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How much does book editing cost? Do you really need it if you’re self-publishing?

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As a book editor, my advice (that you don’t really need editing) may be controversial. But there are plenty of reasons you shouldn’t pay a lot of money to edit your book, the foremost being that it isn’t ready, and that you need to learn more about the important stuff (plotting, pacing, character development and motivation, story arch) before you shell out money for someone else to teach you about these things. Do the work first. Improve your writing. Publish lots of books and use the reviews as feedback to improve your writing. Only pay for editing if you have a big platform and you’re certain you’ll make your money back (or if you’re publishing a book to build your professional credibility/business, in which case it’s worth it).

There’s a free guide to self-editing, you can grab it here:


Zemimsky says:

Love an honest take on this! Thank you 😀

Massiel Valenzuela says:

I think that's a great point. From a business perspective, I can see how you would want some traction before further investments. Beta readers is a great idea.

R Jones says:

Ownly a twits need an editioner. What a grate vidio. Shud b on tee vee.

Maria Montesino says:

Derek, thank you so much for all the great info you provide. You speak clear and explain everything in simple language.

mugenishere says:

A very practical approach to editing. Thanks a lot for explaining! This video deserves a lot more views I feel.

Humble Marty says:

hiring an editor for me is a very difficult process. I'm polishing up my first book on a starving artist's budget.

Lee Ann Wolff says:

With all due respect, I find it difficult to edit my own writing. Even when I was in the corporate world, we admins would trade off with each other to double check our work because it's so easy to miss your own errors. I'm now a professional editor, and many of my authors have had to pull their self-published online work down and send it to me for editing due to nasty online reviews concerning grammar and inconsistencies. Authors, do yourselves a favor and hire a pro. Don't let your readers find a plot hole and ridicule your hard work online.

Author Marie Greaves says:

Excellent advice! I'm a professional editor and have been tossing around in my head whether to self-edit or hire someone. This was very helpful! One book I recommend is The Blue Book of Grammar, a great resource for reviewing and brushing up on your grammar.

Dave B says:

How well a story is told , it seems to me, is a subjective process anyway. As for correcting the writing, it can be done yourself. It just requires a lot of work. That's why editors charge a lot of money.
Get a print-out of your manuscript, and go over it. I don't think it's helpful to keep referring to the computer screen.

chester1701 says:

This came in handy! Thanks a bunch for the video. Made my decision so much simpler

Rod DS says:

Great advice and much appreciated!

Norman M says:

The biggest things about my books that I question is the character development and story arch. The story arch is… for all I know… possibly non-existent. It's a very different kind of story, it involves travel, hardships, and characters coming and going but there's never very many going on. A lot of what goes on is description and actions, but there is of course dialogue as well so that the characters can mingle, but I think one of the characters in particular has made too drastic a change in personality over too short a time in the book. It still takes place throughout the book, so it's not like from one page to another she suddenly changes, but I dunno… it IS a pretty severe thing that happens that changed her though, so maybe… it makes sense? Damn, I want to stick with just self editing, but I think hiring an editor to look it over is the smart thing to do, because for all I know the novel might be a COMPLETE mess even though I think it's not TOO bad for a first attempt.

Something has happened in the second book that's stopped the travel for a time, so a lot of what happens takes place in just one area, but once things get straightened out they'll be back on the road. So it's not like everything keeps happening smoothly and there's no dangers or conflicts. It's just not organized. I write as I go, ideas come, there are twists and turns, and with the first book I just got to a point where I'm like "alright… that seems like a good place to end… I think this book is finished." Then the typing stopped until I started work on the second book very soon afterwards. First book has over 77,000 pages (more than the first Harry Potter novel), and the second has over 60,000 thus far but I hope to manage at least 100,000 for that one but if I get to that point where I'm like "Yup, that's a book." then I won't push myself to add more JUST to reach that word goal.

It's not something to make money, it's just a passion for me, I love writing, so even if it sells poorly I'll still keep writing, so hiring someone to read over the book and tell me how I should change it seems to me to be a waste of money because I probably won't accept much of his or her advice, if any. So I think I'll self edit. Read it a couple times, make corrections along the way until I think I have all the grammatical and spelling errors fixed, and once I think it's tidy and neat enough, then I'll get the INBR number or whatever it's called, make sure it's copyrighted, and eventually figure out HOW to get the digital copies rolling. Amazon seems to be the way to go. I don't really have a platform on which to sell the books myself, so I think I'll have to rely on them to provide the physical/digital copies, and maybe I could figure out a decent way in which to promote it. To try and get attention to it.

Santiago H Figueroa says:

Thank you this is very good advice.

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