Why do editing rates matter?

When it comes to rates, it’s a minefield out there—for both writers and editors. Setting rates, finding the person who charges the right amount for you, it can be tricky to think about everything and make a confident decision. It’s important to know that there are no actual set guidelines for prices when you become an editor. Over time, it has equaled a massive variant in rates. Some people can afford to offer the bare minimum price, whereas others believe that their time and effort should result in a high payout. But why does the price that you go for matter? 

Experience, knowledge, and skill. 

When you pay someone to work on your writing, you want it to be worth your money, no matter how much you’ve paid. With this in mind, the experience, knowledge, and skill of your editor really matters. We all have to begin somewhere, and offering an introductory/start-up price is obviously fine—it’s what I did, and it worked well. But I do believe that as you grow, your prices should reflect that. If you want someone who’s had years worth of experience, with all the knowledge and skill that comes with that, it matters that you might have to pay more to receive that service. However, I know this isn’t always the case—there are plenty of professionals who want to remain affordable; it’s just finding that right fit.

As an editor builds up years worth of experience, they’ll also have put large amounts of their own money into their business to benefit their clients. Their own money goes towards updating their training, technology, websites, and other things that improve the service they provide. They might raise rates as a result of this. You’ll then be paying for someone who takes continuous learning seriously, someone who is willing to put their own money into what they do to benefit others. If you want someone who consistently updates their knowledge and training, then you might have to pay more. 


Different clients always need differing turnovers. Rates can vary to suit this. If you had an 80,000-word manuscript, usually a copy editor would take around a month to ensure an excellent standard of work. If a writer wanted that edit done in less time, it would make sense that the rate would be higher, to match the extra effort and skill it takes to do the job faster. Rates can vary due to turnover speed. A skilled editor who can work fast will probably charge more because they’re giving a better service. If you want a job done quickly but still at an excellent standard, it’s worth paying more for someone who can deliver. 

Living costs.

The amount that an editor charges matters hugely to them. We all have to make enough to pay our bills and live. The amount that an individual needs varies, which can be why you see a variant in rates. Someone who can earn less may choose to do so because it’ll attract a range of clients who need an affordable service. But when you decide who to work with, think about why their rate is what it is.

Time and effort.

When you read what an editor does, you might think it’s a relatively easy, cushy job compared to others. I can admit that, yes, it is nice getting to make my own decisions, not even having to leave my home or even get dressed if I didn’t want to—it’s not easy. The amount of attention and focus you have to place on your client’s work is critical and pretty taxing. The mental effort it can take to think about every word, punctuation mark, page number, format decision builds up. Then there are all the other aspects of running a business that go behind-the-scenes, and ensure that you’re working long hours at times. Not really that easy. It takes a heck of a lot of time and effort, and what that time and effort means to each individual results in a variant on prices. *I do love my work, so this doesn’t matter in any way! 

This is important because, in some cases, the more you pay, the more you get out of it. It isn’t true for everyone—I’m sure there’s plenty of editors out there aiming to be really affordable to help writers with a low budget still deserving of a decent editor, but, in some cases, a lower price equals less effort spent. When you pay someone a lot, they should put in a shit-ton of work and effort because you’ve given them the amount they feel their time and effort are worth.  

You might also be paying for time. The more time the editor spends on your writing, the better the outcome should be. The majority of the time is used for the corrections and suggestions themselves. However, a good editor also takes the time to write comments alongside the document in a respectful, easy-to-understand, yet informative manner. It takes more time to write useful comments—and these comments can seriously help you understand why an editor has made a decision. Again, this is why some rates can be higher than others, and depending on what you want, why price point matters too.

The type of edit completed. 

There are four main types of edit—proofread, copy, line, and developmental. These different types go more in-depth the further along the list you get. A more in-depth type equals more time, effort, and work, which equals a variant in prices. If your book is just about ready to be published but needs a final check, a proofread is what you aim for and will be cheaper than a developmental edit, completed within your first few drafts. The price matters because of what you’re actually needing. It’s worth paying more for a line or developmental edit if you need it. 


I hope I’ve been able to inform you a little more on why rates vary and why they matter. I feel like it’s a debate that won’t end soon, but as long as you consider and stick to your individual needs and options, you should find the right fit. I’d love to know your opinions on this subject below. I understand that it can be a tricky one—but I believe it’s an important one to discuss.

Published by Amy Ollerton

Hi! I'm Amy—a professional copy editor and proofreader living in the beautiful Scottish Highlands. I provide friendly, personalised services that boost writing while retaining the author's unique style and voice. I write a little myself, shown through my blog. Alongside my work, I read books, enjoy baking, and explore the Highlands with my partner and my dog, Lula. If you've ever any editing queries, feel free to get in touch!

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