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How Much Does an Editor Cost?

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Before you hire an editor (or a whole team of them!), you’ll want to know how much it will cost. There’s also the question of how much you’ll get out of it, whether you hire an editing team or just one person.

Fortunately, some research and preparation can help you get the most out of your editing budget. Investigate your specific editing needs and become familiar with what to look for in a good candidate, so that you can hire the right people for the job. 

This article will discuss what you should expect to pay when hiring an editor, along with the factors that can influence this fee. What Is the Average Cost of Hiring a Professional Editor?

The cost of hiring an editor, as with any self-publishing service, depends on several factors. For proofreading or copyediting, you’re looking at $1,250 to $3,500 per book. For developmental editing, the cost increases as it involves more complex tasks; so, you’re looking at a range of between $5,000 and $10,000 per book.

Those are pretty broad figures, so let’s break down some actual rates and hard numbers.

Most editors refer to the Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA) rates page to guide their own editorial rates.

The Editorial Freelancers Association page lists various writing and editing tasks and their hourly rates as self-reported by EFA members who took a rates survey. In this list, there are five subcategories of editing, while proofreading is a separate category. The EFA, for instance, lists basic copyediting of business or sales books at $46-$50 per hour or $0.04-$0.049 per word for 4-6 pages per hour.

For instance, for a 50,000-word book, the cost of hiring an editor could be:

  • Developmental editing: $0.07 per word, or a total of $3,500.
  • Basic copyediting: $0.04 per word, or a total of $2,000
  • Proofreading: $0.04 per word, or a total of $2,000.

For a 120,000-word manuscript, the cost of hiring an editor could be:

  • Developmental editing: $0.07 per word, or a total of $8,400.
  • Basic copyediting: $0.04 per word, or a total of $4,800.
  • Proofreading: $0.04 per word, or a total of $4,800.

Although these are just EFA’s average estimates for editorial costs, they act as a reliable benchmark. If it seems as if the charges are racking up quickly, don’t fret because you may not need every type of editing for your book. Once you take a few other things into account, the cost of hiring an editor could be much less. Here are some factors that affect the editorial cost:

1. Longer Books or Manuscripts Cost More to Edit

When budgeting for editing costs, writers rarely consider the length of their book. Even if they know the editors’ standard prices, it’s easy to underestimate these costs because they may feel that either their book is quite short or is already polished enough to only require minimal “full” edits, although this is rarely the case.

So, it’s essential to monitor your word count and cut as much fluff as possible before seeking editorial services. However, for some authors, there’s nothing to cut. So, if your book is perfect at its current length, don’t reduce the word count for the sake of lowering the editorial cost. But some authors do benefit from cutting a few extra scenes as doing so will save them hundreds of dollars in the long run.

2. Genre

Editing costs depend heavily on the genre of your book. For instance, it costs more to edit nonfiction books than fiction books because nonfiction books are denser and require more fact-checking. Similarly, “heavier” prose genres, such as experimental literary fiction, costs more to edit, while “lighter” prose genres, such as romance, typically costs less to edit.

You may expect a children’s book editor to charge less because children’s books are often shorter, but these texts usually require each sentence to be perfectly fine-tuned, which increases the cost per word. However, if your book is a picture book, you won’t be charged by the word at all, but the editor will ask for a flat fee, which typically ranges between $300 and $500.

3. Experienced Editors Charge More!

Experienced, skilled editors don’t come cheap. So, if you’re looking for an editor with decades or years of experience in your niche, they’ll most certainly cost more.

If, for instance, you want the best possible editing services for your book, just as most writers do, it’s worth shelling out some extra dollars. Some editing tasks will need a great deal of genre familiarity and a significant amount of experience to be polished, so a thoughtful editorial assessment or developmental edit, may be essential.

This doesn’t mean you can’t work with an exceptional editor on a low budget, only that you must do extensive research to find the right person and figure out a payment plan that works for both of you.

Often, if an editor is genuinely passionate about your work, they may meet you halfway. You can ask to pay in installments, or if possible, arrange a discount, especially if you’ll be working with them on multiple projects.

Final Thoughts

Choosing an editor isn’t simple; it requires planning an editing budget and a thorough hiring process. Fortunately, there are all kinds of editors in the marketplace, some with very attractive prices. With so many to choose from, you’ll definitely be able to hire someone with experience and who’s worth the investment. If you find an editor with the professional credentials you’re looking for, their extra price tag might just be worth it.  To read more about hiring an editor before an agent, click this link.

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