Are you looking for an affordable way to edit your fiction manuscript? If you are, the first thing that may come to your mind is hiring an editor. While hiring an editor offers benefits, like taking the editing off your hands and allowing you to get started on your next book while your editor works on your current book, it can be rather pricey.
Going Rates for Book Editorial Services
If you’ve taken a gander at my editing services, which I call Extreme Editing, you know that I charge $40 per 1,000 words, and you’re probably thinking, Holy Shit! That’s $3,200 for an 80k book! To be fair, that’s not proofreading. My extreme editing is a combination of line editing plus developmental editing. This means I fix what I can by adding description and clarifying passages, and I leave comments for things that need changed but have to be changed by you. Now, you’re wondering if that’s a fair price. Well, take a look at some of the other going rates. Fair Warning – I’ve never used any of these guys, so I cannot vouch for their services.
Artful Editor – They charge between 1.7 and 6 cents per word. This means you can expect to pay $1,360 and $4,800 for an 80k manuscript. The low end is probably for proofreading only.
Book Baby – Book Baby is an independent publisher that also offers book editing services. For a 320 page book, assuming 250 words per page or 80k words, they charge $3,200 for line editing.
- Book Editing Associates - Book editing associates has been around since 1998 and consists of a team of freelance book editors who each specialize in a range of genres, including children's books and non-fiction. They offer everything from coaching to developmental edits and ghostwriting. Prices range from 1 cent to 20 cents per word, which means you could expect to pay between $800 and $16,000 to edit an 80,000 word book, depending on the depth of services you need.
Ebook Launch – These guys do not offer line editing or developmental editing. They offer proofreading (punctuation, spelling mistakes, typos) and copy editing (Grammar, spelling and word choice inconsistencies). For 80,000 words, you can expect to spend between $560 and $1,280.
Elite Authors – Elite Authors offers Copy Editing, Line Editing, Developmental Editing and Proofreading. Their prices range from .012 to .04 cents per word, with proofreading obviously being the least expensive and developmental editing being the most expensive. Authors can expect to pay between $960 and $3,200, depending on the package they choose.
- Enago - Enago offers a range of services, including translations. They appear to edit everything from academic and scientific reports to novels. they offer two primary editing services, including Substantive Editing and Copy Editing. Pricing ranges between $122 and $252 per 2,000 words, and depends on how fast you need the editing completed. For an 80,000 word novel needed in 6 days, you can expect to pay between $4,880 and $6,560.
First Editing – I did send a sample to these guys a couple years ago (so all right, here’s the one editing service I did test out). It was supposed to be an edit of up to 2,500 words. They edited about 500 words and sent me three pages of ads attached to the document in an effort to get me to buy their services. Of the 25 changes they made, I accepted 3. Not a good ratio. It looks like they are now requiring that you fill out a form to receive a price quote. When I tried these guys in 2015, I want to say that their proofreading service was around $1,000 for 80k words.
Kirkus – Kirkus is a relatively well-known editing provider. They offer three packages, including Basic Copy Editing, Collaborative Editing and a Professional Editing Package. Prices for these three services range from $1,600 to $5,299.
Manuscript Critique - $1,560 for 80,000 words. What’s included? It doesn’t specifically say. Judging by the information available on the site, it’s somewhere between a proofread and a developmental edit. Be forewarned. There’s a lot of bragging by the editor on how good they are - red flag
PaperTrue – Their pricing seems to be dependent on the turn-around time. For 80,000 words, they charge between $1,920 and $2,480 for 17 and 13 day turn-around times. They appear to offer a combo service of proofreading, line editing and developmental editing.
Scribendi – This is another editing service that’s on the low end. $1554.79 for 80,000 words, and they can have it back to you in two weeks. They also offer free sample editing up to 1,000 words. Their editing service appears to be a combination of a proofread, line edit, developmental edit and critique. The price worries me. It takes me between 2 and 3 hours to fully edit a chapter. You can expect an 80,000-word book to have between 30 and 40 chapters. That’s $19 to $25 an hour. The going rate for developmental editing per hour is between $40 and $60, but can be much higher, including up to $100 an hour for an extremely experienced editor. How much time are they really going to spend on it?
Freelance Editing Service Going Rates
Above, you’ve seen what a few companies charge for editing services. There’s also another pricing schematic that you need to take into consideration, and that’s the current going rates for freelance editors.
By the Page – Freelance editors can choose to charge by the page. This can range from $1 to $5 a page, with proofreading being the cheapest and developmental editing being the most expensive. If you have a 320 page, 80,000-word book, you can expect to pay between $320 and $1,600.
By the Hour - $40 to $100 an hour. You have to trust your freelancer for this type of pay scale and hope they use an hourly tracker, like Time Recording, in order to give you the most accurate rate. The bad news here is that your freelance editor won’t know a final price until they’re done, but they may be able to estimate fairly accurately. For example, if I know I can edit a chapter in 3 hours, and I know a book has 40 chapters, my total project hourly rate would be somewhere between $4,800 and $12,000.
By the Word – Editors can charge anywhere from a fraction of a cent per word to up to several dollars per word. For editing, authors can expect to pay somewhere between .017 cents per word to .25 cents per word. This makes the price of editing an 80,000 word manuscript between $1,360 and $20,000.
What to Expect for Certain Price Points
When it comes to editing services, quality and time spent on your manuscript are directly related to the price and/or the package you’ve requested. In general, you can expect basic proofreading services, like those that are designed to find typos, misspellings and missing commas, to be the least expensive. These packages tend to cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to up to $2,000 with midrange prices being between $1,300 and $1,500. The most expensive packages typically have to do with developmental editing. This is where major and minor flaws with your plot and storylines as well as description are found. These can cost anywhere from $1,500 to more than $5,000.
The Cheapest Editing You Can Find
Let’s say that you really don’t have a budget for editing, but you know you need editing for your manuscript before you publish it. This is going to result in your looking for the cheapest possible editing services you can find. That’s probably going to be proofreading for around $300 and no more than $1,000.
At these price ranges, you are also going to find editors that are new to the field and don’t have very many clients. The low prices are a direct reflection of the fact that they need work, and they need to build up their client base. One of the ways to do this is to offer shockingly low prices. However, with lack of experience comes the increased risk that they’re going to miss stuff or make the wrong recommendations. However, when your editing budget is non-existent, you have to make do with what you can afford. If you truly have no book editing budget, I recommend scrounging together a few bucks and getting a copy of Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Second Edition: How to Edit Yourself Into Print and The First Five Pages: A Writer's Guide To Staying Out of the Rejection Pile.
Mid-range prices would be editing services that fall between $2,000 and $4,000 for an 80,000-word book. Line edits and developmental editing typically fall within this range. Your editor may be retired and looking for a bit of extra income, or this could be a rising star in the editorial world with a few years under his or her belt and more than a few completed editing projects. This could also be a highly skilled author that’s spent years writing various genres of fiction at various lengths, and they know what makes a good story.
Extremely High, Budget Busting Prices
Extremely high, budget-busting editing prices are those that are above $4,000, usually between $4,000 and $6,000. Though, they may be even higher than $6,000. These are the prices that extremely successful editors with decades of experience charge. They have a client list. It’s a stable client list, and they’re willing to take on new clients.
These prices can also be indicative of an editing and marketing package. Independent editors can offer these packages, and many independent publishers offer these packages. They may include multiple rounds of editing every time you complete a rewrite. They can include marketing, and they may include a final proofread for formatting services so that you can easily publish your book.