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Budgeting for an Editor

This post is aimed at authors who intend to self-publish. If you are looking at traditional publishing, check out this post instead.

There is no universal price to publish a book. There are steps that everyone must take, but the prices for these things can vary widely depending on your book, technical skills, and time table. When you are planning to hire an editor, knowing your budget is an important step to make sure you will be satisfied with your editing and have enough money left over to release a finished book.

What you are willing to spend to publish your book is a personal decision. Your financial situation will give you a certain amount of money that you can afford to spend on your book. When trying to determine what this amount is, I recommend making sure you are willing to part with that money. Whether you are planning to run an awesome marketing campaign or just share with your friends and family, publishing is a risky business. There is no guarantee that you will make the money back and no time table to predict how quickly money will come in. If you only plan to publish the one book, you can afford to go all in, but for writers who plan for longer careers you will have to leave yourself enough for the next book as well. So plan accordingly.

Once you have your overall budget figured out, it is time to split the money into categories. Self- publishing means the investment costs are all on you, so you must choose what you think will be the best way to use your money to make a sellable book. What is being done from that budget?

Formatting will be a requirement to get your book distributed, so if you can't do that yourself, you'll need a budget for it. Many self-published authors handle their own layouts with free programs provided by the distributors. Others hire this step out. When planning for formatting, make sure to be aware of the format you will need for your intended distribution method. Print layouts are different than ebook and some distributors require different file types than others. All of this will be a factor in the pricing.

Covers are also required for distribution. Some authors can do these themselves, but most need to purchase at least part of the cover. Cover styles change over time. Matching the latest trends can be an important marketing tool. You'll want to do some research on covers in your genre. Sometimes you can get cheap pre-made covers. For other books, a higher cover art budget might make the difference between looking haphazardly assembled and looking professional. You may need to license photos or hire a graphic designer to do the title in addition to the artist's time. Print books will require spines, back covers, and specific dimensions. All of these factors will effect your total cost.

After you publish your book, presumably you will want people to buy it. This is where marketing comes in. Some marketing is free and some costs money. This may take up a set amount of your budget or be decided by the amount leftover after other steps. The choice is up to you. Just make sure to consciously consider your marketing budget and do what feels most comfortable and effective for you.

That brings us to editing, but it isn't the end of your budgeting. Editing is not a one-stop shop. There are several kinds of editing and you may be using several editors along the way. Some types of editing can be substituted with free options like beta readers or grammar checking programs, but you will have to decide if those are going to meet your reader's needs.

The best place to start figuring out your editing budget is to consider the concerns you have about your manuscript. Are you worried about pacing or character arcs? Is the dialogue giving you trouble? Have you already run spell check and your beta readers keep pointing out dumb autocorrect mistakes?

Once you know what you want to fix, you'll be able to look for editors who handle those types of edits specifically. You'll still want to do the other rounds of editing on your manuscript, but you can handle them on your own, with beta readers, or with spelling and grammar programs. The free methods won't be the same as hiring an editor, but they can help you catch the issues that would most deter a reader.

Budgeting will likely include a lot of research into the price options available for different services. Make sure to plan ahead and spend your money on the things that you care most about so that you can have a final product that is not only usable, but also something you are proud to share with the world.

Next up, I'll talk about how to find an editor who is the right fit for you and your manuscript.

If you haven't already, make sure to read my post about getting ready for an editor so you can get the best use out of your money.

About my coauthor:

Elestrei Engrei was a huge help at providing the author perspective for this post.

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