- Like most professionals, to a large degree you get what you pay for. An average editorial cost where I live is about $45 per hour for an experienced, professional editor. But it can vary from $20 an hour (usually for a beginner) to $100 an hour or more for some specialized kinds of editing. Of course, the cost will also depend on the length of your document/manuscript, and how well you have already pre-edited. Some editors charge a certain amount per word (usually 1 cent to 2 cents); or use other methods. The truth is, a good editor, though not inexpensive, is worth the money if you wish for your work to sell well.
- When you submit a representative sample of writing from your manuscript, the editor can get a good idea of your writing, and make a reasonable estimate of the cost. That estimate will likely offer a time estimate, a rate (hourly – and how that works out related to the time estimate), and perhaps a “cost cap” (if the job hits a set amount and is obviously going to go well beyond the estimate, the editor will contact you and discuss what you want to do going forward). Some editors will also give an estimate range: likely lowest and highest costs.
- While some editors will do both copy-editing, and then final proof-reading of the manuscript before it is printed, some do just one or the other. In any case, you can expect to have your manuscript go through both a copy-edit and a proof-read. In all likelihood, you may go through several edits before your manuscript is truly ready to publish.
- You can possibly save some money by requesting several people you know, whom you know to be good readers and writers, to “beta-read” your manuscript for free or for a small charge, or perhaps in exchange for a copy of the book after it is published (and, of course, after it has been properly edited following the beta-reads). Of course you should always make sure you have used a good spell-checker, and a good grammar-check software program, but you must remember that the spelling programs often miss homophones and don’t pick up “incorrect words,” and the grammar checkers don’t always catch all grammatical nuances. Another thing you can do is send an editor a representative sample of your writing (perhaps the first chapter or two), and ask them to edit it thoroughly. Then you can go through their edit, and apply what you learn to the rest of your manuscript before submitting the whole work for editing.
- There can be a big difference in cost depending on what you are requesting. Proofreading is simply reading the manuscript line by line to catch and fix spelling, punctuation, and grammar issues. On the other hand, an editor helping you with content development could suggest (and give you “how-to” examples, if you wish) rearranging paragraphs, sentences, and chapters to improve the flow of the narrative, or even suggesting a rewrite of the story with reasons and guidance.
- You must realize that while some writers are very “clean” and have very few errors for an editor to pick up on, others are make more errors, so the editor has to spend a lot more time. You will do well to learn as much as you can about the basics of not only spelling, punctuation, and grammar, but also about the skills of writing in your chosen genre(s). Putting some cash and time into a good writing course could end up saving you a lot of editing dollars, especially if you are planning to write more than one piece of work.
- Another aspect is how quickly you want the work done. If you are up against a deadline, and want the editor to do a “rush job” you could be charged extra.
- If you are doing something like a simple booklet or brochure, you might be able to have an English teacher go over it for you, and give it a proof-read. Or you might know someone who is both a good writer and reads widely in your genre, and ask them to “edit” it for you. But remember, if they are not experienced editors, you may not get the quality and/or type of editing you are hoping for.
For information about Pen and Paper Mama’s editing services, to to this page. Feel free to contact me and we can discuss your needs. If you need editing services I cannot provide, I can also refer you to other editors.