Holy Yog's Law Batman! Editing is expensive!
So, after taking the time to look into this whole editing thing, I got some quotes. Here's what editing may run, one to five cents a word. I got rates back at .01, .03, and .05 a word. (One outlier was charging $.18 a word.) Now, that doesn't sound bad, until I look at my little word count on Sylvianna and see it comes in at 262,130 words. So, at best, I'm looking at $2621.30 and at worst a bit over $13,000.
The sound you hear in the background is my husband telling me to write a shorter book.
To make matters even more fun, this is apparently an area rife with scams.
Now what? Besides encouraging my buddy who is good with grammar to stop teaching writing 101 at the local community college and start life as a book editor.
First off, really read the samples I got sent back. They are good. All the editors have indicated they think the bits of the books they looked at were strong, and wouldn't require massive intervention to make better. However, they are trying to sell me a service, and saying the book sucks and will have to be entirely re-written is not a good way to sell me said service.
.05 a word told me he could have it done in a few months, remarked about how it needed work on making the tale more visually intense, and varying the word choice a bit. The bit he worked on looked good, but he only marked up two pages, so it's a tad hard to tell how much he can add to the project. He's an author with six SF books of his own on the market, so obviously he knows how to write a book that sells. His terms are half up front, half on delivery.
Two main concerns with him. First off, I can't afford to pay for $13,000.00 in editing. (And, if self publishing, I really don't hope to make that much back!) Secondly, his comments were dead on about the weaknesses of my prose, but his fixes don't sound much like me. How much my voice would become his by the time the book was done is an open question. Now, since he's got published, selling books out, whether that would be a bad thing is also an open question.
.03 did a decent mark up as well. This one focused more on grammar and flow than on word choice. No comments about what bits of the writing needed to be improved. He told me he could have it done by August 2011, if I paid for the entire thing up front. Mr. .03 may be a lovely person. He may be a legitimate editor. He's also not getting my business.
.01 focused on grammar and making the story clearer. Things that make sense to me do not necessarily make sense to the reader. He can get it done in a month, and also wants half now half later. Mr. .01 charges extra for something called a story review, in which he and his crew read the thing and go over it with a fine tooth comb to see if it's salable. Mr. .01 also has a list of books he's edited on his website.
Right now I'm leaning towards Mr. .01. Before he gets engaged for the deal, I'm going to see about how well the books he's edited sold, and hopefully track down their authors and see what they thought of his skills.
In the meantime, a decision needs to be made: Pay for editing, or start the agent hunt?