Quote attributed to John Ruskin
People hire book editors for various reasons and pay different book editing rates according to needs and budgets. I always sprinkle in a little extra TLC regardless of the type of editing I’m hired to do, but it’s a good idea for authors to understand what to expect for their payment.
The Book Editing Menu
Book editing rates generally have levels, from the lightest editing that corrects minor errors to invasive editing that will change the flow and feel of the book. Below is an idea of the types of projects for which editors can be hired, from least to most expensive.
- Copyediting is much like proofreading and corrects grammar and punctuation. My rates start around .03¢ or .04¢ per word depending on the degree of difficulty (or the volume of errors).
- Line editing (or line-by-line editing) addresses paragraph structure, flow, pacing, usage, and writing style, and can involve the rewriting of content and narrative. My rates start around .07¢ per word depending on the degree of difficulty (or the volume of work needed.
- Developmental editing is a vastly more advanced form of editing that focuses on your narrative, story arc, overall conceptualization, plot, characterization, theme, and other storytelling elements. I may rewrite or develop new content. My rates start around .08¢ per word and can rise to .09¢ or more per word depending on the amount of rewriting required, or the addition of new content.
- Substantive editing often includes ghostwriting, which is the addition of my writing to your book. It may require that the manuscript be rearranged from top to bottom, rewritten, or even re-conceptualized. This is the most expensive type of editing and requires a custom quote.
Book editing Rates for Different Services
To expand on the section above, when I consult with authors, I explain the differences in editing services and book editing rates, as well as the results they can expect. That way, if authors want nothing more than copyediting (much like proofreading) and receive less than flattering feedback from beta readers … they know why. They realize their book still needs line editing or developmental editing. Simply correcting the grammar wasn’t enough.
The better choice would have been to pay for an all-encompassing edit, especially since I offer payment plans. I completely understand the constraints of a budget and do everything I possibly can to enable authors to get the services they need on terms that work for them.
You want someone who can identify what the manuscript needs. It really helps when a book editor like me is hired to do what is necessary to elevate the content with the full blessings of the author, but this is not always the case. Again, sometimes the author ONLY wants certain work performed, and I honor that.
Sometimes authors inquire about manuscript evaluation which is an overarching editorial assessment of strengths and weaknesses in a manuscript. They may want an opinion before the editing begins. I think this is great, but manuscript evaluations can run $500 to $1,000. My suggestion is usually that authors allow me to read through a manuscript and suggest a fair editing rate, which might include developmental editing. The spares them from having to pay for a manuscript evaluation in addition to the editing—it basically becomes an all-in-one project. After all, my quote, based on whether it is high-end or low-end rate, is a “mini” manuscript evaluation in and of itself. It either needs a lot of work or not, and the quote reflects that.
Contact me for book editing rates and consultation for your special project.
Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll discuss the ins and outs of the process, timelines, and deliverables.