This article, by Marc Johnson, originally appeared on the Longshot Publishing blog on 10/20/2010.
Unfortunately, a lot of indy authors don’t pay for editing. I think the primary reason for this is most people don’t know how much it costs. I’m here to help people with that and tell you how much my experience cost. I believe you should edit your manuscript before you publish, but before you decide you should know what you’re getting into. At some point, I’ll talk about choosing a good editor and my experience in working with her.
On a thread on one of the forums I frequent, the prices people thought editing was varied greatly. For your standard 300 page manuscript, people thought it was as little as $100. Others thought it was as much as $50,000. Most people thought the price of editing as at least $10,000. To be fair, the $100 quote was someone who thought that was just basic copyediting, but most of the people either grossly overestimated or underestimated how much editing was.
The type of editing I was looking for my 90,000 word manuscript was a developmental edit. That type of edit dealt mainly with the structure of the story. There was also some light copyediting involved. I emailed about a dozen editors to get their quotes. To the eight or so editors that could take me on, their prices were as low as $1500 to as high as $6000. The average ranged from $2000 to $3000. The editor I chose cost me $2000. You don’t have to pay all at once. You put a deposit down, about a third of the price, then pay the rest when she’s finished.
The one thing I’m not sure about is if prices are different based not only on the type of editing you want and how long it would take, but also on the genre of your work. I’m working on a fantasy series. Would that be harder to work on because it’s based in a made up world than working on mystery series set in today’s world? In any case, I emailed editors that worked in my genre.