What is the cost of editing a book, and how does it vary across different editing services?

This post explores the cost of editing a book, shedding light on how it fluctuates across different editing services. This comprehensive guide will empower you with the knowledge to make informed decisions about the editing process and its associated expenses. These services and their price ranges, according to the Editorial Freelancers Association, include:

What factors influence the cost of editing a book?

The cost of editing a book varies significantly based on several critical factors. Understanding them is crucial, especially if you are looking to budget effectively and ensure your manuscript receives the necessary level of editing. These factors include the following:

  • Manuscript length: Perhaps the most obvious factor is the length of your manuscript. Editing longer books typically takes more time, leading to higher costs.
  • Editing type: Different editing services offer varying levels of depth and scrutiny. Basic proofreading is generally more affordable than comprehensive developmental editing involving in-depth revisions and suggestions.
  • Complexity of content: Your book’s subject matter and content influence editing. Highly technical or specialised content may require editors with specific expertise, increasing the cost of editing a book.
  • Timeline: urgent editing requests often come with a premium cost. Editors charge more for expedited turnaround times, so planning can help reduce expenses.
  • Editor’s experience: The experience and reputation of the editor affect pricing. Highly experienced editors charge more for their expertise, while newer editors might offer more competitive rates.
  • Genre and style: Certain genres and writing styles require specialised knowledge and attention. For instance, editing a historical novel might involve more research and fact-checking, affecting the cost.
  • Additional services: Consider whether you need other services like formatting, indexing or manuscript evaluation. These extras add to the overall cost of editing a book.
  • Quality expectations: The thoroughness and quality of editing also vary. Some may seek a lighter edit to save on costs, while others may opt for more extensive revisions to ensure a higher standard.
  • Market rates: Local and international market rates for editing services differ significantly. It is essential to research and compare prices within your target market.
  • Editing service provider: The choice of an editor, whether an individual freelancer or a professional editing agency, impacts pricing. Each may have their own pricing structure.

How does the cost of editing a book vary across different editing services?


Ghostwriting is a collaborative process where a professional writer crafts or enhances a manuscript on your behalf. This process significantly influences the cost of editing a book. Ghostwriters excel in capturing your voice and vision, translating ideas into polished prose and refining storytelling. This partnership ensures authenticity in conveying your message as an author. While ghostwriting services come with their own cost, the initial quality and streamlined narrative they provide can reduce the need for extensive editing. The Editorial Freelancers Association recommends ghostwriting rates between $55 and $110 per hour, depending on the type of text.

 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 

Developmental editing

Developmental editing is a pivotal stage in the editing process, with a notable influence on the cost of editing a book. It enhances the manuscript’s structure, content and overall coherence. During developmental editing, the editor collaborates closely with you to refine your book’s narrative, characters and pacing. While it is crucial in crafting a compelling manuscript, it can also significantly contribute to the overall cost. This thoroughness and the resulting revisions affect the time and cost. Therefore, you should consider your manuscript’s needs and budget. Let it guide you when deciding on the extent of developmental editing required for your book. The industry rates for developmental editing genres, as recommended by the Editorial Freelancers Association, range between $50 and $83 per hour, depending on the type of text.

 Rate per wordRate per hourPace of work per hour

Line editing

Line editing focuses on the finer details of your manuscript, including sentence structure, language use, and overall readability. A skilled line editor polishes your prose, making it more engaging and error-free. While it enhances the quality of your writing, line editing also increases the overall cost of editing a book due to the time and precision it demands. The Editorial Freelancers Association suggests a range of $45–$75 per hour for line editing, depending on the type of text.

 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 


Copyediting is a pivotal step when considering the cost of editing a book. It is the phase that zeroes in on grammar, spelling, punctuation and maintaining consistency throughout your manuscript. More than just error correction, copyediting elevates your writing, ensuring precision and clarity in the text. It aligns your content with the rigorous standards of the publishing world, eliminating errors that might otherwise distract or confuse readers. The Editorial Freelancers Association provides valuable guidelines, suggesting $40–$65 per hour of copyediting, 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 


As you weigh the cost of editing a book, do not overlook the crucial step of proofreading. It is the ultimate check before your manuscript goes to print. This editing process eliminates typos, errors and formatting inconsistencies. This rigorous review is not just about polishing your work and upholding professionalism and readability. Proofreading serves as a safeguard against those minor yet glaring errors that could erode your manuscript’s credibility. As the conclusive step in the editorial process, it ensures your work is prepared for publishing. The Editorial Freelancers Association recommends proofreading rates between $35 and $60 per hour, depending on the type of text.

 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 


Often referred to as the research process, fact-checking holds immense importance among the various editorial services. This service verifies the information within your manuscript against credible sources. It boosts the credibility of your work, providing readers with trustworthy information. Fact-checking does not just confirm accuracy; it also identifies and rectifies inaccuracies or misrepresentations. The Editorial Freelancers Association’s recommended fact-checking rates are $55–$73 per hour, depending on the type of text.

Rate per hourPace of work per hour
 $55.00–$72.50  2.0–4.0 


Indexing organises keywords and topics to create a navigational tool within your text, transforming your manuscript into a reader-friendly reference. By systematically cataloguing content, indexing ensures that readers can swiftly access the sections most relevant to their interests. In essence, indexing optimises the reader’s experience, elevating the usability and readability of your manuscript. The Editorial Freelancers Association suggests indexing rates of $50–$60 per hour, depending on the type of text.

Rate per wordRate per hourPace of work per hour
 2.0¢–3.0¢  $50.00–$60.00  5.0–10.0 

What is the cost of editing a book of 50,000 words?

Based on the editing services rates suggested by the Editorial Freelancers Association, you might wonder how much it would cost for a 50,000-word book. The table below presents a breakdown of these costs, which, depending on the type of the service, may range from $1,000 to $15,000 for a 50,000-word book.

Please note that these are approximate estimates, and actual costs may vary based on factors such as the editor’s experience, the complexity of the manuscript and specific project requirements. Discussing rates with potential editors to obtain precise estimates for your unique project is essential.

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

How do you find and evaluate professionals providing book-editing services?

When it comes to finding and evaluating professionals providing book-editing services, making the right choice can significantly impact the quality of your manuscript. To ensure you are entrusting your work to a capable and reliable editor, consider the following steps in your selection process.

Verify the editor’s accreditation

Begin by verifying the editor’s accreditation. Determine if they are a member of a professional organisation related to editing, as these associations often provide peer network support and professional development opportunities and maintain codes of practice.

In North America, look for affiliations with organisations such as:

In Europe, relevant associations include:

Editors in Australia and New Zealand may be members of the Institute of Professional Editors Limited, while in Africa, the South African Guild of Editors serves as a reputable organisation.

Request a sample edit, price quote and turnaround time

Before finalising your choice, ask for a sample edit from the editor. This is a standard practice in the industry and an excellent way to gauge their skills and approach. A sample edit will provide insights into how the editor can enhance your manuscript and whether their style aligns with your expectations. It also allows them to showcase their expertise and assess the editorial intervention required. Given the varying types of editing, understanding your manuscript’s specific needs will help the editor provide an accurate quote for their services and estimate the turnaround time. This way, you can clearly understand what the editor offers, the associated costs, and when to expect the edited work.

Check the editor’s portfolio

Next, examine the editor’s portfolio to ensure they have prior experience working with the genre of your text. For instance, if you have written a memoir, editors specialising in genres like horror may not be the best fit for your project. Look for a portfolio on their website or platforms dedicated to publishing professionals, such as Reedsy or Upwork. The portfolio must be verifiable, ideally including hyperlinks to where the books they have worked on are available or reviewed, such as publisher’s pages, Discovery, Google Play, Amazon or Apple Books.

Read testimonials and verify references

Finally, take the time to read testimonials from previous clients who have worked with the editor. Their feedback can provide valuable insights into the quality of the editor’s work and whether they met project requirements. Pay attention to testimonials that offer contact details or can be verified as genuine references. Editors who provide full names and contact information for past clients enhance their credibility, demonstrating their commitment to transparency and client satisfaction.

Final thoughts

Understanding the cost of editing a book is vital. As we have explored, this cost can vary significantly depending on the specific editing service you require. Whether you opt for ghostwriting to kickstart your manuscript, developmental editing to refine its structure or copyediting and proofreading for fine-tuning, each service has its price tag.

These costs are influenced by factors such as the complexity of your manuscript, the experience of the editor, and the level of detail required. Fact-checking and indexing, while lesser known, play vital roles in enhancing your book’s credibility and accessibility, but they, too, come with their associated expenses.

Ultimately, the cost of editing a book should align with your budget and goals. While investing in professional editing services can elevate the quality of your manuscript, it is essential to strike a balance between quality and affordability. Considering professional editorial services is a prudent step toward presenting your work at its best. Let these types of editorial services 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 Mastodon, Twitter, 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, a student member of the Society of Indexers and a vetted partner of the Alliance of Independent Authors.