Victor Hugo's inkwell. I would have touched it for good luck, but the guard was looking.

How a Profreader Can Save You Big Bucks

Submitted 7 months ago
Created by
Sara Tucker

There's lots of money in the self-publishing biz. Most of it comes out of writer's pockets.

This week I received a desperate-sounding email from a writer in search of an editor. The poor guy had posted a help-wanted notice on a professional website, and the response was "overwhelming." More than 100 emails from members of the Editorial Freelancers Association had flooded his mailbox, and the deluge wasn't over yet. "I'm still 'processing' a LOT of responses," he wrote a week after the notice was posted. "Whatever confusion I'm having must stem from the realization I don't really know what level of edit my work requires. I'm also coming to terms with the apparent reality I may actually have to invest more in getting the work published than I should hope to expect in return from a crowded and confusing marketplace."

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The writer—we'll call him Frank—had written several novels that he wanted to self-publish. Besides editing, he needed help with formatting, and cover design, and probably marketing as well. All this could run him thousands of dollars.

My advice: Don't spend a lot of money on publishing your first book, because most books do not make back their investment. Publish, by all means, but set a reasonable budget for editorial services and stick to it.

This means you are probably not going to hire a developmental editor, the type that reads your manuscript and tells you how to make it better. That's what writing classes and writing groups are for. I'm not knocking developmental editors, but they're expensive, and there is no guarantee that their advice is going to help you sell books, or even finish the one you're writing. Maybe you'll just end up revising it for the next ten years.

I spent zero on getting my first book into print (my mother was my developmental editor, and she said she liked it, so I figured it was done). It did well enough that I invested a grand total of $1,000 on preparing the next book for publication. That amount included Joni Cole's "Page Producer" class at The Writers Center in White River Junction.

There are exceptions to this rule. If your self-published book is, for instance, an extension of your highly successful entrepreneurial business (The Quaker Hill Granola Cookbook; The Gentle Art of Redesigning Your Closet Storage), you might want to spend a little more to make it spiffy.

Do not, however, scrimp on a profreader.

Sara Tucker is the author of the Snowbird Chronicles and the editor of Korongo Books. Her next series of free writing workshops will be held at Kimball Library in Randolph, Vermont, starting on Saturday, May 12, at 10:30. 

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