An interesting question was asked in an unrelated forum about why many Indie authors (at least many of the ones that the asker read) don’t seem to invest much in terms of editing prior to releasing their works.
The easy answer is because it costs. Either time or money, but it costs. At market rates, third party editing services can cost around 2c per word. Now, not every editor will accept all genres of writing, and not every editor is capable of completing all editing services (line editing, copy editing, content editing, stylistic editing, substantive editing, etc.).
Some even bundle proof reading as an editing service.
Depending on manuscript length, editing costs can be as low as $100 (5,000 words), through to over $1,000 (50,000+ words). That’s for a single pass at editing. In order to really bump up the quality of the editing, a manuscript should ideally go for multiple editing passes, with different editors, so as to increase the chances of most errors being corrected prior to publishing.
Even if these services are contracted out they also attract a time cost as the author waits for the script to pass through the editorial pile.
Once the manuscript has been received back and all edits made, a choice needs to be made about cover art - licencing of images and securing the proper rights to use them. There’s also the cost of purchasing ISBNs if the author is electing to manage them by themselves.
At the end of this process, and once things are finally in place and ready for submission, there’s a time cost to ensure the right file formats and style guides are adhered to when submitting to the various retail sites.
At the end of the day, not every work that’s published is going to make enough in sales to cover all of these costs. Some historical data suggests that the clear majority of published works sell far less than 100 copies, and the majority of those to people the author knows. So far, none of my sales have been to people I knew before they bought my works, so at least I’m ahead of the curve there.
At least by going Indie, I’ve got the chance to control how my work is published, and stand to make more in the long run from my higher royalty rates. It also means running everything like a business, which is not something that every author wants to or can do.
It’s a good thing I write for the fun of it. Sure, there’s an easy publishing route to take, where once the words are written down they’re declared good and submitted for sale. But the route I’ve chosen to take is to make sure that my works are of as high a quality as possible before releasing them for sale.
Each to their own, but I’m comfortable in the fact that one of the reasons my readers love my work is because of the care taken in its crafting.