Why splash out on hiring a professional editor? Because even if you are meticulous with editing your own work, you will always be too close to see what could be an obvious flaw to an objective eye. Friends and family may help a little, but they are too close to you, and unlikely to have the industry knowledge and experience required to make that all important difference.
Some editors can be choosy on what they work on, so do a little reading and find out about their past work and interests. This information will usually be listed on their website or profile. Each of the following websites hosts editor profiles. Use the sites search functions or browse by subject speciality. See the end of this post for a list of Australian editing groups.
You will be surprised to see how inexpensive the process can be depending on your needs, so understand what it is you need. Most editors will offer three forms of editorial services. Have a read of the following, kindly supplied by Natalie Maddalena, own of Highlight Editing.
For projects that are in their infancy or are foundering, and need professional guidance on development, we can provide you with a quick assessment and advice on direction, or with ongoing development editing.
Substantive or structural editing:
A substantive edit looks at the overall manuscript.
Natalie will provide a report covering such issues as:
• Do parts of the story need to be expanded, summarised or rearranged?
• Is the language appropriate for the intended readers?
• Are the world and the characters convincing?
• Is the opening too slow? Does the story need to begin with the action in chapter 2, and weave in the information from chapter 1 later in the story?
• Are there any holes in the plot?
• Is anything confusing and needs further explanation?
This is what many people think of as 'editing'.
Publishers receive hundreds or thousands of unsolicited manuscripts every year. You want yours to be error-free so that the publisher can focus on the story.
Natalie will mark up your manuscript for:
• Is there a better, stronger word to communicate what you mean?
• Is everything expressed clearly?
• The same issues are covered for a non-fiction document.
This is the final check before a manuscript is sent to the printer or publisher, not a stage for detailed changes.
Are there any typos?
Are all the chapters/sections there and in the right order?
Have the errors from previous versions all been corrected?
An edit that covers all three stages of editing is called a comprehensive edit. This usually involves the manuscript going back and forth between author and editor as changes are made.
Once a publisher has accepted your manuscript, an in-house editor will probably work on it with you. But to get to that stage; you need impartial, professional help to polish and perfect your work. And if you choose to self-publish, input from an experienced editor is even more important.
There can be a substantial rates difference between editors. On the higher end you could be looking at $60 to $80 per hour on a structural edit. Generally an editor won’t try and fleece you like a contractor.
Other smaller scale editor business will offer far more competitive rates, and the feedback from clients is usually just as good. Smaller operators will charge by the word. About $15 per 1000 words is a good price.
A good service will offer advice on publishers and agents.
When you find an editor you like working with, and depending on your needs, talk to them about the best ways this project can be marketed. A properly worded synopsis and cover letter may mean the difference between the manuscript being read or binned.