Self-publishing rate: $60 per hour (50% off the standard rate)

Please let me say again how much better your editing additions have made this story. It has made the story come to life. I have admired each one, and feel I’ve had a private writing lesson.

I love helping new authors, although I respect that the pathway to publishing can be expensive. If you already have a publisher, great! You’re in the minority. Your publisher will have editors, and you may even lose some control over the content of your work (so read your contract’s editing clause closely).

If, like almost all new and even many previously published authors, you don’t have a publisher, then the current technological options to create an ebook or print-on-demand book are endless, exciting and rapidly evolving. Be prepared to spend some money to get your work to market.

Hiring a professional editor might be wise, and if you’ve sent me a query about editing your manuscript, I’ll likely have directed you to this page so that you can make an informed decision about whether I’m right for you. I find it useful to go into detail, so that you understand the process and costs.

Overview

  • The unavoidable consideration with your manuscript (as I also point out to students with theses) is that it’s long and that means my work takes time.
  • An excellent initial rule of thumb is 30 minutes per 1000 words for work that might include developmental editing, copyediting and formatting (read on to learn more about these) plus a bit of time for project management, communication and creating resources like style sheets (a record of the consistency applied to your work).
  • That is, if your book is 100,000 words, it might take me around 50 hours to work through it. If you consider this more closely, that’s 6 solid days to read your work, find and fix mistakes, improve grammar, make comments where relevant, check the occasional fact, and tackle a host of other tasks (see below). The pace is about 5 minutes a page, which is rapid.

Potential costs

  • 60,000 words = about 30 hours @ $60 per hour = $1800
  • 80,000 words = about 40 hours @ $60 per hour = $2400
  • 100,000 words = about 50 hours @ $60 per hour = $3000
  • These costs are highly competitive against other professional editing services, and lower than the average rate for editorial work in Australia (i.e. discounted). That said, you will find editors that will quote cheaper rates.
  • I understand that new authors have limited budgets. As such, I try to cap my quotes at about the hours you see here. If the work takes longer, I absorb the extra time. (Invariably, the work takes longer.) If it takes less time (this has never happened, but you can be the first), I only charge for time spent.
  • I say ‘about’ in the costs because I need to see your manuscript before making a final assessment. For example, you might be a fine writer but a terrible speller, in which case my work takes more time.

Manuscript assessment

If the above figures sound daunting, an interim task is a manuscript assessment (also called a structural edit or developmental edit). In short, we agree on a set period in which I read part or all of your book and provide as much high level advice as I can.

This isn’t line-by-line editing, but an overview of your work that identifies where you can make improvements.  After the assessment, you’ll have a mountain of guidance on how to improve your manuscript. What’s more, if you continue to work with me, I’ll have a considerable head start on the work we’ll be doing.

I recommend at least a day, during which time I can make substantial headway into reading and absorbing your work. Anything less than that, and I’m skimming (defeating the purpose of a developmental edit).

  • 1 day = 8 hours @ $60 per hour = $480
  • 2 days = 16 hours @ 60 per hour = $960

Why these costs?

The key message for self-publishing authors is that line-by-line editing is time-consuming. If the rates and times here surprise you, read the section called Why these rates? on my Rates page. There you’ll learn that I couldn’t sustain myself on this type of work alone. But I do enjoy it, and this extended general advice helps me to work with authors that understand and appreciate the value of editing.

Guidelines for self-publishing – learn more

Providing extensive guidance on self-publishing could fill a book, and indeed a colleague of mine has written an outstanding one called Self-publishing for Australian authors: What you need to have, know and do. I provided developmental manuscript advice. There’s nothing in it for me to recommend this book. In it (and I’m paraphrasing its chapters) you’ll learn about:

  • The publishing industry
  • Self-publishing, and choosing a self-publishing partner
  • What makes a good book and who your audience might be
  • Preparing your manuscript  (which is where I come in)
  • Converting your (now tidy and error free) manuscript into a properly designed book with printable formatting, covers, barcodes and blurbs (I can also help here, in part)
  • Marketing and promotion
  • Pricing, distribution and (let’s hope) profit

The book is an excellent resource, that will help you on your journey.

Assessment, editing and proofreading tasks

I’m yet to work on a manuscript that does not contain thousands of minor details that need editorial attention. This is the advantage of working with a professional editor – I know what to look for and fix:

  • Line by line copyediting to all text, with tracked changes
  • Consistent capitalisation in headings, tables and terminology
  • Consistent treatment of numbers
  • List punctuation and parallel structure
  • Common grammar problems with (difficult) punctuation like semicolons and dashes
  • Consistent spelling and hyphenation according to an agreed dictionary
  • Feedback on language and tone, with comments if there are problems
  • Comments on idiomatic style use (e.g. long, run-on sentences or misused punctuation)
  • Consistent formatting where required
  • Autogenerated tables for contents
  • Comments on any problems

Working with an editor

As for my part of your project, here are some further overall considerations:

  • It’s important that I work on your final ‘draft’ manuscript, and not chapter by chapter. It’s far easier and safer to apply consistency to an entire document, rather than progressively.
  • Most of the copyediting and proofing is done with tracked changes (although it’s counterproductive to track trivial changes like double spaces or simple errors) and it’s up to the author to accept (or reject) any changes. This means that the editing process makes substantial review work, and you should factor this into your timeframes.
  • Working in tracked changes can hide mistakes in a document (e.g. extra spaces or orphan letters that are hard to spot when a document is in review). These are often solved by a simple but thorough spellcheck, once all tracked changes have been removed. You should add this task to your workflow.
  • Another task to consider is a final proofread in print by a third party (perhaps a friend or relative). This is because we all process information in context, and once we’re familiar with a document, it’s very hard to spot the final few mistakes (or even sometimes large, obvious mistakes). You’re already overly familiar with your work. After I’ve done 30 hours, I’m also overly familiar with it. The best solution is to let an independent party look over the final submission, just in case.

Next steps

If you’ve read this page and you’re ready to take the next step, I look forward to working with you. If you want to know more about what it’s like to work with me, read some testimonials, as that’s the experience you’ll have.