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.
Average costs of professional editing
According to our marketplace averages, a copy editor costs about $0.018/word, a developmental editor costs about $0.025/word, and a proofreader costs about $0.01/word. That said, these figures have been pulled from a variety of genres and manuscript “readiness” levels, so your own editing costs may vary.
Here’s a more detailed chart of editing costs for your book, with a wider range for each service (including all genres, some of which are more costly than others):
To put these figures in context, editing costs for a 75,000-word literary fiction novel would be:
- $1,088 for an editorial assessment
- $1,612 for a developmental edit
- $1,275 for a copy edit
- $750 for a final proof
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.
Longer manuscripts are more expensive to edit
It might sound deeply 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 your word count 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.
Cost depends heavily on genre
A less obvious factor in editing costs is the genre of your book. 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. 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.
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.
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 an editor 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.