How Editing Works for Independent (Self-Published) Authors

| Posted in Editing |


In the year that I’ve been self-publishing, I’ve been fortunate enough to receive many nice reviews and compliments on my work. It still tickles me to hear that other people enjoy spending time with my characters as much as I do.

It’s always nice to hear, as well, that someone believed the editing was of good quality, because that’s one of the areas where it’s tough to match up with the traditional presses. Even when you have beta readers and hire a freelance editor, you still don’t have as many eyes going over a manuscript as you’d have with the traditional system.

My Early Experiences

As with many new authors (AKA folks who aren’t yet making anything from their writing), I was trying to save money with my first manuscript, The Empeor’s Edge. I hired someone offering to proofread inexpensively on a forum. He said he was an English teacher, so I figured that was good enough.

He ended up editing the heck out of the manuscript, and most of the suggestions were incorrect. I don’t mean that we had stylistic differences of opinion; I mean the guy didn’t know how to punctuate dialogue correctly. In the end, it was a big waste of time for both of us, and, no, he didn’t offer to refund the money, even though I pointed him to sources on the web for examples of proper punctuation.

Lesson learned for me.

I went on to hire another editor (an actual freelance editor with a website this time!), though I was still trying to keep my costs down, especially since I’d just wasted money, and went for a simple proofreading. Overall, the experience was good, but readers did point out quite a few typos or flubbed words that had slipped through. (I should qualify that, I suppose, because some indie books are riddled with errors — EE had maybe 20 in 105,000 words, which isn’t a ton, but it bothers me when that many things slip through.)

It’s funny (or sad?) that I actually went into that first book thinking, “Oh, it’ll be nearly flawless since I ran it through my writing workshop twice.” Right. Note to self: beta readers are, rightfully so, usually more concerned about story and characters than fixing your typos, and, even when they do point such things out, you tend to add in as many errors as you fix when making corrections.

These days, I’m fortunate to be making enough from my book sales that I don’t have to scrimp quite so much, and I can afford to pay for a couple of read-throughs with an editor who has many years of experience in the business. She has a good eye and catches a lot. (If only I could get her to follow me around and proofread my blog posts, Facebook messages, and Twitter tweets.)

You’re probably always going to have a few things slip through (hey, that even happens with books from traditional presses), but it’s good to know that those types of errors are few and far between.

Hiring an Editor and Associated Costs

So, if you’re first starting out, what should you look for?

First off, let’s talk about the different options you have as a writer hiring an editor. And, because you’re probably wondering, we’ll discuss costs, too, though these will vary a lot from editor to editor.

Developmental/Substantive Editing

You can find freelance editors who specialize in developmental editing. This is where they’re going to look at narrative flow, consistency, logic, story and character development, etc. In short, they may tear your manuscript to shreds and tell you to re-write entire chapters.

This is the most expensive form of editing, and you may very well get quotes in the $2,000-$4,000 range for a novel-length manuscript. If you write epic fantasy tomes that, if dropped, could kill a chihuahua, then you might get an even higher quote.

While developmental editing often includes copy-editing/proofreading, I personally think that this is too much to pay for most self-publishers. You’re putting yourself into a huge hole right from the beginning, and it can take a long time (if ever) for your first novel to earn out when you start with such high expenses.

I believe that free/inexpensive writing workshops can fill the same role (the nice thing about a workshop is that you get to experience the editing styles of multiple other writers, some of whom know those grammar rules forward and backward, and you can develop long-term, beta-reading relationships with the ones whose suggestions click with you).

You’ll learn a lot from the workshop process too. I’m sure some will disagree with me, but I don’t think you’re ready to self-publish if you’ve never had strangers shred your work before. Friends and relatives don’t count. Your fellow writers will be some of your toughest critics, so if you can get them to like it, then maybe you’re ready for the next stage, hiring an editor and pubishing that puppy.

Copy Editing

This is when an editor reads through, often twice, to look for typos, missing words, frequently used words (apparently my characters were “lunging” all over the place in EE3!), incorrect words, grammatical boo boos, and awkward sentences.

The editor won’t typically make comments about story or character, so you should be confident that you have things fairly well nailed down ahead of time. Of course, some editors may stray into developmental editing territory from time to time if they see the need. It’ll depend on the editor and what you ask for.

With copy-editing, expect your person to make changes in the text. MS Word is what most people in the biz use, but you can find Mac-friendly editors, too, who have Pages. With either program, you can choose to accept or reject the changes with a mouse click.

Note: if you’ve been writing for a while, and you’re very confident in your style and your characters’ voices, then you may find yourself rejecting a lot of the suggestions (I do this, much to my poor editor’s chagrin). It’s not at all uncommon for freelance editors to have more experience with non-fiction than fiction (this whole rah-rah-self-publishing boom is quite new!), so there can be a little friction when it comes to matters of style. Just remember that you’re the boss, and it’s okay to reject changes! Most editors will understand that you’re not necessarily going to agree with everything. Once you find an editor you like working with, you’ll both get more used to each others styles.

Copy editing costs are usually figured on a per-word or per-page basis, so get out your calculators. Typical costs might be in the neighborhood of one cent per word. So, if you need 100,000 words copy edited, that’ll be $1,000.

I’ve definitely seen editors who charge more, but that may be getting into the realm of too-pricy-for-a-self-publisher. You need to shop around to find an editor who does a good job for you and offers an affordable rate. Don’t be afraid to ask an editor to give you a break. It won’t always happen (it’ll probably depend on how busy they are), but many are sympathetic to indie authors. They know a lot of us are just trying to start our writing careers up and don’t have a lot of money to spend.

But be realistic in your requests too. If you know grammar isn’t your strength, and there are likely a lot of flubs in your manuscript, be aware of how many hours are going to be involved in editing it. You may be tickled if you find someone on Craigslist or a message board to copy-edit your 150,000-word novel for $200, but you may either a) get a poor result or b) end up paying someone the equivalent of two dollars an hour. Neither are cool.

Note: Because editing, even copy editing, is a big expense, you may want to look for editors who offer sample edits. This might be a few trial pages for $25 or some such, and that gives you an idea about the suggestions they’ll make. I highly recommend this, even over getting recommendations from other indie authors (unless you’ve read that author’s book and found their editing to be nearly flawless). Remember, others indies are often new to the game, too, and haven’t necessarily worked with enough editors to make useful comparisons.

(Editorial) Proofreading

This is your least invasive (or, as the case may be, least corrective) form of editing and typically involves checking for typos, missing words, punctuation issues, etc. You may only get one pass from an editor here.

Costs for a novel-length manuscript may be in the neighborhood of .0035 to .006 a word, so a fraction of a cent per word. It doesn’t sound like much, but even that adds up for something novel-length. You may want to go ahead and pay for copy-editing, so that you get a more thorough look from an editor.

Editing Software

If you absolutely can’t afford to hire an editor, editing software such as AutoCrit is an inexpensive option and can help you find some of the common mistakes in your manuscript. I haven’t tried it, but I’ve heard good things from those who have.

Personally, I’d put the pennies toward hiring a human being unless you want to use the software in conjunction with hiring an editor later. They do have a free trial.

* * *

Okay, readers, authors, and editors who might pop in, anything to add? I know I’ve seen a lot of variation on what exactly falls into each category of editing, so I imagine folks might have differing thoughts here.

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Comments (55)

This is all excellent and helpful advice. Not everyone needs everything you suggest.

I wouldn’t be without beta readers, who tell me of inconsistencies and things they think are wrong for the characters or the story. I’m lucky that I have a daughter and a sister who are ruthlessly frank. I spent years on peer review sites, getting and giving literally hundreds of reviews. I’ve read books and blogs on writing. I use Autocrit for my word echo problem.

But I don’t need a proofreader. I have an eye for a typo or missed punctuation. (I noticed, for instance, that you’ve put ‘typical’ when you mean ‘typically’.) I go over my texts many, many times, and reckon they are as clean or cleaner than any traditionally-published book.


*carefully checks comment before submitting*

You’re the person I had in mind when I mentioned AutoCrit. 😛

I think most people need proofreaders though. For whatever reason, it’s easy to pick out typos in other people’s work and difficult for most of us to catch all of them in our own. I’d also rather hire someone than go over a manuscript “many, many times.” Three passes, and I’m on to the next story. Diminishing returns and what not. That’s just me though.

I have that same problem: Whenever I go over my work, the words fade away into autopilot and I don’t even “see” the text anymore, rather I hear/read it as I intended it to be written in my mind. Which, obviously…doesn’t do me or the MS any good. I’ve found, though, that letting it sit for a week or two really freshens up my perspective. But still, I’m with you on that one Lindsay, it’s nice to have that extra pair of eyes to proofread. I’ll call it quality assurance.

Lexi Revellian:

If you are referring to “typical costs,” there’s nothing wrong with that. Typical is an adjective describing costs. You could say “Typically, costs…” but that’s not the only form. The only typo I noticed was in the title “The Empe(r)or’s Edge.”

the only typo? how about ‘pubishing that puppy’?

Crit partners are invaluable for keeping costs down. More than one is best. Everybody catches different things and is on the look out for different things.

I’ll be hunting down a new editor for my upcoming projects. I know a gal in town, who I’d trust to never miss a comma. I don’t know how much she charges yet though. That will be the sticky widget. 🙂

Sample editing is key I think. The gal I mentioned used to be in my local crit group, which is how I know she’s *quality*. I’m hoping we can work something out.

Sounds like a good person to nab.

I think it works best when you get to know the person ahead of time (even if it’s just through a sample edit). It’s so disappointing when someone puts in a lot of time (and you put in a lot of money), and you end up not being satisfied with the result.

Anytime someone asks me about self-publishing, I recommend hiring a professional copy editor. For me personally, this is my largest expense in book production. I find the expense well worth it, though, as it gives me peace of mind that I’m putting my best foot forward. I use Erin Wilcox of Wilcox Editing.

Thanks for the recommendation, Camille! It’s definitely nice knowing other eyes have been over the manuscript before it goes out to the public.

Excellent advice. I’ve worked with writers for years (newspapers, not fiction, but same principle), and the one thing I have found true is that people who think they don’t need or benefit from editors are the ones who need them the most. You don’t know what you don’t know until someone points it out.

Editing indie authors sounds like an awesome job. I’m surprised there isn’t more of a professional market set up to fill that need.

Too true, Sara. Even after a couple of folks had edited EE, I heard new things I’d failed to catch when I was listening to the podiobook version. At least with ebooks, you can make changes easily. 😛

Thanks for the excellent advice. I’m sure I will hire a professional editor for my next book to catch all the little things I don’t. I usually read through my books at least 10 times and run software through them before I’m finished – but I still will find an error or typo. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

You’re welcome, Deanna! Which software do you like? AutoCrit or something else?

I couldn’t agree more, Lindsay. Good editing is essential no matter what type of writing you do. I both write and edit professionally–fiction and non-fiction–and wouldn’t think of publishing any of my own work without the help of other professionals. I’m fortunate to have friends who are also editors to call on–and I always return the favor. We savage each other’s work but it’s well worth the pain.

Copy editing is important, too, and it’s not just about avoiding grammatical embarrassment. Even the best of us don’t express our ideas on the page as clearly as we think them in our heads. A good copy editor can make your prose tell the story you want to tell. BTW, one of my most effective editing techniques is to read everything aloud 24 hours after I’ve put it to bed. You’ll be shocked at how awkward some of your phrases can be when they come out of your mouth!

And as for typos–good luck! I’ve published eight books and thousands of magazine pieces (all of which underwent intense scrutiny by pros other than me) and something slips through every time.

Yes, reading aloud is always a good idea. 🙂 I know some folks who let their Kindles read their stories to them too. You can definitely catch awkwardness and missing words that way.

Thank you so much for writing this post! I’ve been steadily keeping an eye out for editors since I know I will bite the bullet and pay the money to professionally send my MS through the wringer. I cringe at the thought of publishing my work only to have readers find it riddled with typos and other grammatical mishaps…

One thing that hasn’t been mentioned is what I consider the best place to start because it’s the first, and easiest, place to start: use the spelling and grammar checkers that are built into Microsoft Word. I always do and I always find words that I was CERTAIN I had spelled correctly, let alone the typos, of course. I find the grammar checker especially useful because it will question my sentence construction and make me really think: “Do I want to say what I said that way, or perhaps it would be better as Word suggests, or even a third way.” When the ideas are just pouring out of you and you are tearing along writing, your sentence construction is not always, shall we be kind, perfect. The grammar checker is a great help to me.

Thanks very much for this post. It is very timely for me. I self published two ebooks in September as DIY efforts, writing, editing, proofreading and covers. I figured I had been writing and editing technical documents in my paying job for years, so I was qualified. I learned I was not. It is very difficult to self edit because you read what you wanted to say, not necessarily what you really said. I was shocked when I got my first review (5 stars) and the reviewer said she saw typos. Impossible, I thought. I went through that manuscript dozens of times. I checked. There were typos. I am now preparing these two books for paperback publication with commissioned art for the covers and I know a technical editor who has agreed to edit them for me. I hesitate to spring the big bucks for an experienced fiction editor but after this post, I may do so.

Sounds a bit like my experience! At least with ebooks, you can make changes easily. There are a few more steps involved with paperbacks (even with PODs, you’ll have to reorder proofs if you make changes), so it’s nice to catch as much as possible early.

This post is full of valuable advice. I’m going to file it away and, if/when I decide to self publish my work, use it as proof for my husband that I need to pay someone to proof read my work.

We’ve already had debates about this so I have a feeling this post (and the supporting comments) will come in very handy indeed! 🙂

Wrestling with my first novel and having at my disposal a budget presenting a lot of zeros with no ones -well, almost – I found your post helpful and reassuring.

I’m not rolling in spare cash either, but I’m not skimping on the editing for my first book. This is a very helpful post, and I’m happy that I already started with the Developmental/Substantive Editing first. I figured I could use more help with my novel in this department first. now to figure out which copy editor to go with next.

This is excellent and very welcome advice, although it’s more interesting to me as an aspiring copy editor than as an aspiring author. (Granted, I have the requisite half dozen unfinished novels that I’m actively working to complete, but that’s beside the point.)

After working with web design since 1993, I recently decided that I was wholeheartedly bored with it, and began to look around for a new career. In the early to mid 90s, there was no such thing as a degree in web design, so I now find myself with a great deal of experience that I don’t want to use, and no college degree to ease the way into another career.

While trying to puzzle this situation out, I discovered e-books. Authorial tendencies aside, I had an epiphany while reading an otherwise well-written self-published book, one that just so happened to have so many typos and grammatical errors per page that it seemed downright intentional: I mentally correct any error I see anyway, so why shouldn’t I do that as a job?

I have no desire to be a more substantive editor–if nothing else, I’m too picky about what I read, and I don’t want to have to put so much of myself into something that I’d otherwise throw down in disgust after a few pages–but copy editing would soothe my Adrian Monk-like little soul.

I saw it before not so long ago, with the changes caused by the internet: the self-publishing of e-books has caused a sudden fundamental shift, and the underpinnings and support personnel needed for the new reality just aren’t fully in place yet.

I want to be an underpinning.

I plan to return to college, get an actual degree this time, and enter this field… and now I know a bit more about what that field will actually look like once I’ve entered it! I also now have excellent ideas to take with me into that field, such as the idea of offering to copy edit a few trial pages. My thanks to you all.

…And since I’m impatient, I have a hypothetical for the authors among you: would trial pages and an incomplete degree be good enough for you to risk hiring a hypothetical me-like person, who is not in any way currently actually asking to be hired, to proofread your work for about half of what said hypothetical person would charge if she had a degree? Whether the answer to that question is ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ what criteria would you use when selecting a copy editor?

Hi E,

You may not need a degree per se to go into freelance editing. I did a year-long editing certificate program through the University of Washington at one point, and that was a lot more useful (as far as learning grammar rules and the ins and outs of the industry) than my BA (lots of general studies stuff involved with a four-year degree). Not that I’d try to dissuade you from pursuing a degree, but if you’re impatient you could probably get the necessary experience (and some credentials) in less time. I’m sure lots of universities offer similar programs.

And, yes, I think there are a lot of indie authors who really want to get their work out there, but who may only have a couple hundred to spend on an editor. That may be a situation where you could get some experience and references, and they could get a good deal by working with someone who’s still in their apprenticeship stage, as it were. Kind of like getting your cavities filled by students at a dental school, eh? 😉

If I were you, with the money made from the first client, I’d invest in a domain name (about $10 a year) and put up a website (hosting is about $7-8 a month, cheaper if you pay by the year) that looks professional (you can use the free wordpress blogging software as the backbone of your site), and then direct folks there. That’ll put you ahead of a lot of the other people out there who are just posting ads on Craigslist and such but don’t have a website. People will have a perception that you’re a more legitimate service if you’ve taken the time to buy a domain name and put up a site (even though that may only take a couple of hours of work!).

Good luck!

Excellent article, Lindsay. Editing is so important and so expensive. We have worked with four editors as of now, in a wide price range. We had a wonderful, super expensive editor who did a manuscript critique; then, we couldn’t afford him for substantive copy editing, and went for an editor who claims to have edited Stephen King’s work, and we thought we were buying a substantive edit, but he ended up providing us with light copy edit (what a waste of money that was!), and then we found one medium priced editor who’s editing our Transhuman Warrior Series (happy with her work, but she takes sooo long), and one affordable and great editor who did a light copy edit for Bleedover (fast, good and affordable!). Editing is so crucial, so you really need to shop around and try to find someone who fits with your work and your budget.

Over the past few months I’ve considered the editing lark, as it were, to fill the spaces between my own inability to write something substantial 😛

After reading this post, and seeing the need for the service, I may just have to start something new this year. I imagine it’s a great way to help polish your own approach whilst helping ‘perfect’ (too strong? Maybe too strong) another’s MS.

Oh, and Happy New Year.

Wonderful and informative, Lindsay! It’s a cost that just must be borne by us, ’cause there’s nothing worse than launching a very flawed ms. onto Amazon, or blogging poorly edited excerpts—it doesn’t do your great story any justice, only serves to make your readers cringe.

I enjoyed reading the different options re editing that you laid out so clearly. Thanks.

Very informative article. As an editor, I am aware of the various types of editing you mention, and as an e-book reader, I am also aware of the simple mistakes that are in so many books.

I realize that the sale price for some e-books is nominal, and therefore the author might not want to pay the expense of editing. But as you said, some editors, especially those that need the experience or exposure, are willing to do free samples. This provdes the author with an edited copy that he/she can decide to use or not, and also provides the “fine tuning” that the reader will see.

Some editors are also willing to give reduced rates to self-publishers and authors of the shorter e-books. As someone who is starting a freelance editing business, I wish more authors would consider the options that are available to them. Who knows…Maybe it could develop into a more lucrative relationship for all parties when the next book is ready for publishing.

As a reader, it would also be nice to read a book where the name of the main character is spelled the same throughout the book, or the antagonist leaves in the same type of vehicle that he arrived in.

I enjoy your website and the blogs, and anticipate the next comments.

I am on the other side of this fence. I would like to offer my copy editing services to Indie Authors. The trouble is, I’ve never done it professionally–where is a good place to start? I am more than willing to start building my portfolio at a lower than expected price, simply because I want/need the experience. Would any of you, or Lindsay, have any advice?

I have been in touch with one of the editors you discussed in your blog. This editor handled the final EE for you. After reading todays blog,I wonder if I have made the right choice. It seems that things slipped through although I will be utilizing the copyediting instead of proofreading services. This is my first time out of the gate, and spent two years working on my first manuscript. Any thoughts?

Kudos and thank you for sharing your experiences.

Hi Aron,

If money time and weren’t a concern, I’d probably hire two separate editors to go over each of my manuscripts, because errors inevitably slip through, even with the best (and most expensive) of them, but sometimes we just have to shoot for “close enough.”

I think you’ll be okay over there (the only editor I’ve ever regretted hiring was that first one who wasn’t really an editor), and with ebooks you can always make corrections if things do slip through. By hiring a pro, you’ll still be head and shoulders above the self-publishers who just have a friend or relative proof-read (some don’t even seem to do that!).

Good luck!

Hi Lindsay,

This a bit of a p.s. since my first email to you. Yes, I am using a professional editor, but in the meantime I have started using autocrit to self check. It is an amazing tool and I think any writer would benefit from the service. There are three packages plus a free 500 word sample you can use three times a day. If nothing else you will provide better copy to your editor.


I’ve definitely heard of authors who swear by the various editing programs out there. I’m glad that one is helping!

I am a proofreader with recommendations from Scott Nicholson, Edie Ramer, Lyn Horner, Jaci Byrne, Ronnie Massey and Jeff Dawson. All the authors are saying that my rates are very reasonable.

I read through the manuscript twice, picking up typos, misused words, grammar, altered names (eg from Jane to Molly – yes, it does happen). If I feel a sentence does not read correctly, I will make a suggestion only. It is then up to the author to either Accept or Reject the suggestion in Microsoft Word Tracking. It is never my manuscript, it belongs to the author, and I will only make a suggestion.

On occasion I have contacted authors re proofing their work and they say that it has been professionally proofread already eg by their spouse. There have been heaps of errors in these books.

If anyone is interested, have a peek at my website for my rates and recommendations.


Hi Lindsay,

First, for you readers and fans there is another software program, that I like as well as autocrit. It is whitesmoke; they can give it a free try. I liked it for the cleaning up process.
My question for you is where to find good beta readers? My editor said you may have a few suggestions. I hate dipping into the swimming pool, so to speak. I let it go on the first book, and needless to say my bank account has dwindled a bit.

As always, thanks for sharing

Thanks for the editing software recommendation!

I found my wonderful beta readers through the SFF Online Writing Workshop ( I’ve also been a member of (this site is free and has more of a membership pool to draw from these days).

With the workshops, you might run your novel through a chapter at a time (though Critters may still have an option to ask for dedicated readers to go over the whole thing at once), and you critique other people’s work in exchange for receiving the same treatment. It’s not the speediest process, and it can take a while to find dedicated crit buddies, but the trade-off is that it’s a good learning experience and you get a lot of outside opinions on your manuscript (other writers are some of the toughest people to please, so if you can get them to say your stories are worth publishing, they doubtlessly are!).

I hope that helps. Good luck!

Not sure if this will work for other writers, but I actually put a post on Craigslist looking for an editor for my novella. I said I would pay 10-20% of the profits, depending on the amount of work done, and I got a pretty good response. Some people thought I was just looking for a copy editor, but I did end up finding one woman who was a great match. I had no idea what to do short of paying tons of money; this worked out very well.

By the way, Lindsay, I found my cover artist, Ronnell D. Porter, through your site, so thank you very much. He gave me a great deal because it was my first book. It’s called Unfinished Poetry and is now on Kindle.

Hi all,

I thought I would introduce myself to you all as a freelance Copy Editor. I have lifted this description from a previous post (This is when an editor reads through, often twice, to look for typos, missing words, frequently used words, incorrect words, grammatical boo boos, and awkward sentences.)

Below are the recommendations I have received on Amazon from authors I have done proofing for. Some of these books had already been proofed, the authors gifted their books to me for a review and to see if I found any errors. I found errors in every book, hence their recommendations. Same with Jaci Byrne (Best Friends & Bastards) and Ronnie Massey (Faerie Wishes & Jaguar Kisses). I have since proofed a further 3 books for Ronnie and another 1 for Jaci.

I saw a previous post where it was said that copy editing a book with 100,000 words would cost in the region of $1,000.00. Using my rates, the cost would be $300.00. This includes two read throughs of the book.

Please keep me in mind if you need another pair of eyes to go over your book before publishing. The authors are saying that my fees are very reasonable. Pop on over to my website and have a look.

Bev Harrison
‘The Third Eye’

Laurie RALSTON says: (Replacement Bridesmaid)
Having heard from several readers that there were multiple errors in my novel, I broke down and hired Bev Harrison, a talented editor from Australia. She not only proofread my novel, she made very helpful content suggestions – all with a very cheerful delivery. I am sold on her and will be using her for my next novel, for sure.

Delaney RHODES says: (Celtic Shores)
Finding an editor is daunting. Even more so if your previous experience has been less than stellar. Bev made the entire editing process painless and simple. With an an eye for detail and a passion for her work, she transformed my manuscript into an Amazon best-selling novel. I can’t thank her enough and couldn’t recommend anyone any better

Juliette SOBANET (Sleeping in Paris and Kissed in Paris)
I highly recommend Bev Harrison’s proofreading services! Bev is extremely thorough, with a sharp attention to detail and an ability to spot those final errors that I would not have found on my own. If you’re looking for someone to give your manuscript that final once-over before you send it out into the world, Bev is your woman! She’s easy to work with, extremely professional, and her services are affordable, and worth every penny.

Kate PERRY (Perfect for You and Close to You)
How would I describe Bev’s proofreading skills? METICULOUS. And fast. She gets two thumbs up AND a gold star.

Ronnie MASSEY wrote on her blog: author of Faerie Wishes & Jaguar Kisses
For a long time I put off finding someone to edit. Part of it was hesitation with trusting an outsider with my work and part of it was finding someone that I could afford. Lucky for me I found Bev Harrison, or rather she found me. Bev took on the task of editing Faerie Wishes and Jaguar Kisses, and has pointed out issues that never would have stood out me, had not she pointed them out. If you’re a writer in need of an editor, Bev is exactly what you’re looking for. But in the words of LeVar Burton, you don’t have to take my word for it. Head over to her website and check out the glowing recommendations from other authors

Lyn Horner says: author of White Witch/Darlin’ Druid/Dashin’ Druid
I’m more than happy to recommend your proof reading ability. You caught mistakes in Darlin’ Druid (Texas Druids) that no one else spotted, and it has been read several times by critique partners. I’ll definitely keep you in mind when the third Druid book is finished — by the end of the year, I hope.

Jaci BYRNE wrote on her blog: author of Best Friends & Bastards
I found my proof reader, Bev Harrison, or should I say Bev found me, after she had read my last novel, ‘Best Friends and Bastards.’ I like a person who is proactive and when Bev contacted me and pointed out the few mistakes in the book and offered her services, I jumped at the chance. I was impressed with what she had picked up on whilst also being relieved that she had only found one typo! However, there’s more to a professional novel than just correct spelling, and I now know I overuse commas and incorrectly use apostrophes sometimes and I also over hyphenate, so when Bev showed me that, I asked her to proof read ‘The Girls’ Weekend.
Here is Bev’s website for those of you wanting a great and reasonably priced proof reader:
As all writers know, by the time you get through the 80,000 odd words of a manuscript and have rewritten, reworked and rearranged the manuscript several times, you can no longer see the forest for the trees! So, an independent proof reader is a must.

Great to see an indie author extolling the virtues of copyeditors! I’ve copyedited for a number of indie authors, and I understand their reluctance to part with several hundred dollars (or more) to have someone do something that they could do themselves (theoretically).

But it really is a good investment. A thoroughly copyedited manuscript has a far better chance of making money.

Any authors interested in my services, feel free to check out my website and drop me a line.

I am a self-published author and am used to having to edit my own stuff. I also run a small ebook publishing company. I think most self-publishing projects just don’t have the budget for careful editing. The writer and the second reader/editor need to be good editing skills off the bat.

One very valuable tip about proofing is making sure to edit/proofread either a hard copy or a pdf on an ipad. It’s remarkable at how many typos you can find when you do not have the document open in MS Word. I would do lots of editing on the bus and catch lots of stuff.

Finally, an obvious point, but MS Word has helped tremendously in catching the lion’s share of proofing errors (including the “the the” problem). Also, given ebooks are electronic, the stakes of having a typo in the final format is not as dire. I can live with a small amount of errors in an ebook because I know I can correct them afterwards.

I do editing and proofreading on a lot of nonfiction and fiction. Your descriptions of the level of work are great.

One thing I think is important is to find an editor who doesn’t want to rewrite you book in their style or to tell they story they’d rather you tell. A good editor will make what you do better, but without changing your ideas or your language.

Another thing I offer is a “story/plot” analysis. For writers who are very secure in their style, and who are good at proofreading their own work – this can be helpful.

I read the book and send an analysis to the writer of any story or plot problems I see. One I did for a client caught some continuity errors in the story. Another I did for a publisher noted that the ending of the book was problematic for a fantasy novel. The publisher was very happy with my analysis because they’d thought the same thing and the author had agreed to have an “independent” assessment before approaching a rewrite. He ended up with his book published because he was willing after my assessment to rewrite as they requested.

There are many different types of editing, and it’s important to find the right editor for you.

Very good post Lindsay. I felt the pain when I published my first book and despite exhausting self editing was told that there were too many typos in the first page for anyone to EVER want to review it!

Up until that point, I’d never thought of myself as the type of writer whose sense of their works substance was all in their head but that – was a nasty wake up call.

Since then I’ve worked with an editor I trust, as much as possible within my constantly shrinking budget. She agreed to work with me, not on the whole book but in 50 page chunks for a small (very) fee.

So far I’m still not making the kind of money to have the entire novel edited. I opted for this method because it allows me the chance to get a little of two books done, which will hopefully help draw in readers for those books and eventually lead to enough money earned to have them edited properly.

I highly recommend talking to editors and trying to work out something for just a few pages – rather than none at all. I also suggest for those about to scrape the bottom of their savings, that it might be time to invest in a good grammar guide instead. It’ll take longer and you’ll have many headaches but you won’t attract readers with giant grammatical errors in your first few pages.

It’s a vicious cycle. You need readers to earn profits to finance quality editing. You won’t get readers unless you publish something. Readers won’t enjoy/follow your work if they consider it to be horribly edited – but you need readers to earn profits to finance quality editing…

Hi Lindsay! I was referred to your blog by a client of mine, Jeff Gunzel, who’s the self-published author of the Legend of the Gate Keeper series, which is available through Amazon, the iBookstore, and Smashwords.
My career as an independent editor started out back in September of last year thanks to indie author Joseph Lallo, and I have edited over a dozen books since then. A small publishing company, Fountain Blue Publishing, approached me because of my references and hired me as a subcontractor editor. I offer proofreading and editing services for a flat fee, and will work out payment plans and discounts for new authors. I offer FREE sample edits of the first 5 to 10 pages, and my turnaround is usually very quick. Rush delivery is available if you need the MS back in two weeks.
Indie authors, you’re more than welcome to contact me. Feel free to visit my blog,, for pricing and contact information. I don’t have a single dissatisfied client, and I’m more than happy to provide references.
I make sure to review my clients’ books on my blog as a gesture of thanks for hiring me, which in turn provides extra exposure for them.

Your blog has priceless information regarding marketing and advertising, which I’ll put to great use to get my business to truly flourish!

I just have to say…this blog is very informative. Good job Lindsay! And I would like add, Claudette Cruz is a FANTASTIC editor. She is great to work with and the authors love her.

I do editing and proofreading for other people as part of my freelance business, but I have an editor I work with for MY work, and a separate proofreader for MY work. I pay them for their work.

We all need that kind of assistance!

Hello! Do you have any comments on hiring a single editor who offers all levels of editing or hiring an editor for each level of editing? Thanks!

I just work with one editor, Josen. If I was doing a very extensive developmental edit, I might also hire someone to do a copyediting/final proofing kind of edit before publishing too.

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