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The Cost of Editing


Most of my "writing" time is now filled with editing. It's a part of any writer's life, but officially, it has taken over. Even my last blog post was about editing. (Yikes!) Are you looking for more proof how much editing has taken over my life? Watch some of my TikTok videos.


I recently started editing a book I wrote at least three years ago, "Beneath the Surface," and I have no idea what I was thinking when I wrote the book. It was over 130,000 words! I managed to get it under 100,000 words. Still too many words. I moved onto the second book of the series, "Thaw the Heart," and that was 150,000 words. What the actual hell was I doing four years ago?


While I am working on those two books for self-publishing, I have taken the steps to get "Witches of the Waves" professionally edited and work toward getting it traditionally published. It's always been a dream of mine to be traditionally published, and I believe "Witches of the Waves" has the scope to do so.


Listen to me: There is nothing wrong with being self-published, etc. I am a proud self-published, independent author, but within the first three months of three books being out, I had made $6.23. (My TikTok is wrong, where I gave myself an extra 70 cents. Whoops!) Most of that money, however, is from my parents and friends, rarely to no strangers.


Is it wrong to want more? To make a career out of this? Is it wrong to want to be paid so that this is more than a hobby? There are many others who want the same thing as me, I understand, and I don't know if I'll achieve the goal-- but I have to take the leap.


The leap, by the way, is nearly $5,000.


Ouch.


Some people don't speak about money, and I get it. But let's just say, when I was told it would cost me that much for a developmental edit, I cringed and then drank. (I believe people should be paid for all that they deserve and their skills, etc., but the sticker price leads to sticker shock.)


Going into editing, I was prepared to pay $2,000-3,000, which I expected for copyediting, normal editing, etc. (I obviously didn't know what has gone into editing or what it all entailed, and they were very helpful to explain the differences.) For reference, I live at home with my parents and work a 40-hour a week job, and a thousand dollars plus is a lot of money. For me and a lot of other people. And while I have confidence in my writing, I've also been down the traditional road of publishing and received over 15 rejections with "Castle of Skulls" before independently publishing it.


A few things, I am doing a development edit or a manuscript evaluation or copyediting. Those are all different things, which I wasn't aware of. Check out this article, which was shared with me by Sarah Chauncey/ Jane Friedman called "Manuscript Evaluations: What They Are and What to Expect" >>> https://www.janefriedman.com/manuscript-evaluations-what-they-are-and-what-to-expect/


When I spoke with the service that I decided to use--and had wanted to use for a while--they had seen some of my work and had decided that I probably didn't need copyediting (grammar, spelling, etc.) (Don't let my blog confuse you, but I am actually pretty good at grammar.) That left manuscript evaluation vs. developmental edit, which was a $2,000+ difference.


I also did ask about a sensitivity reading. While I have nothing particular that I think is specifically inappropriate or hate-filled or wrong, I don't know all my own biases, and when putting things out in the world, I don't intend on hurting anyone. While my characters don't always make the best choices, statements, etc., I don't want to be disrespectful to any race, gender, creed, age, ability, etc. But there are things that I'm not aware of or not in tune with.


After speaking with the editor, we decided that most likely a sensitivity reading wouldn't be necessary for this round of edits. The editor will note things that should be considered, but we are not specifically looking for such topics necessary for a sensitivity reading. As well as, if it is picked up by a traditional publisher, then they will pay for it, along with any copyediting.


While I thought a manuscript evaluation would be enough (besides the price tag being within range of what I thought I would be paying), I had been told by a published author/ editor friend that I would need a developmental edit. While there had been a few iterations between what she had seen and she hadn't read all submissions, I also couldn't fault her. "Witches of the Waves" wasn't plotted, coming to me in a dream that I ran with. At the time of writing the book, I was writing another book, and "Witches of the Waves" was my fun write. (I'm usually working on one planned/timetable/ strict write and then one write at a time.)


"Witches of the Waves" has been written and rewritten, edited into an inch of existence, etc. by me, but when you look at something so long and so many times, you know every in and out of it.


I also did ask the agency I'm using for referrals. First, I did ask someone I already know in the group, and while she was surprised by the amount that I was paying, she did say her developmental edit was worth it. My price is higher based on words (~99,000) and genre (high fantasy), and for a developmental edit, it isn't a flat rate, unlike manuscript evaluation or copyediting. The agency also provided me with two referrals, both from those who had used the services of the specific editor I will be using: one for developmental editing and second for sensitivity reading. Both of those referrals provided were glowing.


With those things in mind, I took the leap of faith to do a developmental edit, and it's a very big leap. (An expensive one at that.) The book was submitted to them yesterday, contract signed and first chunk of money paid, so I have no idea how it is going to. I have another chunk of money due in a week (sorry, bank account) and then the last chunk due right before my edits are to be completed. (My bank account will need that time recover... and then more.)


I should have my edits back on 10.31.2022, and honestly, those edits can't come fast enough or slow enough. (Is that the correct phrase?) I want them back now to keep the project moving, but also, I don't want to deal with the project for a while. I've read "Witches of the Waves" too many times.


I'm excited to see where this will go, but it is terrifying to take the leap and not know where I'm going to land. Will I make that $5,000 back by being an author, or will I be adding to my back account with my normal 40-hour a week job? Will the feedback be what I wanted and what I need? (I don't actually know what I want or need for editing.) I just know what I want to do and become, and I'll have to take the leap to get there.



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