…His/her price tag. Yep, that’s right. Just like you cannot judge a book by its cover, you shouldn’t judge an editor by how much he/she charges. In fact, I have seen a lot of comments here and there actually saying “expect to pay X price or the editor isn’t any good.” Here is why I have a problem with that statement.
I am a freelance editor who has chosen to charge less than the going rate to edit. My choice to charge below market has more to do with the market I serve than any lack of experience or skill.
I work for independent authors, and last I checked, they have to do it all. They do not have the backing of publishing houses for editing; they have to take care of their marketing and distribution. They have to be Jacks/Jills of all trades just to put forth a quality publication. What I have seen in this arena is that many end up skipping steps because they cannot do it all, mainly in the story development and editing departments.
That’s where I come in. I realistically cannot expect an indie author to come up with $1,200 for a 50,000-word manuscript. But, that is the market rate—.024 cents per word. However, if you drop that rate down to something affordable, it opens up the door to more authors to present clean, indie published novels. And that it is something that I feel passionate about.
Think of it this way: I read not only a lot of indie published works (mostly with a ton of errors), but a lot of N.Y. Times bestsellers. One of the books I read recently, published by Dial Books, had a lot of errors. This book had the backing of a major publishing house and I’m betting the editor was paid the going rate. So, was that editor worth more than a lower-priced editor who would have caught those errors? Not in my eyes. A good editor is someone who does the job right, no matter the price tag.
So, don’t judge an editor based on the fee. A better assessment is to find one that other authors recommend, and if you are still in doubt, have the editor look at some sample pages. Just don’t assume the editor cannot hack it because he/she charges below market. That’s just as bad as assuming an author cannot write because he/she is indie published, and I know a lot of indie authors who are proving that sentiment wrong every day.