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Hire An Editor – Really, Do It


June 28, 2021

You cannot edit your own book. Hire an editor. Really. Do it. There may be no better advice to an independent author than the necessity of having an editor for your books.

Have you ever purchased an ebook and discover that it’s poorly written? Have you started reading and the plot is difficult to follow? Some books have so many spelling and grammar errors that you get pulled out of the story trying to decipher what’s being said. We’ve even come across a book in which the main character’s name changed in the midst of two pages. Editors help prevent those mistakes out of your published book.

Why Every Great Book Has an Editor (or Two)

Why hire an editor? Bottom line: better sales. Editors get a bad rap, because they are the ones forced to tell authors when they need to do more writing before publishing. To authors, it sometimes might feel like the editor is slowing down your progress – but in all reality, your book will sell better and get better reviews if it has been properly edited. Look at your editor as a partner in your success as an author. The truth is, anyone can publish a book, but to be a successful author means putting out quality. Your credibility will be sorely questioned if you put out something poorly written.

Why Hire an Editor

While it may seem like a quick solution to just have your friends read your book and help you find mistakes, an editor is more than a beta reader. A good editor can look at the structure and plot of your ebook and make suggestions to fill in gaps in the story. Good editors can help you create characters with more depth, keep your storyline moving. They help you discover plot holes or mistakes in character development. For example, if you describe your character as a blond with blue eyes in chapter one but in chapter five refer to her dark locks, your editor will pick that up.

What to Look for in a Good Editor

When you hire an editor, they should meet specific criteria:

  • Your prospective editor should be able to provide references
  • They should be able to clearly explain what kind of editing they provide, whether it’s copyediting, line editing, proofreading, or an all-in-one editing service
  • Your editor should be willing to provide pricing, and may request a sample of your writing as well as the estimated length of your project to give you a fair bid
  • Your editor should be willing to do a 500-800-word sample – but you should pay them for that time and not expect it for free

You will find in your search for an editor that there are many of them out there who offer to edit for obscenely low rates. The adage, “You get what you pay for” has never been more applicable. A good editor should have a background – and preferably a degree – in English lit or journalism. They should be a trustworthy source whose primary language is the language your book is written in. And they should be serious about their craft.

The Benefits of Hiring an All-in-One Editing Partner

While you can hire separate developmental editors, copy editors, and proofreaders, we find that it is best to partner with an all-in-one editing partner. All-in-one editors get to know your work and writing style more intimately. They learn your voice and style so that when they edit they’re not taking you out of your book. When you hire an all-in-one editor, you may also save a substantial amount of money, since they roll all the services into one price. Were you to hire three separate editors for a 50,000-word book, for example, each of them might charge you $5000-$8000 depending on the size of your book. However, an all-in-one editor would charge around $3500-5000 total.

How Much Should a Book Editor Cost?

You will find a huge range in price for editors. Determining how much to invest can be difficult. You should perform due diligence. Too-good-to-be-true offers are often just that. In the end, the money you save going with the $300 editor special will end up costing you in additional editing work, poor sales, inability to build up a fan base, and more.

Most editors charge by the word or by the page; pages are normally calculated by dividing the number of words by 250, so a 50,000-word book would be 200 pages.

For a 50,000-word book, your editing costs could be:

  • Developmental editing normally runs approximately $.08 per word, or $4000 total
  • Basic copyediting is normally $.018 per word, or $900 total
  • Proofreading costs approximately $.0115 per word, or $575 total

Hiring three separate editors will cost, on average, $5475 for a 50,000-word book.

An all-in-one editor will charge between $.07 and $.10 for all of the above included, or a total cost of $3500-$5000. Often, all-in-one editors also include formatting the ebook in this cost or provide discounts for formatting and cover design. The longer your book is, the more you save with an all-in-one editor.

Additional Editing Costs

If you need the book turned around in a rush, there will be additional fees from the editor to prioritize your project over others that are already scheduled. Other factors that may increase the cost of your editing service include:

  • Required formatting in MLA or APA, especially for nonfiction
  • Indexing
  • Highly technical material
  • Fact checking
  • Exceptional length

When you hire an editor, you should consider that this is one investment you can easily recoup. Not only does publishing a well-edited book improve sales, but it increases your credibility. This can result in invitations to collaborate on anthologies, better profits should you choose to offer a print or audible version of the book, and invitations to be interviewed. These opportunities are extremely rare for the indie author who self-edits.

Hiring an editor is one of the best investments you’ll ever make for your career as an indie author.

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