What a Freelance Editor Can Do For You
Whether you are vying for a coveted slot with a traditional publisher or soldiering on as a self-
publisher, you can gain an edge by following one piece of advice doled out across the board: hire
an independent editor. Authors hoping to be taken seriously must have informed feedback in
order to put out an exceptional product. Not just any editor will do, however. Read on to
determine your editing needs.
What it is: A developmental editor analyzes the underlying structures and character arcs of your
story. If your project falls short of heart-thumping tension, heart-breaking consequence, and
heart-warming resolution, this is the editor you want to hire. Diagnosing such problems often
requires a complex comparative analysis to classic storytelling structure, and may result in a
major deletion, re-organization, and/or revision of material.
On the business front, your editor should understand the market for your genre so she can advise
you appropriately. I, for instance, specialize in the developmental editing of character-driven
fiction and memoir. I’d be the wrong choice for heavily plot-driven mysteries or thrillers, which
require a different sensibility.
When to hire a developmental editor: After you’ve worked with the story for a couple of drafts
and incorporated suggestions made by trusted beta readers.
What it costs: According to rates established by the Editorial Freelancer’s Association (EFA),
which defines a manuscript page as 250 words, the cost for editing a manuscript of 100,000
words would begin at $3,600. To that, some providers must add sales tax. I’ve found that my
market, comprised mostly of writers striving for traditional publishing contracts or testing the
waters of self-publishing—endeavors with uncertain results—will not bear these prices. My
baseline prices, and what you get for them, are at Writing-Partner.com.
Copyediting or line editing
What it is: A copyeditor will comb your manuscript line by line to address formatting, iron out
syntax and word usage, correct punctuation, and maintain voice. If the story fails to move her she
may not tell you, because analyzing story structure is not her job. (This is why I refuse to
copyedit works I did not edit developmentally—I will not polish on the surface what is flawed at
Because of your copyeditor’s eye for pattern and detail, and her working knowledge of accepted
styles (i.e. The Chicago Manual of Style), after her attentions your compound words will be
appropriately hyphenated, your numbers properly represented, your passive language challenged,
your Oxford commas consistent, and all instances of your and you’re—and other homophones
MS Word is not likely to pick up—will get squared away.
When to hire: Once you’re sure your story is fully developed and you’re ready to add the final
polish. The author always incorporates copyediting changes prior to proofreading.
What it costs: EFA rates suggest that copyediting that 100,000-word manuscript would cost you
$1,200. Again, markets vary—an editor in a rural area may charge less than one in New York
City. It pays to shop around.
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