Hiring a Book Editor

Q: I have looked for editors online and it seems they cost anywhere from a couple hundred to $500 dollars. Is there a less costly way to have my book edited? I have a full manuscript. I would like to shop it to agents and publishers, but I’m worried that it may have grammar and punctuation mistakes. – Marci

That’s a great question, Marci.

The first thing I’d do is contact nearby colleges and universities with creative writing or professional writing programs. When I was in graduate school, my classmates and I received messages all the time from local writers who needed editing help. There’s a good chance a graduate student who is willing to undertake such a large editing project could arrange to get independent-study course credit for the work in lieu of monetary compensation from you. If course credit isn’t an option, I can say from experience that grad students will work for far less money than a professional editor or manuscript doctor.

If that doesn’t work out, I’d suggest contacting your local writers groups. One of your fellow writers may also be an editor who would be willing to barter with you (he’ll help edit your manuscript if you promise to critique his next novel, or something of that nature) or he may know someone else who would be interested in the project.

Even though many writers are reluctant to spend money on their book before it’s been accepted for publication, if you feel your grammar and punctuation mistakes would be so distracting to an editor or agent that the errors would jeopardize the possible sale of your book, it would be wise to go ahead and hire a professional editor. Consider it an investment in your writing career. (After all, an author can’t expect an editor or agent to make an investment in a manuscript in which she isn’t even willing to invest.) You can re-coup the costs from your first book sale!

I hope you find that perfect editorial match soon. Best of luck!

Lauren Mosko, Novel and Short Story Writer’s Market Editor
Writer’s Digest Books