Do you really need an editor?
Last year I started on online controversy with an article suggesting that indie authors shouldn’t pay for editing. What I mean in the post, which you should read (the comments too!), is that paying a lot of money to get a book edited may not be a smart business decision if your book isn’t going to sell. I also disagree with the elitist view that only authors who can afford editing should be allowed to publish.
But let’s say you have some money and have decided on hiring an editor.
How do you pick one? How do you know if they’re any good?
How much should you pay?
An editor can make a huge difference in the quality of your paper, thesis, manuscript or book. But they’re expensive: for basic proofreading (fixing of typos and errors) expect to pay around 2 cents per word. So a 50K book may cost $750 or so. But a good copy editor will do more than fix your mistakes; they’ll improve your writing, hone your expressions, remove redundancies. Copy editing can cost between 2 cents per word and 8 cents per word, depending on how intensive an edit you sign up for.
Generally, editors can fix and polish a paper to make it clean and professional, which gives you a much greater chance of success (high grades, publishing opportunities, etc), but they won’t rewrite the content – so make sure you focus on having great content before you spend to clean it up.
For more specific tips, check out this article: 25 self-editing tips for indie authors.
If you’re thinking about hiring an editor, you should also read this article: “How much does book editing cost, and are you being ripped off” where I compare costs and suggest some other solutions.