Saturday, September 6, 2008

What does an editor cost?

Our most popular and most commented on post. Not much has changed, including debate over fair and affordable editing costs.

It's all well and good to tell a writer they need a professional editor to peruse their manuscript before submitting to an agent or publisher. But, how much does that cost?

An informal industry perusal yields quite a range of costs. Let's take a look at some prices as well as methods of pricing. It depends in part on what you're buying. A line editor might charge $25 per hour and edit on average 10 pages an hour. Some editors simply charge $2.50 per page, which makes the math rather easy. A 300-page novel would cost you $750 for editing services.

But, what does that get you? Just a cleaning up of grammar, spelling, and typos as a rule. Some good editors will take a little longer and make deeper suggestions to improve the writing. But don't expect too much more than the basics for that price. It's still money well-spent, and it can mean the difference between being accepted or the story languishing in a drawer.

Can you get editing for cheaper? Sure. I've heard as low as $300 per manuscript. That's a steal, and the immediate reaction - you get what you pay for - isn't necessarily true. The editor might be great, but just starting out. Or the editor might be really fast and good, so can be highly competitive. Determine the price you can pay, and then look for referrals to get the job done. No matter how good your writing, it can always be better, and a keen eye can be just the tool to polish your manuscript to a gleaming shine.

Have you had your manuscript professionally edited? What did you pay? If you're an editor, what do you charge for what level of service? Interested writers want to know.

Dani Greer is founding member of this blog, and is a professional artist, writer, and editor. You can read more at her blog, or follow her on Twitter. Oh, and make friends on Facebook.


  1. If you can't afford an editor, ask a schoolteacher friend or an author friend you trust who has had books published without professional editing to read over your manuscript.

    Show your appreciation by offering something in return, like linking to that person's page, featuring that person on your blog or in your newsletter, doing Amazon and other reviews, and/or whatever other favors you can think of.

    Morgan Mandel

    1. Just wanted to say that this is my first time on this site. It's 4:46am EST in the U.S. and I'm still up reading all the very information comments. Thanks so much! I've completed my first non-fiction and I think by reading these comments I may have chosen my new editor........

  2. But, Morgan, what you're talking about is a "first-read", not an actual edit. There is a huge difference, to my way of thinking.

    What does everyone else think?


  3. A first read is better than nothing, but it's not the same as paying for a professional edit. As a professional editor, for fiction I charge $2.25 a page or $25 an hour with a maximum cap of $2.25 per page, whichever the author chooses. Yes, that's a big financial commitment for an unpublished author to make. But it's one that I make for each of my novels before it goes to an agent or publisher. And well worth it.

  4. L.J. You're in the same ballpark as my editing pal in Colorado, and you're on the West coast. Geographic location can make such a difference, so that's an interesing insight.


  5. Most people do not realize that you don't get the same type or quality of editing by having a friend or teacher edit your book versus having a professional editor work with you on your manuscript.

    There is much more to editing than just checking for typos and grammatical errors. A true professional will check for development, formatting, awkward transitions, redundancies, hyperbole, biased language and stereotyping as well as mechanical errors. A good edit should not only improve the book, but the writer as well.

    We offer three levels of editing based upon what the book and the author needs. Our rates are from $2/page for proofreading to $10+/page for substantial editing that includes coaching and rewriting where needed. Our prices are based upon what two publishers pay us to work on their author's manuscripts. Since we know the publishing industry, we can steer an author to the type of publishing method best for them, their book, and their budget.

    These are definitely some things to consider when choosing an editor.

    Yvonne Perry

    1. Excellent advice. Thank you for this.

    2. That depends on the friend or family member.

      There are different types/degrees of editing, to be sure, and the costs will be different if you're paying an "outsider," but a GOOD family member or friend may be just as effective an option. It's wise to know whether those you enlist are truly skilled in this area, or just buddies helping out.

      By the same token, the quality of a PROFESSIONAL editor varies, as well. Thus far, my experience with professional editors has not been that great. (I've had to go back and re-correct where they changed my proper grammar to incorrect grammar. Seriously.) I know there are good editors out there, too; the point is, whether you're asking a friend or hiring someone for pay, you still have to know their abilities, because some are better than others.

  6. There is competition: India.

    This is an issue -- hiring a pro editor -- that will grow in importance as writers direct publish to eBook and tell print publishers to take a hike. You're on the cutting edge here.

    I like Yvonne Perry's explanation of services.

  7. At the proposal stage, you probably want an editorial evaluation, which will diagnose just exactly how much editing would be recommended. A common fee for this service is $300. If the manuscript has logical flaws, we usually hire a freelance development editor to work one-on-one with the author, and we expect to pay about $65/hour. Once a book is in production, we do two or three rounds of editing - copyedit (avg. $5/page), proofread (avg. $2/page), and (if the book is complex) a coldread of page proofs (avg. $2.50/page).

    Julie Trelstad

    p.s. find typical rates at

  8. It doesn't matter what an editor costs. If you are serious about publishing a quality book, you can't afford NOT to hire an editor. Of course, I think my editor, Yvonne Perry, is priceless. Not only is she an experienced editor, she has been invaluable to me as a mentor in the business of writing. Her extensive network of publishers and marketing professionals has led me to multiple money-making opportunities. Her podcast is a gold mine of information about the business. Check her website at

  9. Great information so far... invaluable. Thank you. Would love to get more comments, especially from professionals.

    I love the expression "cold read". I would love to have my business cards say "Cold Reader". I can see the imaginary question marks over people's heads already! LOL.


    1. Unless you are a European writer, your period should be inside your closing quotation mark. :-0

    2. THANK YOU FOR NOTING THAT DETAIL! I see it wrong so often I have begun to wonder what they are teaching in the schools.

    3. And indeed I was born and raised in Europe. I find the American way to be in error, but try to overlook making public criticisms about it. ;)

    4. Is it WRONG? Or is it a matter of style? (There are a few things on which the major style manuals disagree -- for instance, the "Oxford comma." I was thinking this was one of them.)

    5. If Dani had written:

      I would love to have my business cards say "Cold Reader" because I can see the imaginary question marks over people's heads already!

      there would be no punctuation mark inside the closing quotation mark. For this reason, the style for non-fiction used by UK, European, Australian, and South African* publications has no punctuation inside quotation marks unless the punctuation is part of the quote.

      Dialog in fiction is the exception; the punctuation falls inside the quotation marks. The US* uses the fiction dialog style for both fiction and non-fiction.

      (*I'm not sure which side Canada takes on this.)

  10. I'm an editor, and I charge on the low end...from $1.00 to $2.00 per page, depending on a work's size. Been editing for over five years now.

    I would say I'm pretty thorough. I do the usual edit for grammar and mechanics, but I look at story structure and development, I pay close attention to the first chapter, to chapter development, inconsistencies - anything and everything that makes a story a STORY.

    I use the TRACK CHANGES and COMMENTS features on Word, so clients often receive a lecture from me in the comment section on why I make the suggestions I do.

    I then do a manuscript evaluation where I rate components in the story, summarize it, discuss its weaknesses and strengths, and - depending on how bad a work needs to be revamped - offer steps to revise the work.

    1. Are you still editing? Do you have credentials?

    2. Chick Lit Gurrl is the alias for our own Shon Bacon. You can contact her through her website here.

  11. One question I always have is the guarantee an editor might offer a client. I mean, what if there still are mistakes after you've been paid for a professional edit? Do you refund money? Or do you qualify in a contract? Or is the subject not even broached? I suppose I could open a whole new discussion on that aspect.


  12. I think you'd be hard-pressed to find an editor who would and could catch EVERY error that's on the page. It's why some people suggest you get your work edited by more than one person - someone to do substantive editing, copy editing, and proofreading.

  13. Substantive editing, copy editing, and proofreading -now those are terms we really need to define for the readers. Many writers don't know what that's about. Is that another blog post someone would want to take on?


  14. I agree with hotbutton press and that is why we proofread the manuscript again once changes are accepted/rejected by the author. Accepting call changes in a doc can actually create errors in spacing or left out words.

    I also think chick lit gurrl is right. I always have more than one person proofread for me after I edit a book just to make sure I haven't missed anything.

    Someone on Twitter asked when is the best time to get the editor involved. To that, I would say
    new authors should get your manuscript as perfect as you can on your own, then get an evaluation to see how ready it is for the market or a publisher.

    I would be happy to discuss on my blog the different types of editing. I'm sure we all have our own definition of what each of these involve, but it would be interesting to get some other opinions on this. come on over to and let's chat.

  15. This comment has been removed by the author.

  16. What's so interesting is the number of writers I have coming to me who have literally JUST finished the book and race it off to an editor without trying to understand the craft, understand the English language, and understand all that's involved in writing. It's as if they think all they need to do is simply put the words on a page and someone else will do all the hard work.

  17. chick lit gurrl said regarding authors: It's as if they think all they need to do is simply put the words on a page and someone else will do all the hard work.

    Many authors are pretty much the same way about promoting their book. They come to us requesting to be a guest on our podcast and they don't even have a bio or any marketing material they can produce to help me promote THEIR show! That is the main reason I make sure the author's marketing efforts are mentioned in our interview.

    I think a lot of it is ignorance on the author's part, but some are like you said: they want someone else to do all the hard work for them. And, we are glad to do it, but we charge for our services, which surprises some of them! LOL!

  18. My first novel was 90,000 words of brilliant manure. I recognized that it was 1) bad, and 2) not easily fixed, so I put it away and wrote a better story. Although I knew I had worked harder and written better, I wanted to hire a professional editor to see if they could find the things I needed to improve. Because the bottom line was that I wanted to be publishable.

    Just as I had sent my ms to Jean Jenkins (, Karen Syed of Echelon contacted me. She had read my book and wanted to publish it.

    I guess I did okay! But that doesn't mean I wouldn't hire Jean in the future.

  19. LOL

    Yvonne - it DOES surprise them, too.

    I also think that for some writers there is so much material out on how to write that they get inundated with it all and don't know how to whittle the material down to best serve them.

  20. I belong to a writer's group that includes writers with a variety of experience, education and interests. Most of them majored in English, are college graduates and have a good eye for story, character and errors. If you absolutely cannot afford a professional editor, find a high quality critique group. All the members in my group read, critiqued, and red-marked my mystery before it went to the publisher who finally accepted the book...and who did very little editing after the fact.

    That being said, I'd still kill to have L.J. edit my work! So...saving nickels and dimes here... :-)

  21. I tend to work with those writers who want someone else to do the hard work. :-) Most of my editing clients are people who have a story to tell and a plan to self-publish but who aren't good writers. One of my clients, for example, who is writing a series of historical fiction novels based on his family history said he started writing because he wanted his family story told and no one else would do it.

    My fee seems to be higher than most mentioned here ($75/hour) but my clients are willing to pay that for substantive editing because they want to get their book finished and published in less time than it would take them to learn the craft of writing.

    I tell my clients that I've never seen a published book without an error. I don't guarantee to catch everything, but I do guarantee to proofread the manuscript after the author's final review. I also encourage authors to have other people read the manuscript as well. For family histories, I recommend other family members and historians. For other genres, I recommend readers who know the genre or have technical knowledge that I as an editor don't have.

  22. Lillie, I find that assisting with family histories or any kind of lifewriting tends to run a good deal higher. But, wouldn't you consider that more along the lines of ghostwriting than revising and editing? I would.


  23. hmm... just remember that there are plenty of hopeless people out there who are more than willing to take a premium rate for a sub-standard service. expensive doesn't mean better and affordable doesn't mean worse.

  24. It's also important to remember that an individual working at home doesn't have employee costs and overhead, so can be competitive and pass that savings along to the customer. It's just basic competitive business practice. Sometimes you definitely get way better than you pay for! We do the same in our two-man liturgical art business. Do topnotch work for half the cost of the big studios. The downside? We're harder to find and have way more work than we can handle most of the time. Probably works the same way with editors. And bookcover designers. And attorneys.


  25. Great info, everyone! I have a suggestion for people who are worried about paying an editor hundreds of dollars to edit a novel without 'testing' them out first. Why not submit a short story for editing? (Published authors I've talked to suggest getting short stories published to increase the publication credits under your belt and your eventual chance for book publication, so it's a double benefit.)

    I'm not saying that one editor will necessarily be better or worse than another; the fact is, you might just work better with a particular editor, just like you work better with a particular agent.

    I don't know if all editors accept short work, but I know L.J., at least, does!

  26. Dani,
    In some cases, what I am doing is closer to ghostwriting than editing.

    I offer clients a free sample edit of the first five pages of the manuscript. That lets them see if they like what I do, and it gives me an idea of how much work will be required on the manuscript. I use the sample to quote an estimated price.

  27. I am an English teacher and I was approached by a colleague to edit a book of poetry for a friend of hers. I have completed 33 poems plus an acknowledgement page for the book but he will probably only use 30 of the poems. The poems needed everything from grammatical and rhythmic corrections to redundancy (the biggest problem) and formatting/structural corrections. I was thinking to charge by the word instead of by the page. What do you think?

  28. I'm a professional writer and editor. I've been in the business a very long time and have earned upwards of $80/hour freelancing in the computer industry.

    However, I understand that fiction authors rarely have that kind of money, and I love working in fiction. So I price my work for individual fiction authors accordingly: .02/word for copy and line editing, plus $40/hour for developmental editing, with a free hour of developmental editing for each manuscript.

    You can check out my services and samples on my website, where I also post essays on the art and craft of fiction, at: Please feel free to mention that you linked from this site!

    Victoria Mixon

  29. This was GREAT information, everyone! I was asked by a friend of a friend to "edit" her first manuscript and told I'd be paid "whatever I wanted" as long as I could accept payments over time. I corrected grammar, spelling, punctuation, sentence structure and diction. The 200-pages took me almost 50 hours (almost every other sentence needed to be reworked, so I guess I was "ghostwriting" as well) and the author balked at my $1000 fee, saying she could only afford to pay me $2 a page. I had already completed 80% of the manuscript by this time. I've learned my lesson! I like the idea of editing a sample of a few chapters, seeing if the author approves, and talking fees at that time and writing a contract. Thanks again for the insight!

  30. Great article. I expected you to say that all editors are very expensive, especially the good ones. But you certainly defended the editor who is great but just starting out--like me. :)

  31. I'm surprised that authors are worried about hiring an "untested" editor in the US. Is it not commonplace to provide a sample? Here in Australia, I always offer a sample edit of 1000 words, which allows the author to understand the kind of work I would do on their MS, and to raise any issues about my editing style (if they have them) before I go ahead. Having said that, it can be annoying when people take advantage of that yet have no intention of hiring an editor. I used to say "first chapter" and had people send me 10,000 word "first chapters". Others take the sample and vanish into thin air. Cheeky things.

    I think the biggest thing I find is that authors don't have realistic expectations of the cost of an edit. For edits, I charge $30 to $55 an hour, depending on whether it is substantive or simply line editing. In Melbourne or Sydney the standard rate is up to $75 an hour, but I find so few authors can or will pay that. Still, many authors think that anything more a few hundred dollars to edit a 60,000 word+ manuscript is excessive. Given that an editor's job is to be very thorough (checking facts and for things such as libel, plagiarism [if it seems glaring], as well as SPaG, characterisation, flow, plotting and structure) it usually takes me either half an hour or an hour per 1000 words (again, depends on what the problems are) — and I'm a senior editor with more than 13 years experience and a plethora of publications under my belt! So by my calculation, that would come to $2100 (at least) for a substantive edit. But by the author's estimation, of, say $500 dollars maximum, they're wanting me to work for just $8.30 an hour, well below minimum wage of $15 an hour here in Australia.

    Beta readers, friends and teachers are great, but they generally won't be as au fait with industry standard, style and usage issues and some, I find, simply give lip service, operating as a fan club and not an editorial service.

    I fully believe that authors need to hone their craft and learn the mechanics of language and how to use grammar, punctuation and other literary devices. Message boards, writing sites, beta readers and friends can all play a part in that, but the simple fact is that all authors are ultimately too connected to their own work to be truly objective about their writing. Even as an editor, when I write (and I now work as an inhouse author, so that's my day job) I know how valuable it is to have my work edited and wouldn't send a book out without that, ever. I am often amazed at what my editors pick up (mostly because the eyes see what the brain thinks is there, not what is truly there, so it's hard to edit work with which you are overly familiar). I am also extremely grateful for the wonderful suggestions they make and improvements they add. I wish I could make more authors understand that what they are paying for is a premium and necessary service, not an optional extra. People will pay thousands of dollars for a gardener, painter or tradesman to improve their home before they sell it, but won't pay a comparable sum for an editor to make their book the best it can be before they attempt to sell it to an agent, or put it out there for consumers. I also find that those who are prepared to pay for an edit, are often those clients whose writing needs the least work, because they are already committed writers who understand the importance of quality. Those unprepared to fork out for an edit are likewise equally unlikely to pay for cover design or to take the long and winding road of seeking an agent or traditional publisher, instead choosing to churn out very mediocre, unedited, self-published pulp, which is dragging standards for self-publishers down.

    Okay, rant over. :-)

  32. An author needs a lot of energy to write a novel. Sometimes s/he needs to tap into fresh energy to get the novel in shape to send to an agent. After all, an author has only one chance to interest an agent. The 'eyes' and energy of a good editor can help make that happen.
    I've been an editor of fiction and non-fiction for 20 years, as well as being an author. For a complete novel edit that focuses on characterization, chapter and plot development and transitions, logical flaws, structure and copy and line editing (which includes word choices), I charge $1,800 for a 300-page novel. I use Track Changes and Comments on the document. In the Comments section, I often coach as well as explain the writing principle involved in the correction to effect overall writing improvement. For short stories I charge $60/an hour for the same substantive edit. Initially, I ask to read a 5-10 page sample of the novel before taking a job. For lesser editing, fees are of course reduced.

  33. Carol Bonomo AlbrightApril 3, 2011 at 8:59 AM

    My previous post didn't include my e-mail address. It is: Thanks.

  34. I would love nothing more than to get an editor for my historical, but no, I don't have the money. I live on disability and my royalties are not very high right now.

    If I could find an editor who would take payments I'd love to do it. I do agree there's a great deal of value in getting a professional editor for your manuscript.

  35. I begin with a sample edit. Then I do a very thorough job that I call an educative edit on 500 words. Based on that, I give a quote for the full range of my services. It often happens that when a writer sees what a thorough edit can do for a text, he or she opts for that, at least for part of the text.

  36. I am pretty much just starting out as a freelance editor; I just graduated with a BA in English and have been editing college-level academic papers for almost two years now. I charge $3 a page because most of the submissions I get are short and my goal is to provide an affordable service for college students whose writing needs polishing. If the submission is over 10 pages, that total drops to $2.50/page and over 20 pages it drops again to $2.00/page. This price seems to work great for college students on a budget. I check for errors and work with the words to help the paper flow, which often requires some ghostwriting as I rework sentences. I have edited a few short fiction pieces through this experience and am looking to expand my offering to include novel editing. I worked with MANOA Journal ( as an editing intern for some time so I have experience working with longer pieces, but I'm still trying to figure out if $3/page is a reasonable asking price for novels as well as the shorter pieces that I have done before. What does everyone think? Several people whom I have quoted my price to for novels seem to think it's a bit high, but considering what I have read in this feed I think it sounds about right.

  37. At Laura Kelly Editorial Services, we do manuscript evaluations, proofreading, line editing, developmental editing, copyediting, and formatting for ebooks. We can also help you with your research if that's where you're stuck. Rates vary from $2 to $10 per page, depending on the service required. We offer a trial edit of 25 pages for $100 to see if your style matches ours. By the hour rates vary from $20 to $60, again depending on the service requested. Last, but not least, we offer workshops, and have a writer mentor program as well. Check out your options at Mention you read about us here for a 5% discount on all services.

  38. For basic line editing - catching typos and minor grammar issues - a teacher might be a good choice as Morgan suggested. But for story evaluation and more in-depth copy editing, a professional book editor is a better choice. He or she will know the elements that make a good book as opposed to the elements that make a good paper for school.

    I have been lucky so far that I have not had to pay an editor - all of my books have been published by houses that provide editorial services, but I do have one I am working on that will go to a freelance editor. It will be money well spent.

    For my own editing services, I charge by the project after giving a free sample of how I edit and reading enough of the ms to judge how much work is involved. It averages to roughly $2.00 a page. For manuscripts that need more work and the writer needs considerable coaching, I charge more.

  39. You guys are worth every penny ... even if $700 is twice as much as I've made on both my books put together.

  40. I'm an editor and proofreader. I'm reading a partial manuscript now that was "edited" by a h.s. English teacher. It might be grammatically correct, but the story is P.U. There is no story, no character development, no umph. It's supposed to be fantasy and it reads like a mommy's memoir, at best. And this blog post gave me a great idea for a post. I'll link to you Blood-Red!

  41. I have to disagree. You are in this business to make money. If you're writing it so poor that you have to have someone do a professional check on your work BEFORE you send it too a publisher then you need to brush up on your writing skills. Publishers PAY people to edit writers they choose to publish. Not to mention you as a writer should take the time to do a spell check and carefully read over your work.

    If you are e-publishing your own work then yes, you need to get an editor.

    1. I would argue that people write for many reasons, and to make money isn't necessarily at the top of the list. They might believe sharing their experience will help someone else, for example. That is often the case with memoir writers. From my editing experience, making money is not high on the list of reasons. Each person's equation is different, of course, but we can't insist they all follow the same one.

    2. Dear Anonymous #1, You could use an editor yourself. "If you're writing it so poor..." should read either "If you are writing it so poorly..." or "If your writing is so poor..." Also, "BEFORE you send it too a publisher" should read "BEFORE you send it to a publisher."

  42. As an author, I have a question for the editors on board here.
    I believe I can spot a good suggestion to my writing when I see one, and I really appreciate it when I see it!
    But if you do a copyedit and I disagree with a particular suggestion (sometimes it really is a matter of opinion, viewpoint etc.), what is the best way for me to go about disagreeing with you, and can YOUR ego take it if I do so?
    Will you chalk me up as a bad writer if I don't take your critique in certain cases?
    Lets face it, sometimes editors just don't "get" where the author is coming from? How can I best find an author who will get my style?
    Again, I DO appreciate a brilliant suggestion when I see one. And even though I think it's cheating, I'll snap it up with very little shame. But please remember that it is my story and not can come right in and change the whole thought/feel sometimes if you are not careful
    Case in point:

    Just sayin....askin' :-)

  43. That's what I charge and I make sure you are satisfied, you also get some perks like using some of my connections if I really like your work and see promise.


    Up to 10,000 words
    Proofreading - $50
    Editing for content - $60
    Full edit - $75
    Ghost edit - $150
    Ghost write - $250

    10,001-30,000 words
    Proofreading - $125
    Editing for content - $175
    Full edit - $225
    Ghost edit - $450
    Ghost write - $550

    30,001-60,000 words
    Proofreading - $250
    Editing for content - $300
    Full edit - $350
    Ghost edit - $700
    Ghost write - $850

    60,001-90,000 words
    Proofreading - $325
    Editing for content - $375
    Full edit - $425
    Ghost edit - $850
    Ghost write - $1000

    Corporate Copy
    Web pages, emails, blog posts and articles
    $.05 / word

    Proofreading & editing
    $10/ 250 word (about a page of double spaced 12 point font)

  44. Although many editors on here have their fair share of opinions, I found the comments least relevant to the article. The above article said that a potential author can find editor that are of quality for $300.00 and that an expensive edit does not always mean a good or the best edit. Many.. inexpensive editors are just starting out or can afford to do this on the cheap for whatever their situations may be. Also.. many editors are falsely assuming authors are looking to self publish which is not the case for the majority.

  45. I am new to the writing industry. However I am an experienced business person. It took me a long time to take up writing seriously and it comes with many risks. My grammar, tense choice and run on sentences can be atrocious at times. I even make silly spelling misteaks such as mistakes, oh wait other way around. Snicker. Sometimes I use the wrong words though I look up most words I use and have a doubt about. I even forget to put even though and sometimes just write dough instead of though.

    Most importantly however, I have three options. Sell or attempt to sell rubbish. Meticulously edit my own work with my unskilled eyes. Pay a professional editor.

    Paying an editor will do a number of things for me. I will get a crash course in English for novels. I will get feedback. I will have a polished manuscript. I will be able to work on my second novel. I will have one reader that is being paid to tell me exactly how bad it is without having to even give me an F or an A. I might get my first fan. I will be a little poorer. I will be able to tell a prospective publisher or agent that I am very serious about my work and have had it reviewed by a professional in their industry. I think that counts for something.

    I will be able to honestly market my work, without fear of being ridiculed for flawed grammar, tense, and, so much more. Did I mention punctuation?

    Yes, I read my work out loud to myself, to listen to the rythmn of the prose. Yes I get my wife, my mother, my fox terrier and my 9 month old daughter to look at my work. He'll I even publish my first draft online for people to butcher me in comments. I even attempt to get would be teachers to correct my manuscript online. I even consider running a 500 eur competition to the reader that can find the most mistakes. :) I am cheeky. Am I not?

    Oh, I also get ms word telling me "fragment consider ..."

    Now I am looking for a brave editor who will not only review my work but butcher it so hard my manuscript will cry out for mercy. When it is done I want the editor to be proud of the work we did! I want an editor that will deal with my tantrum after I pay them to butcher my work. An editor that will understand my initial reaction. An editor that will appreciate my undying gratitude once I cool off and send them a second draft based on their edits. In which edit I proceed to provide another bulk of slightly better quality junk.

    Contact this author on

    2 fiction novels with full story line plotted.
    1 with 7 chapters completed in two weeks. Yes there will be need for editing.

    Looking to start building a relationship with a quirky capable editor. Preferably with industry experience and contacts. Yes I know you charge for that. Every professional charges for their work.

    1. Hey CJ,
      It seems like you have special observations on different matters, based on a wide experience.Nice to meet, I am Lital, writer-artist who likes to taste both sides of the coin. I studied professional script writing and editing work, and I would love to hear from you and see if I can help. Check out my world here
      Much Luck on your path!


  46. Hey, everyone. First and foremost, I'd like to say that I appreciated all of the information given here on this blog post. It was very interesting to see the different viewpoints from both authors and editors. I've been writing for quite some time now but have only just recently finished my first complete novel. It was very... discouraging to say the least, how expensive the rates are that were mentioned here. My novel is exceeds well over 157,000 words so you can imagine my reaction. I wouldn't say that my grammar and punctuation are awful but I would definitely love the support and professional edge that an editor would offer to my work. As someone who would like to proudly see their hard work and efforts on a bookshelf one day, I would like to ask what someone in my shoes should do. I find it kind of embarrassing that I wrote such a long story without thinking about how much it would cost me financially to even pursue it through to the next step. Any suggestions offered would be very appreciated. Thanks.

    1. In a word - beta readers. (I guess that's two words.;)
      Especially published authors who know the process and are willing to read your manuscript and give you feedback.

  47. "first Reads" can be very important. Some First readers are the first editors the manuscript gets, sometimes it's the "3rd set of eyes." Many authors include this first read as editing. Is it everything? No. As a Beta Reader and wife of an editor I am very specific. Editing is time consuming and I have seem the editing process my husband uses he is deep and thorough, looking at all aspects of the manuscript.

  48. How do you define a "page"? Is that a 10 pt. font page document in Word?

  49. What is the definition of "page" when considering editing charges?
    Is that a Word document in 10 or 11point font?

  50. Hi Tracey,

    A manuscript page is usually calculated as 250 words.

  51. And Times New Roman 12 pt is the standard for submissions.

    1. I love this site....I'm a first time author of a non-fiction manuscript. I refuse to call it a "book" until it gets published. Smiling....You just taught me something.

  52. Can I get some advice on writing? I have nearly completed my first draft and I am struggling.

  53. New writer whose work may be categorized in many controversial ways, need for editing without a doubt. Website: resides in Dallas Tx. Would like to join book reading/editing club.

  54. Have a 228 page non-fiction true crime five generation family story. Took eight years to research. Fact based and based in part on in depth national newspapers from 1929-1931. Have completed manuscript and did a "soft" launch with feedback from small group of family, friends and neighbors. Have compiled a list of issues. Now need professional edits done. Who can delete repetition, wordiness and preachy tone I've been told the book contains? Give me a cost and realistic turn around quote.

  55. Dj Everette, I have the perfect editor for you! Please email and we can discuss our competitive price options. Several of our editors have experience in criminal law and would no doubt take an interesting angle on your work as well as tackle the issues highlighted.

    Hope to hear from you soon.

  56. "And Times New Roman 12pt is the standard for submissions."

    That's fine for magazines and perhaps some of the new eBook only digital
    companies, but traditional publishers like Simon & Schuster still want
    double-spaced 12pt Courier. Not much has changed with traditional publishing.

    I'm not an editor, but I own an eBook formatting business (or digital
    typesetting as I like to think of it). For people who know without a doubt that
    they're going to self-publish as eBook only, let me say that whether you plan to
    try and format the book yourself or hire it out, the most sensible route to take
    is to keep everything in one major font along with Courier and keep the book
    reflowable. (In other words--No Fixed Layouts!) Fixed layouts have their place,
    but there are literally millions of people with 1st and 2nd generation Kindles
    along with many old Sonys etc. that won't be able to read your book! Plus,
    people like being able to choose the font and font size of their choice when
    reading, and fixed layout takes that choice away from them. They'll even leave
    you a bad review quite often if you make the book fixed layout. It doesn't
    matter what major font you choose because you (or your formatter) are going to
    rip out all references to that font anyway so every individual eReader on the
    market can you its default font or the font the reader chooses. The only
    exception is monospace (Courier etc.). You may use monospace here and there in a
    book such as for quoting a letter and so forth. And please ... don't be so silly
    as to try to make indents by hitting the spacebar multiple times! It's best to
    use a style, or at least use the tab. But styles are of course best.

    Charles Seper

    eBook Pioneers (We make eBooks!)

  57. Aren't commas and periods always placed inside the closing quotation mark?

    1. Think Euro vs. U.S. on this rule. The editors on this blog are from all over the world, and know that - dare I say it? - America isn't always right about everything. LOL. You can Google for endless discussion about this.

  58. After watching my husband (who is not a professional editor) edit my novel over the course of 50+ hours (for something that could have taken him a couple of hours to read), I can't understand how an editor can charge less than $500 for a simple edit, let alone less than $1000 for a standard one. Glad I'm not the editor.

  59. Hello everyone!

    I wanted to share my story with you and get your two cents. No, I'm not talking about the story that is my first novel or about your two cents per word. I want to share my story of what I am currently going through with an editor and get some advice.

    Last Fall, I had finally finished my first novel and sent it off to about eight friends for story critiques. While they all agreed that my grammar was pretty bad in multiple areas, they were all taken aback at how much they enjoyed the story and its delivery. They all said it has tremendous potential and loved to see the finished product. If they book never goes anywhere, I can at least dwell in the satisfaction that a handful of people loved my work. Two of them even said, "I knew you always wanted to be an author but I never dreamed in a million years that it would have been that incredible of a read!"

    Thank you...I think?

    Back to the story you're here for. I finished the final draft and had hired an acquaintance who went to college to become a professional editor. He had edited a few non-fiction books in the past but this was his first fictional book to attempt. My novel was 140k-ish words and he knew this going in. However, after reaching roughly half of the way through the book, he realized it was going to take about 3-4 times the original hours. It's not because he thinks my delivery/grammar has been atrocious; (maybe one day I'll get that pesky semi-colon right) he too agreed it's only bad in spots. He simply decided to go a little above and beyond his original contracted duties of grammar/spelling/correct word use/ and what have you that we agreed upon . He wanted to give his opinion on how to better structure certain parts, sentence structure, some story elements, and I will be the first to say he's done a fabulous job with those aspects. However, I am now being asked to pay him almost $4,000 for him to finish instead of the original quote and contracted price of $1,000. That, or he is wanting a portion of royalties with an uncapped dollar amount.

    Crap on my day!

    My question is...what the heck do I do? I am self-publishing and heavily marketing the book with and I don't have the finances to drop four times the original amount when I have been budgeting that into my marketing expenses. I haven't paid him up till this point and that was something we also agreed upon. I'm just curious what you professionals would advise me to do? I have experience in the Hollywood side of writing but this is a first time novel. Is that a realistic cost for 140k words?

    1. While I'm inclined to agree with some of the other commenters that it is a fairly realistic price, I'm not sure that justifies him charging you for it.

      For my own clients, I do an editing sample up front so that we both know approximately how long it will take me to complete the work and the cost involved, then I draw up an agreement from there. If I'm way outside of the estimate, or it seems like it's heading that direction, I let the client know immediately and work out a solution. That usually means capping the amount the client would owe at x amount above the estimate or reevaluating the project and drawing up a new agreement that is fair to both of us.

      Those are my thoughts. Good luck, and I hope everything turns out well for you!

  60. I'm afraid it is realistic, First Timer. That's the sort of editing I do (full overhaul, including some ghostwriting), and that is about what I charge. Your novel will be better for it, if you can invest in it.

    1. First_Timer, I have to agree with Elle. My experience has been that numerous errors in consistency, plot, character, and dialogue development, as well as in several other areas, become much more evident after an edit begins. Shortcomings in grammar and punctuation are much easier to spot in an initial evaluation of the manuscript. It's the deeper areas of need that become evident during the edit.

      I, too, provide a short sample to show the writer what professional editing can do for the story. While it's never my initial intent to do a scene (or larger) rewrite, I have found that writers (especially those new to novel and non-fiction writing) often don't know how to fix a scene. Commonly, my helping them work through it takes considerably more time than I hoped, and the hours allotted for the project skyrocket. It's easier and more time-effective for me to write a sample of what is needed and let the writer use that as a springboard. But even this adds significantly to the overall time required to polish a good but needy story into a great book.

      To limit the potential of your story by not allowing your editor to fully do his job may have negative repercussions on your book's long range marketability. Perhaps you can work out a payment plan or some other solution rather than uncapped royalties. Remember that when an editor's estimate of time needed to complete a project rises sharply above that estimate, the editor's income drastically drops; and other clients waiting for edits are put on hold. In all fairness, the writer should expect to pay more for 3 to 4 times the hours estimated. On the other hand, the editor should build a small contingency into the estimate, which will cover unexpected minor fixes that almost inevitably occur, and also note in the contract that the charge may rise if the manuscript requires more than, say, a 10% increase in the allotted hours to professionally complete the job. The amount of that increase should be spelled out, perhaps as an hourly rate, and a new estimate presented based on the editor's deeper knowledge of the manuscript's needs.

      Note: Your book must have great potential if the editor is willing to accept royalties in lieu of more money.

  61. I think his request is unreasonable. You did not ask him for the services that he has taken it upon himself to offer. Ask him to finish the agreed upon job for the price he quoted and get someone else to do the content editing. You do indeed need this, but he has reneged and is untrustworthy. I would not trust my work in his hands.

    1. I wouldn't go so far as to call someone untrustworthy without all the details - it sounds like he's out of his depth; the OP mentioned this was his first attempt at fiction editing. But I do agree that he should not gone ahead and done the extra work without first consulting with his client. Having made a miscalculation in his quotation he needs to cop the extra he's already done. I stand by my comment that investing in a full edit would be worth it.

      If the OP cannot afford the full edit and just wants the original basic edit completed, then the negotiation will depend on whether the original quotation was based on an hourly rate or a set fee for the job.

      Re-reading First Timer's comment: be careful with sharing royalties - if you do this, draw up a contract and make sure it is capped at the agreed amount you owe him. Also draw up a contract to specify that his work is "work for hire", otherwise he could claim that he is a co-owner of your copyright.

    2. Elle's comments on capping royalties and "work for hire" are very important in protecting the rights and intellectual property of the writer. Please pay heed!

  62. Great comments and questions.

    I definitely agree with the comments about a first read being a good start but not equivalent to professional editing. While feedback from beta readers, friends, and family are helpful in shaping your piece and polishing it a bit, an experienced professional editor will look at it on an incredibly detailed level and be able to offer you input for flow and structure of the piece as well as the mechanics of it, which includes everything down to the very last comma.

    For my own services, I offer different levels of editing depending on what the author wants. I generally charge anywhere from $25-$40 an hour depending on the scope of the project and the editing services desired. I also offer a free assessment up front, which gives the author an idea of how publication ready their manuscript is and how much editing is needed to get it to that point. The assessment includes a sample edit of their work. I do that so authors can see exactly what they would be getting through my services, and it gives them a good idea of how long the edits will take since I use time-tracking software.

    I make clear any and all changes I make in the manuscripts I edit, and I list comments for all of those changes as well, citing sources where need be. I will always tell the author why I made a specific change rather than just leaving them to assume I know what I'm talking about. Giving writers the resources they need to improve their writing is just as important to me as making sure that their manuscript is edited well.

    For the authors posting about different kinds of editing, I also wanted to address a distinction in areas of study for experience purposes. While degrees in English or creative writing are great to have, and they definitely give an editor experience in things like content and overall structure of stories, they don't necessarily give an editor formal training in editing, which includes punctuation and grammar. Other degrees like technical writing, professional writing, and ones geared specifically for the publishing industry do teach those extra skills important to gaining experience as an editor. However, having said that, there are plenty of wonderful editors out there who have degrees in creative writing and English and are top-notch. It all depends on the individual.

  63. Wow, Dani ... I think you struck nerve. Lot's of response to your post, eh? Here's more grist for mill.
    Believe it or not, I started my writing career editing marketing copy ... I stunk at it, but I did learn a couple of things. One is that there is two levels of editing: copy and content ... and my little brain could not do both at once. If I were editing for content, I could not pay close attention to grammar and spelling so I always did two passes through a document. The time to finish a document varied widely ... depending on the content and quality of the writer who submitted it, so I can't offer any guide lines on how much copy I could get through in a day ... but given my feeble brain, I know I didn't set any world records. I did this for $5 an hour ... until they realized that I'd be more productive as a writer, letting a more competent person edit my crap.

  64. A competent editor must possess a skill set far beyond the proper placement of commas and semicolons, as well as a strong sense of story and a knowledge of what keeps a reader turning the pages to see what happens next. For current industry-standard rates, see this page on the Editorial Freelancers Asso. site:

  65. I think it's important to note that there are different kinds of editors who charge different fees. A proofreader, for example, would check spelling and punctuation, but probably would not handle story development at all. It's often confusing for novice writers to determine what kind of editor they really need.

  66. I find charging by the word to be both easiest and fairest (I don't know how "per page" works, when first chapter pages are really only half a page, and some pages have only a line or two at the end of a chapter. "Per 250 words" makes sense though.)

    Developmental editing I complete at a straight fee of $0.03 per word. I look at character, pacing, plot, pretty much everything, and include in-line comments with suggestions for improvement and/or reasons for the changes I make.

    Line/copy editing I complete at between $0.008 and $0.02 per word, depending on what I see in the five-page sample I ask for. At $0.008, it would be a really clean MS already, and at $0.02, the story would be well done (developmental issues nonexistent or minor), but the grammar/spelling/rhythm, etc. would need a lot of work.

    I charge 25% down payment with contract, and the rest a week after completion.

  67. Write Logically, Write WellJuly 3, 2015 at 10:20 AM

    I have been an editor for 29 years, and I have written and published my own books as well. While most publishing houses are quite willing to pay my fee ($35-$40/hr for developmental editing), I have yet to find a writer willing to pay that. Most writers, in my experience, don't understand the value of a quality edit and don't want to pay for it. Several of the books I have edited have won major awards; yet, writers do not want to pay for my extensive experience or my credentials. In fact, every year, I have to charge less because writers can simply use "cheap" editing services such as Scribendi. I understand that it is hard to dole out hundreds of dollars for what some consider a critique of their work, but why are they willing to pay more for the computer on which they write their manuscript than for the editing that may mean the difference between getting published or not?

    I am AMAZED that some of the editors here charge $75-$80 an hour and have clients willing to pay that fee. While my first love is helping writers improve their work, I also edit medical and highly technical (IT) manuscripts for publication in academic journals. I make an average of $6/hr for those, although they require a great deal of specific medical and technical knowledge. (I recently responded to an ad for freelance editors for an academic science journal, and they were paying $1.60 a page.) The last two authors who contacted me after they were referred to me by a publisher expected me to do a development edit for no charge. They were unpublished authors, they explained, and couldn't afford an editor. I have never had a writer who was unhappy with my work; yet, those willing to pay the kind of fees other editors charge eludes me, and I have to pay my bills, so I end up charging less than I deserve so I can work. I admire those of you who can find clients at your higher rates.


The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. If a glitch is preventing you from commenting, visit our Facebook page and drop your wise words there: Blood-Red Pencil on Facebook