Editing FAQ: Services and Cost
You've written your book, or perhaps only part of it, and you're not sure what to do next. Do you need an editor, a copyeditor, or a proofreader? Or maybe what you're looking for is a ghostwriter! If you're not sure which of these you need or what the difference is, this page contains some helpful info. Keep scrolling to find out more about the different types of editing available, how long your project could take, and how much it might cost.
How does the process work?
Editing is a collaborative process—in a successful project, the author and editor communicate regularly and join forces to create the best possible version of the material. Here is how it usually works when I am working with an author:
Each day, I send a section of text to the author (~3,000-5,000 words) with my edits, and the author responds with any changes or questions. It can take several weeks to work through the material this way, and a longer, more complex manuscript will take even more time. This back-and-forth process continues until editing is complete. Once we have agreed on the final edits, I will compile the manuscript, formatting it as required, and return it to the author. At this point, the manuscript can go through a separate proofreading stage to catch any remaining typos, or it can go directly to a publisher for their review.
How long will it take?
That depends on your project—and on you! A moderate copyedit of a completed manuscript can usually be done in sections of 3,000-5,000 words per day, 4-5 days a week. So, assuming that you are available to respond to queries promptly, an edit of a 65,000-word manuscript would take anywhere from 3-5 weeks to complete.
I might not be available to start on your project immediately, but once we do get going, I will work at a steady pace until it is done.
How much will it cost?
Editing isn't something you can order off a menu; every project has unique requirements that determine how long it will take and how much it will cost. The two most significant factors that go into cost calculations are the length of the manuscript and the degree/type of editing required. Here are a few examples to help define the general ballpark (all prices in USD):
Proofreading of already edited material will cost about 2 cents per word. A recent 50,000-word thesis took about 10 days to proofread and cost $1000.
Light copyediting will cost, on average, about 2.5 cents per word. A 65,000-word mystery novel that needed a light copyedit took three weeks to complete and cost $1,625.
Moderate copyediting will cost up to 3.5 cents per word. A memoir that was 20,000 words long took less than two weeks for a moderate-level copyedit and cost $700.
A heavy copyedit or stylistic edit can cost up to 5 cents per word. A historical drama that was 42,000 words and needed a stylistic edit took almost four weeks to complete and cost $2,100.
Ghostwriting, working from notes and/or interviews, is highly variable in cost. A 35,000-word book, written from notes and supplemented with weekly interviews, might take 12-20 weeks and cost from $10,000 to $24,000.
What kind of editing do I need?
Most people are just familiar with the terms "proofreading" and "editing," or perhaps "copyediting," but there are several types of editing that each address different issues in a manuscript. In addition to copyediting, there is developmental editing, structural editing, and stylistic editing, to name a few.
Proofreading usually takes place just before publication and is intended to catch typos and minor errors that have slipped through the other stages of the editorial process. If your manuscript is a thing of beauty and you are almost ready to hit the "publish" button, then proofreading may be all you need. However, if your manuscript still needs work—a little tightening up, expanding, reorganizing, or other revisions—then you most likely need some other kind of editing.
In developmental editing, an editor will read through your rough manuscript at an early stage and give feedback on character development, plot holes, tone, readability, and other big-picture issues to help you revise and create your next draft.
In structural and stylistic editing, an editor will make or suggest more concrete changes: structural editing tackles organization, continuity, and consistency, whereas stylistic editing is concerned with flow, readability, and tone.
True copyediting is traditionally the last step before proofreading, fixing errors in spelling, grammar, and punctuation.
Often, what you'll get when you hire an editor is some combination of the services described above, as every manuscript is unique. But if you're still not sure what you need, don't worry! An editor can look through your material—the manuscript or a portion of it—and give you feedback and a quote based on what they see.
Can you write the material for me?
If your book is well-formed in your mind, but all you have on paper are notes and musings, you may want a ghostwriter to help you realize your vision. Whether it's a non-fiction treatise on the stock market, a novel, or a family history/memoir, a ghostwriter can help translate your thoughts onto paper. It's important to find a good match with a writer who understands you and your material. Many writers stick to specific genres and niche areas, although some cover a broader range.
If you're interested in hiring me as a ghostwriter, I'd be happy to hear about your project and explore the options with you. Have a look through the "How much will it cost?" section, and then scroll down to the bottom of the page to see how to contact me when you're ready.
What if I have more questions?
You'll find more details about getting in touch in the section below. I'd be happy to answer any remaining questions as we explore the possibility of working together.
If you've read through this page and would like to find out more, you can Contact me using my online form. I will respond promptly, generally within one business day, and will ask you for more information. I will want to know a bit about you and your manuscript—the subject matter, how long it is (by word count), and whether you have a deadline. I will probably also ask to see a sample of the material to help me judge the degree of editing necessary. Once I have all of the information I need, I can provide a quote for the cost of the project.
(For additional testimonials you can read the client comments on my home page.)
Umoja Vaughn, Author (Memoir)
"You always made it about me. There was no battle about who was telling the story. You made me feel certain that I knew you were providing a service to me. I appreciate your tone and the strong support I felt from you. I may never hit the best seller's list, but I have achieved yet another goal in my life that reassures me that I have risen from the ashes and I lived to tell the story. THANK YOU!"