The editing process is vital to ensuring that your book is clear, concise, and free of errors. But how much should you pay to have your book edited? The answer depends on a number of factors, including the length of your book, the type of editing you need, and the experience of the editor.
Generally speaking, you can expect to pay anywhere from hundreds to tens of thousands for a complete edit of a full-length manuscript. However, if you only need a light edit for grammar and spelling, you may be able to find an editor who charges by the hour or by the page.
Ultimately, the best way to determine how much you should pay for editing is to get quotes from several different editors and compare their rates.
Factors that Determine Editing Costs
Length of the Book
When budgeting, the first thing you should consider is the length of your book. It is a no-brainer that an enormous book will dig your pockets deeper than a smaller one.
Word count matters since most editors charge by it.
Therefore, if you are working on a limited budget, try as much as possible to cut back the word count before getting an editor. That is if your storyline will remain solid even after removing some lines or chapters. But if you feel your storyline is perfect as it is, do not trim it to cut editing costs.
Book Genre and Complexity
Your book niche is another factor determining how much you will part with. Editing nonfiction, for instance, is more expensive than fiction. Why? They are usually denser, more complex, and require fact-checking. Fiction books, on the other hand, are lighter and without footnotes.
An editor with years of expertise and various bestsellers in their profile comes with a heavy price tag. But considering their outcome is next to perfection, I highly recommend them.
Experienced editors bring more value to your book than amateurs.
Don't get me wrong; I didn't say cheaper editors won't deliver. Some do, although you might spend a lot of time looking for one.
I, therefore, suggest that you work out a payment plan with an expert. You can ask for a discount or to pay in installments. An editor with your interest at heart will hear you out.
Your Writing Expertise
How long have you been in this game? Apparently, your expertise matters too. A beginner's manuscript may require more time to edit than an experienced writer's. Hence, more money.
As a first-time writer, you shouldn’t be discouraged. However, treat this opportunity as an investment in your career. I’d suggest that you walk with your editor through this process and learn through feedback. You'll eventually be an expert, cutting back on the cost.
How soon do you need your edited copy? How booked or busy is your editor? Can you afford to wait in line for however long until it’s your turn to be served? Will you mind paying more to skip the line if they offer such an option?
Alternatively, you can opt for a less demanded editor with lots of free time in their schedule. Be keen, however, on their quality of work lest you spend more re-doing it.
Type of Editing
Which kind of editing do you want? Different types of editors charge differently due to their divergent responsibilities. Among the various types of editing, consider these three for your book;
- Developmental editing
A copy editor will make micro edits to your manuscript and rectify the grammar, flow, spelling, punctuation, and structure. They will review your manuscript to ensure it maintains the proper tense and tone to the end. They will also fact-check non-fiction from various sources to eliminate any chance of confusion.
A copyeditor receives the manuscript after it has been written, but a developmental editor is present throughout the writing process. Before writing, you will need a developmental editor to organize the book's plot, storyline, characters, and the tone of the manuscript. They will suggest how chapters and scenes will unfold and even text arrangement.
Since this type of editing involves comprehensive and attentive work, it will cost you the most of the three types.
A proofreader will check your manuscript format, layout, and the consistency of your content. They will look for typos, repeated words, punctuation, and grammatical errors. A good proofreader might go higher to point out the redundant sentences and choice of words. Of the three, proofreading usually costs the least.
How Much Can You Pay For an Editor?
As seen earlier, various factors affect editing costs, so this is not a one-size-fits-all scenario. However, I'll break down the numbers according to the Editorial Freelancers Association rates (EFA) to give you an image of how editing may cost.
EFA is a popular go-to page for most writers who seek guidance when setting editorial budgets. This page can serve as a reliable benchmark when looking to estimate your editorial costs.
Using a table, I will compare the different book genres against three types of editing for a 100,000-word book. I will use the maximum cost per word as listed on the page.
As you can see, fiction books are generally the cheapest to edit, whereas proofreading is the most affordable type of editing.
You use the page’s rates to calculate the estimated cost according to your book’s word count to get a better picture.
Is it Worth Hiring an Editor?
It’s totally worth it. An editor's expertise can change your book from an ordinary to an exceptional piece. They are trained for that!
Well, you might be good at grammar and spelling, and your storyline might be so great but can you determine if it flows correctly? Or if the plot develops as it should?
I'm saying that even though you might have some experience in editing, you shouldn't be your one and only editor. Seek an external opinion. After sitting with a manuscript for so long, one tends to miss their mistakes. That’s why you need fresh eyes for the job.
Also, note that you don’t need to hire a team of different editors.
If on a budget, determine the level of editing you need, then find one or two that you can trust. If you search hard enough, you might be lucky to get one that can do more than one type of editing, saving you some cash.
Alternatively, do some editing yourself before finding an expert to cut costs. Invest in a premium grammar checker and proofreading tool. Also, don't underestimate the power of beta readers. They can come for cheap (if not free) and do a great job in helping you create the perfect book.
Book Editing FAQs
Do I Need to Pay an Editor for My Book?
No. Nobody needs to pay for an editor, however, it is often a very good idea. A professional editor can help polish your work and make it the best it can be. They can also catch mistakes that you may have missed.
Editing is a key step in the publishing process, and it's important to ensure that your book is of the best possible quality before sending it out into the world. If you're unable to afford a professional editor, there are plenty of resources online that can help you edit your work yourself. However, nothing beats the expertise and feedback of a professional editor.
Can I Self Edit My Book?
Yes, you can self-edit your book; however, it is always a good idea to have someone else read it over for mistakes.
Editing a book is a lot of work. It's not just about fixing typos; you need to make sure the plot makes sense, the characters are believable, and the setting is described in enough detail that readers can picture it in their minds. You also need to make sure the grammar and spelling are correct.
It's possible to do all of this yourself, but it's a lot of work. A better option might be to hire an editor who can help you polish your manuscript and make sure it's ready for publication.
Should I Get My Book Edited Before Sending It to An Agent?
Yes, you should definitely get your book edited before sending it to an agent. An unedited book is likely to have errors that will reflect poorly on you and could potentially cause the agent to lose interest in representing you.
How Many Edits Should a Novel Have?
It depends on the novel. Some novels only need a couple of rounds of edits, while others may require many more. As a general rule, the more drafts you can get your novel through, the better. Each time you edit, you'll catch more mistakes and make your story stronger.
There are a few things to keep in mind when editing your novel:
- Is your plot clear and easy to follow?
- Are the characters believable and well-rounded?
- Is the writing tight and free of errors?
- Does the story flow smoothly from beginning to end??
If you can answer yes to all of these questions, then your novel is probably ready for publication. If not, then it's time to roll up your sleeves and get to work!
Book editing should be part and parcel of your publishing expenditure, whether you are a first-time author. The process might take months and a lot of cash to complete, but it will be worthwhile when you eventually earn profits and credibility from your book. So, take your time and work your way around finding the best editor you can afford.