The cost of editing and proofreading
How much will editing and proofreading cost?
There is no simple answer to questions about the cost of editing and proofreading. Just as there is no simple answer to questions such as: How much does market research cost? How much does auditing cost? How much does graphic design cost? Or, a non-business example, how much does building a house cost?
The answer to all of these questions is ‘it depends’. In each case the cost will depend on the scope of the task and the characteristics of the situation. For example: What size is the house (number of rooms, storeys)? What construction material (walls, roof, interior)? What is the site like (level or slope, ease of access)?
Factors affecting the cost of editing
The main factors that affect the cost of editing are:
- 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 or several authors, language style)
- the level of intervention required (eg, single authorial voice, plain English)
- the service required (structural or copy edit).
Most editors will want to review a document to 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.
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 will generally be cheaper than qualified, accredited editors who have spent decades building their knowledge and honing their skills. A survey of more than 500 members of the Institute of Professional Editors in 2016 disclosed hourly rates varying from $30 to more than $120. The suggested rate for freelance book editors, published by the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) in July 2017, is $998 per day (which equates to $124.75 for an 8-hour day). MEAA recommended freelance rates 2017.
Comparing editing quotes
Simply comparing hourly rates when engaging an editor 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, the Institute of Professional Editors conducts rigorous examinations (80% required to pass) to assess the skills and knowledge of editors before awarding them the the status of ‘accredited editor’. This qualification must be renewed every five years through evidence of continuing professional development.
A preferable approach that provides a more accurate gauge of cost relative to service is to compare quotes for the total project, and ensure that you are comparing ‘apples with apples’. Evaluate the services outlined in the quote and ensure they encompass everything you need. Seek clarification from the editor if necessary.
Central Editing rates
Central Editing cost estimates are typically in the range of $40 to $60 per 1,000 words for proofreading and $60 to $110 per 1,000 words for copyediting. Projects with short deadlines that require work on evenings or weekends attract an additional fee.