Hooray! You finished your novel. Next comes the hard part.
If you read that and gulped, you're not the only one. For many authors, the process of moving from the writing stage to the editing phase of your book journey can seem like a monumental task. First comes self-editing, then finding and imploring beta readers to review, then finding and hiring your editor (or editors, as the case may be). For an Indie author who has no team behind them for help, the task of finding the right editor can be stressful, confusing, and expensive.
While it is true that editing services are an investment, editors play a vital role in an author's journey. Find the right one and you have gained a loyal, trustworthy sidekick who is dedicated to helping you polish and bring your vision to life. Don't do your research, and the opposite is often true. Regardless of what type of editing you're in the market for or what you're looking to get out of your author-editor relationship, there are a few ways you can help keep your editing services within budget.
1: Make A Budget/Save Up
Making an editing budget while you're still in the writing phase can help you balance the costs of editing services. By knowing how much you intend to spend and giving yourself time to save up and do your research for an editor within your budget, you limit the probability of overspending, scrambling last minute, or worse, choosing not to hire an editor at all. There are many editors out there who offer different services at different price points. While the common advice out there is that the more expensive an editor is, the better they are, you have to weigh that against common sense. If an editor is outside of your price range, then that makes them the wrong editor for you simply because they are over budget. Finding a cheaper editor who fits in your price range (and still has good reviews) is the more cost-effective option in this case. If you do have your heart set on an expensive editor, saving up is a great way to be able to afford them.
2: Understand The Type Of Editing You Need Versus What You're Paying For
Sometimes we overspend because we don't understand what type of edits our manuscripts actually need. On the flip side, we often hear authors express disappoint when edits don't meet their expectations because they paid so much money. Part of what makes finding an editor so confusing is that there are so many different types of editing, and it seems like every editor in business has a different title, different specifications, and preference for the type of novels they'll work on. It can be very confusing especially if you've never hired one before.
The key thing to remember is that before you start looking at editors, you need to figure out exactly what you're looking to get from your edits. For example, if you want a comprehensive overview of all the elements of storytelling, plus an evaluation of your characters, setting, and narrative techniques then you're best suited for a developmental edit. But, there are other types of editing that provide parts of what a developmental edit provides, for instance a manuscript evaluation or a content edit. Another example is that if you're looking for an in-depth grammar, spelling, and sentence structure edit then copy edit is the way to go, however you may find similar services listed as line edits, and proofreads. Again, can we say confusing? The trick is to read the fine print of each service an editor offers and to ask questions! If you're unsure what the difference between editing packages is, are unfamiliar with the lingo, aren't sure if the editing you're looking at fits what you want, or are just completely at a loss for what editing you might need, don't hesitate to reach out to said editor. Most reputable editors are happy to offer free consultations with potential clients (specifically to answer questions and see whether you're a good fit for each other) so make sure you ask before you book.
3: Go Small Rather Than Big
In the world of editing, there's really only one rule: hiring an editor is better than not hiring one. There are many reasons, but mainly it's because editors are the gatekeepers for mistakes. They are professional sweepers who can clean-up those pesky narrative errors and spelling atrocities that sneak into our stories and distract our beloved reader. So what do you do if you're working on a tight editing budget? One tip is to go smaller rather than big. Editing services tend to work a bit like a funnel. You start with developmental editing, then move to copy edits, and end with line or proofreading for the cherry on top. All of these services add up so one way to help offset the costs is to pick the watered down versions if you can't afford the full thing. For example, if you can't afford a full developmental edit but still really need help with your story's structure, a manuscript evaluation can provide you with similar insights for half the price. Keep in mind that one provides in-depth manuscript edits and a synopsis, while the other only provides a smaller version of the synopsis, but it can still help you evaluate your story's needs and help you fix them. On the other side, if you want a copy edit but don't want to pay that much, having a proofread done can help highlight your weaknesses without breaking the bank. Again, not the full service, but a good alternative when you can't afford more.
4: Consider Spacing Out Your Editing
If you're not in a rush to publish, another option is to space out when you get your editing done. Because editing can add up, one option is to publish less quickly. While we know that's not the popular option, it is an option that can help authors who can't maintain a rapid publishing pace. This doesn't mean that you have to slow down though (unless you want to), it only means that you space your editing out differently. Rather than writing one book and going straight into edits, maybe instead you write the sequel. This gives you more time to save up for your dream editor while still giving you a way to be productive. You can even write the full series and then get them all edited and published in quick succession, which is another way you can rapid publish without it actually being "fast".
5: Ask About Repeat Discounts And Referral Discounts
Establishing a good relationship with your editor can come with perks- literally! Editors sometimes offer repeat services discounts and referral discounts so don't be afraid to ask your current editor about them. This can help you cut down your overall editing costs, especially if your goal is to publish multiple books a year. Got a service of your own that can be beneficial to authors? If your editor/author relationship goes beyond professional acquaintances, another option is a potential bargain-and-trade. Perhaps you trade one of your services in exchange for edits, or the pair of you team up to offer a new type of package to other authors (such as editing and book cover creation). Whatever the case may be, it never hurts to be buddies with your editor!
Whether your editing budget is large or small, there is an editor out there for every author. With research, due diligence, asking questions, and smart planning you can help balance the cost of editing services without missing out on improvements for your novel that can help lead to book sales.