There isn’t a writer out there that hasn’t been beaten over the head about why professional editing is essential. And for the most part I agree, good editing can be pivotal to the success of your story and the impact your book will have in sales.
Where my biggest dilemma stems from is cost vs results. In other words, for beginning writers or small press, indie writers like me face the daunting bill of $.02 to $.05 a WORD charged by professional editors. My first novel was over a 100,000 word count. Can you see the picture I’m painting here?
For another example: In 2019, I produced my horror-suspense series called ELUDE. To date, it’s sold close to 500 copies (sad, but true!). With Amazon/Audible royalties roughly $1.50 per sale, I garnered close to $750. At 80,000 words x .02 (the cheapest rate) = $1,600 investment! Difference -$850. How many businesses would stay open if they made no money and lost over half their investment? Yes, there is a great argument that a poorly written book will not sell, but a masterpiece never seen is just as unlikely to do well.
You have to ask yourself, are you honestly going to sell enough books to make that up? Did having that editing help you generate more sales?
Now factor in marketing and advertising costs to increase sales. The marketing campaign budgets are money pits. Also consider the other costs like what you pay for a book cover artist. Thus, the deeper in the debt rabbit hole you go.
With today’s technology, the unlimited amount of knowledge, and writing craft available online or on YouTube, this is easily the best time to be a writer. Yet, the immense competition and the investment required… makes it overwhelming for beginners. All I’m saying is don’t expect Stephen King royalty checks. It can happen and a few have that lightning strike, but for the thousands of us who have new books every day on Amazon, I have to wonder is it worth it.
Top reasons for an editor:
**Professional editors may have the experience and expertise to help you perfect your manuscript.
**Their main purpose is to assist you with ways the story content can be revised or improved, such as structure, clarity, and flow.
**Editors will help prevent grammatical errors.
**They can ensure that the tone of your writing is consistent and and the narrative is appropriate and on point.
**They can highlight or point out potential plot holes or provide creative solutions to keep readers invested in your story.
**Some editors may be tuned into changing trends in literature, and can help you adapt to those trends.
Top reasons for not going with an editor:
**The cost of hiring professional editing services can extend or exhaust any budget.
**The process can delay and cost a great deal of extra time to the publication process.
**Hiring an editor requires good judgement in order to make sure the person you choose is the right fit for the job — so it’s important to know your reader and to know who will have similar ideas on how to relate to those readers.
**Some editors may challenge your work and push you to think differently or come up with ideas you don’t agree with. They may also not take into consideration the nuances of a particular industry or domain.
**Some services might not be available for projects that are considered ‘niche’ or ‘difficult’. This may time and money to research and acquire a specialized editor.
**Professional editors may not be willing to “think outside the box” and be open to creative liberties with your work.
**They may also require you to enter into a contractual agreement, which could lead to disputes or costly litigation.
**Some editors will not have a “bedside manner” and can demoralize or even defeat your motivation. Be ready for that and try to have a thick skin, just like when you read reviews. Truth can be brutal…
Technology has also handed us widely used alternatives. A great way to see how easy your content is to read is the Hemingwayapp.com. It also gives you tips to avoid over using words or watering down your work with adverbs.
Or to knock out simple errors with punctuation, grammar or typos, I use the free Grammarly.com editor.
To be sure you have understood or provided the exact facts, ChatGPT has become a new tool to fact-check in your arsenal.
Overall, I believe it is a case of your individual judgment and your level of expertise. And it may be a case where you need feedback or want the extra eyes upon your work before it heads out the door.
It is a sad fact that sales are a numbers game. You may have excellent, edited prose that shines on the paper like Mark Twain wrote it himself, but if no one sees it buried in the new book landslides that hit Amazon every day…
What we need are editors for small time writers like me! I want editing but it’s hard to warrant the investment. Editors that accept lower rates can be found on Fiverr.com, but of course buyer beware and use common sense — read their reviews and see if they’ll be the one worth your dime.
Thus, it’s my endless debate. What do you think? Do you have points out arguments that I’ve not considered leaving you one way or another? Love to hear any comments or ideas!