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How Much Should You Pay an Editor?

If you have been following our mini-series on editing, you likely know what kind of editor you need and now you are ready to hire one.
Time for the $64,000 question: How much should you pay them?
When you start querying editors, you’ll discover that there is a giant range of both what and how to charge. Let me tell you what I mean.
Some editors charge by the page while others charge by the hour. It can be very confusing for a new writer to know what is best and what is fair.
Fortunately, the Editorial Freelancers Association provides a great resource for this information. Utilizing this guideline will help you set an expectation and budget range for your project.
As always, the details matter. Depending on the type of editing you require, you’ll find different pricing structures.
Copy editors should charge somewhere between $30-$40 per hour and should work at a pace of 5-10 pages per hour. That’s for a basic copy job. The more complicated, the higher the price.
Developmental editors work at a bit slower pace of 1-5 pages per hour and charge more per hour, $45-55 per hour. This is because they are looking at the big picture of your story. See the article I wrote last week describing the different focus each type of editor has.
Line editors move at a pace of 1-6 pages per hour and charge between $40-$60 per hour.
But wait! Is it better to pay by the page or by the hour? Maybe by the project or by the word?
Each editor will set up their structure differently. Some will offer discounts for purchasing all levels of editing in a package. If the editor is charging by the hour, they should be able to give you an estimate of the number of hours your project will take. Keep in mind that if your manuscript is a hot mess, they may need more time with it. But they should definitely communicate that with you in advance. This is one of the reasons that editors like to do a sample edit. It gives them the opportunity to see your work and gives you a chance to gage the type of feedback you’ll be getting. Ultimately, what matters most is that you know what to expect for your project and there are no surprises for either party.
Communication is key to a good relationship with your freelancer, whether it be editing or cover design. You’ll want to know ahead of time if they accept payment in chunks. Some want the entire payment up front, others will want half now, half later. Be sure your understand their requirements before you sign a contract with them. And yes, there should be a contract. If you are exchanging money for goods and services, you’ll want to be sure both parties are clear on the expectations from the beginning of the project. Please note: I am not an attorney and I do not play one on TV.
One number that is quite firm in the book industry: 250 words is the average per page no matter the font style or size that you have used. You can use that number to figure out how many pages your manuscript is. If your manuscript is 85,000 words your page count is approximately 340 pages. If you are hiring a copy editor on the low end of the pricing scale who averages 7 pages per hour, you can expect them to spend around 48 hours on your manuscript. At $30 per hour, that’s around $1400.
Tip: You may be able to find editors who have recently hung their shingle and therefore charge substantially less. You don’t have to rule out a particular professional if there prices are lower than you are expecting. They may just be building their business. But definitely do that free sample edit so you make sure you are still getting good quality edits. Conversely, someone who charges beyond the high end of the scale may have tons of experience and would be worth considering.
For more tips on self-publishing, check out the courses available to you at Here you will find a variety of courses to help you on your independent publishing journey including some free videos and courses and the comprehensive How to Learn Self-Publishing Fast Full Course. 


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