Vicki's Book News and Articles

Business: Book Doctors

Written by Vicki Hinze

On December 28, 2010

Vicki Hinze © 2003-2011

Please be advised that I am currently looking for an editor for my book and don’t want to be taken advantage of. What is a reasonable price for someone to edit a first draft of a manuscript with a mainstream women’s fiction genre I appreciate any advice you could share.

Book Doctors or analysts who do editing usually charge about $2 per manuscript page. Some have a minimum charge of $300-$500 for reading a proposal to see if they’ll take on the editing of the book. If they then elect to edit the book–and you elect to have them edit the book–they’ll normally apply the money already paid to the overall bill–which averages to $2 – $3 per page.

I have seen some editors charge as much as $5 per page. Some would consider that outrageous, but honestly you have to look at who that editor is and what their credentials are to know whether it’s a scam or a bargain.

Case in point is Jerry Gross. He’s a book doctor and charges a substantial amount for his services. He’s very selective on the books he takes on to edit. However, the man has about half a century of experience as an editor and associate publisher, he’s created genres, and he has an excellent reputation that carries a lot of clout in the market. Being a book doctor is his “retirement” job.

So you’re going to have to approach this from a totally professional perspective. Who is offering the edit? What are their credentials? How familiar is that specific editor with the market targeted in your book?

Get references. Former clients whose names are given to you will no doubt speak well of the editor, but in chatting, you’ll glean valuable information on your expectations.

I’d caution you to be hesitant to hire a technical writer. While they’re great with grammar, some of them tend to be “by the book” on the rules of writing, which can be a death blow to fiction. Some are great at it, just as some are lousy at it. So be persnickety and ask for samples or references and check them.

Know EXACTLY what you’re going to get for your money. If it’s a content edit, a line edit, general comments, or all of the above. Obviously, the more feedback you’re given, the more expensive the edit. Mainly because it takes more of the editor’s time to do the edit and it draws on more of their expertise.

Know when you’re going to get what you’re paying for from the editor. If the edit is going to take six months before s/he can start, you might not be interested in waiting. Or you might be of a mind that some editors are darn well worth the wait. Regardless of your stance on this, know when you can expect the work to be completed and what exactly that work will entail.

Many editors offer a written agreement. Read carefully. Again, know what you’re signing and make sure you’re not taking on obligations you don’t want.

Hiring an editor can be a great experience or a hellish one, depending on how much information you have on the process and the people involved. Work only with those who have sterling reputations and professional integrity. Check to make sure there have been no complaints filed against them. (Remember, there’s no licensing authority so anyone who wants to say, “I’m an editor,” can do it.)


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