KingMidget's Ramblings

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How Much Is Copy-Editing Worth To You?


I’ve toyed with this idea for some time now.  It’s time to throw it out there.  In the spring and summer of this year, I had the opportunity to read the unpublished manuscripts of a number of friends.  I provided copy-editing advice, and other editing advice as well.  Since then, I’ve continued purchasing e-books from self-published authors.  With each one, I’ve wished I could have read the unpublished manuscript before the author published.  Some are better than others.

So, here’s the question for you aspiring authors, would you be interested in more economical copy-editing than what’s out there.  Looking around the internet, a copy editor can charge you as much as $1,000-2,000 for basic copy editing and even more for more detailed editing.

What If I was willing to read your unpublished manuscript and provide basic editing for a fraction of that cost?  $200-250.  For this, I’d read for typos, punctuation, basic grammar, and also provide any general thoughts I had about the manuscript.

Yes, some of you, my regular readers, might point out — but you have typos in your own books.  Ah-ha!!  And you would be right, but surely you know by  now that it is much easier to do this type of editing of somebody else’s work than it is your own.

I’m just curious.  I know most of us don’t have vast resources to do this and many of us also will struggle to produce enough sales to earn anything, let alone cover the cost of copy-editing.  But, again, I’m curious.

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13 responses to “How Much Is Copy-Editing Worth To You?

  1. sknicholls October 22, 2013 at 4:41 pm

    I have paid editors more than they were worth. I think every time a new set of eyes is on your work, you can benefit greatly. I would much rather pay a competent set of eyes $200., rather than $2000. I didn’t plan on my book becoming a published piece, but knowing that I genuinely enjoyed writing and plan to write more in a specific genre that has rules, I would greatly appreciate the service.

    • kingmidget October 22, 2013 at 4:45 pm

      One of the things I’ve toyed with is having a 50% payment up front and the rest due after the editing is complete based on satisfactory feedback. That would, of course, put me at risk. Particularly with the type of writers who “want” feedback, but only if it’s feedback they want to hear.
      By the way, my feedback on Red Clay & Roses is free. 😉

      • sknicholls October 22, 2013 at 4:55 pm

        Thanks. 🙂 I know that I am going to need editing for the structure of crime novels. I have just finished Scrivener courses, and although I will still be somewhat of a linear writer, I know that working with an outline in a binder where I can move scenes around is going to be useful. My husband reads two to three crime novels a week and there is most definitely a stricter formula for structural preparation than historic fiction. Historic fiction has its rules (some of which I broke BTW), but the crime novels that I have read, and am reading, are stricter by far. Already, my husband is insisting on a prologue about the cold case murder…LOL

  2. M E McMahon October 22, 2013 at 5:11 pm

    I would definitely be interested (I still have a ways to go on my novel) and I think it would be a great experience for you…as a writer! Some suggestions…once you’ve done a few…get referrals! I’m more likely to pay someone after reading they did an awesome job.

    I’m not sure you should get 1/2 up front and the rest on delivery based on satisfaction. Remember, you’re dealing with writers and their babies! To please all of them would be impossible. If you’ve done the work…get paid for it!

    Let me know if you go forward with this!

  3. Patrick W. O'Bryon October 22, 2013 at 5:25 pm

    Having just received my Kirkus Review to quote on the back cover, I’m going to market next week on my historical novel. I have read it through at least fifteen times since it reached final content form, all 362 pages, and had it read for editing purposes by four readers, and I still caught two typos and a misplaced line of copy on the “final” read-through. Any service that can provide an additional pair of educated eyes for a reasonable price makes sense to me. But I wouldn’t charge half upfront…collect the full fee, because your time and knowledge has value, even if the author doesn’t appreciate your suggestions.

    • kingmidget October 22, 2013 at 5:29 pm

      Are you satisfied with your Kirkus experience? I’ve toyed with that for both novels but am just so reluctant because of the price.

      • Patrick W. O'Bryon October 22, 2013 at 5:43 pm

        Glad I did it. Received a strong review which I feel will add to the marketing of the novel and the back cover blurb. Reader/buyer response will tell, but it’s also nice to have an independent third party knowledgeable in one’s genre give it an unbiased look.

      • kingmidget October 22, 2013 at 5:48 pm

        I think it’s time for me to bite the bullet.

      • Patrick W. O'Bryon October 22, 2013 at 5:52 pm

        I did the slow-track eight-week wait and had the review in seven. Review is well-written and shows the reviewer read the novel carefully and understood where I was taking my characters. Will use it again for the next one.

  4. Vince Dickinson October 22, 2013 at 5:32 pm

    I thought about the same thing (my wife suggested I put my shingle out there, as it were). But like you said, my own books have minor errors, so it’s hard to justify someone paying me, even with an English degree. And, I hate reading sloppy manuscripts. I’ve read several in the past.

  5. Michelle Proulx October 23, 2013 at 6:46 am

    Having personally paid $2000 for a copy-edit and gotten back absolute rubbish, a $250 edit does sound tempting 🙂 I think your best bet would be to do a sort of “Send me the first five pages, I’ll edit them, if you like what I do, then hire me” thing. That way authors are sure they’re getting value for their money. It would mean a little extra work on your part to get the job, but hypothetically your good reputation would spread as you gained more customers, and then you might be able to start skipping that first step!

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