On Editing - And the Value

As a writer, I understand the importance of good editing and editing that does a lot more than fix your grammar or punctuation. In Fiction editing you need to be reassured your message, story and characters are delivering inside the genre the story is set and inside the world, you have created. As someone living with dyslexia it can be quite a challenge to get everything right on the page and ready for publication.

I am a genre writer who also writes in contemporary styles and has a wide understanding of styles, subjects and delivery mechanisms for stories, be they short or novel length works. Finding editors in this field is expensive and difficult. There are many academic editors in the field who can help you deliver almost word perfect text, but sometimes they are often at their limit when it comes to subject, theme, memes, and tropes associated with the overall presentation of a genre work.

To show you the quality of my editing you need only read the FREE anthologies available from the home page. You will also be able to read a vast tapestry of stories that cover the immense creative field. These works are not perfect, but the stories themselves are incredible and my work with authors to make them so was both warming and enlightening.

It was when I was searching for an editor for my supernatural romance, Uttuku, that I discovered the expense involved in getting a book ready for the proofreading stage. Proofreading is not editing, nor is it copyediting. These last stages are to be budgeted for unless you are comfortable with your use of language and punctuation.

The big cost is in structural editing or structural commentary which would be a better description. This is where the editor reads the entire book, creates questions that challenge your ideas and even offers up solutions to errors or weaknesses. This is an enormous undertaking as it does require the editor to immerse themselves in the book and in the author voice. Understanding the author voice first enables a clearer observation of the texts supplied. This isn't an edit where tiny corrections are made, this is where the editor will tell you to delete scenes and create new scenes that better show what you are trying to tell the reader.

I do this kind of editing. I can deconstruct an idea and help the author understand where they need to improve and alter the work to get the best out of the story, but hopefully, allow them to catch the interest of a mainstream publisher. The failing of many self-published books is the lack of a structural, or observation editor to help in getting those messages right. There are ways to get around grammar and punctuation with new internet tools these days, and while not perfect they have made the self-publishing area stronger.

But what are the costs? How much does it really cost to have a work edited?

Anywhere between $45 to $75 an hour for an academically based editor, and not much better from a fiction editor, or creative editor. It has often been said you do get what you pay for. If you use a thesis editor to edit your Horror novel set on an alien planet, you will get perfect text, professional grammar and copy delivery - but what about the story? Unless this editor has worked in that part of the literary field strong story commentary will be limited. I have read many a perfectly punctuated novel to only discover storywise it wasn't very good and delivered more cliches than the average Hollywood marvel.

It is often best to negotiate a project price with an editor anyway. Ask about their background in the genre of your novel and if there are any samples of their work you can view. This is fare as the top editors you will be paying $3000 to get that novel right. That is 67 hours of work for a big book. Though when working in fiction editing for 10 days can blow out even further when you start fact-checking.

What would it cost to work with me for a short time?

Commentary edit, structural testing, idea testing, character observations, character developments, story flow and plot checking and suggested changes - $1500 for up to 80 000 words

An assessment which covers an overall and general opinion of the work based on a supplied sample of no more than 10 000 words - $350

A short story edit - no more than 5000 words $50, this is observational as well as suggested. If writing short stories at the moment www.ralan.com has lists of genre story markets which is very good, it will also give you an idea of the value of a story before you consider editing in this area.

Editing is a vital part of writing professionally. Over time, by working with an editor, you learn how to do some of the basic work yourself cutting down the time you will need to work with an editor. If you are submitting a novel to a mainstream publisher who pays well for manuscripts, then getting professional editing is a must. With Companies like Tor, DAW, Harper Collins, Random House, Penguin, you will need to be presenting the absolute best. You will only get one shot with them with that book, they never take a second look at the novel. 

If you have a project that does need attention then contact me on altair-australia@altaiar-australia.com and we can discuss what you might need.

For those entering writing fields to make money, or to establish a second job I would say this industry may not be for you. There are many who misunderstand this point because they have the sole desire to make money. To be in a position to earn well you need to be able to write well, people just don't buy your stories because this week they need something different. People buy stories because they are good and to be good you have to put in years of bloody hard work to get there, and even then that is just the start of a career, not the culmination of one. I am not saying you do not write to get paid, I am saying if just making a quick buck is the goal, you will be disappointed. While it is possible to earn a living from being a writer the pay can be extremely low and the breaks few. For every 1 writer who will sell a novel to a publisher this year, a couple of hundred thousand won't.