Buying an Editor

I'm always doing some type of research, looking for ideas for my novels, ways to improve my writing skills and reading what experts have to say about the writing and publishing process. Every time I run into a statement about editing, I a pit forms in my stomach.

My novel would benefit from a professional editing job. I've recently read enough unpublished works on Authonomy and other sites to agree with that for other people's work.

For example, I politely read the first few pages of a story, board with the descriptions, not really curious about what was happening. Then right in the middle of the second page, I read what should be the hook, what should be the very first sentence, not buried so far away from the beginning. I'm paraphrasing, but it went something like: “Why would he, a vampire, hide in a church?” A very good question and I was intrigued by the answer so I kept reading. Really, what would frighten a vampire? More importantly, what would frighten a vampire so much they'd seek refuge on holy ground? The book showed promise after that. A bit of editing and, well...

Another unpublished work I read lacked a voice, (point of view). I had no idea who was telling the story. The writer introduced seven people in the first three paragraphs. That's like going to a party where you don't know anyone, you get introduced to everyone at the same time and can't remember any of them as the party wears on. Finally, the voice introduces herself when she is born, on the third page. From there, it was much easier to read because I knew who was speaking. I suggested to the author to start the book with one simple line to establish the voice right away. “On the day I was born...”

So, I am wondering what things I should change in my book to make it better, none of the above because I understand and recognize those things. But I am certain someone who knows how to edit fiction can help me with pace, flow, plot and perhaps point out where I might have missed an important little detail that is clear in my head but not clear on the page.

I went looking for the price of freelance professional editing services and what it might cost. Big publishers have editors on staff, so that's one of the reasons authors don't get a bigger percentage. When I found the standard pricing, my heart sunk. Normal rate is $.02-.04 per word depending upon the type of editing (i.e. proofreading, copy editing, developmental or substantive, formatting, critique. See: for definitions.)

My book is roughly 125,000 words. Don't have a calculator handy? Let me do the math: $2,500-5,000. Yes, that is a whole bunch of money!

Another problem is finding an editor suited to the work being edited. I don't want someone who edits cookbooks trying to take on my romantic story. I'd hate to get comments for the love scenes on what “spicy ingredients” to add in what order or just how “hot” they should be and how long to “cook” until they are “done.”

So, I'm keeping my novel as is for now. That doesn't mean that sometime in the future I won't relent and get the thing looked at. For most new authors, the first novel isn't the breakthrough, much like an actor, the first part doesn't make them a star. I'll keep writing, because one day, I will find the story that people really want to read. I keep hoping for this series.

I love this particular story and need to finish book 2. I've decided on the title "Shadow Nature." It's moving forward one sentence at a time. I'm not stopping. I'm not giving up.

I'll keep you posted.

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