Pricing & FAQ
Varies. $35-$100 or more per hour, depending on the writer
You may have discovered that penning a full-length book is much more challenging than writing an essay or a short story. Let’s say you have a story, either fiction or nonfiction, to tell but are an inexperienced writer. You don’t want to hire a ghostwriter because you enjoy the creative process of writing, but you understand that you have a lot to learn. In this case, having the help of a professional to give you feedback sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph, on the basics of good narrative writing, is invaluable. Coaching provides you with an intensive, one-on-one tutor who will address your specific writing problems.
Starts at 3 cents per word
Developmental editing is also called substantive editing or content editing. A developmental editor looks at the big picture. This type of editing is not intended to point out every grammatical error, sentence structure challenge, or wording issue; those belong to copyediting.
Developmental editors begin by reading your manuscript with the intention of developing a broad view of the entire work, then they focus on the various elements of the story. (Most manuscripts that undergo developmental editing are in need of substantial revision so there is little point in copyediting huge chunks of the manuscript that will be either deleted or altered, other than to help the writer develop that level of attention in the revision process.)
Developmental editing is performed on the manuscript page using Word’s track changes and comments features or on hard copy. The edited manuscript is often accompanied by a separate comprehensive editorial report that summarizes the strengths and weaknesses of your manuscript, whether fiction or nonfiction.
Starts at 3 cents per word
Line editing will smooth out the prose and provide a more engaging read. This intensive, word-by-word edit fixes awkward phrasings, queries anything that isn’t clear, eliminates unnecessary words, calls out vocabulary that is either too dense or too low-level, checks that analogies are apt, corrects grammar and diction errors, and so much more. In this process, even the best writers learn much about writing tics, crutches, and weaknesses they didn’t even know they had.
Starts at 2 cents per word
Copyediting is polishing your prose at the word, sentence, and paragraph levels after content decisions have been made and your manuscript is ready to move forward. Copyediting is often considered a “mechanical” process, in that it focuses on the fine points of technique and accuracy.
Whereas on the macro scale, copyediting addresses clarity, correctness, and consistency, on the micro scale it addresses spelling, punctuation, capitalization, grammar, usage, number styling, hyphenation, italicization, formatting, and any other details that present themselves in your manuscript. Nonfiction, for instance, involves not only reviewing the text but also checking tables and figures, citations and references, tables of contents, and the like. Fiction, conversely, usually needs an extra-sharp eye on dialogue and other storycraft minutiae.
Some copy editors also do basic fact-checking and quotation-checking, though you need to have a clear understanding with your editor as to whether or not they include these as part of their service. The cost to copy edit your book will, of course, be higher if you want your copy editor to check every quote, citation, reference, and date for accuracy.
Many copy editors develop a style sheet to ensure that certain words and styles are used consistently throughout a document; also, copy editors who work on novels may offer an expanded style sheet that tracks character and/or world traits, and story timeline. Independent copy editors normally build their style sheet according to the dictionaries and style guides they prefer (this is a negotiable element between you and your editor). If, however, your material has been accepted by a publisher who is subcontracting the manuscript to an independent copy editor, then the editor must adhere to the house’s style.
Starts at 1 cent per word
Proofreading is often confused with copyediting, because it involves the identification and correction of typographical errors, punctuation errors, misspellings, and formatting inconsistencies. What’s important to understand is that proofreading properly occurs when all revisions, all editing, and all formatting are complete. It is the last step before publishing, intended to catch any stray bloopers that escaped everyone else’s eyes, ideally performed by somebody who hasn’t seen the material before.
In the publishing world, proofreading might also involve comparing your copyedited document against the typeset document for uniformity and mechanical errors. It is a quality-control task, not an editing task, and is a step that should not be skipped.
In the Book Editing Associates network, members who passed the proofreading test with 100% are able to offer proofreading services.
Manuscript Critique & Evaluation
$1-$5 per page
A manuscript critique/evaluation is similar to a developmental edit in its scope but differs in its approach.
A developmental edit takes the "hands on" approach of using Word's track changes and comments features on the manuscript page to edit, provide feedback, and make corrections.
A critique uses a “hands off” approach, meaning editing, feedback, and corrections are not included on the page. It provides a comprehensive editorial report that summarizes the strengths and weaknesses of your manuscript, and suggestions for improvement as outlined in the developmental editing section.
Ghostwriting or Co-Writing
Varies. $45-$200 or more per hour, depending on the project and the writer
If you have a story to tell or information to dispense but lack the time or skill to produce a professional-caliber manuscript, you might want to hire a “ghost” to write it for you. A ghostwriter will look at what you have drafted and will interview you as extensively as necessary to understand what you want to say. The result should be a book with professional flare that preserves your unique voice and style as much as possible. Ghostwriters are most often hired by celebrities or non-writers who are experts in a particular subject or who have lived through an amazing experience they want to share.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who are the editors in this network?
The Book Editing Associates network is made up of professional editors, proofreaders, and writers in a variety of genres and specialties. No matter what level of editing, mentoring, or writing you need, at least one of them is a likely match for your project.
How are editors screened to make sure they qualify for this network?
All applicants are screened and tested. Their credentials are checked. Developmental editors need a track record of published books that they’ve edited. Copy editors and proofreaders must pass the tests for those categories. If you don’t see “copyediting” listed with the bio, it means that the editor focuses on content development (substantive editing) and does not offer copyediting and proofreading. If “proofreading” is listed in a bio, that individual passed the proofreading test (the test with the 2% pass rate).
How are the editors related to this network?
Book Editing Services was formed in 1998 to protect writers from online scams and from self-appointed editors and proofreaders who offer substandard services. The editors and publishing consultants posted on this site are freelance; therefore, your service agreement is with the editor/consultant you select, not with the network as a whole or the network coordinator.
What are your submission procedures?
Can I get the contact information (e-mail address or phone number) for a particular editor listed on the site?
Not immediately. No one wants their personal email address and phone number offered to anyone who asks. Use the submission form to request the editors you want to contact. Your submission will be forwarded to the editors you select, and direct contact can then begin.
Can I speak with the network coordinator about pricing and turnaround time before I submit?
The coordinator can help you with the submission process—and even recommend editors for your project—but cannot give you pricing and turnaround times for the freelance editors. To obtain a price quote please follow the submission procedures.
Will the editors accept all submissions?
No. It would be unethical for editors in this network to accept material they don’t feel can be improved with their editorial input. The network coordinator can reroute your submission to other editors if you give permission in the submission form.
What happens if I ask for light editing and the editors believe my work needs more intensive editing?
No two editors will share the same opinions, but if you receive a general consensus that a different level of editing (or a rewrite) is needed, you can choose to accept or ignore their opinions. The editors in this network will not be dishonest with you in order to charge a higher rate. Our copy editors and proofreaders decline submissions that need developmental editing as a first step.
Is my submission confidential?
The network coordinator does not keep the writing samples after sending the submission to the editor(s) you selected. If you did not name an editor, your submission is forwarded to several editors who might be a good match. Your submission is never posted, shared outside the network, or distributed electronically or in print. If you decide to use one of our editors, your submission is deleted when you inform the responding editors that you have chosen to work with someone else.
How long does it take to receive a response?
First, if your submission went through you would have received a thank-you acknowledgment. Make sure you answered all required fields before you resubmit. The network coordinator receives e-mails between 8 am and 8 pm weekdays (Central Time), and sporadically on weekends. In all cases, you should receive a response no later than the next business day. Our goal is no more than 3 hours M-F.
I sent a sample chapter. Why didn't any of my selected editors accept my submission?
The writer-editor relationship works both ways. You are able to select your editor, but the editor has the right to decline a submission for various reasons, including: 1. A topic/style mismatch. Our editors will turn down a submission if they don’t feel comfortable with the topic or writing style. 2. Your expectations don’t match the editor’s specialty. (For example, you requested a proofreader for a manuscript you intend to offer to agents and traditional publishers, but proofreader sees that the manuscript needs developmental editing as a first step.) 3. An unrealistic deadline or budget. The editors are not trying to trap anyone into higher prices. They want to know what they can offer you within your budget. Be aware, however, that most professional editors have 1 or 2 projects in process and can’t start immediately. 4. You didn’t provide direct answers to the questions in the submission form. 5. The phone number and/or email addresses you gave are not correct. 6. You may have asked for price-matching with another editor in this network or on another website. 7. Your communication styles don’t match. Many people forget that this relationship requires more than just writing and editing talent. The relationship should be pleasant, not adversarial. You can ask the network coordinator for assistance if your selected editors do not accept your submission.
If I send a chapter, will I get a sample edit?
Only if the editor intends to consider your manuscript. If you picked more than one editor and you don’t receive a response within 3 hours (M-F) after your submission, contact the network coordinator. Your sample edit will not consist of the entire chapter you sent. Because of the time commitment involved, a sample edit is usually 1 to 3 pages, depending on how much material the editor feels is necessary to edit in order to demonstrate the level of editing required and the editor’s particular style. The sample edit also gives the editor an idea of how much time your project will require and how much to quote.
Does my editor need to be an expert in my topic or genre?
Yes. No. Not always. A good copy editor knows when to look up a word or query an author when something doesn’t look right. Copy editors are not walking dictionaries, but they are suspicious of every word they read. That’s why editors catch mistakes that your friends and colleagues didn’t when they read your material and pronounced it “perfect.” With developmental editing, it might be more helpful to work with a specialist in your topic or genre, especially if you need help with improving the story (fiction writing) or presenting your research (nonfiction).
Will the editor I select start work on my material right away?
Professional editors with long track records and excellent reputations will have steady workloads, and many are booked weeks in advance. At times, however, a client may reschedule and leave a vacant spot on an editor’s calendar. Ask your editor about his/her next available date.
I'm eager to begin submitting my manuscript to agents right away. How soon can I expect my manuscript edit to be complete?
Editing is a slow, meticulous process that cannot be rushed (e.g., a 100,000-word manuscript may require 4+ weeks for an intensive development edit). Even if you only require proofreading, a job of that size usually takes 2+ weeks to complete because of the multiple readings required. (The frequent typographical errors in newspapers and other daily/weekly publications show what speed does to quality.) The service agreement you have with your editor will contain the start date and estimated completion date.
Do the editors use an editing agreement / contract?
It’s required. All editors in this network must use an agreement that spells out the scope of the project, the cost, and the schedule. Contact the network coordinator if the editor you select does not offer you a service agreement.
How do I get on an editor's calendar?
Return the editing agreement and pay a deposit/retainer to your editor to secure your spot.
What is the turnaround time once the editor starts on my project?
How much will it cost?
All editors need to see a sample and perform a short sample edit to give you a price quote. The rate for your project depends on the level of editing required and the complexity of the material. Every project is unique, and every quote is specific to that project.
For example: Writer A needs proofreading or light copyediting. Writer B needs heavy copyediting, developmental editing, and extensive rewrites.
Writer A will need less editorial intervention, while Writer B will need help with almost every sentence. As a result, the editor can edit 5 pages per hour for Writer A, but only 1 page per hour for Writer B.
When possible, the editor will give you a per-word rate because many factors can affect the number of words on a page (e.g., font, spacing, and margins).
The range for proofreading/copyediting/developmental editing is 1 to 12 cents per word. Ghostwriting, rewriting, and technical/medical editing is often quoted as an hourly rate after the draft is reviewed.
You do not need to commit to the whole project.up front. You can break up the manuscript into multiple segments, or begin with a mini-edit of the first few chapters.
Is word count the number of total words or just the words edited?
I received responses from two editors who gave me two different per-word prices. I like the work of the editor who quoted a higher rate, but I want the lower price offered by the other editor. Will my preferred editor match the price of another editor in the network?
Each freelancer sets his/her own rate. As with any service, you can ask the editors about the basis for their quotes; however, no editor is required to lower their quoted fee to match another editor’s quote.
It’s in your best interest to select the editor who most closely matches your expectations.
Do the editors work chapter by chapter?
What are my payment options?
What if I decide to end the relationship with my editor?
Will an editor work on my book in exchange for a percent of profits?
Can I ask the editor for references?
What's the difference between a critique, developmental/substantive editing and copyediting?
Developmental/substantive editors go about things in the opposite order. They begin by reading the manuscript for the big picture (e.g., plot and character development). Most manuscripts that receive developmental editing are in need of major revision, so there’s no point in copyediting huge chunks of the manuscript that will be either deleted or altered.
A critique editor provides a written report to the author that points out strengths and weaknesses and offers revision suggestions. A critique is not an edit; unless the writer has a separate mentoring arrangement with the editor, the writer must figure out how to implement the suggestions. Some critique editors are also developmental editors who will work with the author to restructure and/or rewrite parts or all of the manuscript.
Are there book designers in the network?
Can I get help with self-publishing?
What do I get back?
What are some steps a writer can take to choose an editor?
What other information do you need to know?
Do you plan to self-publish or seek traditional publication?
Do you have previous writing experience? Have you studied writing or taken part in critique groups?
What help do you think you need with your project?
What do editors expect from the writers they work with?
- Be open to suggestions. The final product is yours, but don’t waste your money on editing if you’re too attached to your draft and will override all edits.
- Stay available. Let your editor know how to reach you by providing several means of contact.
- Let your editor work. Don’t call or e-mail each day to check on progress.
- Send your work to your editor at the agreed-upon time. If you know you won’t be ready by your appointment date, let your editor know well ahead of the start date (at least 14 days before your appointment date) so your editor can reschedule you and possibly acquire other work. You may lose your deposit if you cancel without adequate notice.
- Remember that this is a professional arrangement. Pay the correct amounts on the dates specified in the editing agreement. Don’t delay payment dates or alter payment amounts.
Do editors have a policy regarding use of their name in the acknowledgments / preface?
Can my editor help me submit my manuscript to agents or publishers?
Should I get an agent?
From a legal viewpoint, unless an author is an expert on legal matters pertaining to contracts and has the time and ability to research which publishers are most likely to accept the manuscript and offer the best financial terms, the author is better off working with an agent. It can be as difficult to attract the attention of an agent as it is to get a contract from a publisher, but in the end the contract is likely to be under better terms for the author, and the author will have saved considerable legwork and time.
Can you guarantee that my edited manuscript will be accepted by an agent or publisher?
I had a great/bad experience with the editor I selected. Should I tell the network coordinator?
Note: An editor refusing to work without prepayment or to do free additional work (above and beyond the scope outlined in the agreement) are not legitimate complaints; an editor missing a contractual deadline or becoming unavailable is.
Because of the ethical guidelines of this network and the collection of feedback from network clients, legitimate complaints have rarely occurred since the network was formed in 1998.
Please let the network coordinator know about your experience with your editor(s).