News room: How much does it cost to have your book professionally edited?

How much does it cost to have your book professionally edited? by Sarah Juckes

How much does it cost to have your book professionally edited? To help you budget, we asked professional editor and proofreader, Mary Bate, for her expert tips.

“How much will it cost to have my book edited?”

This is a question most of you will have. If you Google ‘cost of editing a book’ you will find an overwhelming amount of information.

There are usually three levels: proofreading, copy editing and line (or content) editing.


This is often confused with copy editing, but a proofreader is not an editor.

Proofreaders compare the copy edited manuscript to the printer’s proof to make sure that no errors were introduced during the publishing process. They look at the formatting, end-of-line breaks, paragraph and sentence spacing, and typographical errors. They also point out misspelled words or punctuation mistakes if they find any.

Rates: The suggested rate quoted by the Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP) is £22.50 ($33.75) per hour. The average price per 1,000 words is £10 – £15 ($15 – $22.50).

Copy editing

A copy editor will check your work for spelling, punctuation, and grammar errors. They may also comment on continuity and do some minor rewriting if clarity is an issue. They don’t make significant changes or revisions.

Rates: The suggested rate quoted by the SfEP is £26.20 ($39.30) per hour. The average price per 1,000 words is £13 – £20 ($19.50 – $30).

Line editing

This includes all of the above and also points out things such as wordiness, overused words, repetitive sentence or paragraph structure. Line editing and copy editing have some similarities, but there is a difference. Line editing focuses more on paragraph structure, sentence flow, and word choice. They might also suggest some rewrites.

Rates: The suggested SfEP rate is £30.20 ($45.29) per hour. The average price per 1,000 is £18 – £25 ($27 – $37.49).

Anything over and above this is really into the realms of copywriting, which is a whole different ball game.

It is hard to work out how much can be achieved in an hour (10 pages?), so you may prefer to work with a price per 1,000 words or per page, which means the author can have a better idea of what the cost will be. In the copy editing world, one page equates to 250 words.

Ultimately you and the copy editor should feel you have a good rapport. They should always ask you for a sample of your manuscript and a word count before giving you a quote, and you should always ask them to edit a sample to see if you like the way they work.

Mary Bate is a qualified professional freelance proofreader and copy editor with an eye for detail, specialising in fiction, newsletters, leaflets, brochures, websites and blogs, but will turn her hand to anything that needs it. She offers proofreading and copy editing services to publishers, independent authors, museums, companies, schools, students and anyone else who can’t face the thought of proofreading their own work.

More expert tips on editing:

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Written by
Sarah Juckes
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Editing and Expert tips