The cost of editing and proofreading

by | Working with editors

How much does editing (or proofreading) cost?

There’s no simple answer to this question – just as there’s 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 $90 per hour for professional, established editors to $130+ 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 November 2022 is $1,070 per day (which equates to $133.75 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.

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’. (See Tips for choosing an editor.) Evaluate the services outlined in the quotes and ensure they include 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 mainly with the business, government, academic and technical sectors and with non-fiction authors. Our quotes for client projects are typically in the range of:

  • $60 to $80 per 1,000 words for proofreading
  • $70 to $120 per 1,000 words for copyediting
  • $95 to $135 per 1,000 words for structural editing/rewriting.

For projects with short deadlines that require work on evenings or weekends we may charge an additional fee.

Note: Costs quoted above are Australian dollars and do not include GST.

Denise seems to work magic on anything we give her, turning a jumble of documents into a pleasure to read.

Rebekah Cox

Project Manager, APNA (Australian Primary Health Care Nurses Association


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