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Midnight Publishing has been offering editing, marketing, and ghostwriting services for nearly a year, and our staff has heard the gamut of questions regarding all things self-publishing. Some of the most common inquiries we hear and feel are the most important when it comes to deciding whether to pursue self-publishing, traditional publishing or a hybrid—is the cost to put forth a quality product.

Self-publishing, like all small business ventures (and you are running a small business when you self-publish), requires an investment. And while that investment can vary due to many factors and paths chosen by you, the fact remains that one of the chief differences between self-publishing and selling your book to a traditional publisher is that as a self-publisher, you pay up front.

Self-publishing = you pay up front and (hopefully) make money later
Traditional publisher = they pay you up front and (hopefully) make money later

Both of these avenues have their pros and cons, but self-publishing offers much more in the way of freedom for storyline, design, and even being published at all—plus you retain your copyright indefinitely. In this four-week-long blog series, we are going to lay out the cost of self-publishing in every necessary part of the process, offering advice on where to invest and where to save, in order to have a truly impressive book to sell at the end of your process. This week we are starting with editing.

Editing: Invest or Save?

Without a doubt—invest! Aside from an eye-catching cover, a professionally edited manuscript is the most important freelance service you will seek out for your self-publishing endeavors. It’s also one of the most expensive depending on the length of your book and the extensiveness of the edit (a developmental edit with in-depth summary examining your story structure and characters versus a simple proofread).

The reason editing is worth the investment is this: it takes the longest amount of time, and it’s fixing/combing through the book itself—the product you intend to sell for years to come. A poorly done edit the first time around can lead to disastrous results that end up costing you lots of time and money later, as well as risking the possibility of negative reviews from angry readers that may mar your book’s (and your) reputation. Covers can easily be replaced, glitches in your e-book’s formatting can be fixed—but a plethora of typos or a glaring inconsistency/plot hole in the book itself that was never discovered until after publication? Many readers will deem this unforgivable.

#Editing is one of the most expensive, but necessary #costs of #selfpublishing. Here's why. Share on X

The Typical Cost of Editing

Like all types of freelance work, the cost of editing will vary widely based on the editor’s experience, the level of editing needed, the length of the book and how much work has already been put into revising it. While editing is an investment, you should be wary of astronomical prices and are always entitled to request a sample edit of your book from an editor to see their skillset, as well as information about their qualifications and prior clientele before moving forward with them.

The Editorial Freelancers Association provides a very useful chart with typical ranges for editors’ pricing, with variations in whether the cost is per word, per hour or per page. (The industry standard for page word count is 250 words/page.) Midnight Publishing has broken things down below with estimates based on an 85,000-word full-sized book—keep in mind that while these are very general figures, they provide a framework for the kinds of prices you can expect from a professional editing service. (Anything too far off in either direction may be a cause for concern regarding the legitimacy of the freelancer/editing service.)

  • The typical cost of a proofread for an 85,000-word book: $40/hour or approximately $1,500.00 USD.
  • The typical cost of a heavy copyedit for an 85,000-word book: $50/hour or approximately $3,500 USD.
  • The typical cost of a developmental edit for an 85,000-word book: $50/hour or approximately $4,000.00 USD.

Midnight Publishing offers all three of these editing services, and for competitive rates. Contact us anytime to discuss your project and how we can help you refine it before self-publishing.

** SPECIAL NOTE FROM MIDNIGHT PUBLISHING’S EXPERTS: Something that’s useful to remember is that freelancers and small businesses are at liberty to change their prices when they deem fit. If you are on a particular budget and really want to work with a certain editor/service, discuss your financial and budgeting needs with them and see if they are willing to negotiate.**

In next week’s part of the cost of self-publishing, we’ll discuss common price points for cover design and affordable avenues for e-books and DIY-ers! Midnight Publishing has been trusted with over 10 million words since our launch—find out why today.