Question: How can I get my book edited without shelling out a fortune?



A well-crafted, polished manuscript won’t happen in the first draft. Period. Getting your story ready for readers requires thorough editing and revision. Given that it’s essential to the success of your book, editing can often represent a significant investment. But, that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to reduce costs. Arming yourself with knowledge and making smart decisions can help you make the most of your editing budget.

Understanding the different levels of editing

There are 3 main levels of editing when revising a book manuscript.Great editing often begins by understanding the 3 primary levels of readability. These include:

•  The first level - word usage: grammar, vocabulary, punctuation, and sentence structure. This can include line editing and proofreading.
•  The second level is the style and voice of the writer. This can include line editing and copy editing.
•  The third level is the content. The deepest level of editing, this aspect needs to be comprehensively examined and polished to ensure cohesion and adequate story structure. This commonly includes developmental editing.

Different types of editing work to address these levels and can help you determine the type of editor you need.

How much editing does your manuscript need?

The amount of editing your manuscript needs can be determined by two factors: publishing method and personal skill.

When you self-publish, you're responsible for any editing throughout the publishing process. You can hire editors independently or purchase editing services through your self-publishing service provider, but you oversee the finished product. By contrast, traditional publishing companies often have in-house editors who provide a range of editorial services. To boost your chances of getting traditionally published, it may be a good idea to invest in editing prior to submitting your manuscript to agents or publishing houses.

You must also consider your personal practices and skills. Not a grammar junkie? Get some help. If you participate in a writer’s or critique group, your manuscript may not need as much work as one that hasn't been read by anyone else.

Hiring a professional freelance editor 

The cost of hiring a professional freelance editor will depend largely on the amount and type of editing your work requires. The more significant editing you need, the more you will need to invest. It might seem like a substantial investment, but it's important to keep in mind that you are paying for a professional's expertise and time.

Be on the lookout for positive reviews, testimonials and for someone that is honest and open about rates up front. When researching freelance editors, look for reputable service providers and inquire with other writers to get referrals.

You can also start small. Have them review just a chapter or two before handing over the whole manuscript.  The feedback you receive from this sampling will likely expose your bad habits and allow you to make further revisions on your own. This can help to drive down overall costs. It also gives you a chance to flesh out the relationship since working effectively with a freelance editor requires good communication, trust, and respect.

Self-editing your book manuscript will save you time and money.How self-editing can save you money

Self-editing is the practice of editing your own manuscript to the best of your ability, prior to submitting it to a freelance editor, agent, or publisher. Every author approaches self-editing differently depending on skill level, but any self-editing can help save time and money.

Before you dive in, steel your nerves. Self-editing is challenging. It requires you to divorce yourself from your manuscript and stop thinking like an author. You must be prepared to make cuts and changes, and to stay strong and do what's best for your book. Since the editing mindset is so different from the writing, it can be a good idea to finish the first draft before trying to put on your editing cap.

Ultimately, editing is a vital investment in the success of your book, but it’s not a one-size fits all proposition. By utilizing some editing resources and a little know-how, you can make smart decisions and maximize your editing budget. You can have it your way.

Photo credits: AndreyPopov and IvelinRadkov on Getty Images.