How do you get your work edited?

I normally write a scene then go back and go through it myself, then I tend to rely on players to point out stuff I miss. Then when I’m done, I tend to get a friend to go through it. I tried to hire an editor a few years back that didn’t turn out very well. So obviously I’m hesitant to go that road again.

1 Like

DH improved tenfold after being beta tested. It sounds like you wouldn’t need an editor, but testers are useful for plot suggestions and coding error finding.

I write up the entire thing, get it beta tested to catch the glaring errors, and then once that’s done, I go back and proof read the whole thing to try to weed out any stray typos. Editors cost so much that it wouldn’t be worth it to hire one.

Plus everyone has their own writing style, now if the editor does fix anything other typos and make the sentence more fluent of such then that certain part will be kind of out of place.

And ussually what they’ll do is take out any vocabulary that’s above 8th grade xD

1 Like

@Prototype & @Samuel_H_Young: Aw, what a sad way to think of editors :slight_smile: A good editor would work within the author’s writing style. If that style is so bizarre it makes the story incomprehensible, then it’s on the editor to find ways to help. That’d probably mean going beyond proofreading for typos or doing basic copyediting (typos, logic, general consistency, understandable sentence structure, etc.). Yeah, I have opinions about this whole editing thing. I could go on all day :slight_smile:

The cost for it, though, that can be a problem, if you don’t anticipate earning the money back. I’m super-thankful for nitpicky beta testers, who get paid by (hopefully) having fun while doing it. For me, it’s difficult to see the typos in something I wrote myself and have read and reread and reread, or to anticipate what someone else will find hard to understand. Every now and then, something I didn’t notice before jumps out and suddenly looks so obvious. “That” instead of “than,” that sort of thing that the eye might glide right past.

Thank goodness for beta testers.

1 Like

I will edit for free but don’t expect much :wink:

I’m sure I’d make the money back, but what I meant is that I’m not sure that having my 90,000 word gamebook edited is worth $10,000 when my beta testers and I can do half the job for no cost.

Yeah I think of beta testers like free mini editors :stuck_out_tongue:


$10,000 for 90,000 words? What editors did you look at? Lol I paid just under £200 for approx 70,000 but the overall experience wasn’t very good.


Yeah the rose tinted specs of the author. I still find errors where I’m like how the hell did I miss that lol

@Samuel_H_Young: Yeah, I don’t have $10,000 lying around, even if I thought a game about Rome with no gladiators in it would be a runaway hit :stuck_out_tongue:

I was exagerating slightly, but still. Copy edtors cost A LOT! Proof readers are pretty cheap, though; what type of editor did you hire?

I’m sure When In Rome will do well, but not almost entirely because it was copy edited. That’s the only way it would be justified to pay thousands for an editor.


Tbh can’t remember it may have been a proof reader it was 2006/07

Oh, okay. Copy editors usually cost $0.08 per word, so it would cost about $7,000 to get DH copy edited. That would essentially mean my first year’s revenue would all go to my editor.

@Samuel_H_Young we have a few copyeditors that we could refer you to. They charge on an hourly basis ($15-$30). It would probably take between 25-45 hours to copyedit your game.


Awesome; maybe after I get my first royalty check, I’ll have DH copy edited.

As @Carolyne says, a good editor should work with the author’s style. :slight_smile:

When I used to do freelance editing, I mostly touched sentence flow, grammar etc. only (mostly tightening where I could, if I felt it fit, and catching typos). I’ve never liked touching content though and I always made that clear. The only exception was when something didn’t make sense. I’d point that out.

In fact, I remember the last book I worked on. There was a style thing I didn’t like, where words were joined a lot by -, but I never tried to change the style.

As far as rates go, I used to charge $75 per 12,500 words. That included as many passes as needed to get it to a level the client was happy with. Granted, it was mostly for people I knew from writing forums.

I do self-edit myself though. Don’t use beta-readers either, to be frank. Though that’ll likely change if I get a game done. I manage to catch the majority of things, though I remember two iffy parts pointed out in a 6,500 - 7,500 word piece which wasn’t bad. :wink: Never really cared for content thoughts too much really, to be honest.

1 Like

I’m reviving this instead of starting a new thread because I felt compelled to stress the importance of editing. High quality beta testers can perform some of the copyediting tasks a professional would do, but it’s not the same as using a professional.

Here’s my specific example: I think Community College Hero had (has) some of the most awesome beta testers around, and there were a ton of them! We worked HARD during the final beta process. It took several months of thorough checking and re-checking. I think I listed over 70 people in the “About” credits. And here’s the thing…I still missed TONS of mistakes. TONS. As the author, this is 100% on me.

One reader alone on Steam listed out 40(!!) typos that escaped my efforts at editing. I was mortified!

What I’ve learned:

  1. It would probably be best to hire a copyeditor but I know most of us can’t afford the $1000 or so it would take sooo…

  2. Running your files through a spellcheck (which I did) is necessary but only a tiny step in the editing process. It doesn’t guard against skipping words or using the wrong word.

  3. As time-consuming as it is, I would recommend reading your entire story out loud, using your finger/mouse to move from word to word. I think I would have found many of the mistakes doing this. I WILL do this with Part 2.

  4. Look for mistakes with articles and other short words. I think your eyes and brain tend to skip over these when you read your story. I missed dozens of "the"s and "a"s and "an"s.

  5. Many beta testers would rather not hunt for typos, but take advantage of those who are happy to do so. Don’t brush it off with, “Don’t worry about typos - I’ll run spellcheck.” Let them hunt for typos!!


I’ve thought about posting regarding editors and independent or small-press writers for a while.

I am an editor (among other things), and most recently I’ve edited two of @Samuel_H_Young’s games, and I’ve begun editing two of his in-progress games. I’m hoping his opinion of editing has changed slightly from what he wrote in this post a good many months ago . . .

I’ve also edited several other pieces, including everything from a few more unusual works (under my maiden name, that particular one) to business blog posts for a tiny SoCal business, to documents for non-profit companies.

Editing and beta testing are two completely different fish, to my mind. Editing keeps a work stylistically consistent. A good editor (at least, depending on which services you’ve agreed to pay for) doesn’t just check for typos, but watches for other flaws, characters whose ‘accents’ change or dresses that mysteriously turn to trousers. When we work with independent authors, we develop a style appropriate for that author and book.

I’ve worked with authors using U.K. English, American English, Canadian English (it surprised me how different some of the typical style rules are in Canada to both the other forms!). I’ve also worked with sci-fi, fantasy, business writing, and so on. I don’t edit them all in the same way.

I’ve also done substantive editing (I did on the Demon Hunter series, for instance), checking for plot holes, doing research on Brazilian jiu jitsu, making suggestions for characters, whatever needed to happen. That’s obviously more time consuming and expensive, but it also allows an author to let someone who has read the whole entire work, not just from the perspective of play-throughs, to give extensive input. (Also it is fun! Especially with a good author.)

Beta testing, though, catches things that I could never, ever see when I’m reading the text files for a game. I might notice a coding error (that’s happened once or twice, things like 'hey did you really mean ‘*set happy %+500’ or did something odd happen?) or misplaced labels, but as often as not, I wouldn’t necessarily be able to tell if something isn’t coded correctly. Beta testers are great for that.

They’re also really important for flow, for making sure the plot all hangs together, for pointing out if a relevant piece of information is missing on path G. As an editor, I’d read ALL the paths that are there, so it’s potentially harder for me or the author to notice if a key piece of information is missing on a certain route.

All of that said, a note about indie authors and indie editors. I realise that it’s perfectly absurd to ask an author to pay more than half of what a game might eventually make, over years, to have it edited. This is especially true early in an author’s career. This is also on top of any artist fees and the like which the author might be paying.

Therefore, I’ve come up with a system that’s very similar to how the artist I commission for my own works is paid. I negotiate a price with the author, partly based on previous or projected sales if there’s already a published work out. I do try to work with authors who have had at least one thing published, when I can. Makes things easier for everyone.

Oftentimes the price we agree on is a lot less than I would normally charge, say, for business editing. That’s because then we agree on a percentage commission, a very small one, that I get from the sales once that percentage has built up past my original fee. I find it lets me do what I love, work in indie publishing with small, independent authors, and if a game or a book sells well, we both benefit.

I’ve known other editors to use similar systems. I know it’s very different to what typical editing, and editorial fees, have been, which in part was why I haven’t written anything about all this sooner. Publishing is definitely a changing world, though, especially online, and especially in newer or smaller markets like interactive fiction gaming.

So there’s my two pennies’ worth. Or two pounds’ and a wall of text worth more like, I suppose.


Great points, Fiogan. My opinion has changed completely; your editing was and is invaluable, and that’s an understatement.


I would definitely work with an editor, if that sounds like something you the author would consider doing.

1 Like

Since more and more games are being added to steam. I have decided I really should hire an editor to go over Unnatural and as I have got a bit more money I will be looking for an editor in the new year.


If I wanted you to edit season one of Unnatural how much would it cost to edit? It’s approx 250,000 words but that’s story and code combined.