Should writers hire an editor or ghost?
I get asked this question all the time and there are two answers: Yes. And maybe.If an author is serious about a book project, hiring a cheap editor at a few bucks per hour will get that author a bucket of frustration and not much forward progress toward putting the book in the hands of a publisher and getting it the respect and notice it deserves.
When the industry standard to write a quality book proposal that meets agent/publisher standards is $5000 – $10,000, getting a substantive edit for a couple hundred is not realistic. Hiring a professional editor to do a substantive, or developmental edit on a book project can often be the best route for an author who is unsure of her voice, or one who hasn’t had a book published yet.
Professionals – trained, experienced professionals, don’t come cheap. Most professional editors charge in excess of a thousand dollars for a full-length non-fiction book. Fiction costs 20% more than non. Ghosts’ fees will start at $20K for a 250 page novel. Both types of book doctors will create pay-over-time plans for their fees. Often the ghost and editor are the same person – it’s the same set of skills. Remember, we are not talking proof-reading here. If an author is serious about his work, and he makes the decision to seek out a high-quality editor/ghost, his novel, or her non-fiction book will end up with a better-than-typical shot at being published.
But for a few hundred or a grand, the author can get his book, and soul, ripped to shreds by a run-of-the-mill editor, whose goal is to prove how much better she is than the author is. The the author must put the manuscript in a drawer, happy that his neighbor loved it, but disappointed that it never got off an agent’s slush pile. With 190 books published per minute, and many times that submitted – you get what you pay for.
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