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Professional Editing

After spending many months, or maybe a year or two writing your project, you are ready to submit to a publisher and more than likely, you are very excited.  You just know the publisher or editor is going to snatch up your manuscript and offer you an incredible advance and great royalty schedule.  After sending the package to the publisher, you start waiting at your mailbox for the good news.

Finally, the envelope arrives.  Unfortunately, it returns your manuscript with a rejection letter.

So, what happened?  You read the letter and there are no real clues as to why the rejection.  Then you take a look at your manuscript; a document you have not looked at since before putting it in the mail.

Now, looking at it for the first time in weeks, you see things you did not see before.  There are mistakes!  Mistakes you swear were not there before.  But there they are now, standing out as glaringly as a single crow on a beach among white sea gulls.  As you look at your manuscript, you wonder why you did not catch the mistakes before.

The answer is very simple.  You have been working with your project for so long you have become intimately familiar with every paragraph, sentence, word, punctuation mark, and mistake in the document.  In other words, the mistakes have become an accepted part of your work.  They are invisible to you, but glaringly obvious to other readers.

There are ways to handle these mistakes.  Some are inexpensive and some very expensive.  It boils down to the question of what you want to do with your project, or how serious are you as a writer.

This is where the question of professional editing raises its seemingly ugly head.  How much could it possibly cost to have a book edited?  The answer to that question is without a doubt, “It depends.”

It depends on the type of editing you request for your book.  If you are editing simply for spelling and grammar, you will spend less than if you are editing for spelling, grammar, style, and content.

Another factor influencing the editing price is the experience level of the individual or company contacted for the job.  A new company or independent editor starting out in the business will probably charge lower rates for their services.  An established, well-known editor or firm, however, will justly charge higher fees.

How high could those fees run?  As noted above, it depends on services rendered.  Editing for style and content on a work of nonfiction may run into sums higher than $10,000.  Is $10,000 or more justifiable?  Again, we come back to the question of how serious you are as a writer.

If it is important for your credibility then the answer to the question is yes.  If you intend to sell a lot of books and pursue speaking engagements at princely fees, then again, the answer is yes.  After all, what we’re talking about is the potential to make hundreds of thousands of dollars on a work delivered to the public.  For instance if, you intend to make $100,000 in sales, speaking dates, and more, ten percent is probably a just amount to spend on editing.  Remember, it is a legitimate business expense.

Most writers engaged in writing “the great American novel,” however, find it hard to rationalize the expense of editing on a project they are unsure will sell.  The equation of spending $3,000 for a project that only brings in $1,000 or less does not make good business sense.  Consequently, authors must find alternative means of accomplishing their editing requirements.

Editing your own work almost always fails.  If you try to edit your own work, keep in mind that because you are so familiar with the project, it is very easy to miss the mistakes.  You also have your own voice or writing style that makes sense to you. However, others reading the same phrase may not take it the way you meant it.  The only way to avoid this problem is to have someone else read through your work with a pencil or red pen.  Keep in mind you need to execute this exercise several times with many different readers.

This may be a low-cost alternative to high editing fees, but remember – you always get what you pay for.