What are the current book editing rates?

Navigating the landscape of book editing rates is an essential aspect of the self-publishing journey. According to the Editorial Freelancers Association, book editing rates vary across diverse editing services. The cost of ghostwriting ranges from $55–$110, developmental editing $55–$82.5 and line editing $45–$75. Moreover, copyediting ranges from $40–$65, proofreading $35–$60, fact-checking from $55–$73 and lastly, $50–$60 for indexing.

Understanding these book editing rates is crucial for making informed decisions and avoiding potential exploitation in the editing market. This post aims to empower you on book editing rates and ensure you receive fair value for your investment. Furthermore, it will help you discern reasonable rates and the factors behind them, make wise choices and ultimately enhance the quality of your published work. Keep reading!

How various factors determine book editing rates?

Understanding how book editing rates are determined is important when evaluating the potential of being taken advantage of in the editing market. The complexities involved in shaping these rates are multifaceted and influenced by several key factors:

  • Manuscript length: The size of your manuscript plays a significant role in determining editing rates. Longer manuscripts often require more time and effort. This, in turn, impacts the overall book editing rates.
  • Level of editing: Different editing levels, such as developmental editing, line editing and proofreading, come with varying degrees of complexity. Rates adjust accordingly, reflecting the depth of scrutiny and refinement needed for your manuscript.
  • Scope of services: Beyond basic editing, additional services like formatting, fact-checking or indexing contribute to the overall cost. Consider the specific services required for your manuscript and budget accordingly.
  • Editor’s experience: The expertise and experience of the editor also influence rates. More seasoned editors may command higher fees, but their proficiency often translates into a more polished final product.
  • Turnaround time: Urgency can impact book editing rates. Quicker turnaround times often incur higher costs. Consequently, planning allows for a more reasonable rate while ensuring quality work.
  • Genre complexity: Editing requirements can vary across genres. Technical or specialised subject matter may demand a more in-depth editing process, thus affecting the overall cost.
  • Market standards: Understanding industry benchmarks for book editing rates is vital. By being aware of the prevailing standards, you can make informed decisions and avoid potential exploitation.

How do book editing rates vary among editing services?

Ghostwriting rates

Ghostwriting involves a collaborative process where a skilled writer enhances or crafts a manuscript on your behalf. This process shapes the overall cost of editing a book. Ghostwriters excel in capturing your voice and vision. Thus, they translate raw ideas into polished prose by refining the storytelling narrative. While ghostwriting services come with their price tag, the initial quality and streamlined narrative they provide can reduce the need for extensive editing. The Editorial Freelancers Association suggests hourly ghostwriting rates between $55 and $110. However, this depends on the type of text. The table below underscores the importance of recognising the unique cost dynamics associated with ghostwriting.

 Rate per wordRate per hourPace of work per hour
Fiction9.0¢–11.5¢ $55.00–$110.00 3.0–5.5 
Non-fiction20.0¢–27.0¢ $75.00–$110.00 1.5–4.0 
Business27.5¢–$1.00  $75.00–$100.00 1.0–3.0 
Legal25.0¢–$1.00  $55.00–$85.00 n/a
Medicaln/a $82.50–$110.00 1.0–3.0 
Scientific24.0¢–24.0¢  $80.00–$100.00 1.0–3.5 
Technical20.0¢–26.5¢  $77.50–$100.00 1.0–3.5 
Other17.0¢–58.5¢  $85.00–$105.00 3.0–4.0 
Ghostwriting rates. Source: EFA.org

Developmental editing rates

Developmental editing plays a critical role in preparing a manuscript for publication. This stage focuses on refining the manuscript’s structure, content and coherence. During developmental editing, the editor works closely with you, collaborating to enhance the book’s narrative, characters, and pacing. While indispensable for creating a polished manuscript, the thoroughness involved in developmental editing significantly contributes to the overall cost. This consideration should guide you in deciding the extent of developmental editing required for your book. As the Editorial Freelancers Association recommends, industry rates for developmental editing across genres typically range between $50.0 and $82.5 per hour. To ensure a harmonious balance between a refined manuscript and financial considerations, you should weigh the benefits of developmental editing against your budgetary constraints.

 Rate per wordRate per hourPace of work per hour
Developmental editing rates. Source: EFA.org

Line editing rates

Line editing digs into the details of your manuscript by addressing aspects like sentence structure, language use and overall readability. A skilled line editor adds polish to your prose, elevating engagement and eliminating errors. While enhancing the writing quality, line editing inevitably contributes to the overall cost of editing a book. This is because it requires significant time and precision. According to the guidelines provided by the Editorial Freelancers Association, the rate for line editing falls within the range of $45–$70 per hour.

 Rate per wordRate per hourPace of work per hour
Fiction2.5¢–4.0¢ $45.00–$60.00 5.0–8.0 
Non-fiction3.5¢–5.0¢ $50.00–$65.00 4.0–7.0 
Academic4.0¢–6.0¢ $45.00–$65.00 4.0–8.0 
Business4.0¢–6.0¢ $50.00–$70.00 5.0–8.0 
Legal5.0¢–15.5¢ $60.00–$75.00 5.0–8.5 
Medical4.0¢–6.0¢ $50.00–$65.00 3.0–6.0 
Technical4.0¢–6.0¢ $50.00–$65.00 4.0–7.0 
Other4.0¢–6.3¢ $50.00–$70.00 4.0–6.0 
Line editing rates. Source: EFA.org

Copyediting rates

Copyediting focuses on grammar, spelling, punctuation and consistency throughout your writing. Beyond mere error correction, copyediting transforms your prose by infusing precision and clarity into the text. It aligns your content with the stringent standards of the publishing world by eradicating distractions that may confuse or hinder readers. According to the guidelines set by the Editorial Freelancers Association, the recommended range for copyediting rates is between $40 and $65 per hour, depending on the type of text.

 Rate per wordRate per hourPace of work per hour
Fiction2.0¢–3.0¢$40.00–$50.00 5.0–10.0 
Non-fiction3.0¢–4.0¢$45.00–$60.00 5.0–8.0 
Academic3.0¢–6.0¢$40.00–$60.00 4.0–8.0 
Business3.0¢–5.0¢$50.00–$60.00 5.0–10.0 
Legal4.0¢–14.8¢$50.00–$65.00 5.0–7.0 
Medical4.9¢–5.0¢$50.00–$65.00 3.0–6.0 
Technical4.0¢–6.0¢$50.00–$60.00 4.0–7.8 
Other4.0¢–6.0¢$50.00–$62.50 5.0–7.0 
Copyediting rates. Source: EFA.org

Proofreading rates

Proofreading is the ultimate checkpoint before your manuscript gets published. Beyond the surface level of polishing, proofreading is pivotal in eliminating typos, errors and formatting inconsistencies. Its significance lies in being the conclusive step in the editorial process, safeguarding against minor yet glaring errors that could compromise the manuscript’s credibility. The Editorial Freelancers Association recommends proofreading rates of $35 to $60 per hour, a worthwhile investment to fortify your manuscript against the pitfalls that could tarnish its final presentation.

 Rate per wordRate per hourPace of work per hour
Fiction1.2¢–2.0¢ $35.00–$45.00 8.0–14.0 
Non-fiction2.0¢–3.0¢ $40.00–$50.00 7.0–11.0 
Academic2.0¢–5.0¢ $40.00–$55.00 7.0–10.0 
Business2.0¢–4.0¢ $45.00–$57.50 7.0–10.0 
Legal2.0¢–3.8¢ $40.00–$51.00 6.0–10.0 
Medical5.0¢–5.0¢ $45.00–$60.00 6.0–10.0 
Technical2.5¢–4.0¢ $45.00–$57.00 6.0–10.0 
Other2.0¢–3.3¢ $36.00–$51.00 6.5–10.0 
Proofreading rates. Source: EFA.org

Fact-checking rates

Also known as the research process, fact-checking involves thoroughly verifying information within your manuscript against reliable sources. The significance of this service lies in its ability to enhance the credibility of your work, thus presenting readers with information they can trust. Beyond mere confirmation, fact-checking actively identifies and rectifies inaccuracies or misrepresentations. According to the Editorial Freelancers Association, fact-checking rates hover between $55.0 and $72.5 per hour. This investment is justified by the invaluable contribution it makes to the accuracy and trustworthiness of your book.

Rate per hourPace of work per hour
 $55.00–$72.50  2.0–4.0 
Fact-checking rates. Source: EFA.org

Indexing rates

Indexing is an invaluable service in the spectrum of book editing rates. It offers a transformative touch to your manuscript. Functioning as a navigational tool, indexing systematically organises keywords and topics. This aspect converts your text into a reader-friendly reference. Moreover, this strategic cataloguing ensures readers can effortlessly locate sections most pertinent to their interests, optimising their overall experience. In essence, indexing goes beyond the traditional realms of editing by actively enhancing the usability and readability of your manuscript. As the Editorial Freelancers Association recommends, indexing rates typically range between $50 and $50 per hour.

Rate per wordRate per hourPace of work per hour
 2.0¢–3.0¢  $50.00–$60.00  5.0–10.0 
Indexing rates. Source: EFA.org

What are the current book editing rates for a book of 50,000 words?

When contemplating the cost of editing for a 50,000-word book, it’s crucial to dig into the specific rates provided by the Editorial Freelancers Association. As a guiding reference, the estimated costs are outlined in the table below, showcasing a range between $600 and $5,750 based on the type of editing service required. However, it’s imperative to note that these figures are approximations, and the actual expenses may vary. Several factors, including an editor’s experience, manuscript complexity, and project intricacies, contribute to these fluctuations. Engaging in discussions with potential editors is essential to obtain precise estimates tailored to your unique project. Understanding these rates not only aids in budgeting but also emphasises the importance of investing in professional editing services that enhance the quality and marketability of your literary works.

Editing serviceRate per hourRate per wordEstimated cost for a 50,000-word book
Developmental editing$50.0–$82.53.0¢–6.5¢$1,500–$3,250
Line editing$45.0–$75.02.5¢–15.5¢        $1,250–$7,750
Book editing rates. Source: EFA.org

How do you find and evaluate book editing professionals?

Finding and evaluating professionals for book editing services is a crucial step in ensuring the quality of your manuscript. The following information will guide you through the selection process and help you make an informed decision.

Verify the editor’s accreditation

Start by verifying the editor’s accreditation. Check if they are affiliated with professional organisations related to editing. These affiliations ensure their members receive ongoing training and adhere to a code of practice. Moreover, these organisations’ commitment makes their members reliable sources for top-notch and appropriately priced services. Here is a list of the professional editing associations around the world:

Check the editor’s portfolio

Examine the editor’s portfolio to confirm their experience with your genre. A specialised portfolio indicates expertise in handling specific types of manuscripts. Platforms like Reedsy or Upwork can showcase their work with verifiable links to books edited on publishers’ pages or online marketplaces.

Request a sample edit, price quote and turnaround time

Before finalising your choice, request a sample edit from the editor. This provides insights into their skills and approach, helping you assess their compatibility with your manuscript. Ask for a detailed price quote and estimated turnaround time, ensuring clarity on costs and delivery.

Read testimonials and verify references

Dive into testimonials from previous clients to gauge the editor’s work quality. Pay attention to testimonials with verifiable contact details, demonstrating the editor’s commitment to transparency and client satisfaction. This additional step ensures you can trust the feedback and make a well-informed decision.

Final thoughts

As we wrap up this exploration of current book editing rates, it’s evident that understanding the particulars of the editing process is essential. The rates, from ghostwriting to proofreading, reflect the diverse services available to enhance your manuscript.

In this pursuit, it’s crucial to recognise that investing in professional editing is not merely a financial decision but a strategic one. A well-edited book meets the rigorous standards of the publishing world and elevates your work. This ensures it resonates with readers. The collaborative nature of services like developmental editing and the precision of line editing contribute to crafting a compelling narrative.

As you weigh the cost of editing your book based on the current book editing rates, remember that it’s not merely an expense but an investment in the success of your manuscript. The careful selection of a professional editor, as outlined in this guide, ensures that your work receives the attention it deserves with fair compensation.

Let these book editing rates be your compass as you prepare your manuscript for editing. Contact me for a free sample edit if you want to prepare your manuscript for publishing (and remember to use my early bird discount). If you want to hear more from me, including self-editing and writing tips, follow me on MastodonTwitterFacebook and LinkedIn, or join my newsletter.

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I am an editor, indexer and a lifelong lover of literature with a PhD in literary history. I am an Intermediate Member of the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading, a student member of the Society of Indexers and a vetted partner of the Alliance of Independent Authors.