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What does a book editor cost?

All books need to have a professional editor to take them from manuscript to finished product.

First, these are the variables that determine an editor’s fee: Find out the costs here. ​​

How much input you need

Many books need a strong directional edit. This means the editor needs to fix big things in your book, change things around and improve the book in general. 

Others need just straight copy-editing or proof reading (which means checking your spelling and grammar)


An average manuscript is about 70,000 to 80,000 words. If yours is 160,000, expect to pay double the average, because the editor will spend twice as long on it.

Novel vs non-fiction

When we get your novel we are assuming that it is your final draft. We will quote you on editing it – as it stands. If you feel your novel is not working and you want an editor to try and fix the story with you, that is a different type of editing. The latter requires a more skilled editor who has worked with many books. We will ask to see a sample of the manuscript before quoting you, because depending on the complexity of the manuscript, we may be able to edit three pages an hour, or we may be able to edit fifteen.

Is it complex and technical?

If your manuscript is full of footnotes and figures and proper names that need checking or your thoughts are disorganized and sentences confusing, you will end up paying more than if the manuscript is straightforward and clearly written and organized. The editor will need more time with it.

Hourly editorial rates

Now that you know the variables involved, these are the average rates you’ll pay for different kinds of editing. Note that a manuscript page is considered to be 250 words.

• Substantive editing: R350 – R800 / $40 - $70/hour (expect to edit 3-10 pages/hour, depending on complexity). I will quote you on the entire project, rather than give an hourly rate, once I have assessed your work.

• Copy editing: R300-R450 / $30-$40/hour (8 pages/hour)

• Proofreading: R300 – R420 / $25-$35/hour (10 pages/hour)

Total editorial costs

So for an average book of 70,000 to 80,000 words, you might pay:

• Substantive editing: R25,000-R40,00 or $3,500-$4,000

• Copy editing: R14,000 or $1,200

• Proofreading: R11,00 or $900

You are hiring an experienced professional to make your book better. It is money well spent. In the right hands, most authors enjoy the editorial process because it’s an opportunity to discuss their work in detail with a deeply attentive reader, and to make it the best it can be.You make the final call about what changes you accept, but remember that the editor has thought carefully about your manuscript and is bringing all of their professional experience to bear on it.

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