book editing process and pricing



We get a lot of emails, so here I’ve tried to give some thoughtful answers to persistent questions.

1. “I just finished my book, now what?”

Feeling lost and overwhelmed is pretty normal, after you finish a book, it can be draining… so know that overwhelm is a normal part of the process and even depression is common. The first thing is to know whether the story holds water, and keep readers reading. A great developmental edit or critique can help with this… however, most writers make pretty predictable mistakes, so it’s *possible* to focus more on craft for awhile, or common writing mistakes, and you can self-edit and notice a lot of things you did wrong, especially if it’s your first book.

I have a bunch of resources for self-editing, and a handful of writing courses.

But you can get a ton of high-level advice even from my free fiction writing series.

Often the first book is more a passage of passion, and it’s impossible to edit or revise, after putting that much work into it. So most authors just want to get it edited and push it out the door, which isn’t the worst thing: you’ll always do better on new projects, planning from scratch, instead of revising (even though, at the same time, every book I write needs heavy revision and editing in several stages before it’s ready to publish, and that’s also part of the process). But you can’t fix it until you learn to recognize mistakes and weaknesses, which takes a lot of experience.

If you need editing, depending on what kind of feedback or proofreading you’re looking for – we have a few options; or if you’d like we have a service to check the first 5000 words, which will give you a pretty clear indication of what you need to work on.

PS. congrats on finishing your book!

2. “What kind of editing do I need?”

Some clients ask if they can start at the basic level and move up later. The main challenge here is, rather than starting with the Quick Kill and moving up, you really need someone to focus on big picture, story structure stuff more than proofreading, and not all of our proofreaders are as skilled at the developmental critique. That’s why I started doing the first chapter critiques, and we flirted with the idea of doing a cheaper, full-pass critique, but it takes so much time and effort, it’s not easy to keep the price as low as we do for proofreading. We are conditionally flexible, and agree we should have a one price fits all, “reading-fee” that provides an editorial critique or manuscript review: no editing, just an overview of major issues.

The problem is, it can take just as long to read; and twice as long (not to mention twice the experience) to point out structural flaws and suggest fixes. At the same time, we recognize that most author’s books are pretty clean already, and the high-end feedback is the most essential part; and that our Perfect Murder price may be out of budget for some authors. Unfortunately I don’t have a great solution at the moment.

But start with this post:

How to get reliable feedback on your writing (is your writing good enough?)


3. “Can I call you?”

Nope! I know, this sounds super sketchy, but as a socially anxious introvert (living in Taiwan) I took my personal phone number off this site so I wouldn’t get calls in the middle of the night. Also, here’s the main thing: I know editing is a big cost and it’s normal to want to call and make sure there’s a real person on the other line. We want you to feel good about choosing us. But we’re a small, two-person admin team who make peanuts from this site because we pay our editors well. We also prefer email so we can keep a written record of conversations; and specific questions would be better fielded by your actual editor. If you’d like to submit a sample, and start to feel out one of our editors, feel free to request a call before sending payment – we leave that decision up to our editors, but most would be happy to oblige.


4. “Do you have a contract or any guarantees?”

Other than to protect our clients and editors, we don’t use a written contract, though if you have one, most of our editors would be happy to virtually sign. This is because, the editing process can be fluid and messy, and each editor will have their own working and conversation process. In rare events where you don’t feel like you’ve been adequately served, let Tammy or Derek know and we’ll sort it out – either with a free edit or a full refund.

We do our best to be transparent, to hire the best editors, and to train them to catch issues most other editing companies would miss entirely. But we’re not a big, money-making business, so (admittedly) our bureaucratic systems are limited. As word gets out and we expand our team, we’ll probably focus more on these things, so feel free to suggest ways we can make you more comfortable working with us.


5. “Can you help me publish or market my book?”

This is a huge question, so let me try to break it down:

First, I recommend self-publishing. Few if any hybrid, small presses or vanity presses are worth the headache. They will offer a publishing package, which may sound great, but will often source out the critical pieces like cover design and fail to market well at all (because, general publishers do not have a genre-specific list of potential readers).

Anybody who charges you money, is not a “real” publisher… that doesn’t mean they’re all bad, but check out this video I made breaking down the services of one of the biggest vanity presses. Compare that to any package you’re considering. At the same time, publishing isn’t free – you’ll have to pay for editing, cover design and book formatting, at least. I recommend going straight with individual service providers and uploading your files directly.

Also, just because it’s free doesn’t always mean it’s better: recently there was a Twitter feud sparked by an author claiming to be a “real” authors because they didn’t pay to publish; but they’d used a small press that doesn’t charge, and also failed to publish well (ugly cover, no reviews, etc…)

If you plan to pitch a traditional publisher, our editors will usually be happy to check your pitch or query letter for you; otherwise you can reach out to Derek for feedback. Or, if you buy the 5K critique package, that can include the first few chapters and your query/submission materials. We can also edit your blurb or synopsis, though this can be a specialized skillset.

People ask all the time about publishing/launch services, but I don’t have any to recommend because I don’t believe in them. At best, they can help you pass the bare minimum, but after that you’ve lost control and it would be expensive to start over or republish if they screwed up.

It can be helpful to get someone in your corner, doing things for you or walking you through it, but in my opinion you’d be much better served learning how to do it yourself, even though it’s a steeper learning curve. The only thing I currently offer is my Guerrilla Publishing Program, which is basically a course with coaching and feedback, so I can help make sure you get things right, or help troubleshoot if the book isn’t selling.

You could also start with my free marketing guide which comes with about six hours of detailed publishing and book launch strategies.

Or if you just need a cover and formatting to prepare your book for publishing, check out our book design site:

Hope that helps!

Feel free to reach out with specific questions.

  • pricing: 2 cents ~ 6 cents per word
  • turnaround: average six weeks
  • who are you: a small team of experienced editors
  • what does my book need: send us a sample and we’ll tell you
  • how do I publish: get your book designed and upload to KDP
  • how do I launch: build an initial review team of people who like your genre or topic, show interest (based on blurb, cover and first chapter) and agree to read the ARC (advanced reader copy). Upload files, hit publish, remind people to post reviews. Run a 99cent discount promo with adstacking across promo sites. And/or launch at full price with heavy AMS/Facebook ads, pushing your book up to #1 and hope to stick there for awhile.


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