knowledge of the person involved and their work: both are writers who I emulate.
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  4. #4
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    If you're a writer, there is no excuse for hiring an editor, and as an editor, I don't want anything to do with a writer who hires an editor. If you can't edit, you also can't write well enough to edit.

    If you aren't a writer, but a person who wants to write a memoir or autobiography, or a nonfiction book on a subject where you're the expert, you may well need an editor.

    Good ones do not come cheap because chances are you need a book doctor, not a regular editor. Either way, expect to spend well over a thousand dollars, and probably at least two tousand for someone of quality and proven experience.

  5. #5
    but appreciated anyway... Unimportant's Avatar
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  6. #6
    crazy mean SuperModerator Old Hack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamesaritchie View Post
    If you're a writer, there is no excuse for hiring an editor, and as an editor, I don't want anything to do with a writer who hires an editor. If you can't edit, you also can't write well enough to edit.
    James, you are always so grumpy when anyone asks about paying someone else to edit their book, and it's getting a little bit tired.

    The OP didn't ask whether they should or shouldn't hire an editor, so your comments aren't appropriate here.

    But even if they did ask that, you're still wrong because you're only looking at this from a single point of view, and so you're ignoring several possibilities.

    For example, what if the OP was planning to self publish? Then they'd be doing a good thing by having their book edited first.

    If you aren't a writer, but a person who wants to write a memoir or autobiography, or a nonfiction book on a subject where you're the expert, you may well need an editor.

    Good ones do not come cheap because chances are you need a book doctor, not a regular editor. Either way, expect to spend well over a thousand dollars, and probably at least two tousand for someone of quality and proven experience.
    Good editors can be found for a bit less than that if you're lucky but yep, the better ones are going to be expensive and it's a cost the OP is not likely to recoup when and if the book is published, whether self or trade.

  7. #7
    Weirdo. ios's Avatar
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    http://www.writersmarket.com/assets/pdf/How_Much_Should_I_Charge.pdf

    This pdf is useful in showing the highs and lows, but you will have to look through several categories to find the ones specific to editors and editing.

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  8. #8
    space opera-popcorn lover!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamesaritchie View Post
    If you're a writer, there is no excuse for hiring an editor, and as an editor, I don't want anything to do with a writer who hires an editor. If you can't edit, you also can't write well enough to edit.

    If you aren't a writer, but a person who wants to write a memoir or autobiography, or a nonfiction book on a subject where you're the expert, you may well need an editor.

    Good ones do not come cheap because chances are you need a book doctor, not a regular editor. Either way, expect to spend well over a thousand dollars, and probably at least two tousand for someone of quality and proven experience.
    Sorry, but if you are just learning to write, there is every excuse to hire specialist advice. We do it in many other walks of life. We don't wake up knowing how to tell a story, develop characters and story arcs. To believe so is arrogant and I was very happy to seek advice, and learn from it. To the op i say good luck to you, but don't just use it as a fix for this book - which indeed smacks of book doctor - but also as a fix for the next.
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  9. #9
    Cultus Gopherus MacAllister SuperModerator Medievalist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamesaritchie View Post
    If you're a writer, there is no excuse for hiring an editor, and as an editor, I don't want anything to do with a writer who hires an editor. If you can't edit, you also can't write well enough to edit.
    Really?

    Do you want to explain that to Chip Delany?

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  10. #10
    So Goth That I Was Born Black AW Moderator Kitty27's Avatar
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    I feel that if you are self publishing,you absolutely need an editor. You can go over your MS a hundred times and spit shine it. There will always be something that you missed. A writer wanting a second set of professional eyes to catch specific issues they worry about doesn't need shade about how they aren't a real writer.

    Personally,I've been researching editors and have found many charging anything from 600 to past a stack. I had the first fifty pages of my MS read by the editor I've chosen.

    Thankfully, I don't have grammar issues,something I am proud of because I worked hard to fix my weakness in that area. But I do have a tendency to yap uncontrollably in violent lavender. Anne Rice ain't got nothing on me!

    She didn't come out and say it bluntly,but I got the gist of what she meant. I want an editor who can chop and screw my MS into shape. By that,I mean cut what doesn't work,get the word count down and get the plot to flow properly.

    The editor I've chosen zeroed in on these exact areas like she'd read my mind. Is she cheap? Hell,no. And I wouldn't expect her to be. You get what you pay for. I don't mind spending grip to make my MS be the best it can be, especially when I send it out there to slay-excuse me- compete with professionally edited and published books.
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  11. #11
    practical experience, FTW cornflake's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamesaritchie View Post
    If you're a writer, there is no excuse for hiring an editor, and as an editor, I don't want anything to do with a writer who hires an editor. If you can't edit, you also can't write well enough to edit.

    If you aren't a writer, but a person who wants to write a memoir or autobiography, or a nonfiction book on a subject where you're the expert, you may well need an editor.

    Good ones do not come cheap because chances are you need a book doctor, not a regular editor. Either way, expect to spend well over a thousand dollars, and probably at least two tousand for someone of quality and proven experience.
    There's more than one poster with this pov in the thread and I've seen it elsewhere on the site and I don't get it, honestly.

    If it were the case that writers, by which I presume you mean good writers, didn't need editors, there's a whole boatload of people who have fooled industries for more than a century.

    The NY Times generally hires people who can write well, and yet no copy gets on those pages without passing through at least two editors.

    Publishing houses have editors on staff for a reason, as do magazines and etc.

    I agree writers should learn as much grammar as possible, and learn to cut and rework and etc., their own work. Then they should have an editor look at it; even editors use editors.

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