How much does an Editor Cost? (9 Ways to cut editing costs)

Last Updated on July 20, 2022 by Dr Sharon Baisil MD

Most people don’t know how much an editor costs. An editor, or proofreader, is a person who reads text before it’s published and corrects mistakes in grammar, spelling, punctuation, style, and sometimes length.

How much does an editor cost?

It depends on how much work the editor has to do. Editors usually charge either per word or per hour, or per project.

Editing costs per hour

This is generally the most expensive route. You can expect to pay between $30-$75 per hour (U.S.), depending on your location and the editor’s experience. You need to carefully weigh what you are getting for the money and ask questions before agreeing to this type of agreement.

It works best for beginners who are not sure what they need and want to grow as writers. It is also useful for short works.

Editing costs per word

This payment method is popular in the industry and ranges between $0.02-0.06 (U.S.) per word depending on the editor’s experience and ability, with most editing per word between $0.03-0.04 (U.S.).

It is often the most affordable method for new writers and can save money over editing per hour when a longer work is involved; however, fixing a manuscript with many problems will result in higher costs than if only developmental/substantive or copy edits are needed.

Editing costs per project

This is a combination of the above two methods. It is often used when an author has no idea how much editing they need and wants to get a ballpark estimate before committing to a more expensive method such as per word.

Prices vary widely but are usually around $300 per project. This method requires extensive pre-planning and an accurate understanding of the project, which means the author needs to know exactly what they want (developmental/substantive vs. copy edit; light, medium, heavy) before contacting the editor.

How many hours does it take to edit a 100,000-word novel?

On average, editors spend between 25 and 50 hours proofreading a 100,000-word novel.

An editor can either correct grammar and spelling or choose to make more extensive corrections. If your 100,000-word novel has fewer errors than normal and the editor isn’t making extensive changes to your novel’s style, then most likely, it will only take 25 hours for the proofreading process.

For that same novel, if an editor spends 50 hours correcting mistakes and rewriting sentences for better style, then each word will cost about $.02-.03 per word.

Factors that influence editing costs

Many factors determine how much it costs to edit your manuscript. These may include:

  • page count,
  • type of editing (developmental/substantive vs. copy),
  • word count,
  • type of work (book, short story, poem), and
  • the complexity of language.

The number of pages in your manuscript will determine the length of time it takes for an editor to work through your document and consequently affect the overall cost.

Paying by the page is usually most common when hiring a freelance editor or another small business just starting up. This can be cheaper and more flexible than paying by the word. However, keep in mind that editors who charge by the page may also edit less per hour than their counterparts paid to edit based on word count.

In contrast, if you hire a full-time editor employed at a publishing house or as part of an agency, they will likely be paid an hourly rate for editing.

This ensures that the editor has ample time to read through your work and make substantial changes, rather than simply going down the manuscript line by line.

Another factor in estimating costs is the type of editing service you require. Developmental or substantive editing involves rewriting story elements, including characters, plot lines, and dialogue.

This type of editing can be costly because it requires a thorough revising and rewriting of the manuscript.

Substantive editing can also offer educational value for those who want to learn about writing from an experienced professional.

Meanwhile, copy editing is more limited and focuses on checking grammar and word choice, ensuring consistency in the use of language throughout the text, and correcting punctuation errors.

Copy editing usually costs less than developmental or substantive editing.

Finally, word count matters when estimating the cost of an edit. The longer your manuscript, the more time it will take for a professional to read through your document and make changes.

If you are writing a novella or short novel, you will likely pay significantly less than a novelist, who may have to pay more per word because of the size of their novel.

As well as word count, you must also consider the language complexity in your manuscript.

Books written for children or young adults (YA) often require less editing than technical manuals or manuscripts written for an older audience. The overall language needs to be simple enough for teenagers or children to understand, and errors in language can distract the reader from your story.

A manuscript that is written too simply might not have an engaging plot, while a manuscript that is too complex will lose the reader’s interest.

You should factor all of these considerations into any quote you receive prior to making a decision.

9 Ways to Reduce your Editing Costs

.Here are some tips for you to reduce the cost of your editing:

1. Tell your editor what you can afford upfront

As mentioned above, you should tell your editor what your budget is for editing upfront. This enables them to provide a quote based on how much they think they need to change to meet your requirements.

2. Do as much work as possible before engaging an editor

The more effort you put into editing beforehand, the less time and money it will take to edit your manuscript.

This includes building your manuscript with proper formatting, checking for consistency of language, and proofreading the text yourself.

3. Find a skilled editor who has experience editing books in your genre

Finding an editor who has already edited books in your genre or those similar to yours means that they understand the type of language you should use. This means less time spent editing, which saves you money.

4. Use Grammarly for editing

Grammarly is an online tool that catches the majority of errors in your writing.

Grammarly can identify and correct all types of grammatical mistakes in a document that will require significant editing, saving money on the process.

If you have a tight budget, you may purchase just one month of service for $29.95, which is far cheaper than hiring a book editor.

You can get the free version of Grammarly from here

in less time than a professional who charges by the word because they will be editing

5. Find an editor who charges per hour rather than per word

This is a good strategy if you are publishing a book that is less than 50,000 words.

An editor who charges by the hour can do substantial work in a short amount of time, which saves you money.

6. Use one of the cheaper online editors

Several free online editing tools will help identify the most common errors in your manuscript. The ones with reviews that are best to use include ProWritingAid and Hemingway App.

7. Ask a friend or family member to edit your manuscript

This option will be the least expensive, but it’s important to consider that they are not a professional editor. Therefore, their changes may require additional editing by a professional before you publish your book.

8. Ask a professional to edit 10,000 words for free

Some editors are willing to read and edit 10,000 words for free if you sign a contract that requires more work once you have seen the changes they have made.

This is beneficial because it enables you to test out multiple editors while not spending a lot of money.

9. Get an affordable freelance editor from Fiverr

Fiverr is an online service that connects freelancers with customers looking for work.

You can find a skilled editor on Fiverr who will edit your first 10,000 words for $5 or less, as they offer their services at bargain rates to get noticed by writers like you.

Click here to view the top 3 editors at Fiverr

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost to edit a 50000-word book?

Answer: Editing a 50000-word book can cost upwards of $700 depending on the level of editing required. Making corrections and changes to punctuation, grammar, misspellings, consistency, tense usage, and voice throughout a document is much more time-consuming than just correcting a few typos or formatting issues.

A professional editor can review your entire manuscript for errors that the average reader won’t see but may call into question how carefully you looked at your work. To find these errors, both the author’s writing, as well as their anecdotal commentary, need to be edited as professionally as possible from the back story through character development so that they are believable and interesting enough for readers who have been conditioned by Hollywood stereotypes for what constitutes “standard” dialogue.

Can an editor steal your book?

Answer: It’s illegal for an editor to take intellectual property away from the owner of the book. But an unscrupulous editor can alter the author’s writing into something that embodies the same words and ideas but doesn’t quote or reference the original work any more than a cereal company would mention its competitors in a commercial.

So if you’re looking to hire an editor and want their identity checked against other samples of their work, be sure to ask them how they handle plagiarism from previous jobs. If they say any approximations of “We make every project sound like ours,” you should consider hiring someone else.

Editors can also steal sales by using your potential readers’ trust in their legitimacy as a gatekeeper of quality to endorse products they haven’t read.

This practice is as unethical as any review service that allows publishers to buy their way onto a bestseller list, or it’s the equivalent of paid critics who give glowing recommendations to movies and books they’ve never watched or read because advertising revenue is contingent on what gets maximum exposure.

Does an editor fix your typos and other small errors?

Yes, the editors correct typos and misplaced punctuation and grammar mistakes. They also suggest ways to change the tone or style of your writing into something that sounds more professional to readers who other books have conditioned in their genre for what constitutes “standard” prose. That’s because the editor is reviewing the writing in isolation. They are not considering your original ideas or how well you’ve expressed them, which is something only you can judge once the editing process has been completed.

An editor’s job isn’t to fix your continuity errors or to decide whether a certain character makes more sense than another one so much as it is to suggest how to make your manuscript better overall.

This makes a proofreader a more suitable choice for cleaning up the less serious spelling and grammatical errors.

Both editors stand out from authors who choose to go it alone because they have access to resources that aren’t available to everyone. Even the best writers in the world wouldn’t know if punctuation was used accurately if they were editing their own work.

So if you’re looking for a proofreader to make your manuscript look more polished, the cost of hiring someone who charges per word will be far less expensive than it is with an editor.

How much do editors charge per hour?

As with anything, this number depends on the specific editor and what you want them to do. According to Upwork, editors charge $20 per hour. This includes basic copy editing and proofreading services. More involved or more complicated editorial work will be priced accordingly.

How do you know an editor is worth hiring?

Answer: Check the editor’s work at Upwork or other job sites. As with any service provider, it’s not really about what they’re charging but about what value you receive in return for your money. So, the best way to judge any professional on their merits is by checking out their portfolio and then asking for references from past customers you can speak to.

What does your final draft look like after it’s been edited?

It will definitely read better than the original, but not all editing is equal. Some editors clean up a manuscript by providing a fast rewrite/edit based on grammatical errors and punctuation mistakes alone. These types of editors will likely cost the least per hour, and they’ll do a serviceable job on a tight deadline, but their work is not going to look as polished as it would if you hired an editor who charges by per word count.

How many hours a day does an editor work?

Answer: Editors often work 10-15 hours per day, but some editors may work more or less. Editors usually work 45-65 hours per week on average, depending on their assigned workload.

Some editors don’t have a set schedule and can establish their own allotted time to edit, which is typically 6-10 hours per day.

Editors will spend their time working with the author of the document by creating roadmaps for them to follow that ensures that all standards are met before publishing it for public consumption.

On top of editing, they also need to promote the content through social media/personal blogs and make sure it gets picked up by industry bloggers to reach maximum viewership. Hence, most rely heavily on interns for this job.

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