A small, annoying, typo in the blurb; the odd punctuation mistake. Something not quite right about the opening sentence to Chapter 2. Remember - some of your readers will be like pedantic molecular biologists, putting every word under their high-powered microscopes. Why risk them putting your book down because it’s poorly edited? After all, you write in the first place to give someone a pleasurable read and are representing the burgeoning community of self-publishing writers.
Should you even bother looking for help?
You could always edit your latest masterpiece all by yourself. But are we ever our best judges? Can a writer ever give themselves enough distance to be as ruthlessly objective as an editor will be? If you do decide to go it alone then maybe pick trusted friends who’ll be able to cast a critical eye over your precious manuscript: people who will be to you as Gertrude Stein was to Hemingway and Fitzgerald.
How much assistance do you actually need?
If you decide to look for an editor, there’s a crucial decision to make: Do you need a copy editor – who will proof read your work and little more – or a developmental editor, who will work with you on aspects such as plot, structure or character?
Choose an editorial package that suits you best
If quality control is your priority, and at the same time you’re prepared to invest a bit of money, look into companies offering 'author services'. Usually you can choose from a complete set of services, including cover design, formatting and sometimes even basic marketing, or just the editorial package. Costs vary depending on the company and range of services but here are few suggestions:
- Lulu.com charges between $250 and $500 for copy editing. More complex services cost from $0.037 and $0.081 per word.
- Universe only offers complete packages. The cheapest includes editorial evaluation costs $1500.
- SelfPublishing.com: editorial assessment is free and publishing is from $149 to $299.
Maybe try a freelancer?
Large companies will only develop a strictly professional relationship with you, so if you’re looking for that personal touch, perhaps you ought to opt for a freelancer. Some trusted sites that offer editing services include:
- Book-editing.com (you send request for a price quote)
- The Fiction Doctor ($1.50- $2.00 per page)
- Compass Rose (between $2 and $12 per page).
If the above are still a budget-breaker, then you could try your luck with Craiglist, or ask for help on writers' message boards. There are many people who are willing to do some editing, although it’s hard to predict the quality of their work.
Focus on the bigger picture
Regardless of your choice, the most important thing is staying focused: why rush into print before the MS is absolutely perfect? Changing readers’ opinion about the uneven quality of much of the self-publishing market - by doting the 'i's and crossing those pesky 't's - is in the interest of all writers going down that route.
Remember those wise words of fantasy writer Patricia Fuller:
"Writing without editing is the literary equivalent of waltzing gaily out of the house in your underwear".