What are the current line editing rates?

Line editing rates vary depending on factors like the editor’s experience, the complexity and volume of your manuscript and geographical location. For instance, the Editorial Freelance Association (EFA) line editing rates are $45–$75/hr. The UK-based Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (CIEP) recommends starting from £39.90. Therefore, it is crucial to compare the rates with reputable sources, such as associations or organisations for editors and writers, depending on your location, to ensure accurate and fair pricing. Now, let us explore what line editing entails, the line editing rates and the justifications behind these rates.

What is line editing? 

Line editing involves thoroughly examining each sentence and paragraph to identify clarity, tone and vocabulary issues. It ensures that your writing choices, voice and style effectively resonate with your intended readers. The editor identifies and addresses essential aspects of this comprehensive service, including the following.

  • tightening redundancies
  • eliminating repetitions
  • targeting reader-oriented vocabulary
  • smoothening transitions
  • handling sensitive content
  • unveiling unintentional bias
  • eliminating irrelevant digressions
  • ensuring style and tone consistency.

Line editing rates and how they compare

Editing rates are best sourced from reputable professional organisations for editors. Various associations and organisations have set standards for line editing rates, so let us start by checking their websites.

Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA)

The US-based EFA provides the most detailed information. The EFA suggests the following line editing rates:

Line editingPer wordPer hourPer page Pages per hour
Academic4.0¢–6.5¢ $45.00–$65.00 $10.00–$16.254.0–8.0 
Business/marketing4.0¢–6.0¢ $50.00–$70.00 $10.00–$14.885.0–8.0 
Fiction2.5¢–4.0¢ $45.00–$60.00 $6.25–$10.005.0–8.0 
Legal5.0¢–15.5¢ $60.00–$75.00 $12.50–$38.755.0–8.5 
Medical4.0¢–6.0¢ $50.00–$65.00 $10.00–$15.003.0–6.0 
Memoirs3.0¢–4.1¢ $50.00–$60.00 $7.50–$10.255.0–8.0 
Non-fiction3.5¢–5.0¢ $50.00–$65.00 $8.75–$12.504.0–7.0 
Technical4.0¢–6.0¢ $50.00–$65.00 $10.00–$15.004.0–7.0 
Other4.0¢–6.3¢ $50.00–$70.00 $10.00–$15.754.0–6.0 
Line editing rates suggested by the Editorial Freelancers Association in 2024.

Editors Canada

Editors Canada do not list recommended rates on their website, however they estimate the following pace of work per hour:

  • Substantive, structural, or stylistic editing of a difficult text: 1–2 pages/hour
  • Substantive, structural, or stylistic editing of a standard text: 2–3 pages/hour

Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (CIEP)

While CIEP rates are never constant due to the industry dynamics, their website suggests the following starting rate for 2024: 

Per hour
Line editing rates suggested by the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading in 2024.

It is essential to consider that the editor’s level of expertise, the complexity of the project, and the specific requirements play a significant role in determining the rates. Experienced and specialised editors may charge higher rates, while novice editors offer more affordable options.

Therefore, as a writer, communicate openly with potential editors regarding the payment structure and any additional fees associated with the editing process. This transparency ensures your goals are aligned and the editing work proceeds smoothly.

How do line editors justify these rates?

With their extensive expertise and experience, line editors justify their rates by providing invaluable services beyond basic proofreading and editing. Their role in the editorial process is critical as they dig deep into the manuscript to enhance its quality and readability. Here is how they go about it.

Ensuring in-depth language proficiency

Editors are language experts, possessing an in-depth understanding of grammar, syntax and vocabulary usage. They ensure proper punctuation, grammar and sentence structure. By rectifying issues like subject-verb agreement, word usage and tense consistency, line editors elevate the manuscript to a professional level, making it persuasive to readers.

Improving coherence and flow

One of the primary justifications for line editing rates is the improvement of the manuscript’s coherence and flow. Line editors focus on the seamless progression of ideas and smooth transitions between paragraphs and sections. They ensure that your narrative flows logically and engagingly. Moreover, line editors create a charming reading experience that immerses the audience in the story.

Storytelling enhancements

Line editors play a crucial role in improving the storytelling aspect of the manuscript. They identify plot holes, inconsistent character development, and areas where the narrative may lose its impact. By offering constructive feedback and suggestions, line editors help authors strengthen their storytelling, making the manuscript emotionally resonant.

Preparing for publishing success

Another significant justification for line editing rates is the preparation of the manuscript for publishing success. Line editors ensure the work adheres to industry standards. They elevate the quality of your manuscript and make it appeal to literary agents, publishers and readers in the competitive publishing landscape. 

Preserving the author’s voice

Line editors balance their interventions with preserving the author’s unique voice and style. They avoid over-editing and strive to enhance the manuscript while retaining the author’s individuality. Also, line editors ensure that the voice remains authentic and consistent throughout the work. They achieve this by understanding the author’s writing style.

Providing unbiased and objective feedback

Line editors bring an objective perspective to the manuscript, offering feedback free from personal biases or vested interests. They focus on improving the work’s quality and ensuring it meets the highest standards of excellence.

Final thoughts

Understanding the line editing rates is vital for authors, especially when budgeting for and planning self-publishing. Line editing refines the clarity, coherence and quality of your writing, making it engaging to your target audience. Thus, consider the collaboration with a skilled line editor and see your writing evolve into a polished manuscript.

Let line editing be the key to unlocking the true potential of your manuscript. 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 MastodonTwitter, Facebook 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 (CIEP), a student member of the Society of Indexers and a vetted partner of the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi).