What do you expect from an editor?

DSC01710And what do you expect it to cost?

My last several potential clients strung me along for a while, asking questions, getting feedback and critique…

When I finally told them my fee, they all balked.

My fault

This is my fault. I should ask straight up –

Have you budgeted for an editor?

What do you expect to pay your editor?

What do you expect to get from your editor?

What do you expect the turn-around time to be?

Full stop, wheels screeching

I’m changing my game plan! I’m going to stop wasting my time (sorry, but it’s true) on writers who know nothing about editing, the costs involved, or what they might expect from a really chop-chop-I-am-taking-an-axe-to-your-novel kind of editor.

Subscribers – can you help me? DSC01711

I have a few questions for you –

Have you budgeted for an editor?

What do you expect to pay your editor?

What do you expect to get from your editor?

What do you expect the turn-around time to be?

No, you’re not having déjà vu – I typed those questions twice.

If you have been edited

What did you get for your hard-earned money?

Were you satisfied?

Was your previous editor not what he/she promised? (Please, don’t mention by name.)

What did he/she miss and when did you discover it?

If this feels icky

If you feel uncomfortable posting comments here on the blog, you can email me – karenrsanderson@midco.net.

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10 Comments

Filed under Blogging, Editing & Proofreading, Publishing

10 responses to “What do you expect from an editor?

  1. Glad to answer!

    Have you budgeted for an editor?

    Absolutely. I am working on being a better self-editor, but I know I’m nowhere close to being able to put out my best product on my own.

    What do you expect to pay your editor?

    Varies project to project, of course, but around $100 per 10,000 words. Sometimes a little more than that.

    What do you expect to get from your editor?

    A lot. I work with my editor from beginning to end on a project. We often talk about potential problem areas before I even start writing. If I run into a real dilemma mid-story, we talk about it, looking for solutions. When I am ready to turn it over to him, he gives it an intense critique-read and makes suggestions as to areas that need work.

    Then (finally) he starts work on what I am ostensibly paying for – editing.

    What do you expect the turn-around time to be?

    He always manages to beat whatever time frame we agree to by at least a day or two. For a 70K book, the average time is a little less than two weeks.

    What did you get for your hard-earned money?

    The only thing that matters to me in the process – a better book, a better reading experience for everyone who buys it. I’ve been blessed to get good reviews on Amazon, and I attribute a lot of that to the work I do with my editor before I hit publish.

    Were you satisfied?

    I’ve used the same editor for my last seven projects, so, yes~

    Was your previous editor not what he/she promised? (Please, don’t mention by name.)

    I only worked with one other editor and they did a good job as well. I just hit it off exceptionally well with my current editor.

    What did he/she miss and when did you discover it?

    Nothing worth worrying about.

    • karenrsanderson

      What great answers! Thank you, Shawn. You mentioned a great point – that you hit it off exceptionally well with your current editor. I think that’s one of the most important things. I have a great relationship with my editor as well.

  2. tobykleingreenwald

    As one who is both a writer and an editor, when asked to edit, I take a look at the work but give my price up front. I’m assuming that they’ve approached me because they are familiar with my work or have received recommendations. People will often negotiate (so just give a higher quote up front — duh!); it’s the human condition. But if they can’t come close to my quote, I move on.

    • karenrsanderson

      I think my biggest mistake is I start conversations with prospects without realizing that they have no idea what to expect, what to expect to pay, etc. I need to start my conversations differently in the future. Thank you for commenting, Toby.

  3. I edit for others, and have paid an editor for my own book. When I edit, I work blood, sweat, and tears, and never ask enough. I know they’re shocked at how much it costs, but they truly don’t seem to have an idea of how much work it is.
    The editor I paid ($1,000 for a 300-page book) was okay, but since I’m an editor, she really didn’t have a lot to do (speaking honestly). She did suggest a few changes in the book content-wise, which were helpful, so I still believe an editor is essential to any of us who write/publish.

    • karenrsanderson

      It’s a huge amount of work! My last few projects averaged about $25-$35 an hour. I think I’m worth it. Heck, I am worth it. And yes, I have my own editor as well – Shawn MacKenzie.

  4. I just posted a link to this on The Future of Ink Facebook page in hopes that some of the authors who hang out there will participate.

    I would expect to pay an editor at least $40/hour, but I would want to discuss the depth of editing I expect so they could ascertain approximately how many pages per hour they could edit. If I just needed a proofreader, I would expect it to take less time than if I felt the book might need some deeper editing that borders on rewriting. The more you work with one editor, that easier it is to know what to expect, but on my first time working with an editor, I think I’d suggest they do an overview and one chapter first before determining whether we were a good match for each other for the whole book.

    • karenrsanderson

      Thanks for posting on The Future of Ink – I just liked/followed that page.
      All good comments here, Elizabeth. Unfortunately, most of the prospective clients that come my way expect to pay no more than a couple of hundred bucks for an entire novel. And that’s substantive editing. My last project took over 100 hours. Getting to know your editor before working on a huge project – you know I’ve been shouting that from the rooftops for years! Working on smaller projects first – perhaps a short story or two, a couple of blog posts – you get to see the editor’s skills and ideas.

  5. These are really great questions, Karen.
    I didn’t have any idea about what to expect from an editor or the cost until you and I spoke a while back. I appreciated you explaining the process and fees to me then, and reviewing it again here now.
    It honestly never occurred to me to budget editing because I’m so new to all of this, but, Duh, now it seems incredibly obvious! 🙂
    I enjoy getting feedback and improving myself, so I’m looking forward to the day when I’m ready to give you my full manuscript and have you do the job for me!!

    • karenrsanderson

      You aren’t the only one, Denise! So many prospects come my way and then go away – because of the cost. But if you figure that I spend about a hundred hours (average) on one manuscript…do people expect that for a couple hundred bucks? That’s why I wrote this article. Can’t wait to get my hands on your MS! Based on your blog, I know it will be stellar! See Denise’s blog here – http://inspired2ignite.com

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