Copy Editing for First Time Indie Novelists

Now that I’ve made the leap to become serious about my novel, I am thinking about copy editors. I know my plan for my cover art, but I need to make sure my product is actually polished. I did some research and found that to hire a copy editor online can cost well over $1,000. 

Wow! $1,000? $2,000? $4,000?  

I am a teacher—I don’t have that kind of money just lying around! 

Let me give you the low-down anyway. 

Copy-Editors that charge Per Hour: 

Generally, this would be a good option for you if you have used editing software, a previous copyeditor, or are an experienced writer and very confident that your manuscript is mostly without error. This way, an editor can breeze through your novel and only make those corrections for the few errors you might have.

Makes sense, right?

If you’ve never had your manuscript looked over before and you’re a new writer, your copy editor will likely suggest different words, rearrange sentence structure, and advise on how to clean up your writing. This could take a long time! So if you’re new, you might get a better deal to select a copy-editor that charges per word.

Copy-Editors that charge per word/page:

Looking around the internet, it is most common to see someone who charges about $.01 per word. This means that if you have a 100,000 word novel, you’re going to pay $1,000 for copy editing services. ($.02 per words would be $2,000 and so on.)  




I am actually quite excited at having found this for my writing. It’s a tried-and-true online editing program that scans your document for repetition of words, sentence structure issues like passive voice, adverbs, and supposedly can even help with dialogue.

I haven’t tried it yet, but I’ll give you a review of it when I do. Monthly subscriptions to the online service start at $27 a month, which, if you think about it, is significantly cheaper than shelling out $1,000 for one single copy edit.

Autocrit is not a person, so I’m not exactly sure how it scans your document for pacing, emotion, understanding, or other human-based concepts, but I’m willing to give it a shot. Other writers swear by it.


This one’s a little dicey. It’s a total risk, if you find someone on Craigslist or another auction-type website who claims to be an authentic copy editor and only charges $200. Opt for this one at your own risk. You could potentially find a great copy editor who is looking for extra money as they put themselves through school, or you could end up with a manuscript that is in worse shape than when you sent it out. 

Hire a Friend- 

        If I’m being totally honest, this is the second thing that I going to do. After I subscribe to Autocrit and edit my manuscript that way, I happen to have two copy-editor friends, one with a degree in English, and another with a degree in Journalism. They’re both excellent at what they do. 

        I’m going to pay each $150 to read and edit my novel for mistakes. This way, with the cover art and copy editing, it should take less than $700 to get my novel publish-ready.

It will be very apparent if I use Autocrit and my friends’ expertise and my novel is not clean and polished when I want to publish it. I may ultimately have to shell out that cash to make sure my final product is a good one. But this is my plan. As always, I’ll post about how it turns out.

What do you think? Have you used any copy-editors or programs that you swear by?

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