The cost of editing and proofreading
How much does editing (or proofreading) cost?
There is no simple answer to this question – just as there is no simple answer to questions like:
- How much does it cost to build a house?
- How much does market research cost?
- How much does auditing cost?
- How much does graphic design cost
The answer in each case is ‘it depends’. The cost depends on the scope of the task and the characteristics of the situation.
In the house building example the cost depends on factors such as:
- the size of the house (number of rooms, single or multi-storey)
- the construction material (frame, exterior, roof, interior)
- the characteristics of the site (level or slope, ease of access).
For editing and proofreading the cost is also dependent on factors related to size, construction and characteristics.
Factors affecting the cost of editing
The factors an editor considers when estimating the fee for a project include:
- the size of the document (word and page count)
- the content of the document (text, images, tables, graphs, references)
- the deadline for completion (turnaround time)
- the characteristics of the text (eg, single/several authors, formality of language)
- the intervention required (eg, consistent authorial voice, plain English)
- the service required (proofreading, structural or copy edit).
Most editors will want to review the document so they can assess the work required before they provide a quote – just as a builder will want to see the plans and specifications for a house before quoting.
Editing pace (speed)
As part of this review it’s common for an editor to conduct a sample edit (or proofread) of a representative section of the text so they can gauge their ‘pace’ (average words/pages per hour) for editing (or proofreading) this particular document. The pace for copyediting can range from 500 to 2,000 words an hour, depending on the characteristics of the document and the client requirements.
Hourly rates for editing
There is no standard hourly rate for editors in Australia and charges vary considerably. Those who are new to the profession or lacking formal qualifications (hobby editors) will generally be ‘cheaper’ than tertiary qualified, Accredited Editors who have spent decades building their knowledge and honing their skills.
The hourly pay rates for editors in Australia recommended by the Institute of Professional Editors (IPEd) range from $80 per hour for professional, established editors to $110 per hour for editors with extensive or specialised experience.
The suggested rate for freelance book editors published by the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) in October 2019 is $998 per day (which equates to $124.75 an hour for an 8-hour day).
Comparing editing quotes
Simply comparing hourly rates when evaluating editors for a project can be misleading. An experienced editor with relevant qualifications and accreditation will generally complete a project in less time and to a higher standard than someone with limited experience and training. In Australia, IPEd conducts rigorous examinations (80% required to pass) to assess the knowledge and competence of editors before awarding the qualification of Accredited Editor (AE).
A more accurate gauge of cost relative to service is to compare quotes for the total project, making sure that you are comparing ‘apples with apples’. Evaluate the services outlined in the quotes and ensure they encompass everything you need. Seek clarification if anything is unclear. Consider the expertise and experience of the editor and how this might benefit your project.
Central Editing prices
Central Editing works with the business, government, academic and technical sectors. Our quotes for client projects are typically in the range of:
- $40 to $60 per 1,000 words for proofreading
- $60 to $110 per 1,000 words for copyediting
- $85 to $130 per 1,000 words for structural editing/rewriting.
Projects with short deadlines that require work on evenings or weekends attract an additional fee.
Note: Costs quoted above are Australian dollars and do not include GST.
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