$.018 to $.025 per word
This service is for authors whose manuscripts are almost ready to launch. If you have a "good story well told" that's been through previous rounds of professional editing, been ruthlessly and tirelessly self-edited, or been reviewed by many talented beta readers (or some combination of the three), then copyediting is your next step.
What many people refer to as proofreading is actually copyediting. (In the publishing industry, proofreading is checking the page proofs for errors either missed or introduced during copyediting and typesetting.) Some independent authors hire a proofreader after getting a copyedit (the more eyes the better), but many prefer to save money by using a good copyeditor and then enlisting friends and family members with sharp eyes and excellent language skills to catch any minor errors that may have slipped through.
In a copyedit I'll correct errors of spelling, punctuation, and grammar; make sure the manuscript conforms to the Chicago Manual of Style (the style manual generally used for fiction) or is stylistically consistent; check terms and facts for accuracy and story elements for consistency (like a character's eye color changing from blue to green, or a character traveling west to a city that is actually to the east); query anything that may puzzle or offend the reader; cut extraneous words; and prepare a style sheet/editorial report that includes a detailed timeline and character and location lists (with attributes).
$.025 to $.04 per word
While copyediting corrects your writing (for both mechanics and style), line editing improves your writing. Line editing is sometimes called stylistic editing or heavy copyediting.
Great writing isn't just telling a thrilling tale, it's using language in a way that effectively and artfully communicates your story to the reader. Uneven prose can make it difficult for readers to immerse themselves in your story. This is where line editing comes in: I'll address your writing at the sentence and paragraph level, checking word choice, syntax, sentence rhythm, pacing, and logical flow, and making sure your voice and content are consistent and your language clear, creative, and concise.
This service is for authors who have already nailed the big-picture elements of their story—and are planning a subsequent round of copyediting. Some businesses that assist authors in publishing their books sell affordable packages that include editing. From what I've seen, this will probably be a very light and possibly rushed copyedit (an example of "you get what you pay for")—not adequate for most manuscripts (especially those by novice writers), but a good follow-up to a line edit.
While I will correct some mechanical issues automatically while I line edit, this won't be my focus, so copyediting will still be needed. (Not an attempt to sell you more services, just being real. And honestly, a fresh set of eyes is a good idea after a line edit.)
$.03 to $.05 per word
If your story structure is solid and you can only afford one round of editing, a combination line/copy edit is usually the way to go. It's a slower edit as I need to address multiple levels simultaneously (both the forest and the trees). Going line-by-line, I do the bulk of the editing in the first pass. Then I follow up with a second quicker pass to catch any details I missed or errors I may have introduced (editors are only human, after all). Because of the broader focus of this combined edit—and the challenges that creates for the human brain—a careful proofread is recommended after this service (preferably by a professional if you have room in your budget).
The line critique is a budget friendly way to get yourself pointed in the right direction. I'll line edit the first 5,000 words of your manuscript and write a detailed report on the strengths and weaknesses I encounter. Using examples from your manuscript and from my edits, I'll teach you how to recognize the patterns in your writing that are holding you back, and explain what I did to resolve them. You can then use this report as a guide for self-editing the rest of your manuscript and a learning to tool to improve your line craft.
First Impression Mini Edit
If you're hoping to go the traditional publishing route and are submitting to agents, your writing has to make a fantastic first impression. It's a bit of a catch-22 though: you may not want to spend a lot of money on editing since it's a service most publishers will provide, but in order to get a publisher in the first place, your writing needs to be good enough to catch an agent's eye. Mini edit to the rescue! I'll line- and copy-edit the first 10,000 words of your novel so prospective agents can better see it's potential, and I'll write an editorial report that includes the specific strengths and weaknesses of your writing.
For more help figuring out what level of editing your manuscript needs, check out this article on my blog.
“I just wanted to let you know that I really resonate with your edits. . . . Thanks so much for your engagement with the work and your attention to detail that makes a discernible difference.”
Cindy Rinaman Marsch