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GuidesUnderstanding Publishing

Last updated on Apr 08, 2024

How Much Does an Editor Cost? What to Expect for Pro Services

Before you hire an editor (or team of editors) to polish your book, you'll want a sense of how much each editor will cost and what you’ll get out of a paid editing collaboration. The good news is, with a bit of research and prep on your part, you can make the most of your budget and forge an excellent relationship with your editor(s), which is honestly priceless if you intend to publish multiple books! 

So let’s dive right into what you can expect in terms of editing costs, then discuss the factors that can affect your final numbers.

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Average costs of professional editing

Based on marketplace data Reedsy collected in 2024, it costs between $1,900 and $4,440 to hire an editor for an 80,000-word book. Editing costs depend on a number of factors, including the editor’s experience level, the type of service, and the length and genre of the project. For example, a copy editor may charge $0.020 per word, whereas a proofreader’s rates may be lower at $0.014 per word.

Here’s a more detailed table of editing costs for your book, with a wider range for each service (including all genres, some of which are more costly than others):

Editing Service     Cost per word
Editorial Assessment $0.017–$0.024
Developmental Editing $0.024–$0.040
Copy Editing $0.020–$0.028
Proofreading $0.014–$0.018

To put these figures in context, editing costs for a generic 80,000-word book would be:

If it seems like the charges are racking up, don’t fret; you almost certainly won’t need all these types of editing for your book. And depending on a few other factors, your edits could end up costing much less. Here’s what to keep in mind as you begin this process.

Costs depends heavily on genre

One thing that impacts editing costs is your book's genre. Nonfiction, for example, costs more to edit than fiction, as it’s often denser and may require fact-checking. Likewise, “heavier” prose in genres like experimental literary fiction typically costs more to edit, while “lighter” prose in genres like romance typically costs less.

Another crucial genre consideration: while you might expect a children’s book editor to be less expensive because children’s books are relatively short, that also means every single sentence has to be perfectly tuned — which makes the editing cost per word actually higher! However, note that if you’ve written a picture book, you may not be charged by the word at all, but rather asked to pay a flat fee for editing (usually $300-$500).

Wondering where your book falls on the cost spectrum? Enter your genre and word count here to receive an estimate for each type of editing. 

Pricing calculator

Calculate the average cost of editing services for your genre.

Editorial Assessment

Developmental Editing

Copy Editing

Proofreading

Note that while developmental editing, copy editing, and proofreading are pretty consistent within each genre, editorial assessment costs are more variable, so read your calculations carefully to ensure there are no surprises later.

Longer manuscripts are more expensive to edit

It might sound obvious, but when budgeting for editing services, authors often forget to account for the length of their book. Even knowing editors’ standard by-the-word costs, it’s easy to underestimate the charges — you may feel like your book is shorter than it is, or assume it’s polished enough not to require a “full” edit (alas, this is rarely the case).

This is why it’s useful to keep tabs on the length of your manuscript and cut as much as possible before hiring an editor. True, for some authors, there’s nothing to cut; if your book works perfectly at its current length, don’t prune it for the sake of lowering costs! But for other authors, losing a few superfluous scenes here and there could save hundreds of dollars down the line. 

Great editors are worth the cost!

The thing about skilled, experienced editors is that they don’t come cheap — nor should they. We’ve given accurate estimates above based on Reedsy data, but if you’re seeking an editor with years or even decades of experience in your niche, they may indeed cost more.

Suppose you want the best possible editing job done on your book (we daresay most authors do). In that case, it’s worth shelling out a little extra — particularly for editing tasks that require a great deal of experience and genre familiarity to pull off, like a developmental edit or thoughtful editorial assessment. That doesn’t mean you can’t work with an amazing editor on a relatively low budget, only that you might have to look a little harder for the right person and/or figure out a payment plan over time.

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Fortunately, if an editor is truly passionate about your project, they’re often willing to meet you halfway. Again, you can ask to pay in installments, or you may be able to arrange a discount — especially if you’ll be working with them on multiple books.

Be respectful and honest in your communications, and you’ll surely find a great professional who will work for you.


Head to the final part of this guide for tips to help you get the most out of your collaboration. 

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