How Much Does A Book Editor Cost? | Find Out What you Need To KNow

Apr 28, 2021 | Editing

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How much does a book editor cost? As you might guess, this is a very common question, one you’ll hear frequently in writer’s circles. You have a completed manuscript, and because you’re interested in publishing the highest possible quality book, you understand the need for help.

But ultimately what should you pay for that service? A quick web search reveals that the cost for editorial services varies widely between the many service providers.

I’m going to give you three things you need to know before you hire an editor.

Editorial Services You Will Need For Your Book

What kind of editor you’re looking for is the first thing you need to know. Not familiar with the different types of editing available to writers?

Let me help clarify the differences.

First is usually a developmental editor. This is the editor that takes the manuscript when it’s first completed and works with you on the overall content.

Do the characters make sense? Is the plot well developed?

Think of your developmental editor as a detailed-oriented first reader, someone who is going to comb through and find all of the flaws, weaknesses, and inconsistencies. Once you’re done working with this person, it’s time to re-write the manuscript.

The second editor is what’s referred to as a line editor or a copy editor. Think of editors from large to small. These professionals pick up the manuscript when the content is honed in and ready to go, but maybe the language needs a little work. Answering the question of what kind of work does the manuscript need on the level of paragraphs and sentences is what these editors will help with.

The last editor is the good old proofreader. That red pen mark-up should be familiar to anyone who ever survived high school English. Once the story is right and the language is clear, they come in and help clean up typos, misspellings, and issues dealing with grammar.

Here is a reality most writers don’t understand. You’re probably going to need all three of these.

how much does a book editor cost

How Much Does a Book Editor Cost? Different Rates For Different Services

While all professional editors possess a keen eye for writing, the necessary skills between the different types vary widely. While a developmental editor needs to know how a story should work, specializing in character, plot, setting, and structure, a proofreader’s focus will be more detailed.

These go hand-in-hand but are very different when it comes to executing an effective edit.

A highly skilled developmental editor with professional experience charges in the range of $60 to $75 an hour. This contrasts with line editors where the range runs from $45 to $50 an hour and proofreaders where rates run from $40 to $50 an hour.

There are a lot of editors out there that charge far above the recommended rates. Many come in significantly lower.

You don’t want either one of those.

Why not? For one, an editor charging far above recommended rates probably doesn’t warrant the additional cost. I say “probably” because there are quite a few celebrity editors out there (maybe someone who edited Stephen King or JK Rowling) and they definitely deserve a bump in rate.

But do you need that level of expertise? Probably not until your books sell like the aforementioned authors.

An editor that’s too cheap may not have enough professional experience

Pay By The Word? Or By The Hour?

Not every editor charges by the hour. Some editors I know charge by the word.

What accounts for the difference?

In all of my years working as a fiction editor, I have found this is as much about the editor’s comfort as anything else. Because charging a flat rate for editorial services doesn’t really make any sense, a professional must choose between these two.

I prefer an hourly rate because I find it works out best for both me and my client. That shouldn’t deter you from working with someone that charges by the word though. The key to a good writer/editor relationship is fit.

How Much Does A Book Editor Cost? Bottom Line

The bottom line when it comes to editorial services is you need to know what you need.

It doesn’t help to seek out a proofreader when your core story still needs work. You’ll end up changing too much and just need to go back for proofreading again. 

You also need to know the range in which those editors should charge.

Finding a solid, affordable editor who knows your work and is capable of improving it to its best quality costs money. Investment is necessary to craft a high-quality book that will sell.

But it shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg. 

When you’re hiring an editor, ask a lot of questions. Find out what their specialty is. Learn how they communicate. If you’re down to a couple of editors, ask them to edit a sample. Give them 500 words to see if you like their comments and communication.

I hope this blog addressed some of your interest in the cost of hiring a book editor. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below.