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Do You Need an Editor? The Answer Might Surprise You (Part 2)

Updated: Apr 8, 2020

How much does the average editor cost?

It’s a good question with a really complicated answer.

What isn't so complicated is going back to the introductory article to this new series: "Do You Need an Editor? The Answer Might Surprise You." If you haven't already read it, just click here.

Otherwise, let's find some answers by starting out as simply as possible.

For instance, try doing a Google search for “How much does a manuscript editor cost?” If you do, you'll find a few ads, mostly for agencies. Possibly for some vanity publishers.

Avoid the latter like the plague. Mainly because they are.

Other than them, I’m not going to call anyone out here. But I will tell you that a 90,000-word manuscript could easily cost you $2,500, $3,500 or even over $4,000 if you hire someone who charges by the manuscript.

I'm sure I don't have to tell you that's a lot.

Then again, depending on how polished your manuscript isn't, it could be comparable if you hire a charge-by-the-hour editor. Then it could cost anywhere from $25 to $80 per hour...

According to the Editorial Freelancers Association.

In 2008.

Imagine how much higher it’s recommendation is going to be 12 years later.

Now, I do have to say that the $80 per hour (which is more like $100-$150 per hour today) was no doubt for more technical editing: editing with extreme need for expertise, such as engineering, technology, or some other such focus.

$35 to $50 these days is a much more normal range for the kind of professional editors who charge by the hour – which, incidentally, is normal for freelancers. Otherwise, they risk making less than minimum wage.

I know this from personal experience, unfortunately, back when I first started Innovative Editing.

Speaking for myself, I'll be the first to admit that I’m a complete and utter cheapskate when given the logical chance. So it would be exceptionally hypocritical of me to charge non-cheapskate prices.

That's why my non-business book-editing and coaching services only cost $25. Because I wouldn’t pay anyone more than that myself.

With that said, I have to warn you: I wouldn’t advice paying anyone less than that unless you know and trust them. Implicitly. Anyone who charges less than $25 probably isn’t qualified and/or doesn’t take enough pride in their work.

That sounds harsh, I know. And I also know that there are exceptions to that rule. But they're few and far between. You don’t want to pay $500 or $700, only to find out that you’re going to have to pay another $2,000 because the "cheap" editor you hired in the first place didn’t do a good job.

Any kind of professional has to be properly compensated in order to care about what they do. It’s just the way things are. You get what you pay for.

Along those lines, I do think it’s important to mention the kinds of editing you can pay for, since that can factor into cost as well. If you don’t know who to hire, you can hire the wrong person.

And, once again, that can lead you to having to hire the right person after already paying hundreds of dollars or more. That fate might not be worse than death. However, it’s anything but desirable.

So next week, let’s discuss the different kinds of editors there are. That way, you know who and what to be looking for... once again saving money in the process.

Editor’s Note: Read the next post on "Do You Need an Editor?" here.

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