There’s no way around it, book editing is going to be your biggest self-publishing expense. While you can probably find a cheap proofreader or copy-editor, in most cases even that will be a waste of money.
Here are the top 5 book editing mistakes most authors face, and how to overcome them before you publish.
#1. Mistakes don’t matter.
Most people think about book editing only in terms of typos. The truth is, a good program like Grammarly or even Word’s built in spell check can find MOST of these mistakes, and even if you get your manuscript clean and perfect, that’s just the bare minimum – it won’t ensure your book’s success.
YES it’s important, but you don’t need to pay thousands of dollars for that stuff; you can do a lot with cheap editing software
#2. So what actually matters? Story!
The real problem with the majority of books is the content. The writing isn’t gripping, there’s no conflict or drama, no intrigue, the characters are flat and boring. The words don’t really matter; don’t obsess about how you describe things. The problem is bigger. What you really need is a manuscript critique service to point out big picture red flags. The problem is, the majority of book editors are not qualified to comment on those things, because they are fixers, not story tellers.
The best thing you can do is study the craft of book writing. The first thing is to learn about plot and story architecture. I had a major breakthrough a couple years ago and created this 24-chapter plot outline template for novel writing.
I also have an online course on writing novels and fiction; after the plotting is finished, you need to fix the drama, intrigue and conflict.
#3. Self editing your book.
Edit your book as much as you can, by yourself – a big mistake I see authors make is throw out a few thousand dollars to help them edit their book; but the truth is even the best editor will only work with what you have and provide feedback. They won’t fix the real problems.
I suggest this 5-step process to self-editing your novel:
#4. Hiring an editor (without getting scammed)
If you’ve done all that and you’re ready to work with a real editor, be careful! There are tons of scams. Not all editing is the same. Not everyone is skilled. How do you choose the right editor for you, without wasting a bunch of money? Start with this video (yes I’m wearing a dinosaur shirt).
How much does book editing cost? You can also check out this older video, but basically, you can find proofreading and maybe even copy-editing for less than 1 cents a word, but the quality can vary wildly (and – even at that price, they won’t fix the really important stuff!)
A full developmental editor can cost more, ranging from 4 to 6 cents per word. Currently I’m writing ghostwriting or co-writing services at 12 cents a word, which makes it pretty expensive, but I’m also supremely qualified to help you improve your writing (and spend a decade getting a PhD).
Here’s one more video about working with an editor, I hope it’s useful!
If you’re ready to hire a professional book editor, check out The Book Butchers: we slaughter your writing.