Eva van Emden, Freelance Editor

Certified Copy Editor and Proofreader


August 1, 2013

How to make having your novel edited more affordable

I’ve gotten a number of requests for estimates from authors who have written their first novel and want to have it edited before either self-publishing the manuscript or starting to submit it to publishers and agents. But when they hear how much a substantive edit of their manuscript will cost, they’re taken aback.

That’s fine. Not everyone can afford to drop a bundle on paying a professional to whip his manuscript into shape—and for a writer who’s in it for the long term, that may not be the best idea anyway. If you’ve written a memoir that will be your only publishing project ever, then sure, pay someone to smooth over the rough spots. But if you intend to keep writing, you need to learn to craft as professional and polished a manuscript as you possibly can—if nothing else, it makes economic sense for you to do the work instead of paying someone else to do it.

Get your manuscript in the best possible shape before you hire professional help. That means editing it yourself. Then format it properly (that probably means one font for the body text and one for the titles, page breaks at chapter start only, one and only one space after a period), and run a spell-checker over it if you’re an unreliable speller. You’ll save money and goodwill if your editor isn’t fixing errors you could have found yourself.

The more you can learn about writing the better. Read books about writing. Take courses. Find a local writers’ group where you can critique each other’s work. See if your library has a writer in residence who will give you a free critique. Look for continuing education courses in the creative writing department on publication readiness, self-editing, and similar topics.

I still recommend getting another set of eyes to help you with your manuscript, but you’ll save money and end up with a better book if you do as much as you can on your own first.

Some resources for Vancouver writers

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