What does editing cost?

February 5, 2013

For most writers, the costs of editing matter when they’re looking for an editor. So what’s a reasonable price for having your manuscript edited?

The Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA) publishes a chart of common editorial rates. The following list will also give you an idea of what editors usually charge. Keep in mind that rates vary greatly, though.

By the way, the industry standard for a manuscript page is 250 words.

Copy editing:

  • $30-50 per hour. According to the Writer’s Market, the average is $35. Experienced copy editors might be able to edit about 10 pages per hour, which would mean they make $0.014 per word if they charge an hourly rate of $35. That makes $1,120 for an 80,000-word manuscript. According to the EFA, basic copyediting for an average-length manuscript would cost $960-2,560.
  • Many copy editors ask for $0.02 (2 cents) per word. That would mean between $1.600 for an average 80,000-word manuscript. I’ve seen some editors who copyedit for $0.005 (half cent)/word ($400 for an average manuscript).
  • According to the Writer’s Market, the average per-page rate is $4 (=$1.280 for an 80,000-word manuscript).

Line editing:

  • $40-60 per hour. Depending on the hourly rate and how long it takes to edit the manuscript, that would make $2,400-19,200 for an 80,000-word manuscript.
  • Some editors ask for around $0.02 to $0.03 per word (which would mean $1,600-2,400 for an 80,000-word manuscript).

Content editing:

  • $45-55 per hour. According to the Writer’s Market, the average is around $50.
  • Most editors ask for around $0.02 to 0.075 per word (which would mean $1,600-6,000 for an 80,000-word manuscript).
  • According to the Writer’s Market, the average per-page rate is $7.50 (=$2,400 for an average-length manuscript).

For most writers, that’s a lot of money. Can you get editing for cheaper? Probably. But you usually get what you pay for.

Let’s say an editor can line and substantive edit five pages an hour. That means an 80,000-word manuscript would take her about 60 hours. If the author pays her … let’s say $500, she’ll make about $8 an hour, barely above the minimum wage. Someone who wants to make her living editing can’t afford to work at these rates. So that might mean the editor is forced to work faster and be less thorough, or you will need to hire someone who is just starting out as an editor and charges less. Of course you could also limit yourself to just copy editing, but that won’t help you if your plot doesn’t work or you need help with point of view issues.

What you can actually do to reduce your editing costs is to deliver a manuscript that is as clean as possible. Trim the “fat,” the unnecessary words and fillers, and catch all the grammar and spelling mistakes you can before you send the manuscript to the editor.

Of course, the costs of editing depend not just on the editor, but on various other factors too:

  • Type of editing: For example, copy editing to correct spelling and grammar mistakes costs less than a substantive edit. See my previous post for an explanation of the types of editing.
  • Quality of writing: The more work the editor has to do to make the manuscript presentable, the more the editing will cost. Skilled writers with relatively clean manuscripts pay less. So normally, editors will want to see your manuscript or at least a sample before they can determine the costs of editing.
  • Length: Novels cost more than short stories or novellas, of course. But some editors work on sliding scales, so you’ll pay less per word for a longer manuscript than for a short story.
  • Editor’s experience: If you hire an inexperienced editor who’s just starting out, you’ll probably save money, but (depending on the editor) you might sacrifice quality.
  • Deadline: If the editor needs to work on a tight deadline, you’ll probably pay more for editing (most editors charge 25% more for rush jobs).
  • Number of read-throughs: If you want the editor to go through the manuscript more than once, you’ll probably pay more. Still, it could be worth the money because often times mistakes get overlooked on the first read-through or the edits introduce new errors.

As you saw above, there are different methods to calculate editing fees. Some editors prefer to charge by the hour. Others offer a flat rate that depends on word count, regardless of how many hours will go into editing the manuscript.

Advantage of a flat rate:

  • Both the writer and the editor know beforehand how much the editing will cost. With an hourly rate, the total costs won’t be determined until the editing is finished.
  • Some writers fear the editor will drag out the editing to have more billable hours.

Disadvantage of a flat rate: 

  • Sometimes it can be difficult to estimate how much work is involved in editing a manuscript before you actually start working on it. If the editor underestimates the extent of the job, she ends up working for a very low hourly rate.

If you are a writer, how do you find a good yet affordable editor? And if you are an editor, how do you calculate your fees? Feel free to leave a comment.



  1. My daughter and I both do professional editing. We have a standard format (Times Roman, 12 pt,, 1 inch margins all around) and charge by the page, more for content editing, less for copy editing. We do the first several pages free of charge so the writer can get a feel of how we do things and we can determine if we are going to be able to give the writer the best edit possible. Kaycee edits full-time – it’s her ONLY job. For a while, it was my “second” job after my “real”, 40-hr a week job. Now I’m on disability and able to concentrate on the editing and get through the manuscripts much faster than before.

    • Hi, Glenda. Do you want to let us know how much you usually charge for the page for content editing and for content editing?

      • No problem. For a full edit (content, structure, grammar, the whole sha-bang) I charge $3 per page. For grammar/structure, copyediting only, I charge $2.50 per page. For content only – head hopping, plot holes, etc. – I charge $2.00 per page. I edit the first 5 or so pages free of charge. My complete submission policy can be found at http://www.rainbow-tales.com/policy.html.

      • Hi Glenda,
        I would like to know what you are charging for the full edit for my novel 400 pages,

      • Hi, Jaylee. Thanks for your interest in using my editing services. If your manuscript is formatted using Times New Roman, font size 12, double spaced, with one inch margins all around (about 250 words per page), I charge $3.00 a page up to 75,000 words and $3.50 for over 75,000 words. My price is negotiable and I’m willing to work out a payment plan if you need. If you have any questions, please email me at imtogfer @ gmail.com.

    • Hello there
      I’m looking for editors who can edit my manuscript 61.000 words if you can help please contact me at mircea17vra@gmail.com

      • This has been a great help. Thank you

  2. Thanks Jae, you continue to educate me in the behind-the-scenes issues affecting lesfic publication.

    • You’re very welcome, Devlyn.

  3. Your advice is spot on. Nice work.


    Ralph Scott d.b.a. ‘Edward It’

  4. I have just had editing done. Line, substantive, and light ghost writing. For 48,252. words i paid .55 cents per word.totaling 2,454.00 dollars. I have now discovered that I have to write another 50,000. words for a novel..

    • That’s a lot of money. But then again, editing can be a lot of work. Do you feel you got your money’s worth?

  5. Great post! Thanks for all the information!

  6. I offer 5 services for editing: grammar, language, character development, character voice, or story arc. I charge $1 per service for each Microsoft word document page, or $4 for all 5. I guarantee a turnaround time of 1 week or less.

  7. I generally charge $30 hourly, though most clients prefer a fixed price. Depending on the condition of the manuscript, my fee per word varies; for “clean” manuscripts, .02 cents per word; for more work intensive manuscripts, .03 cents per word; and for manuscripts in particularly rough or bad shape, 04.-.05 cents per word. Knowing that most writers are working on tight budgets, my fees can be negotiable depending on the circumstances. When I do a full edit, I also include a query letter, book proposal and a carefully researched list of agents and publishers, at no additional cost. When I provide those services alone (query letter, etc.), I charge $350.

    Please feel free to visit my profile at http://www.freelanced.com/rebekahgoodyear


    If anyone is interested in hiring me, feel free to contact me at rgoodyeareditor@gmail.com

  8. […] To have a better assessment on the different book editing rates around, click here. […]

  9. Great info

  10. Hi Jae! What is a fair price for an editor to help you with a query letter?

  11. Good information. Do the prices described here for copy editor apply to websites, brochures and power point presentations?

  12. I’ve just started editing and my first job was a hand-off to me and the cost already calculated, so I don’t know how much to charge for my services since I’m still a novice editor although I’ve been critiquing manuscripts for 8 years–just not for pay. Can you help with that?

  13. I am just beginning as a professional editor, though I also have done editing as favors for friends, for years. If anyone is interested in contacting me for services, I will negotiate price based on your project. Please send inquiries to steveczachediting@gmail.com

  14. […] much does an edit cost? Industry average for a line edit is 2-3 cents/word, or 30-40/hour. Breaking that down to a 50,000 word novel, you’re looking at between $1,000 […]

  15. Great Article it its really informative and innovative keep us posted with new updates. its was really valuable. thanks a lot. http://ratemywriters.com/,ratemywriters.com

  16. […] the story in a way you never expected). The only kicker is that getting edits on your work is a little expensive. And for writers who haven’t quite made an impact in the financial sector of storytelling, […]

  17. I have read so many ideas of how to charge for editing. Through the years, I have Allowed being underpaid and over worked. Yet, when it comes to pricing, I am at a loss. Currently I have been asked what is the deem fee for a 120 page nonfiction manuscript. I don’t have an answer … Please advise.

    • Hey,

      I’m not sure if you’ve found a solution yet. My best advice is to offer a 5-10 page writing sample to an editor so that you can get a quote.

      If you’re still looking for a quote, feel free to drop me an email: vburns451@gmail.com

      V. Burns

  18. Hello, I have been researching editors costs for my son, I found one lady that wants to do it at 0.018 cents per word. That pretty much come out to be 1,080.00 does that seem like a lot???

    • If I may comment, that truly is not a lot, as an editor your work is time consuming and the end result produces a book ready for possible submission. In other words, the editor has catipulted your manuscript to a new level and a new place to be read by others .

    • Hi Vickie,

      I’d say that’s pretty good pricing, especially for a full manuscript. What is she offering as far as editing?

      If you’re still shopping around, I’m opening shop on my own editing firm the beginning of April 2016. I’m starting to build a client list and there’s plenty of room!

      Email me if you want a quote on your son’s novel: mh@harrisonedit.com

      • Hey M. Harrison,

        I’m starting my own editing business. I’m hoping to open my doors around Summer 2017. I was wondering if you’d help a novice out? Do you have any sharp advice when it comes to building list of clients?

        V. Burns

  19. […] This site, although slightly old, offers some estimates of typical cost for professional editing services, and discusses the pros and cons.  You might conclude that in our group we are providing very valuable services for each other. […]

  20. I will come back later.


  22. What about formatting for self publishing in word… to pdf… margins, pagination, section breaks, table of contents?

  23. Great article. As an editor, I’ve acually sent this to clients to help explain costs. Thanks for the hard work. 🙂

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