How to Save Money When Hiring an Editor

You’ve written your book. It’s beautiful. A masterpiece. The next great American self-help book. But it could be greater. It could be almost perfect. And so you decided to hire an editor. You want a great editor and you (bless you) want to pay her what she’s worth, but you’re on a budget. So how can you save money when hiring an editor?

Disclaimer: This article is based on my own experience as an editor and how I estimate. Different editors will be different.

Typically a freelance editor is going to charge you based on the project. They may consider your word count, how much work your text will take, and what sort of editing you want (or need.) But no matter what factors they consider, any good editor will definitely take into account one very important detail — time. If you can reduce the amount of time the manuscript will take to edit, you may save some moolah.

Here’s some ways you can save money when hiring an editor:

Don’t Stop with the First Draft

Don’t just stop at your first draft. Personally, I consider my first draft a warm-up. Write your first draft, set it aside for a few days (or even a week or two), and then come back to it with fresh eyes. Edit through the entire draft and be ruthless. Now set your second draft aside, wait for a few days, and edit through again. Tedious? Yes. Necessary? Yes. Just think of every edit you do as a free edit. You’re not paying for it in anything but your time.

How will this save you money? Well, it may limit or eliminate the need for content editing (big sweeping suggestions and changes), which is a time consuming part of editing. If you can whittle your manuscript down yourself, then you may just need a copy-edit and proofread, which take much less time.

Kill All the Words

Most editing estimates are founded on word count. The higher the word count, the more time the editing will take, the more money you’ll have to spend. Now I’m not saying take out entire chapters just to save money. What I am saying is, while you’re editing your infinite drafts, cut unnecessary words, sentences, and paragraphs. Get rid of the fluff! You’re not writing a school essay where you have to hit a certain word count. Not only will you save money when hiring an editor, but your writing will be much better.

Learn Your Grammar and Style

Grammar is important. Ugh, I know, probably not your favorite subject in school. But the better your grammar is, the less work your editor will have to do to improve it. I’m not going to give you a grammar lesson in this particular blog, but I will suggest two essential books. (Disclaimer, these are Amazon associate links, which means I make a cut.)

The Elements of Style, 4th Edition by William Strunk Jr. and E. B. White

This little grey book should be in the library of every writer. (The only reason I don’t have a copy right now is that I gave mine away.) It covers the basics of writing simply and well.

Style: Lessons in Clarity and Grace (12th Edition) by Joseph M. Williams and Joseph Bizup

This is where I learned to avoid nominalizations and check my transitions. Don’t be scared because it’s a textbook. That just means it has handy worksheets. If you want to spend less money, buy a used 11th edition instead.

There’s more great books on writing. Look out for a future post on just that subject.

Basically, what this post sums up to is Make Your Editor’s Life Easier, before you even set out to find one.

Have questions? Have any other great ways to save money when hiring an editor? Leave them in the comments below.