Book editing costs? If you’re new to writing and getting your work edited, one of the first questions that pop up is, what’s that going to cost me? Well, it depends on the type of edit. Here is a breakdown of the average fees per 1,000 words when you hire direct:
Book Editor Cost per Word or Page?
Typically, book editing costs are based on word count since page count can vary drastically. Factors at play are margins, font style, font size and even trim size. I (Sam) personally only work in word count, but many editors are open to fees based on page count and will likely have conditions for the page, like a set font and trim size.
Book Editing Costs Can Vary
It’s hard to nail down a perfect flat fee that will fit all variables. If an author has a well-written book that they have self-edited a few times, the fee will fall into the normal fees laid out by the editor or agency. If the author did a sloppy voice to text program without giving it a few read-throughs, then fees will increase. If the author is a non-native English speaker, fees may increase due to the complexity of sentence structure, word context, and spelling. If the first half of the book is a second draft and the second half of the book was never even read through, you may get a request for additional fees or a less thorough edit at that midway mark (there’s only so much an editor can do in the time allotted to a book). A heavy edit calls for (at least) twice the work time that a regular copy edit takes.
Communication with your editor is key. Your goals are the same, right? You both want to have a polished manuscript after the edit. You want the most for your money and the editor wants to provide a level of service that makes you come back and spread the word about your experience.
Get the Most Out of Your Book Edit
The more editing the book needs, the more the editor will miss. It’s a misconception many self-publishers have that after they pay a thousand dollars for an edit, the book will be 100% perfect. Even a big-name bestselling author with a team of editors from a publisher will have several issues missed.
However, the cleaner you can provide the copy, the better the editor will be able to do. A lot of new writers or authors will send a mind avalanche of a manuscript that never made it past the first draft. You’re putting the editor in a taxing environment as they try to figure out what you wrote.
Make the editor work hard to find mistakes. You’re going to get a much better job for the money.
Copy Editing VS Proofreading
Proofreading is normally half the cost of other forms of editing. Wow, half-price editing is very attractive! Plus, you know how to write, all you need is probably a basic check, right? It depends. The best way to find out is to get a sample edit. Often, it’s quite the shock to see what you didn’t see.
The short answer to the difference between the two types of edits is that a proofread just looks for grammar and punctuation errors. It’s what most writers and authors feel they need before they see the difference a copy edit brings. A copy edit is a focus on grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, consistency, pacing, flow, redundancies, tenses, dialog correction, transitions, clarity, general improvement and readability.
What Is a Developmental Edit?
A copy edit is a sentence-level edit whereas a developmental edit is a content level edit. Both should cost about the same depending on the level of edit. A developmental edit can be in several forms but typically it’s in the form of notes and suggestions. It looks at the content and points out issues, provides solutions and gives suggestions to make the work better. It does not provide grammar, spelling and other copy edit work.
What Does Heavy Edit Mean and Why Does It Cost So Much?
Book editing costs for a heavy edit (advanced edit, etc) are always higher due to the amount of work needed. A heavy edit is for a writer who might not have an expert grasp of English grammar, spelling, and word context. They may not understand how to write dialogue and attributions yet write a book full of people speaking. Usually, this is found with writers who are expert in a language other than English. They may speak English well, but writing English is a whole other ball game. Or, they just might have been daydreaming during English class in high school and never thought they’d need the basics. An edit like this is work and time-intensive for an editor to figure out what is being said and what word they might mean instead of the one they used. Books written in non-English sentence structure or poor sentence structure, poor grammar and word choice, etc., take up to triple an editor’s time to polish enough for an English-speaking reader base.
How to Save Money on a Book Editor and Get a Better Edit
Hire direct. When you hire an agency or go through a freelance site like Fiverr (which I am on, see link below), you end up paying extra. Minimally 40% of what you pay is not going to the editor. For example, freelance sites take 20% from the seller and 20% from the buyer. An agency often takes up to 60% of the fee paid. You pay a lot less hiring directly and the editor gets a lot more in return. At Editmojo.com we are a small team and are able to keep our prices the same as hiring direct.
You Have the Fee and Budget Worked Out, Now What?
You found an editor that you can hire direct. The fee fits your budget, but now what? How do you know they will provide a great edit? You get a sample edit of your work. An editor won’t often show samples of edits they have done for others. Each client they work with has different needs. How they edit your work isn’t how they edit another’s. Clients all have different needs. Plus, professional editors will protect their client’s work. They won’t share or disclose anything about the work done. For example, doing business with me from any avenue (publisher, freelance or direct) will provide a blanket nondisclosure as well as documentation stating you have all the full buyer rights of owning the work done.
Get a sample edit of your work. Make sure the editor provides what you are looking for. A sample edit is beneficial for both parties. I tend to return a sample edit very quickly, so it won’t take too much time for you. It helps you know what you’re getting, and it helps the editor ensure the writing falls within the scope of their standard fees.
Not All Editors Are the Same
If you Google the definition of a specific type of edit, like copy editing or line editing, you will get a different definition on each site. Ask ten editors what a copy edit is and you will get ten different answers. Besides a sample edit, make sure you communicate with your editor what you want to get out of the edit. Book editing costs aren't the only factor to keep in mind.
Hiring Direct VS Agency Pricing
We covered the average fees when hiring directly above but here they are again to compare to agency fees:
DIRECT VS AGENCY
- Proofreading - $5 per 1K words
- Copy editing - $10 per 1K words
- Proofreading - $20 -$50 per 1K words
- Copy editing - $40 - $100 per 1K words
The benefit of using an agency is the turnaround time. If you need an edit fast, an agency is going to have editors waiting on projects to come in. A direct-hire will likely have a queue which will add days to weeks to the delivery. However, a direct-hire will tell you how long your edit will take before you both agree on the job.