How Much Does a Book Editor Cost?

So you’ve written a book and spent weeks self-editing it to the point that you can’t improve it anymore on your own. Any self-publishing author knows that getting good reviews is paramount to book sales, and for many, that means hiring a book editor is an essential part of the process. Even those going through traditional publishing hire editors to give their manuscript its best shot with agents and publishers.

But How Much does a Book Editor Cost?

You want to give yourself time to save up… or at least have a pricing range to draw from when shopping around to know you’re not getting ripped off.

However, when it comes down to how much you can expect an editor to charge, the answer is not straight-forward.

What Affects Book Editing Rates and Pricing?

There are a number of factors that would affect the cost of editing. Here are some of the main ones:

The Type of Editing You’re Looking For

There are a lot of different types of editing, but here are some of the more common ones: Developmental editing deals with the overall structure of the book from plot and story to character development and scene. Line editing is a line by line edit of the content of the story, including sentence structure, pacing, and tone. Proofreading is the final pass, ensuring that no lingering punctuation issues, spelling errors, etc. exist.

Developmental and line editing are, for obvious reasons, more expensive than a proofread. It’s important to know what you’re getting so you don’t end up paying for a full line edit when you had proofreading in mind (or, worse, vice versa). Some editors also offer package deals that encompass the entire editorial development of a book.

What type of editing do you need? This is up to you. In a perfect world, every book would go through “the works,” but this is not realistic for many reasons (*cough* budget *cough*). If you’re unsure what you need, ask an editor’s opinion.

The Length of the Manuscript

Whether the editor is quoting per page, per word, or per hour, the length of the manuscript will affect the quote. Longer books take longer to edit; it’s as simple as that.

The State of the Manuscript When Submitted

Editors may quote flat rates, but many of us come up with that rate based on the time we anticipate a project taking. The rougher the manuscript is when submitted for a sample edit and/or quote (if the editor requires it), the higher the quote will be. This is because the work will be more intensive and time-consuming.

This is why it’s important to revise, self-edit, and perhaps even get beta reader feedback before starting the process of hiring an editor. If effective, doing so can potentially decrease that quote.

How Many Rounds or Passes Are Needed

Sometimes, a novel is just going to need multiple sets of revisions between both you and the editor. I recently had a client that has requested my developmental editing service a second time on her debut novel since she changed the original draft dramatically after my feedback. Unfortunately, your editor may not know up front how many passes they recommend until they have completed the novel. This varies from project to project.

The Editor Themselves

While there is a baseline for average editorial rates in our industry, the fact of the matter is that pricing varies widely from editor to editor. Why is that? A number of reasons:

  • Some editors are more experienced than others and can therefore justify a higher price; some editors are just starting out and “building a portfolio”
  • Some editors are specialists in a particular genre or niche, making them highly sought-after
  • An editor’s schedule might be full, causing them to increase rates to take on the projects that are most worth their time (supply and demand)
  • Some editors work with tougher books such as historical fiction or academia, necessitating a higher rate for more intense work
  • Some editors work exclusively with self-publishing authors, many of whom cannot afford higher pricing, so they have more accessible rates
  • Some editors charge less if a particular book strikes their interest, and they just HAVE to work on it
  • Some editors work in the gig economy on sites like Fiverr and are competing with international editors with lower rates
  • And many more reasons, honestly…

What if you can’t afford the editor’s rates? It doesn’t mean the editor is a scam. Be honest about the quote when you respond. Ask if they offer payment plans. If something can’t be worked out, be respectful of their rate and move on to find an editor that does fit your needs.

Ask for a sample edit, interact with the editor, and see how well you work together. The most important thing when hiring a book editor is fit. Feel free to contact me for a sample edit if you’re evaluating your options.

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