Let’s start out by being blatant and blunt here.
As a content editor, I make my living by accepting payment from people who want to strengthen their writing.
They give me money. I give them encouragements and insights to strengthen their style and otherwise improve their publishable presentation.
Some content editors charge a straight-up fee. I’ve seen them advertise $3,000 or $4,000 per read-through, prices that aren’t all that uncommon in the industry.
I’d argue they’re exorbitant and exploitative, but they’re not uncommon all the same.
For my part, I charge $25 an hour for online interactions and $35 an hour for in-person interactions. And I’m not alone in offering hourly rates. Most independent content editors do, even if most others operate with much higher fees.
The more work we have to do per project, the more money we make.
Believe it or not though, the reason I bring this up isn’t to tout my own services. It’s to better prepare book writers like you to keep more of your money during the editorial phase.
There are three tips in particular I want to share.
As we’ve already established, most content editors worth their salt cost money… unless, of course, you have a brutally honest, intensely insightful older sister who gets insulted if you don’t use her for such things.
Then content editors are free.
In almost every other case though, they’re not. They require a capitalistic transaction where they willingly hand over their hard-earned time, effort and expertise in exchange for you willingly handing over your hard-earned money.
That’s great and all. True capitalistic efforts (as opposed to crony capitalistic efforts) typically are. But wouldn’t it be nice if you could get more out of the deal than you’re giving away?
The truth is that you can. And you don’t have to do any begging, bartering or wheedling in the process.
All it takes is some extra time on your part.
When working with a content editor, here are three VIP tips to take before you submit your manuscript:
Do a spellcheck on your document. Seriously, correcting those words with the squiggly little red lines beneath them takes up time – more time than you might expect. This isn’t to say you should be stressing out about typos. A misspelled word here or there isn’t going to kill anyone, much less you. But keeping your spelling errors to a reasonable minimum will still cut down on your editorial bill in the end.
Don’t ever submit a first draft. Ever! First drafts are jumbled up messes that need to be smoothed out six ways from Sunday. Moreover, they’re usually best smoothed out by their author. No matter how much prep a writer puts into it, the first-draft writing process is an exploratory measure. It’s filled with bunny trails, lapses in judgement, thoughtless forward progress, backtracking and forgetting where one was. That’s why writers are always encouraged to read over their manuscripts a minimum of four times before they submit. That way, they’ve caught and corrected a decent number of the illogical, out-of-order or unstructured aspects they accidentally added in. And that way, they limit the time their content editor of choice needs to spend doing it for them.
Ask someone else to look it over for you first… Someone who likes to read the kind of book you’re writing, and who’s honest enough to give you criticism but cares enough to make that criticism constructive and encouraging. Then think over that constructive criticism as carefully as possible to strengthen your manuscript further.
The chances aren’t very high that any of the above can replace a good content editor. Content editors are, after all, trained to look at all the small details to make the big picture look good.
But those tips will cut the cost of making that big picture look good. Which make them invaluable to put into practice.
Not to mention very, very impressive to any and all content editors out there who want to see you succeed.