Find an Editor to Fit Your Budget

Find an Editor to Fit Your Budget


Cole SmithPost by Cole Smith


You’ve run through your manuscript so many times, you can’t keep all the revisions straight! Which version of the restaurant scene did you decide to keep? Is the dog’s name Frisco or Elmo? And which of your characters’ bad habits need to go? (Mine are always leaning against things!)


It’s time to pass on your work to new eyes, someone who can tell right away where your story sings and where it, well, hits a sour note.


But if you’re on a tight budget, professional editing can get pricey. And the lower you keep your costs, the sooner your book will pay for itself. So how can you find an excellent editor without sacrificing quality? The solution may already be in your network:



College students

Reach out to a local English professor and ask for recommendations. Many students are looking for a side gig that’s flexible enough to fit around their course schedule. And you’ll get the benefit of a reader who’s passionate enough about books to study them full-time! Ask for a three-page sample edit, and be clear about your deadline. It’s a win-win. You get an affordable editor, and the student gets to flex his or her editing pen and list the job experience on a résumé.



Former English teachers

Speaking of English professors, we all know teachers aren’t paid what they’re worth. Maybe you know an English teacher who’d be interested in helping you out while earning a little side income? I have a couple of excellent teachers who’ve been thrilled to hear from a former student, and who’ve helped me comb through articles, stories, and chapters. But be sensitive. Teachers are natural helpers. It’s important to respect their time. Don’t send them your four hundred page novel and expect them to drop everything for your project. You’re approaching as a partner, now, not a student in need of after-school tutoring.



Members of your writer’s groups

If you’re a member of a local writer’s group or regional organization, you can offer to swap editing services with another writer. Again, ask for a three-page sample, and be up front about your expectations. Listen carefully to make sure the collaboration is a good fit. If the other member writes gritty police procedurals with lots of gore while you write Amish romances, it may be difficult to exchange objective editing. But if you both write in similar genres, your personalities mesh well, and you have compatible work habits, it’s a green light to proceed.




A great editor is essential, ensuring your work is gleaming, cohesive, and irresistible to your readers. Don’t take shortcuts in this stage! But a tiny budget doesn’t mean postponing your dream. With careful networking, you can find the right editor for your project without overspending.


Do you have other low-cost editing solutions? Post them in the comments below!



Cole Smith is a writer, teacher, and mountain biker in West Virginia. She enjoys good coffee and great stories. She shares inspiration, encouragement, and tips for creative overwhelm at Her novel, Waiting for Jacob, is available in paperback and ebook formats here.


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Waiting forJacob





12 thoughts on “Find an Editor to Fit Your Budget

  1. Hi, Cole. Great column. Whoops, I mean post. Back in my newspaper writing days, they were called columns. I had one called ‘Staton the Situation.’ When I get the first draft of a WIP done, I run it through an online writers workshop. I’ve been doing it since around 2002, and my critiquers do a good job of finding miscues. I also have a very good editor at the ebook publisher I am associated with… she’s a retired schoolteacher who has a critical eye.


    1. (Ha, Mike, I call them articles half the time!) Critiquers are worth rubies, and retired schoolteachers are the best! They don’t mess around. A mutual friend introduced me to a serious reader who devours 70+ books a year. She read my novel before it was published, gave great feedback, and then wrote an incredible review I use for marketing. I’m still amazed at my good fortune 🙂


  2. Valuable tips, Cole. I plan to have a fellow romance writer in my critique group be my first beta reader of an inspirational romance. Yes, when I’m asking someone I know, I try to find someone of like ilk in my own genre. I’m a little leery of English teachers who aren’t up on the some of the practices in writing for commercial use versus writing an essay. We have two or three teachers in our critique group though who are helpful.


  3. Great posts, great ideas. So far I haven’t had an entire book to edit, but my critique partners are good at getting stories ready to go. Former English teachers make good editors, but you do have to choose wisely; put a red pen in my hand and I’ll mark up a manuscript until it sounds like I wrote it. I send stories to my high school English teacher and she tells me they’re wonderful and I agree; it’s a satisfactory arrangement. As for commas, these days I make up my own rules. Every time I violate Strunk and White, I flinch. But fiction is so liberating.


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