How much does it cost to get a book edited?

Ball of string and scissors - cost to get a book edited

Before anyone pays you to read your book, it’s advisable to pay someone else to read it first – your editor! But how much does it cost to get a book edited?

It’s a great privilege to be one of the first people to read a piece of writing and not a light responsibility to critique, edit and improve those words so carefully, painstakingly, etched into the page. So it is right that the editing process takes time. Those words are worth it.

Just reading a novel for pleasure could take anywhere up to about 5 hours for a 70K word book, but for an editor, it will be about seven times this! Not only are the storyline, setting and characters considered but also sentence structure, voice, consistency, grammar and punctuation and more. Practically every word has a light shone on it. Paying someone for an entire week’s work is not a paltry amount of dollars to invest.

The time it takes to edit a manuscript and therefore the cost, depends on five factors:

    1. The level of the edit required – structural, copyedit or proofread
    2. The complexity of the text
    3. The level of the English
    4. The number of words
    5. The competency and experience of the editor

To get around this piece of string called time, a good editor will offer a free sample edit. I offer to edit around 1000 words, and this will give me an idea of the style, complexity and level of English. I can give an accurate estimate on how long it will take and therefore the final cost.

This also allows the author to see if my style of editing suits them.

So, what can you expect to pay to get a book edited?

Editors may charge by the hour, the page or the word.
The Institute of Professional Editors (IPEd) recommends hourly pay rates for editors in Australia to range from $80 per hour for professional, established editors to $110 per hour for editors with extensive or specialised experience. So for approx. 35 hours to read a 70k manuscript costs around $2800 plus.

Per page – to give you an approximate price, a 70,000-word book is divided by 250 words (industry standard) to equal an editorial page count of 280 pages. An editor can edit 5 – 7 pages per hour, so 280 pages requires anywhere from 40 – 56 hours to copy edit. At $80 per hour, you’re looking at $3200 – $4480 AUD for professional copy editing.

Per word – $50 to $70 per 1000 words for proofreading, $60 to $110 per 1000 words for copyediting and $85 to $130 per 1000 words for structural editing/rewriting. So for 70k, you’re looking at upwards of $3500.

Of course, there are editors who charge less and editors who are very fast. Shop around and get sample edits from a few different services. A smart editor will offer payment plans or instalments.

Other ways of ensuring a quicker edit are to have your manuscript in as good as possible shape by using self-editing software and/or having a friend or critique partner read it first.
Another option is to join my Patreon page. I will edit 1000 words for a monthly subscription of $49.99.

This might be a great way to see what your idiosyncrasies and weaknesses are and improve your writing as you go.

As you can see, professional editing is not a cheap part of the publishing process but the cost of getting a book edited will be the best investment, not only for improving your writing skills, but also to ensure you are sending out the best book possible.

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