All Editing Is Not Created Equal

It's downright silly to think so.

First-time authors often use the term editing as a bit of a catchall when in fact it’s anything but. Anyone who’s penned a proper book knows that different types of editing exist. In order from most to least expensive, they are:

  • Developmental editing. Does your book make sense? Is the flow logical? These are just a few of the questions that developmental editors ask. To paraphrase Joel Friedlander, “They help develop the author’s concept, the scope of the book, the intended audience, and even the way elements of the book are arranged. The relationship between author and developmental editor is beyond intimate here. Put differently, the work is nothing short of a true collaboration. Expect to pay around $5,000 for a good developmental edit on a 70,000-word manuscript.
  • Copyediting. Editors examine the draft of manuscript line by line and even word by word. Good copyeditors are tough to find. They need to be fastidious and adept at spotting errors. On a 70,000-word manuscript, $2,000 is not unreasonable. And unless your friend is a proper copyeditor, using him or her is a mistake.
  • Proofreading. This is last stage in the editorial process. Many authors of self-published books neglect this stage and ultimately pay the price. Again quoting Friedlander, “The proofreader is the last guardian of the publisher’s reputation for accuracy and care and the protector of the author’s reputation for diligence.” Decent proofreaders cost around $750 to $1,000 for a 70,000-word manuscript.

Remember that a book can be grammatically correct and still make zero sense.

The question isn’t whether a book is edited or isn’t. Rather, the proper query is what types of editing are involved. Generally speaking, first-time authors benefit tremendously from all three types of editing.

Brass Tacks: All Editing Is Not Created Equal

Remember that a book can be grammatically correct and still make zero sense. Correcting a bad foundation is very different from—and far more expensive than—simply correcting a few typos.

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