If you’re a less-established author like me, it isn’t always worth the cost to hire a professional editor. I know this statement is considered blasphemy in most writers circles. It’s like advising someone not to hire a lawyer. But hear me out.
If you write a standard 60,000-word book and hire a good editor, the cost to edit can easily reach $2,000 and higher. You will make about $2 in profit per book sold whether you’re traditionally publishing or self-publishing. That means you need to sell at least 1,000 copies of your book just to break even with the editing costs. And that’s not even including other expenses like book covers and advertising. Most self-published books never sell anywhere close to 1,000 copies.
I can think of a few possible solutions to the editing cost problem:
- Write shorter books
- Hire cheaper editors
- Don’t hire editors
Before I continue, let me be clear: you should professionally edit every published book. I hired a professional editor to edit my first published book.
But… Sometimes it doesn’t make financial sense to hire a professional editor.
If you simply don’t have the money to hire an editor, you do have options. One of the options that I’ve been exploring is self-editing with apps. My two favorite proofreading apps are Hemingway and Grammarly.
The Hemingway Editor helps to clarify and strengthen your writing. Copy and paste your text into the editor, and it will highlight words or sentences that are not clear. Hemingway identifies complicated sentences, big words, adverbs, and passive voice. It also estimates a reading level.
Grammarly is a bit more sophisticated than Hemingway. While Hemingway focuses on ease of reading and directness, Grammarly focuses on grammar and word choice. The premium version makes suggestions for better word pairs, confusing pronouns, repetitive words, and more.
I use both apps for all my self-editing. It’s a three-step process:
- First, I run the text through Grammarly to fix the most obvious problems.
- Then, I put the writing through Hemingway to simplify it and make it more readable.
- Finally, I run it through Grammarly again and try to get rid of the remaining grammatical issues.
Take the time to carefully read through your manuscript at least twice (preferably aloud), just as a professional editor would. If you don’t spend the money for editing, you need to at least spend the time for editing.