Updated: Oct 10
I'll let you in on a secret: Based on my own experiences, most people have no idea how much they should expect to pay for editing.
Seriously. A few months ago, I posted a form of this question in over a dozen writers' groups on Facebook:
"About how much do you expect to pay for editing for your entire book?"
I got quite a few responses. Most ranged from about $50 to about $250. Few people said anything over $500.
Why do I say that? Because these people are setting themselves up for major disappointment. You might get prices like those from someone who's simply running automated tools (spellcheckers, Grammarly, AutoCrit, and so on) on your manuscript, but not from an editor who actually knows what they're doing.
Let me be frank. You can run your own spellchecker, Grammarly, and other automated checks for free. You don't need an editor for that, and you certainly don't need to pay someone to do it. Shame on anyone who'd try to pass that off as editing. Those people make my blood boil. They rip off authors and give real editors a bad name.
So if $50-$250 is way too low of a price to expect for editing, what's a more realistic one?
Many editors base their rates on the ones compiled by the Editorial Freelancers Association. You can find their median rates for all kinds of writing and editorial services on this page. (Remember, these aren't average rates. They're median rates, meaning that if you lined up every surveyed person's rates in order from lowest to highest, these rates would be in the middle.) For example, copyediting a 100,000-word fiction book is going to cost at least $2,000—and, given how complex a book of that length is likely to be, the final price tag will likely be significantly more.
That sounds like a lot of money. Trust me, I get it. At the same time, my rule of thumb with editing is "you get what you pay for." So if you want a good editor for your book, start saving your money now. It'll be worth it.
(Thanks to Matthew Lancaster for sharing their work on Unsplash.)