How Much Does an Editor Cost?

How much does an editor cost? It depends on what sort of editing a client is wanting, how big the job is, whether there is special formatting, whether the editing is on-screen or on paper and if English is not the author’s mother tongue – all these factors affect how long the job will take, and therefore the cost.

Also, if a client has a very short deadline and the editor will be working nights and/or weekends to get a job done (and possibly push back other clients), there may be an extra ‘rush’ charge to compensate.

Editors charge by the word, the page, the project or the hour. For a new client, an editor may include a free one-hour consultation or give a free test sample, but remember that a freelance editor is a professional earning a living so can’t devote hours to work that they are not charging for.

So there is no one answer to the question, but understanding more about editing may help.

Many people think that editors merely proofread, but often the text requires more detailed adjustment, such as restructuring a document for flow or rephrasing sentences to clarify meaning. Even minor errors and inconsistencies in a document reduce its impact. Our brains are wired to auto-correct, which means that we often don’t notice mistakes (which is one of the reasons why it is always hard to edit or proofread your own work). It’s well known that the brain can read and comprehend sentences where the letters of every word are jumbled except for the first and last letters. However, the brains of your readers will become fatigued if they have to auto-correct often. They will cease understanding what you’ve written and will stop reading.

Editors are trained professionals. They have superior knowledge of written English and keep up to date with language trends. Many specialise in different areas, for instance, theses, novels or business books. They understand the context of the language and who is going to read it. They look for anything in the text that jars, and they know how to make it better.

You pay an editor for his or her expertise and time. Even if your text is nearly perfect, it will still take an editor several hours to read through, let alone correct, a 95,000-word thesis.

Types of Editing

There are three levels of editing: substantive editing, copyediting and proofreading.

Substantive Editing

The substantive editor will assess your text to develop the structure (chapters, plot, flow) and the characters (if any). He or she will gives clues about what to add or leave out, what to change (for example, the title), whether tables and figures are accurately placed and so on. You will also be alerted to plagiarism, copyright issues and incorrect references. The editor will also check that the writing style is appropriate for the intended readership and if they need additional aids such as illustrations, a glossary, headings or internal links.


The copyeditor will rearrange the text for a better flow, research facts and dates, point out inconsistencies and repetitions, as well as correct spelling, grammar and punctuation. He or she will ensure consistency in the application of capital letters, hyphens, abbreviations, headings and captions and the expression of numbers (for example, ‘8.00 am’ or ‘eight o’ clock in the morning’) and check that references adhere to the nominated style guide.


The proofreader will do a final check of your text before publication. The proofreader will correct spelling, grammar and punctuation, simple formatting, such as spaces between sentences, indented paragraphs and appropriate word breaks at the end of lines. He or she will check that headings, tables and figures and pages numbers align with the table of contents (or chapter headings).

Go to the IPEd website for a more thorough analysis:

So how much does an editor cost? It depends on what the editor needs to do – and how much you value your text.


Susan Pierotti AE
Communication subcommittee
Susan is principal at Creative Text Solutions