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By far a more comfortable option for those who have either written their own book or have finished a rough draft, is to hire a “book doctor” to rewrite and copyedit their work, making it suitable for publication.

Technically, rewriting is not considered ghostwriting. The original content and author’s voice, style, and intent are preserved and enhanced through rewriting services.

  What Is Book Doctoring?

Generally, book doctoring entails bringing a book to a publishable form so that it it less likely to be rejected by a prospective publisher for technical writing errors. This is a multilevel process and includes a hierarchy of simple to complex editing that requires several “read-throughs” to complete.

Many book doctors charge by the word: two cents per word is representative. In this case, a 90,000-word manuscript would cost the author $1800. The depth of the project varies from editor to editor.

Other book doctors charge a flat fee for manuscripts up to a certain word count: $1000 for up to 100,000 words is typical. These types of contracts include vetting your manuscript for mistakes in spelling, word use, and grammatical and punctuation errors, while providing a written impression—or “mini-critique”—of your manuscript to help you to decide on more services at additional costs.

I charge $35 an hour. Period. I consider this more fair because some passages will read faster than others, and it is my time that is valuable to us both. As it is impossible to complete all of the aspects of book doctoring in a single pass (“reading”), I break up the process into phases that are completed and billed separately from each other.

Phase I (Mechanics)—40–70 hours for a non-technical 60,000–100,000-word work @ $35/hour (Also referred to as Standard and Editorial Proofreading, Stages 1 and 2.)

Phase II (Flow)—40–70 hours for a non-technical 60,000–100,000-word work @ $35/hour (Also referred to as Copyediting, Stage 3).

Phase III (Craft)—40–70 hours for a non-technical 60,000–100,000-word fiction work @ $35/hour. (Also referred to as Substantive Editing, Stage 4.)

Phase IV (Content)—40–70 hours for a non-technical 60,000–100,000-word work @ $35/hour (Also referred to as Substantive Editing, Stage 5.) (must be completed by a professional or fellow writer familiar with your genre)

Phase V (Format)—2–10 hours for a non-technical 60,000–100,000-word work @ $35/hour

Phase VI (Indexing)—20–40 hours for a non-technical 60,000–100,000-word
non-fiction work @ $35/hour

Editing & Rewriting

As you may have gathered, book doctoring done in phases may entail as little or as much reworking of your manuscript as you desire. You decide how much you’d like the book doctor to do on your creation, and pay only for the phases you want. You may also choose to have more than one person tackle different phases of the book doctoring process; this is obligatory for books outside the familiar genres of the primary book doctor. The more involved the project—encompassing all phases of the editing/proofreading process—the more likely your work will be acceptable to your prospective publisher.

I use The Chicago Manual of Style, Words into Type, and Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary as my primary references. If you would like me to use other references or your own style sheet, please provide that information before I start on your project. Upon acceptance of your book project, I will provide you with a spec sheet and a style sheet for your records, suitable for use by any other editor, proofreader, or designer who may do work on your book after me.

If you plan to self-publish, then you may want to choose a book shepherding package that ensures your book will be typeset and designed to industry-standard specifications, garnering the respect and recognition you envision. I also provide these services. Typical fiction works require about 5–10 hours to typeset at $35/hour and are placed in a custom-designed book-block template. As non-fiction books are quite variable in scope and complexity, completion times vary considerably. The best way to estimate project completion on a non-fiction book is to allow me to complete a chapter and extrapolate a project completion estimate from that. Cover design is charged a flat-rate fee of $100 for a simple book cover (entailing no custom illustration by designer), or $500 for an illustrated art design. I can also provide conversion to electronic formats such as Kindle.

Download a FREE PDF of
Author Book Project Setup Instructions
with illustrated Tutorials on using the
Review/Track Changes feature
in popular word processing software