If you think this blog post is going to be another rant about how necessary book editing is and how terrible your book will be without it and how you can’t afford not to have an editor, I am sorry to disappoint.
An author who wants their book to reach its potential already knows that it is ideal for them to hire a professional editor. However, editing services are expensive! Many authors will seek a quote from an editor only to be forced to turn down the services because they simply couldn’t afford it.
This happens more often than you know. In our courses and resources, we
editors are taught strategies for letting an author down easy. We are even told that if everyone can afford us, we are not charging enough. To retain the value of the editing profession and to keep from starving our families or working twenty hours a day, we are told to price ourselves so that 25 percent of prospective clients cannot afford us.
And that’s fair, I suppose. We work hard, just like you. And just because we are priced outside of someone’s budget, that does not mean we are overpriced. One should not go to a steakhouse and expect a dollar menu, right?
Still, my heart is louder than that logic. My question has always been:
“But what does that 25 percent do?”
After all, having the funds for an editor does not a decent writer make. Some of the greatest authors have not paid for their own editor.
So can we just do nothing for that 25 percent?
My heart is broken for the gap between good writers and good editors. Good editors should not sell themselves short. Good writers should not settle for “editors” who will not pour their soul into the job. There is a living piece of a writer in each written work. That is worth far more than “apples of gold in settings of silver” to me (Proverbs 25:11).
I know that, so I have always offered manuscript evaluations that can tell you a lot about the work, and I have always applied the cost for the evaluation to subsequent services. Still, there is a gap.
I prayed about that gap as writer after writer turned down my services due to cost.
We needed a solution. I care about the 25 percent!
Part of the solution was making my services more accessible and costs more predictable by giving full price transparency and offering payment plans across the board. I recently partnered with an in-house (literally) copyeditor and proofreader and finally decided to offer my book design services again. We put these services into “paths” so that a writer can come to us with a draft and leave us many months later with a book they can self-publish or send along to traditional publishers. These paths cost less than the sum of the services in the package.
And we adjusted our rates. That might seem completely insane, especially to other editors. Our collective experience has value, and we know that. But we knew we might be able to serve more authors if we adjusted the rates a little.
But if one cannot afford editing, one cannot afford editing.
So we gave it some more prayer.
And what came to mind was the lessons I learned while in graduate school. I have shared some of those resources for you to explore and learn from. But something that grew my writing tremendously was workshopping.
We would write a sample, then our professor and peers (MFA candidates; strong writers) would basically tear it apart. We’d be told all of our annoying writing habits. Every character interaction was questioned. Every word choice was scrutinized. I remember literally crying as my peers did this. And then I remember publishing the best book I’ve ever written recently, with all those critical and encouraging voices in my head.
Honestly, there were too many voices. I’d have preferred one or two highly experienced, hyper-critical, hyper-encouraging voices over the many conflicting opinions. We’ll get back to that.
I graduated with a Master of Arts in Composition (& Rhetoric)*, so I am qualified to teach writing at the college level. I learned a great deal about the best way to cultivate good writing and improve not-so-good writing, even in writers who are not native English speakers or who received zip training in high school. College composition courses were created because so many students were coming to college lacking basic writing skills that could help them succeed in higher education.
But I knew I wouldn’t use my degree to teach college composition courses. I knew I’d likely use it to make sure my own three homeschooled students entered college and/or life with writing skills that could help them excel. And because I knew I could help others write well, I became a book editor.
I love the job, and I have a connection to every author and work I’ve been privileged to serve. But the trained composition teacher in me still thinks about that 25 percent I am supposed to exclude. Because anyone can learn to write well. Sometimes we just need someone to believe that.
And that brings us back to how I knew I could fill the gap
Workshopping. Well, sort of. I am one person, so there are not several opinions. But I can offer one educated, experienced, professional critique of a sample of your work. I can also look at your outline or synopsis and tell you what doesn’t work and what is absolute gold.
Even as an experienced writer, my writing grew significantly from a good critique of just one sample of writing.
I have seen this type of critique give an author the tools and confidence to revise his writing and publish the book God called him to write.
Anyone can write, and anyone can grow as a writer.
So I am now offering a Mini Edit, which will be a critique of about 1,000 words (or the first chapter) of writing. I am also offering an Outline Overview, which is a look at an outline or synopsis of your work to give my thoughts on structure and theme.
There is still a cost involved, but it is well within reach. This is not the usual “affordable” you hear from editors like me who still have families to feed. It’s really doable. If not, in especially difficult circumstances, I can still do a payment plan if needed.
You may have barriers that keep you from getting your work refined and published.
From now on, I refuse to be one of them.
*In case you ever wonder, I put that (& Rhetoric) at the end because my undergrad is in music, so I have to specify that my MA is in the field of English, not music.