I Hired a Pro on Reedsy to Edit My Book. Was It Worth It?

Let’s get transparent on pros, cons, and the $$$ investment

Shannon Litt
5 min readFeb 5, 2021


Photo by Brad Neathery on Unsplash

For those of you wondering, Reedsy is an online marketplace that matches writers with established publishing freelancers. After years of local writing classes and retreats, I decided to try something different—I hired a pro on Reedsy to edit my 80,000-word YA fantasy novel.

I won’t hide the cost at the end of this article—I know you’re curious, so let’s dive in!

What It Cost

Most Reedsy editors calculate their quotes based on word count. My YA fantasy novel was 80,000 words, and I received quotes ranging from $1,000 to $2,500 USD.

My editor was on the expensive side—her fee was $2,200 USD. Add on Reedsy’s 10% fee, and it came to $2,420 USD. I’m Canadian, so the exchange rate turned it into a whopping ~$3,000 CAD! That’s a lot of money, no matter how you slice it.

What I Got

Here’s what I received from my editor:

  • A 7-page single spaced editorial letter
  • A marked-up manuscript
  • An hour-long post-mortem phone call

The editorial letter was worth its weight in gold. I’ve received feedback in the past from university professors, writing class instructors, fellow writers, and editors from outside of Reedsy—and the editorial letter contained the most valuable feedback I’ve ever received. I pored over this document countless times as I reworked the book, and still refer back to it, many months later. My editor really listened to my asks, and focused on marketability and how to make the book more attractive to publishers.

I don’t think the marked-up manuscript was terribly useful. My editor’s notes were pretty minimal, in part because her editorial letter meant I would need to do a complete overhaul. Still, it was valuable to go through and see which sections she liked, so that I could try and keep them in the next draft—or at least try and repurpose them.

The hour-long post-mortem call was fantastic. I scheduled the call a week after receiving the feedback so that I had plenty of time to review my editor’s notes. I came to the call with a new outline, written from scratch, and we discussed it in detail. At no point in the call did I feel like I was being burdensome—which every writer knows is a risk when you go on for ages about your work!

Bonus: My editor knew I was submitting the manuscript to a popular manuscript competition called PitchWars, so she was kind enough to edit my query letter for free!

The Importance of Choosing the Right Editor

Choosing an editor was incredibly difficult. I wanted someone who would be tough but fair, and who would help me whip the book into sellable shape.

Reedsy vets their vendors thoroughly before allowing them to list on the site, and all of my options were well qualified. They all had websites, great reviews, and nearly all of them sent me long, thoughtful messages.

I chose mine because:

  1. She specialized in editing young adult fantasy (her MFA thesis was YA Fantasy).
  2. She was a literary agent as well as an editor, and I wanted her insights into the publishing world.
  3. She had the most reviews of my candidates—all of them positive.

I firmly believe that what made my experience not just good but great was finding the right editor.

The Value of Impartiality

Every editor I’d encountered before Reedsy was someone that I knew personally, face to face (pre-pandemic). I would continue to have a relationship with them after the edit.

One of the best things about hiring an editor on Reedsy was impartiality. That may sound cold, but it was hugely advantageous.

My Reedsy editor lived in the States, and she and I had never met; I was hiring her for this one-off project, and our common goal was to make this book the best it could be.

As such, I trusted my editor’s advice—I trusted her suggestions and advice, and I trusted when she said this book was worth continuing to work on.

Every long-form writer knows the fatigue that comes when you realize you need to go back to the drawing board. “Again? A sixth draft?” You start to question whether it’s worth it. Maybe you have another, fresher idea that looks way more flashy.

It helps to have an objective third party step in and say, “Put that other project down! This one is nearly there. Stay the course.”

And it’s equally helpful if they come back and say, “This project requires a lot more work. Move on to another piece. You can always come back to this one later.”

Both are necessary kinds of feedback, and they don’t ordinarily come from people you’re friendly with.

What I Would Have Done Differently

First and foremost: I would have hired an editor sooner to save myself the trouble of two largely unnecessary drafts.

Knowing what I now know, I might have skipped the marked-up manuscript component, to see if I could save a few dollars. What I needed was a developmental edit (big picture, focusing on plot and character development) rather than a line-by-line copy edit. A marked up manuscript is very copy editing-focused, and I wasn’t yet at that stage.

Perhaps most importantly, I wouldn’t have rushed to meet the PitchWars deadline. I wish I’d given my editor more time and flexibility instead of rushing in at the last second and giving myself only twenty days to implement her feedback.

So, Was it Worth it?

Short answer? Yes, definitely.

The cost of hiring a professional editor on Reedsy made me wince, though. It’s hard to justify such an expense when I live in a costly city like Toronto.

But I reminded myself that I would’ve spent the same amount of money for two or three writing classes, or a single writing retreat—which aren’t terribly useful when you’re working on a long-form novel and want feedback on the piece as a whole.

With Reedsy, I got professional, custom, honest feedback from someone who read my piece from start to finish. Like I said earlier, the 7-page editorial letter I received was worth the investment alone.

I hope this piece helps you decide whether to invest in a Reedsy editor! As always, happy writing.