Discussion on Paid Editors


I don’t know if I’ve told anyone this to this site in the past 5 years, or maybe people just think I’m some sort of coding genius? But I don’t know a damned thing about formatting. I’m just starting to learn the basics of editing.

And money is money. I’m not going to worry about how much it costs. If it costs $300 for formatting for me, and everyone else is only charging a paltry $50, you better believe I’ll be forking over the former rather than the latter.

Because I have heard and read first hand accounts of people charging cheap rates for formatting and the master file was so messed up that nobody could read the book when it went to print–because the guy who charged $50 didn’t know a damned thing about formatting. He just quoted a price.

You want to talk about professionals? Well, I only deal with professionals. Their asking prices are not that steep. But I also know that by having such a price in play, I’m not going to be dealing with no rank amateur either.


That’s why it’s important to see who their clients were.

  1. You don’t have to be a coding genius.
  2. You paid too much. The going rate is $50.

Also, if you’re going to release on Amazon, you can even do your formatting in your Word doc and upload that to their converter.


Well, that assumes one is aware of one’s outline or plot holes. I polished the novel to the n-th degree and THEN ran it past a developmental editor before submitting it anywhere. I decided the expense was worth it as it gave me feedback on problems I had not seen (despite the betas and critique circles). Especially if the novel in question is one of the earlier ones, this approach can be helpful. I see it as coaching. I could have participated in a writer’s retreat. Or joined a writing group.
I decided an editor was more focussed.
Where I am now, I do not need this type of feedback anymore. But as a step on the way it was useful. Rewriting is useful.
Also, people have different ways of working.
I tend to write my synopsis first. Then a logline. What is it about, the key question.
Then I write a plot outline with the key plot points.
After that I prepare summaries for the scenes/chapters. What are they about, what are the plotpoints, the purpose etc.
then I write.
Things change as I go along. I’m very finicky with my first drafts, they get reviewed time and time again. I don’t do vomit drafts or anything.
Once I have a first draft . I update the chapter summaries (I work with scrivener) and I check my plot outline again. Then I edit first structural, then detail.

I’m very “plotty” but it works for me


I think it works. I don’t usually put much description in characters, but when I do I try to make a point. I think that description is vivid. If I remember the novel (it’s been many years) I thought his all-around writing was vivid — cinematic.

Now I hated Lost Symbols and never read another novel by Dan Brown since. But it wasn’t his writing. It was the awful story.


That’s what you say. But I write larger than industry standard novels, so I’m not complaining about the results. I’m getting what I paid for.

Did I also forget to mention (yet again) that I know next to nothing about formatting novels?

I also don’t have any functional Word programs on my Windows 7 laptop–which is a decade old.


It really depends how badly formatted the original document is. You’re assuming people know how to use first-line indent and word-wrap and not to italicize every other sentence. I have done nightmare formatting for KDP. I charge hourly. It was way more than 10 minutes and definitely more than $50.

As for copyediting, some editors charge by the word, others by the hour. I charge hourly, and I won’t even give an estimate until I’ve had a chance to look through the document.

@SchuylerThorpe 's estimates are right on track with average edit jobs. Low for nightmare edits.

Realize, professionals not only take the money for the work done but also have to pay taxes and all sorts of expenses with the money, too.


True. If people aren’t going to learn to use the tools of their trade, then they deserve to pay more!

Prepping a professional-quality manuscript for digital publication isn’t rocket science. But you’re right – if they can’t do the basic Google search to figure out how to format their manuscript, it’s a lot more hands on.


Honestly I think formatting is one of those things if you’re going indie you should really learn to do for yourself, at least for the first few books. I’ve found lots of resources to help do it for free, it’s one of the few things in this industry that I think you don’t need to have a gift or eye for, unlike cover design. It’s not fancy coding, it’s just a few programs, many of which I’ve gotten for free. Word isn’t free though, but I think Word is also just a great investment to have in general for writing. If you wait until around Christmas and black Friday sales, you can usually get it for much cheaper.

Or, if I’m going to pay for formatting, there are places that will do the formatting with their professional cover and it usually brings down the cost to have it bundled like that. Then it’s just a matter of doing research to see if you like the quality of cover and formatting they’ve done in the past.

The guy who did this video actually provides tons of free word templates that you can essentially plug your manuscript in to format it properly. (He also has even fancier ones that he sells as a package, but I’m fine with just the free one).


One aspect that hasn’t been discussed in detail is the way in which an editor at a publishing house will try to steer an author towards a more marketable end product. Which doesn’t necessarily yield a better book (if one thinks of writing as an art).

A developmental or substantive edit can go in either direction: some contract editors are aware of the market to the point where they can seem tone deaf to good writing. In New Zealand (p’raps other places as well), there’s a sort of editor known as an assessor, who’s experienced in publishing and vets manuscripts as salable properties.

They will give feedback on the length, character treatment, tone, pace, etc. They usually don’t do markups.


I completely agree with your entire post :slight_smile:

The crossed wires are my fault, as I answered @Zussage’s question but that question was actually aimed at you :heart:


I think it needs to be highlighted for the unpublished authors reading this thread that paying someone thousands of dollars is NOT a sign that you are working with a professional - it could be a sign that you haven’t done your research and you’re being ripped off. Unfortunately the rise in indie publishing has also seen a rise in predatory “services” where people are keen to line their own pockets by over charging or flat out scamming, unsuspecting indies.

For 100,000 words I pay my editor approx $600 and its a 3 week turn around. No “professional” editor would take 2-3 YEARS to return a manuscript. That’s just nuts. Do your research, ask around. There are plenty of indie publishing forums that have recommended editor threads where you can see prices, turnaround, professionalism and samples.

$300 for ebook formatting is not professional - that’s being ripped off, or having too much money to throw around. Digital formatting is simple and easy to learn (or you can upload a doc file to most retailers) and it is important that authors retain control of their digital files for updating front and back matter and correcting and typos that survived editing/proofing (and yes, there will be a few, no MS is 100% clean). Ebook formatting does not cost more for higher word counts unless you have screwed your source file and the formatted needs to spend their time fixing your errors - like using tab instead of proper paragraph formatting. Or as XimeraGrey has already said if you are intent on out sourcing it, don’t pay more than $50. Or for less than that you can purchase Jutoh which is ebook formatting software (costs $40) and it simple to use and outputs epub and mobi files.


That was one of the points he made about editors, is that good ones are often expensive, but expensive ones do not always mean they are good. He also mentioned that good editors might even be found for cheap, and in these cares of good editors being really affordable is usually because they don’t really know how to market themselves or make a business out of their skill.

He mentioned thet being active in writing communities is the best way to find good editors because you can get referrals and a better idea of who’s good.

Curious, is that $600 for proofreading?


$600 sounds like a light-to-medium copyedit


$600 for a very thorough line edit. I pay some editors more, others less. Over the last 3 years and multiple projects, I’ve found that to be an average price per word (0.006) for good and efficient line edits.

Proofreaders I pay anywhere between $50-250. The one at the high end is an ex-Big 5 editor who now does freelance work. She is pricey for a proofreader but incredibly good at catching the odd typo my editor misses.


You can download/install LibreOffice. It’s free and it’s word processor can save the manuscript as a Word doc to upload to Amazon KDP. There’s hardly any formatting to do for an e-book. In fact, you don’t want to format it because you want the reader to choose font size, etc on their device.

All you need to do is indent paragraphs and define the chapter headings as “Heading 1” (that’s Word but LibreOffice must have something like it as well). Doing so, automatically puts a page break before it and it uses it to build the Table of Contents.

I happen to put a little more white space between paragraphs, but you don’t have to. And it’s all done in the word processor so you don’t need technical skills.

Now formatting for print is different which is why my novels are offered only as e-book.


Phew the saturation. It hurts it hurts. My poor delicate eyes.


Just as some people like bad food, some like bad writing: the cheaper, more lurid, obvious, and shallow, the better. Hard to begrudge a person what they truly enjoy.

When I edited on contract, I specialised: theses and dissertations, articles for academic journals, scientific reports and papers. Quite a few of those for whom I worked were brilliant in their fields but had a sketchy command of English. They paid on time and were grateful for my ability to turn techno-linguistic hash into readable English prose.

Being analytical, I was struck by my being able to work with arcane technical material (which for the most part I didn’t grasp), rewrite, and edit according to grammar, syntax, and the basics.

I have a sense of language that’s structural, nearly algebraic: x and y; x equals y; if x then y; x, y, and z; not x but rather y, or perhaps z. I could refine the relationship of the terms without knowing what they meant (although I did learn a great deal about physics and chemistry and geomagnetic fields, among other things).

I avoided working with creative material, except for very close friends, on a mutual (unpaid) basis. Fiction writers are mostly too vain and self-absorbed. Poets are hopeless.


Not all of us squeaks quietly but i know what you mean. The creative work is very close to their emotion to criticism is viewed as attack which can hinder the learning process. I honestly never read Da Vinci code (my first mystery books were probably Hardy boys) but that example of prose was really clunky.

And I’m no language expert far from it.


Wouldn’t call myself expert. I am very interested in language, and have studied several.

But it’s more like a musical thing: perfect pitch.

I can tell when something sounds right.