How Much Does a Book Editor Cost? Everything About Editing 

Mairead Beeson
September 22, 2022

How Much Does a Book Editor Cost?

After finishing the first draft of your manuscripts, as a beginner author, you are eager to get your book on the digital shelves as fast as possible. Many first-time authors don't really know how much does a book editor cost, but presume it will be too expensive. 

They'll use friends and family members as beta readers, make a few changes, and presto. It is only when the sales stagnate, and negative reviews start rolling in that they realize it was a mistake not to follow the proven track instead. 

Finding independent proofreaders and a professional editor or editing service for your manuscript is pivotal to its success. But before you set out on this critical journey, it is worth your while to get a better understanding of the different types of editing services in order to get a better understanding of how much does a book editor cost. 

Without further ado, let's get down to it: 

How much does a book editor cost? It depends on the following factors...

If you are uncertain about the definitions and what they entail, don't worry, we will explain them in more detail further down. The rates depicted in the table below are based on the median prices derived from a survey from the Editorial Freelancers Association and give an indication of what to budget for.

These rates are not set in stone, but it is good enough to give you an idea of what to budget for. Also, note that these prices refer to works of fiction only.


Rate per Hour

Rate per Word







Line editing



Developmental editing



The prices could vary depending on the length of your book as well as the genre. But as a starting point, let's just consider what you can expect to pay for a 70,000-word thriller novel using the data above.

Editing for Thriller Novel

Total Cost





Line editing


Developmental editing


You might be shaking in your boots right now, considering the accumulation of these costs. The good news is that you won't need all the types of editing for your manuscript, and there are other factors to consider that could lower the costs.

How much does a book editor cost

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But before we get into these additional factors, let's first discuss the different types of editing you can get from a book editor so that you can get a better understanding of what you might need to turn your first novel into a best seller.

What is novel proofreading? How much does a book editor cost

Proofreading for novels involves the reading of the manuscript, finding and marking errors such as spelling errors, grammar mistakes, punctuation, and overall consistency.

Beta readers (more on them soon) would provide you feedback on the plot and characters mostly, while a proofreading service is more detailed and focuses on the accuracy of the text as well.

What is novel copyeditingHow much does a book editor cost

Copyediting refers to a type of professional editing that entails corrective work that focuses on all the same aspects as proofreading, such as spelling, punctuation, grammar, consistency but also logic. It is a more in-depth approach than proofreading because the copy editor also focuses on content editing relating to logic and flow.

What is line editingHow much does a book editor cost

Line editing encompasses the same as copyediting but goes deeper into the creative content, focusing on writing style and language style at a sentence and paragraph level.

Although general mechanical errors are highlighted and edited, line editing focuses more on the way you communicate the story to the reader to make a more pleasurable and bonding reading journey.

What is developmental editingHow much does a book editor cost

Developmental editing of a manuscript focuses more on the bigger picture of the novel. It looks at aspects such as character development, plot flow, plot holes, and improving the overall reading experience. The feedback and suggested edits will enhance the reading experience and improve the stickiness of the novel.

What factors influence the cost of editing?

At the beginning of this article, we showed you some numbers to give an indication of how much editing costs, but apart from the type of professional editing service you require, there are also other factors that would influence the cost of editorial services.

We're not referring to the obvious accumulation of words or pages that naturally push the price up. The length of the book itself could influence the unit price itself. In other words, a developmental editor might quote 3c per word for a 60,000-word manuscript but charge 3.2c per word for a 100,000-word novel.

As you can imagine, keeping track of the plot and characters in a lengthier novel requires more energy than a shorter version, and therefore the price could increase.


For the sake of this article, we will only be focusing on fiction writing. The genre of your novel will play a role in the editing costs. To give you a better understanding of developmental editing rates, we scoured various editing services sources and displayed them in the table below.


Average Rate per Word



Thriller, Crime, Mystery


Sci-Fi, Fantasy




Historical Fiction


Literary Fiction


Children's Middle Grade




Business, Self Help


Quality of writing

Your potential editor would most likely ask you for a copy or a chapter of the manuscript before providing a quote, regardless of the type of editing required. If you are a skilled writer plagued by perfectionism, the quote you'll receive would most probably be lower than the quote of a new writer who rushed through the first draft without considering beta reader feedback and editing themselves after.

Some editorial services would include a sample edit. They will assess the writing and provide a sample edit of the first 1000 words for example. This allows you to get a better understanding of the service to expect, and the editor a better understanding of the workload.

It boils down to accuracy and experience. If a writer has low levels of these factors, it means that there is more work for the editor, and it will consume more of their time.


The amount of time you allow the editor to do their magic will influence the price. If you are in a rush and insist on a short turnaround time, the editor would most probably charge you more than if you have you were to allow more freedom on the delivery date.

Good editors might be inundated with work and could have a waiting time for new work. Some editors provide options where you can jump the queue if you are willing to pay for that privilege.

What are the risks of not using an editor?

The web-covered shelves of digital bookshops are littered with the dusty novels of writers who chose the fast and free way to publish their works. The quality of writing and readability of a book will directly determine the future sales of the book.

You don't have to look any further than one of the most famous authors of all time. Just look at how poorly his book is rated and the main reasons why on Amazon here.

How much does editing cost- bad reviews

The number one reason for editing a book is to make the reading experience as pleasurable for a reader as possible. You might have a masterpiece on your hands, but if readers get confused or frustrated by the mistakes in the book, they will simply put it down and find another one.

In addition to abandoning the book, they will also leave a negative review. It is impossible to get 100% good reviews, but you do want to minimize the negative reviews as much as possible. Going through the slow process of using beta readers and editors is guaranteed to bring down the negative sentiment.

Here are the top 4 reasons how your book could receive a negative review:

1. Unmet expectations

Make sure that the blurb matches the content. You might be able to sell your story brilliantly through the blurb, but the plot might be confusing, full of holes, and the characters too shallow or unconvincing. Editors with years of experience who know what works and what doesn't could immediately point these out to you.

2. Too many spelling and grammatical errors

Reading a book riddled with mistakes is hard work, and you can't expect a reader to sacrifice their valuable time sweating through your book. Also, people, in general, like to show off their detective skills. Make no mistake. If they find only a few technical errors, they will inform the world of their detective skills and attention to detail by announcing them in the reviews.

3. Poor research

The same principle applies to the technical aspects. Errors will be discovered and announced to the world. Once a trend develops in the reviews section, potential readers will be deterred from buying your book. People like to be entertained- not lied to.

4. Inconsistent characters, plot holes, and pacing

As a writer, you see the world unfold in your mind as you create it. But the way you see and perceive is different to that of a reader. You might be convinced by the actions of a character or how the plot unfolds, but for the reader, it might be a different experience altogether.

Your family and friends might see these discrepancies but will protect your feelings by not attacking these shortcomings aggressively. On the other hand, your readers don't know you and don't care about your feelings. They will tell you exactly what they think in the reviews.

Neutral beta readers and editors could help you discover these blind spots and prevent them from appearing in public after publishing the book.

What is a beta reader?

A beta reader is the first person who reads a manuscript while it is still a draft and gives feedback from a reader's point of view. The author uses the feedback to make changes to the manuscript so that it better resonates with future readers.

Stephen King, for instance, uses beta readers selected from family and friends. Usually, you wouldn't pay friends and family to be beta readers, but there is a downside to using your acquaintances as beta readers.

We highly recommend that you read our article on beta readers and where to find them.

Can Beta Readers Replace Editors?

Beta readers are invaluable to provide objective feedback on your draft manuscript. Choosing several beta readers will give you a wide array of changes or corrections to consider, making your story more interesting, readable, or accurate. These Beta readers look over your draft to review the flow and cohesiveness, checking for plot holes, consistent characterization and spelling, and grammar issues. Normally, beta readers aren't writers and are often unpaid reviewers.

While your beta readers can, and do, catch many of the obstacles that lead to bad reviews nothing beats the impartial eye of a professional editor. 

Of course, cover design and editing will be your 2 biggest expenditures. But the good news is that there are different types of editors available to meet all needs and budgets.

How Much Does an Editor Change A Book?

Understandably, as an author, you don’t want to lose control over your writing or have it criticized unduly. However, a good editor should understand that vulnerability and work with you to help you make your final draft the best version of your story.

In addition, as the author, you have the final say in whether to accept any advice, constructive criticism or changes the editor suggests.

Where to find your editor How much does a book editor cost

About the author 

Mairead Beeson

Mairead is an award-winning editor whose passion for writing started at a young age. And it was cemented when she received a personal response letter from her favorite author Darren Shan after writing to him. Although her passions have now multiplied to include various “very British” leisure pursuits (football, awful 80s slasher movies, Indian food, cycling, comedy, etc.), she still can’t resist making time for a good book…or three.

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