Monday, September 14, 2020

How Editors Charge for Their Work

The cost of line editing, copyediting and proofreading can differ from editor to editor.  This can depend on:

  • the person editing
  • reports and surveys you read
  • the required time frame for your book to be finished
  • how complicated your book is


We're going to look at each of these points, then look at how we can reduce the financial cost of editing and proofreading.

Let's start by looking at why you should invest your money and time in a proofreader and copyeditor.

Should writer's hire professional editor's?

This choice lies in your hands.  When you self-publish you can make the decision to stay in charge of your own work or invest in someone who will take your work from a rough draft into a masterpiece.

It's helpful for a fresh set of eyes to go over your work, especially those of someone who knows what to look out for.  This is because an edited book reads better.

For most people writing a first draft perfectly, is nothing more than a pipe dream, even when writing is what they do for a living.

So why do we need editors and proofreaders?

  • When you start writing, your focus is on nothing else, whether it's professional, technical, scientific or fictional writing.
  • Editing for content means we're looking at the bigger picture.
  • Editing for flow means we're looking at how each sentence works and flows.
  • Editing for errors means we're focusing on the small things like spelling and grammar.

With each edit comes a different outcome.  Which is why you shouldn't do everything at once, because writing is a totally different process to editing.

The quality of the outcome goes up exponentially when the process is split into different stages.

The cost of an editor depends upon the kind of editing you choose

Independent editors move in a global and diverse market, specialising in different kinds of editing.  Each having their own particular business model, and varied cost of living.  Which means there is not one single universal rate for any editor or proofreader.

Nor is there any common way of offering that rate, so:

  • Editors may charge their own flat fee
  • Editors may charge per page
  • Editors may charge by the hour
  • Editors may charge per word 

What do the professionals in the editing industry say should be charged?

Many professional organisations suggest or report minimum hourly rates for different levels of editing.  (The information below was correct as of July 2019). 

Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (CIEP) (UK) - British Pounds

Developmental editing rate per hour 2020 - £34.00
Copyediting rate per hour 2020 - £29.60
Proofreading rate per hour 2020 - £25.40

Editorial Freelancers Association (USA) - US dollars

Developmental editing rate per hour 2020 - US$45-$55
Copyediting rate per hour 2020 - US$30-$60
Proofreading rate per hour 2020 - US$30-$35

Association of Freelance Editors, Proofreaders & Indexers (Ireland) - Euros

Developmental editing rate per hour 2020 - €40+
Copyediting rate per hour 2020 - €40
Proofreading rate per hour 2020 - €25- €35

National Union of Journalists (UK) - British Pounds

Developmental editing rate per hour 2020 - £30
Copyediting rate per hour 2020 - £28
Proofreading rate per hour 2020 - £24

Do these rates reflect market conditions?

Not always, many editors and proofreaders like to charge a rate 30% higher than those mentioned above.

This is simply because editors and proofreaders want to make money.  Editing and proofreading isn't a job that's usually done as a hobby or pastime, it's a serious job, and something that needs to pay the bills and living costs of today.

It's worth bearing in mind that independent editors own professional businesses, making them responsible for paying sick pay, tax, insurance, holiday pay, maternity etc. 

What is the turnaround time for an editor?

Below is a roundabout idea of speed at which an editor will work.  This all depends on the project they're working on and how many hours they prefer to work.

Developmental editing speed

250-1,500 words per hour
80k-word novel: 53-320 hours or 2.5-12 weeks

Copyediting speed

1,000-2,500 words per hour
80k-word novel: 32-80 hours or 1.5-3.5 weeks

Proofreading speed

2,000-4,000 words per hour
80k-word novel: 20-40 hours or 1-2 weeks 

These costs may change if you decide to have your 80k-word book edited in one week instead of two weeks.  This means that the editor is going to have to work extra time to do all of that extra work on your book.

How to bring down the cost of editing

Follow the ideas below to reduce your editing costs:

Simple money saving tips

  • Get yourself better acquainted to the different levels of editing, so you can edit and proofread at the right time.
  • Use people you know such as family and friends to give your manuscript a read through.
  • Start looking for an editor well before time, then you'll find somebody that suits your budget and brief.
  • Ask for quotes and sample edits before you devote yourself to the project.
  • Sharpen your editing skills by joining writing groups and courses.
  • Create your own style sheet, and save your editor some time.
  • Do a thorough spell check.
  • Examine your work for proper noun usage and consistency.

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