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How much does an editor cost?

hiring a book editor with budget in mind

How much does an editor cost? Prices are all over the map, so I’m happy to provide some ballpark estimates for different types of editing service rates. It’s important to keep in mind that some editors charge a flat fee per project, some charge hourly, some charge by page count, and some charge by word count. You want to be very clear about pricing when hiring a book editor, and get an estimate in writing. Ideally, a reputable editor will provide an agreement that outlines the scope of work, exactly what’s being done, and how much it will cost.

Below, you will find ballpark pricing for different types of editorial services you might be seeking. Some editors will provide all of these services, some will only provide one or two. For example, I do everything below. While my specialty is developmental editing, your project will arrive copy edited as well, and that’s built into my pricing structure. If you’re confused, it’s always best to ask. Finding a good editor means they will be willing to explain their work to you.

These editorial services are listed in order of comprehensiveness, from least to most. You will notice that pricing reflects this. If you’re unclear on the definitions of each service, read up on types of manuscript editing.

manuscript Proofreading Rates

A basic proofreading service of your manuscript usually cost between $.005 and $.015 per word. Some proofreaders charge by manuscript page, in the range of $1.50 to $3.50 per page.

manuscript copy Editing RATES

Copy editing is one step up in terms of comprehensiveness, and copy editing rates for your manuscript usually cost between $.01 and $.03 per word. Some copy editors charge by manuscript page, in the range of $2.50 to $5 per page.

Manuscript line Editing RATES

Line editing is one step up from copy editing and involves creative feedback on your project, that’s why it often costs more. Experience and talent varies much more widely here, with some editors charging a lot for this service. You will see a broader range of prices here, and these figures are usually commensurate with experience. Line editing rates for your manuscript usually cost between $.03 and $.07 per word. Some copy editors charge by manuscript page, in the range of $5 to $15 per page. A good average for editorial service rates here is $.05 per word or $10 per page.

manuscript developmental Editing RATES

Developmental editing is the cream of the crop. It’s the most detailed, comprehensive, and thoughtful editing you can buy, and it usually costs the most. Your potential editor’s qualifications matter a lot when providing this type of service, and that is why you can find prices all over the map. Developmental editing rates for your manuscript usually cost between $.05 and $.10 per word. Some developmental editors charge by manuscript page, in the range of $7.50 to $20 per page. A good average for developmental editorial service rates here is $.07 per word or $12.50 per page.

manuscript revision rates

Most editors will charge an additional fee to read revised material, because it represents additional time spent on the project. This is common with line editors and developmental editors, who are already familiar with your work. For revision reads in my editorial practice, for example, I charge half of the original editing fee, in most cases. The client gets a price break, as the project usually represents less work with every subsequent read. This advice may not apply to proofreading or copy editing, since revised material presents the same kind of challenges as a first pass—there may be new typos and errors to correct.

Book editing hourly rates and flat fees

Some editors charge their editing rates per hour or as a flat fee. For example, I charge $299 for my Picture Book Edit on all projects fewer than 600 words. It doesn’t matter how long the project takes me. Some editors will charge a flat fee per project, others will charge an hourly rate.

Editing hourly rates vary widely, depending on the editor’s level of experience, the type of project, etc. A broad (very broad!) ballpark would be between $25 (for a student just out of college, perhaps) and $350 per hour (for a seasoned professional).

hiring an editor Next steps

Hiring an editor isn’t a decision to make lightly, and you should plan a budget for the project. There are all kinds of editors out there, including ones with very tempting prices. But in this case, you really do get what you pay for. Make sure you’re hiring someone with experience that’s going to be worth the investment. Spend a little more if you find someone with professional credentials you love. It will be worth it in the long run. You can read more about the process of how to find an editor here.

Please don’t hesitate to check out my writing craft book or reach out for editorial services via the contact form, below.

Click here to purchase Writing Irresistible Kidlit, my book on fiction craft for MG and YA novels, out from Writer's Digest Books. This will show you my writing craft philosophy and give you lots of valuable advice, including tips for the novel revision process and self-editing. There are over 35 example novels cited and discussed throughout. It’s a valuable resource for any writer’s toolkit.

It genuinely feels like you’ve handed me a golden compass so I can trek off in the right direction now to ultimately find buried treasure. I’m so excited to not be wandering around aimlessly on this story any more. I can move forward on it now with confidence.
— Kendra