Ever wonder how much editing costs? The cost of editing is by far the question authors ask me about most often. I feel a little like I’m giving away a trade secret by talking about this, but in reality, the average cost of editing can be found on many sites, and it’s almost impossible to predict because (as you’ll soon see) there are so many variables to consider. If you are interested in how editing costing works, read on!
Most editors that I’ve met price a project based on four factors:
1. Length of the work:
Proper editing takes time. The more words in the piece you’d like edited, the more time it’s going to take to edit, and the more it’s going to cost. Another consideration here is how much work your writing needs: the rougher your work, the more time it’s going to take an editor to clean it up, so to speak. It’s a good idea to edit your own work a few times (or more!) before you seek out an editor to save yourself some money.
2. Level of edit required:
There are several different degrees of editing, from a proofread for typos and formatting errors to a substantive edit to repair structural issues. The Editor’s Association of Canada has a great list of the types or levels of editing. More involved levels of editing (like a substantive edit) are going to take an editor more time, and will therefore be more expensive.
How soon do you need your work edited? If your turn-around time is short, an editor may need to charge more for your project.
4. The Editor:
Just like other professions, more experienced editors will charge more. Editors need to have a complex set of skills. They often have advanced degrees in publishing or literature or experience, and writing their own work. An editor might have advanced knowledge about a specific topic or genre (e.g. Sci-Fi writing or gardening). An editor with less experience will likely be less expensive, while an experienced editor will charge more for their expertise.
How Much Does Editing Cost?: The Not-So-Secret Formula
If you’d like to get a high level view of how much your next project might cost, you can do a rough calculation using the information below. A big warning here: every editor I know prices differently. There are many intangible factors when it comes to quoting on an editing project, from how many other projects you have your plate to how much overhead you have for your business. The information below is just a guideline — if an editor gives you a quote that doesn’t fit the guide below, it could still be a great price. If you ever doubt that you’re getting a good price you can always ask for referrals, or get a quote from another editor.
Here is a very high level formula that editors might use to calculate how much a project will cost.
Many editors calculate the cost of an editing project by using a variation this formula:
Pages/hour x charge per hour = total cost
The number of pages an editor will be able to complete in an hour depends on the level of edit required. For a standard guide on how much an editor might charge per hour based on the level of edit, see the rates on the Editorial Freelancers Associations site. The more involved the edit, the fewer pages an editor can complete per hour, and the more your project will cost.
Depending on their level of experience and the level of edit required, an editor may charge anywhere from $15/hour to $100+/hour.
A side note about the level of edit required: I have found the level of edit required can occasionally be a touchy subject with writers. You may only want your work proofread, but if there are bigger issues with your writing, it might be very difficult (or impossible) for an editor to only proofread your work without fixing some deeper issues (e.g. poor grammar habits). A good editor will let you know what your project needs, and occasionally, refuse your project if they feel they can’t complete the level of edit required within the budget you are looking to meet.
Do you have any questions about the cost of editing? Leave a comment below!