One of the first questions asked by most potential clients is: How much will it cost to have you edit my novel?
The short answer: editing is cheaper than the price of magic… probably. If your magic costs your first born or your sanity, then editing is definitely cheaper. But if magic just makes you a little tired than I’m sorry to say editing will probably make you a little tired and cost you some coin.
Seriously though, this question is very easy to ask but remarkably difficult to answer. Especially if all I know about your novel is that it does exist in some form. The reason it’s so difficult to answer is that there are many variables to take into account before anything close to an appropriate quote can be decided.
Here are four of the most important variables that need to be considered before settling on a quote:
Type of Edit
Different types of editing require different skill sets, and since certain types of editing are more specialized than others, they are also more expensive. Applying each type of editing to the same manuscript will result in different quotes.
Length of the Novel
Simply put, the longer the manuscript the more it will cost to have it edited. This is why one of the first things most editors will want to know is your word count.
Level of Editing Intervention Needed
Different novels require different levels of intervention. More experienced writers may have cleaner manuscripts than novices and therefore don’t need as much editorial assistance. In that case, the job may be more a matter of tidying the story up as opposed to restructuring the narrative.
How quickly you want the edited manuscript returned can have a big impact on price or no impact at all. If you are asking for a short turnaround time, the cost can easily double. But if you are in no particular rush and are willing to work within the editor’s schedule then deadline isn’t of much concern.
While those are four of the more important variables an editor needs to work out with the author, they are by no means the only ones. Rate of pay is tricky to figure out and talk about because every editor is different. Some charge by the hour, some by the word or page, and some will give a flat rate. According to Editor’s Canada, freelancers charge between $30-$100 per hour which isn’t very helpful if you have no concept of how many hours it takes to edit a novel. Depending on the many variables, a fantasy novel of 90,000 words would take me approximately 40-50 hours to edit.
So that’s the long answer (that I freely admit isn’t actually an answer) to the question how much does editing cost.
If you have any questions about the cost of editing, drop them in the comments.