Writers who have asked for a quote for an editing service sometimes, on reading the fee, responded with either endless silence or disappointment that the cost will be more than they had imagined it would be.
I get that professional editing does cost and is likely to be one of the more expensive elements of publishing a manuscript. But as with evaluating any service, it is helpful to understand what is involved and what you are asking for.
What is professional editing doing for a writer?
Getting a manuscript professionally edited helps save the embarrassment of presenting later readers with a story which contains a distracting number of gaffes, inconsistencies or mistakes. By this, editing works to improve the impression readers will have of the quality of the writing, which is a direct reflection of what they will think about the author. Professional editing can help a writer improve their writing craft, not just for one manuscript but across subsequent writing too. This can lead to your book reaching more readers and better reaching its potential. If you send your book out to agents and publishers without a professional edit, this can appear less than professional and may reduce the offers made for the manuscript.
These things have a value and that is what you are paying for with editing services.
Qualities in Editing
Consider what the editor needs to have set up to offer the service. They run a business which has set-up costs and running costs, and they have trained to be able to offer professional standards of work. They are likely to be in a process of continually updating their training and skills with additional courses, being member of professional bodies, conference attendance and experience. Then, of course, editing is a service which takes time; quite considerable time. Along with thoroughly reading your manuscript, the editor will be making thoughtful assessments and suggestions to provide advice and pointers to improvements through the whole process. This takes time and cannot be rushed, as it is not possible to focus on this level of concentrated work for much more than five or six hours a day. The longer the manuscript, the longer it will take to edit, so word count will have a bearing on how long the edit will take.
Options in Editing
Decide when your manuscript will be helped by being edited professionally; some authors will make many more passes through their writing before requesting professional editing; others will see their time better spent by getting started on their next book idea. There is considerable variability within the process, but to give your writing the best chance of succeeding smoothly, professional editing is something many writers see as an essential and worthwhile investment in their writing process. Feeling that it helps them to produce better books.
Illustration courtesy of sketchrobin.com
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