Tuesday, April 19, 2011

It's an Editor's Market

How many of you indie authors use professional editors? No, this is not a rhetorical question. Once we decide to self-publish, the responsibility falls on each author to put out a book with production values and looks that can compete with any book published by a small press or even the Big NY guys. No easy task, I know. But I love my fiercely independent streak and wouldn't sign a book contract at this point in my writing life.

Although I'm one of those authors who self-edits as she writes, I am a firm believer that you must have your manuscript edited or at the very least, proofread by someone that knows the business or is damn good at editing (yes, I believe there are born editors out there. LOL.)  When I was with Bella Books, my editor was one of the best. She interned and did some editing for a NY publisher. I was very fortunate to have had her as my editor. When I requested to be released from my contract with them, I used the same editor for my next book because she has her own freelance editing business. However, she was expensive. $1,200 for a 59,000 word manuscript.

I know many of us are hurting in this economy. My thoughts are: How many self-published authors are going to begin getting creative in how they pay for editing? How many will only go with several good, high quality beta readers? Or how many will just learn to self-edit? Still, I have to wonder how many professional editors will be willing to take payment plans? Even with a very generous payment plan, I still owe the final payment to my editor. I will not be able to afford $1,200 again for editing. I will lean heavily on my own editing potential and use the services of good, reputable beta readers and one good friend who is really a great editor although she has no business and doesn't even do it freelance. I pay her a small fee because I feel she deserves some compensation. But it isn't anywhere near the cost of most editors advertising their services. I've been saying that editors are going to be the main gainers in the eBook and self-publishing revolution.

So my question is one of concern for all self-publishing authors. How are you handling the costs of self-publishing? The cost of editing, book formatting (if you're going to publish in paper) and also eBook conversions. How many have learned to do the work yourself?


Sarah Ettritch said...

Editing is the most important step, IMO. It also tends to be the most expensive step! Every author self-edits (or should), but there's no substitute for a professional editor. So I'd never skimp on that step. Beta readers are great, but they're not a substitute for an editor.

The only other step I don't do myself is cover design (as you know!). I'm just not talented in that area. I do everything else myself.

BTW, $1200 for 59,000 words *is* expensive. I have a super editor who edits for publishing houses and indies, and she's not that dear. You might want to shop around.

Patty G. Henderson said...

Hey Sarah,

Thanks for your post. I've checked some editors and most are charging no less than 1.00 per word, the majority more.

For an author down on their luck, with no job and lots of bills with just enough money to get by, do they give up their dream of self-publishing? Or do they get the book edited as best as they can and publish?

Sarah Ettritch said...

One dollar per word would mean $59,000 for 59,000 words. Did you mean per page? One dollar per page would be cheap, so I'm not surprised that most editors charge more.

Regarding your question: each writer has to decide for herself.

My answer (for me): If I couldn't afford an editor, I wouldn't self-publish.

Patty G. Henderson said...

Ooops, you are quite correct. I meant per page. I do remember the days, though, when it was .50 and $1.00 per page.

Cost to self-publish is a very common question I get asked from aspiring indie authors and I wanted to get a feel for what other indie authors had to say. I do believe there should be a another set of experienced eyes involved in your manuscript before publication, but I suspect the practice of self-editing is more widespread than we think.

John G. Hartness said...

For my first book, I hired an editor on spec (i owe her commission up to a certain total fee paid). For my next book, I did it myself and needed help, so I used a few beta readers. For my third novel I used a freelancer who was looking to start an editing business.

In the future I plan to use a professional proofreader, and there are quite a few out there. Both Joe Konrath and Scott Nicholson have links to their proofreaders on their blogs today. I'm arrogant enough to think that I typically need a proofreader more than an editor, as I self-edit for content as I go, then I make several passes back through the book for edits and continuity. But a good proofreader has an eye for detail that I certainly lack.

As far as other stuff, I do it myself. With the exception of cover art, because I have no talent in that area, I do all my own work. I taught myself digital conversion, formatting and all the other stuff. But I have to say that buying Scrivener is the best $45 I've spent, as it easily creates epub and Kindle formatted ebooks for me.

Fabia Carter said...

I'm working on 2 projects Patty, one with a collaborator. And yes we self-edit. And I have beta readers.

You don't need to learn formatting or conversion. Jutoh is a terrific tool: you can edit & it will publish in multi formats & is cheap $40.00 http://www.jutoh.com/
If someone really needs inexpensive editing. Just try Craiglist in Hungary or India. There is a huge revolution in publishing and we're in the vanguard

Q. Kelly said...

You could join a really good critique group and let them "inform" your editing. Unless you mean line editing (more like copy editing than substantive editing). If you don't have the best English skills, this type of editor is definitely worth paying for. Critique groups won't catch the stuff a line editor does. However, a skilled beta reader should do OK as a copy/line editor. I would say paying so much for editing isn't worth the trouble if it means you don't write anymore.