How to Get Your Book Edited For Little to No Cost

I’m in quite a few author groups – whether it’s on social media or in person – and one of the most common, beating a dead horse, topics is editing.

I find it interesting that this is even the case or that it’s even an issue that’s brought up. But most established authors I’ve spoken to, in fact — all of them — agree that editing is one of the most important things to a book and is usually one of the biggest problems for indie authors. They think they can get away with editing the books themselves or having their Aunt Betty who happens to be an English teacher edit the book.

No. Just … no.

Ok.. so you probably already agree with this, which is why you’re here, right?


Yes, you know editing your book is important but you are on a tight budget.

First, let’s break this down.

Let’s say your budget is only $200. (If even that) I don’t know any professional editors who will edit a 40,000 word + book for less than $400. So that’s out. Right?


But we’ll get to that in a second.


Let’s say you don’t do this the right way (which many don’t). You decide to edit the book yourself, do the cover yourself, etc and save yourself $500-$1500. (or more)

Chances are, you’ll never make more than $500 on that book. Ever. Because with the amount of books that are on Amazon today and the amount of books being pushed up on a daily basis from new authors and publishers who are upping their game as well as the established, beloved authors already out there, your chances of getting noticed by the public is less than .001%

Don’t believe me? Do that math. According to Amazon has about 5,000,000 titles and 800,000 Kindle books.


Bowker reports that over one million (1,052,803) books were published in the U.S. in 2009, which is more than triple the number of books published four years earlier (2005)

Which means that there are at least 2,000,000 books published in the US alone, each year.

How are you feeling now? You need a little edge, don’t you?


So you don’t have the Big 6 connections or even small press hoorah, but you need to stand out. More and more readers are becoming savvy and able to see who’s indie or not. There’s a percentage of readers who love giving indie authors a chance but most readers don’t want to risk their hard earned $10 on an author they don’t know.

I talk a little about marketing and the things that an author should do on another blog post – but this is about editing.

First, 3 mistakes new authors make with editing.

1. Thinking they or their smart friends can edit the book for them. Your English teacher doesn’t understand the writing craft. Chances are, she’ll be able to tell you your grammar is on the money or not, but she can’t polish up your sentences like another author, editor, or publisher can.

2. Putting the book up  before it’s ready thinking they can easily pull it down and fix it. Don’t do this. It makes you look like an ass. That’s all there is to it.

3. Only doing one round of edits. I hate editing. I do. I think I hate editing more than anyone else. But, it’s a necessary evil and you owe it to your readers. Do your first round of edits before you even send it off to a professional.

Now, how to get it to a professional without paying an arm and a leg.

1. Join a critique group. This will help you figure out common mistakes you’re making.

2. Do editing exchanges with another author. This one’s tough because it’s almost the blind leading the blind. I’d almost say bring in a third author to try to smooth it out even more. But it’s better than editing yourself.

3. Seek out students studying literature, interns of publishing houses, or anyone in the industry that’s trying to get in and looking for experience but also a little extra money.

4. – Ok, this is my least favorite suggestion. But it’s a suggestion and I think you guys need to see what’s available. Fiverr is a site where you pay $5 (fiverr) for whatever services you find listed. Everything from logos, to trailers, to editing. Yes, editing. Granted, the $5 is not getting you a full length novel edit, but it’s super cheap. Drawbacks, you don’t really have any quality control over it. It’s usually only line/grammar edits – and it can get pretty sleazy. If you go this route (which I don’t recommend) make sure they have enough positive reviews and have been around long enough that they’re not just a scam.

5. Craig’s List – This is another one like above and an even bigger shot in the dark. But again, it’s another option.

6. Attend writers workshops. You’ll get great tips from already established authors (hopefully), sometimes you can even get your work critiqued there, and even better – you can meet other aspiring authors who are willing to exchange work with you.

7. Join writers groups on Facebook. There are tons of groups on Facebook and even genre specific. But, don’t go in there expecting to be able to spam the group or just jump in with automatic feedback. Like anything, you need to build a relationship and the group needs to know they can trust you as much as you can trust them.


8. Find someone who loves to read to be your beta reader. Find someone who is a voracious reader and have them read your book. Hopefully they’ll be honest with you and tell you what they like and don’t like and don’t expect actual editing from them. But they’ll be able to help you with plot holes, pace, congruency, and actually might catch some editing errors.

9. Join groups on Goodreads. Same as the Facebook one, it takes to build a relationship and find the right group.

10. Read. The best authors are avid readers.


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