To pay, or, what to pay?

To cut to the chase, how much does it cost to publish a book? Well, clearly very little if you do everything yourself.

The three/four main costs to factor in are book cover, editing and/or proofing, and formatting.

Given that many people are capable of doing their own formatting, to a greater or lesser degree, that leaves the other two/three as priorities.

And while I edit, I have to say, I think a good cover is critical. We aren’t living a hundred or more years ago, when all book covers were plain coloured leather. But, if you open a book, and run into errors in the first few pages, that good cover won’t help you much either. If that ‘Look Inside’ preview on Amazon is full of spelling and formatting mistakes—as was one I looked at yesterday—it isn’t the best advert in the world for your book.

Most editing services price per page or per word/thousand words. There is little difference as the standard page is 250 words so therefore four pages equal one thousand words.

Yet, professional organisations suggest hourly rates.

Hourly rates are a nightmare in any job.

Here is a selection of the relevant hourly rates as set by the NUJ:

Production and book editing

We cannot say it too often: be clear on what the contract covers. Additional days of work generated by others’ changes of mind must, for example, be chargeable.

Specialist editing, such as classical languages or complex mathematics, GBP 27.00
(Basically, academic or technical)

Substantial editing and rewriting GBP 27.00

Copy-editing GBP 24.00

Proofreading GBP 21.00

Manuscript reading and reporting GBP 19.00

The Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP):

Proofreading £22.00

Copy-editing £25.70

Substantial editing, rewriting, development editing £29.60

America’s Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA):

Basic copyediting 5-10 ms pgs/hr $30-40/hr

Heavy copyediting 2–5 ms pgs/hr $40–50/hr

Developmental editing 1–5 pgs/hr $45–55/hr

Substantive or line editing 1–6 ms pgs/hr $40–60/hr

Fact checking $30-40/hr

Manuscript evaluation $45-55/hr

Proofreading 9-13 ms pgs/hr $30-35/hr


Let’s look at some real world prices and note, a lot of firms include one edit, or one proof, only. (Also note, I’ve not included me in the following selection)

Firm A, British

Editing: £10 per 1000 words, or €12, $17 US, $19 Aussie

This includes an editor’s report, the actual edit (one only), and a cover design.

Proofreading: £7 per 1000 words, or €9, $10 US, $13 Aussie

I’ve reviewed a book edited by this company. It had nearly 100,000 words, so costs were minimum of around £1000. Not a bad book, readable, and to be fair only a few errors, eg stabbed to dead (death), practiced not practised (it’s a British novel), and fear no long(er) anaesthetised. Plus confusion of the verb lay and lie. (Which one takes an object?)

And at the price, the errors should be well low, no idea if proofing came on top as well.

Firm B, American

Proofreading 0.8c a word

Copy edit 1.1c a word

Developmental edit 2.5c a word

Rush jobs charged at more than double the rate ie 1.8c (proofing) and 2.15 (copy edit)

Firm C, International

Line editing between USD $0.015 and $0.04 per word

Copy editing between USD $0.005 and $0.01 per word

Proofing between USD $0.001 – $0.005 per word

All plus admin fee.

Firm D, British

Detailed copy editing: £3.00/$5.00 per 1000 words. Under 20,000 words £45.00/$75.00

Proofreading: £2.00/$3.00 per 1000 words. Under 20,000 words £35.00/$60.00

Firm E, American

Manuscript Copy Editing: primarily spelling, grammar, word choice, sentence structure, paragraphing: $3 per page

Substantive Edit: story and scene structure, plot development, character development, dialogue, and general fiction techniques: $4 per page

Both Copy Editing and Substantive Edit – a publishing-ready edit: $5 per page

Firm F, British

Editing (line and copy combined): £9 to £11 per 1,000 words

Proofreading: from £7.50 per 1,000 words

Minimum price for editing or proofing: £40

Firm G quotes hourly, and says:

Standard industry rates are between $35 to $100 per hour or between $8 and $20 per page.

But this editor charges towards the lower end of the range. Oh, that’s good.

Because looking at the American association (EFA) rates above, the highest suggested rate is $60 an hour (not $100), to do six pages which works out at $10 a page.

If you translate $8 and $20 per page to words (250 words per page, remember), you are looking at $32 to $80 per 1000 words. Do the sums and that is mind-boggling.

I’m still wondering if I’ve got my figures wrong here because that is seriously good money indeed.


It’s always helpful when everyone prices differently isn’t it?

But here’s an easy comparison based on the above, using a 100,000 word novel.

A Edit £1000 Proof £700 Total £1700 ($2,700)

B Edit $2500/1100 Proof $800 Total $3300/1900

C Edit $4000/500 Proof $500/100 Total $4500/600

D Edit £300 Proof £200 Total £500 ($800)

E Edit $2000/1200 Proofing not mentioned

F Edit £1100/900 Proof from £750 Total from £1850/1650

G Edit from $3200 (?) Proofing not mentioned

So that’s a range of min £500 up to max $4500 (approx £3000) for the same novel.

And you thought hiring a builder was difficult?


So after all that number crunching here are two decent books that were NOT full of errors ie five or less.

Broken Trust by Thomas Maurin

It’s often easier to write a bad book review than a good one. If you enjoy a book what more is there to say than, I enjoyed it?

However, here goes. Broken Trust is a fast-moving, exciting thriller, crime, mystery sort of tale which starts in Bulgaria, and via Basle, Monte Carlo, London, and America, ends up in Grand Cayman.

Here’s a blurb extract:

imageThis is a story about three smart, successful people who were once fast friends in college and have now been thrust together again in an unlikely, multi-layered investigation with far-reaching international implications and billions of dollars at stake. One is a forensic accountant for the SEC, one beta tests hardware and software for the US Department of Defense and the UK Ministry of Defense, and the third is a wildly successful entrepreneur, software developer and venture capitalist in Silicon Valley.

Add in a Mexican drug lord, a corrupt Swiss banker, and a glamorous Bulgarian arms-dealing heiress for a little extra colour.

Our three goodies aren’t quite as colourful (are accountants and IT specialists ever colourful?) but they are certainly no back-room staff. They jet around all over the place (including by private jet) while simultaneously hacking into systems all over the world and I felt exhausted just trying to keep up with them. Likeable too, although perhaps a little bland. After all, who doesn’t love a flawed hero/heroine who gets things wrong or misbehaves? So, if I’m going to pick holes I’d say the characters lack depth and are a little too one-dimensional. But, that’s a minor point.

I’ve no idea how feasible the plot is, but the use of technology seemed spookily real and quite frightening. I’m sure the power play between the US government departments was all too real.

The ending seemed rather neat, although it was left open for a sequel, which could be interesting.

imageAll in all, it’s a good read, fast paced, and recommended if you like this type of book.

It’s written by husband and wife Michael and Bonnie Hartley under the pen name of Thomas Maurin.

Thanks to iRead Book Tours for Broken Trust.


Here’s a different thriller/suspense, from British author Tim Stevens:

Ratcatcher – A John Purkiss thriller

imageThis is a spy book, or rather, a mix of ex-spies and serving spies, although all working covertly. Our spies are current or former SIS—MI6 for those of us who are my age—and for those who are younger, it’s the James Bond British Secret Service. Except of course, life at the sharp end isn’t always dinner jackets and casinos, certainly not in Estonia where most of the novel is set.

As with spy stories it’s the usual mix, a past romance, a double agent to identify and catch, and preventing a suspected assassination at a forthcoming diplomatic summit, with no clues to go on.

I found it unputdownable. It had lots of nice twists, loads of suspense, well-drawn characters, was appropriately tough and a totally good read.

One sign of a good book is how well the author creates pictures for the reader. I read in glorious technicolour with constant images flashing through my mind. Probably why I’m not bothered about films as I have my own cinema in my head. From the start of the book in the Croatian seaport of Rijeka, through the main action in Estonia, to the ending overlooking the Thames estuary, vivid pictures came easily to mind.

Stevens’ book is somewhere between Jack Higgins and Len Deighton, not as wordy and convoluted as Le Carré, and follows clearly in the tradition of British espionage writing.

It’s the first in Stevens’ series about Purkiss, and I downloaded it free from iBooks (also on Amazon of course) so this is a totally random review, but I thought it was good enough to merit one.

Tim Stevens was born in England, brought up in Johannesburg, and works as a doctor in the NHS in England.

imageAnd how about this for initiative? Tim managed to sell his book to a publisher based in Tallinn a few months ago, so it’s now published in Estonian.

Thanks to Tim for providing me with pix for both covers.

79 comments on “To pay, or, what to pay?

  1. I love the Tim Stevens cover the thing with the blood up the spine is really clever.

    On the editing front… ouch. The worst thing is that as well as the differential in price its perfectly possible to get as good an edit for £500 as it is for thousands. I can only go on my own experience which is that, as you write more books – and get them edited – you begin to get a better feel for what the editor should be doing and, most importantly, what you need them to do. To be honest, when I first started trying to publish my stuff, I doubt I could have spotted a decent editor if they’d stood up and slapped me about the head with a wet fish. I dunno… maybe getting your fingers singed a few times is part of the learning curve. It must be really annoying, as an editor, to see people charging a bucket load of cash for something that isn’t actually that good.



    Liked by 1 person

    • I studied a few editing courses online: copy, substantive, and editing fiction. I didn’t do this so much to learn how to become an editor as to know how my work was going to be edited and how to work productively with an editor. I also now have a better idea of how to produce a relatively clean MS that requires less work on the part of my editor. Those courses were much more valuable to me than any of the creative writing classes I studied. I’ve always thought there should be courses offered on editing and publishing that are specifically tailored for writers so they know what they’re getting into when their book is produced, whether they do the work themselves or are traditionally published.

      Liked by 4 people

      • Damn Susan, it’s a good thing everyone doesn’t do that! How on earth are editors supposed to sound clever and talk mystical nonsense? 😉

        Actually it reminds me of working in health services when my role was about monitoring quality. I didn’t need to be able to carry out whatever aspect of the service, but I did need to know a) the theory and b) the expected result, and c) potential problems. Eg:

        Part of the issue with editing though, is that different people need a different editing (or proofing service). But how, as an author, do you know what you want? And, do you want your style mucking about with? Some people, as you well know, don’t want to be told to change the way they write. And the last thing an editor should do, is change everything to the way they would write.

        Liked by 2 people

        • I still think of you editors as super-human, mythical beasts who can work wonders to make even the worst dross sound poetic, if not merely readable. One thing those courses did teach me was just how difficult the job of editing really is and that we should trust our editors to know exactly what is required to make our good writing that much better! (Most authors do not know exactly what editing is needed so it’s important they find an editor they can trust to give them the best advice.)


          • The worst dross would cost mega-bucks I tell you. I like to work with authors who can write, dross involves rewrites and isn’t cost-effective. I’m happy to edit a book, and think, yes, that sings :)

            Trust and personal relationship are key, I think that’s why a lot of people find someone they can trust and stick with them. It’s also a reason why I don’t agree with poaching. Totally unprofessional.

            Liked by 2 people

    • Striking wasn’t it? that’s why I chose it for the featured photo.

      I think editing is partly luck of the draw, but yes, you do need to know what you want, and what they can do. Not easy. Just like hiring a decent any person when you aren’t familiar with their skill.

      It’s not that annoying. I just wish I could get that sort of money 😀 ££££££££s

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Usually I do passably well in math, but I got lost here.
    Since I have been reading a lot of ebooks, book covers no longer catch my attention but book titles do grab my attention


  3. Very informative, roughseas! Thank you for gathering all this information. I also find the cover design for Tim Stevens’ novel you posted at the top to be outstanding. Not only eye-catching, but clever and a good use of colour.


    • Thanks Susan. It’s something I do anyway out of sheer nosiness professional interest, but I found the huge pricing variation fascinating. I can understand people saying they can’t afford thousands, (although maybe they should realise pro editing isn’t cheap) but when qualified, experienced people will do it for a fraction of the price, surely that’s worth paying for? (The cheapest price was the only person who included their qualifications).

      Stevens’ Estonian cover is interesting isn’t it? Total contrast to the English one. The one is thoughtful, the other is action and blood. I do like looking at covers, as I said they are important, and good art work can be absolute class.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Interestingly John, I read something this week about what translating editors, or editing translators should earn. I’d edit in Spanish, but I wouldn’t translate into Spanish. I would do Span to Eng and edit though. I’m sure I’ve read going rates though, thought they work out higher than editing rates per word.

      Save it if you wish, but don’t forget this is a pricing comparison, it doesn’t analyse what you get for that price. However, I suppose the bottom line is you could be looking at £225–450 for an edit/proof based on these figures. More if you pay in $.


        • Quality is funny though. Partner went to walk a dog for a neighbour (she had a fall) and asked her how old she was in English. She pretended not to understand, so he flipped into Spanish.

          ‘Oh dear, I forgot you could do Spanish!’ Too funny! Sometimes you can get the message across very simply.

          But, formal translation? Even bi or multi lingual people can get it wrong. Hell, I say, what’s that in English/Spanish because I can’t remember the right word.

          Liked by 2 people

          • One problem (here) with English to Spanish is that different countries/communities use/prefer different types of Spanish. The Academy does set standards, but get a group of Spanish speakers from around the world together and here, you’ll get heated arguments about which Spanish language words are the “right” ones….Screaming fist fights almost. US textbook companies have hired the “wrong” translators and lost big time with a couple of Eng to Spanish translations. Nothing more fun than some Cubans, Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, Tex-Mex, various Spaniards arguing over vocabulary and translation. It all depends on which community your audience is…Florida is so different from NYC and the SW states.
            (Currently people are complaining how bad the translations are of the PResident’s State of the Union speech…lots of misspelled words, too. Oy vey.)
            Oh, enjoyed the reviews. The first one immediately attracted my attention when you said fast paces and settings around the world. The second was neutral for me until “vivid pictures came easily to mind.” That the sign of a good book – along with characterization. Will definitely grab these two.


          • I started off speaking Castilian Spanish. One of my Scottish neighbour’s (since disappeared to who knows where) patronisingly told me the difference between Castilian and our local pueblo Spanish. Gee thanks, Margaret, would never have worked that one out on my own.

            But in the end, even I’ve dropped the endings off words, but the spelling remains the same. It’s the Mexican words that are well different to what I read though, and some common South American words, eg carro/coche.

            As for the books, depends what you like I guess. I do like British spy stories, and I thought Ratcatcher was good, but I like any thriller/mystery/suspense.

            Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks David. It’s not about getting ripped off. As I said to John, it’s a price comparison, and firms may well offer a different level of service. There again, it’s anyone’s guess …

      Your smiley face has reminded me I haven’t caught up with last week’s fish, meals out, shopping, and games night. Must check in tomorrow.


  4. Very good info, and I agree that it’s not a bad idea for writers to take editing/formatting classes to learn the process and be able to save themselves some headache when hiring an editor.


    • I think Susan’s idea is interesting, as she said, not to do the work yourself, but to know what you are asking someone else to do. And, hiring an editor is not easy. A good editorial relationship can be quite personal, questioning the use of language, plot, dialogue, etc, both sides need to be confident with the process, it’s a delicate balance.

      Thanks for your visit Leona from Susan’s reblog.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. “I read in glorious technicolour with constant images flashing through my mind.” . . . oh-oh . . . I’m in trouble. I tend to describe nothing. My approach reflects my reading habits. I very much create a movie in my head, but I want it to be of my own making, and not put there by excessive descriptions of people and places (unless real places).

    As for the editing. Those rates interesting as they range from reasonable to ‘why bother’. If I remember correctly, pro-markets pay starting at 6 cents per word. Semi-pro can be substantially lower. I suppose if one expects a best-seller, the math makes sense, but for many periodicals (short stories), you get a flat fee, and you’re done (usually – at least that is what I read). That makes editing services a lot less attractive as the editor can end up making the majority of the money as opposed to the writer.

    However, I’m assuming if one submits somewhere, the publication will take it upon themselves to edit the manuscript.

    So, if we are talking strictly self-published books (although some writers hire editors before sending their manuscripts out) . . . the last numbers I read had the majority of self-published writers make less than $500 per year. Now, I grant this could in fact be due to poorly edited books, but it could also be due to the difficulties of self-marketing and the flood of writers hitting the self-published market. In the latter case, editing might not make economic sense unless one a) feedback on their writing, or 2) one is taking the longer view, willing to take a loss in the short term for potential greater gain at a future time.

    Personally, I would hire an editor if I was serious about publishing. But, perhaps, before then I would join a writer’s group, or join some of the sites that offer one the opportunity to get feedback on one’s work.

    It don’t make no sense to be thinking professional services if one ain’t even sure how good they write.

    Anyway, interesting article. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You don’t need to describe anything. It’s how you write not how you describe. There were very few scenes where I didn’t have a clear image with your book. The first scene with Raven and Remo set the tone and the visuals immediately. My images may not be yours, but if they are there, that’s all that matters.

      There is no set rate, and who defines a pro? Editing is actually a grey area. You can be good and experienced with no quals, or have a qual and be crap, eg the person I read about who had qualified with SfEP and couldn’t even get the name of her accrediting organisation right. At least I can spell NUJ and write it out in full correctly.

      If you submit to an agent or a small house you still need to produce an edited MS. If accepted for publishing, it may well get re-edited for commercial purposes, but no-one looks at unedited tat these days. So, no, is the answer to your assumption.

      Your next par is pretty accurate. The question is though, do you publish unedited crap for the hell of it, and continue to do so, or do you look at the long term? Some people strike lucky and make money. Most don’t. Depends on your rationale. If I was doing it though, I would want something decent out there, preferably without glaring errors. Some of which are quite funny.

      Beta readers/writers groups are a double edged sword. You can get good feedback, and you can get people on a power kick picking holes for the sake of it. They will never spot all the basic errors anyway, that isn’t their job. They are sort of picky developmental critiquers (that’s not a proper word, but hey).

      Everyone knows they write well. Didn’t you know that? 😉

      You’re welcome. I suppose I should ask you for a link to your first nano.


      • Well, if we go under the assumption one gets better with practice, you’d be stepping back on at least two years-worth of improvements. I was not as well a writer back then.

        Oh, alright, you twisted my arm:

        I’ll mail you the password, but fair warning, I was much younger two years ago, a mere writer in the woods, and the genre might not be to your liking, despite my amazingly likable characters, strong mastery of pace and plot, and innate writing skill.

        . . . meaning it has less editing than this one; truly a rough draft. You might even develop a tick while reading it.

        It should be also explained that my most passionate project is this one:

        Unfortunately, it’s not finished; ~33,500 words so far, although it does stop at a semi convenient place. However, fear not . . . that is my next focus; to finish it this year.

        That said, it is a labor of love, and I originally started it (in 2004) specifically to provide me exactly what I wanted to read. The only reason it’s out there (it was meant to be just for me, hence why it’s not finished) is that I was strapped for material I had committed to provide for a blog.

        . . . and what’s this about my comments? Nothing but succinct, I am. Terse, even.


    • I did the idiot’s summary of prices, and the even bigger idiot’s summary of cheapest to dearest. Haven’t you learned the art of scanning yet? But still, if it’s not your interest, no worries. Even if you did read all the way through Disperser’s comment, and his are usually blog post length 😉


  6. Interesting stuff, Susan. Thanks for sharing. I am a copy editor and charge only $1 per page. I awarded you the Very Inspiring Blogger Award on my blog. Congrats!


  7. Excellent and valuable research. I think you’ve created a valuable niche – writer’s services & consultancy. The background info and professional reviews really value add. Oh dear… this sounds like one of those spammy spiels but I’m being very serious! It’s apparent writing isn’t just about getting down, and out there, interesting formations of words but delivering a whole package of different expertises. Writer beware :)


    • Well, I’m not sure of that, but as I’m obviously interested in pricing, I thought the comparisons were worth posting. Love the spiel! And of course, you do the short story thing too … so you ought to be interested. You make a good point though. It isn’t just about writing and getting it out there.


  8. Editing is vital for every author – if your work is published and readers find errors in it they will not purchase another one of your books believing you are an amateur. I have edited and advised many authors concerning this point. Don’t rush into publication.


    • Well, I’d argue with that although I’d like to agree with you. I’ve read books with loads of errors in and they get rave reviews and people go on to buy the rest of their books, equally littered with errors. So no, not all readers care about errors, nor do authors.

      Thanks for the visit, and, sound advice.


  9. One wonders how Tim Stevens’ book went in Estonia. I thought it was Finnish at first. I duly consulted my Finnish partner and indeed it is in Estonian. In case people wonder why it has so many endlessly long word; pre-positions become part of the word or noun. It uses complex inflection system instead of articles as well. Here is a fine example; rautatieasemakirjakauppa; rauta-iron, tie-road,asema-shelter,kirja-book,kauppa-shop.
    Now one can see the literal translation. Is it clear? It means “railway station bookshop”.
    Bookshops are everywhere in those countries. I am afraid railway stations in Australia would not often feature bookshops. Perhaps a newsagent with Murdoch rubbish is more likely.


    • Only you would have a Finnish partner! Although we knew an Estonian who lived on the border and spoke Finnish, Estonian and Russian. Eventually she spoke passable English and Spanish too and then went home to happily pay off her small mortgage.

      I love that breakdown, as I vaguely recall German does it to a lesser extent. Spanish does it differently, pan, bread, panadero, the bread delivery man. Sometimes language is very logical. I am sure learning ratcatcher in Estonian will be of benefit to me though.


  10. I say after my recent post of which you know, this post of yours is very informative and helps with the understanding of the costs that are possible.. It does seem a bit of a mindfield and for the naive or new I should say it shouts for the need of research or the help of a trusted person in the know.. I did get a little lost with all your costs but got the gist of it. I love the cover of Tim Stevens, I do feel that a cover with its title can often sell the book, but with ebooks is it as important..I love designing so who knows for my tales…..thanks K for more info…


    • Hi Gerry, and yes, I think it is a minefield. Do you pay big bucks thinking you will get better or chance cheaper hoping it is good? I’ll be looking at that next because this post has opened that one up.

      I did the summaries of the costs because I figured people might glaze over. I’m used to working with figures, but when everyone prices differently it doesn’t help.

      I agree about covers, I must let Tim know about the response to that as I haven’t sent him the link!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Nice, Kate! I like the way you review. Interesting about the varied editing fees, you said these are companies who edit-over only once, plus proofing? (I’m beginning to see their point.) I still feel, not all authors are equally editable, some need heavy editing.

    *Interesting point about practice and practise. I thought practice is the noun and practise the verb. Wrong? :-)


    • My reviews vary a lot, but the common factor is less about the story (why read the book if I’ve summarised it?) and more about what’s good/bad. I haven’t forgotten Marie’s, it’s written and in the queue! But I have a backlog of reviews through February :(

      Some say it’s a one edit, one proof only, claiming they pick up everything in that one edit. Of course, that could be a total smokescreen, with some of those prices they may well take more than one look. I have never done a single read for either an edit or a proof in more than 30 years of publishing. These people are either brilliant, or they take a very long time, or it explains why there are so many errors in books, and based on 99% of what I read, it’s the last.

      Because I edit and proof, I factor in a number of reads. But some of the firms aren’t actually editing. They’ll recommend changes using track changes, leaving it up to the author to decide what to do. We all work differently I suppose. And yes, authors are all different too. Some need a lot of work on the basics of spelling, punctuation, misplaced words. Others need facts checking, some changes to dialogue, dialogue tags, grammar, repetition etc. some need both, and some just can’t write, but luckily I seem to avoid those 😀

      No, correct for British and basically all non-American spelling, but Americans just use practice for both, pretty much like licence and license, except reversed, in the case of America, they use only license, not licence. You would think they would be consistent with the c and s though! So in America you would practice to get your driving license. Aaagh! I really struggled to write that. In the examples I gave for the book in the blog post, I quoted the error first and the correct version second, so practiced should have been practised.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Practised: Aah, thanks! (So I’ve been doing it the right way, recently.)

        Yes, I have to agree that a single read-through for editing would actually be disastrous. Before an editor has the whole story, how can she know whether the logic works, the sequences are correct, the building of tension is consistent etc? I can’t imagine they do much more than spell- and grammar-checking if they only go through once.

        Proofing should best be done by a spelling- and punctuation stickler who has background in programming. :-D If a comma is misplaced in a programming language, the program doesn’t run. But proofing is not editing, it’s only the last step before printing. (I guess I’m not talking about that other kind of “proof-reading” where the decision-maker simply reads the unedited manuscript to decide whether to take it on. I’m sure that can’t also be “proof-reading”. What is its real name?)

        The track-changes system can work well if it’s genuine improvements being “suggested”. All the author has to do is approve each change, or dispute the ones she doesn’t agree with. Had a few of those. But I can see how online editors under a lot of volume pressure don’t use that luxury (for the author).


        • English and Americanese are easy so an English novel shouldn’t really be using the incorrect version. When it comes to Aussie, Canadian, South African, you all have your own wonderful mixed rules!

          One of the reasons I like to read through before quoting is to get a feel for the work, and, how much work is needed. And then, when you start on an edit, you have already read it, so you know what’s coming. Some may well do a read plus an edit or proof, each one edits differently.

          There are good proof-readers and people who can’t. I’ve never met an in-between! I think people confuse the whole process, which is easily done, because some editors (me included) proof as we edit, before a final proof.

          Not sure what you’re asking. Reading an MS can be an appraisal depending on how you are reading it. Or you can be reading it for submission. Proofing is def reading the final proof before pub though.

          Track changes is a nightmare on long novels. It works best on novellas/short works with few changes needed, otherwise it’s a nightmare trying to make sense of all the highlights and comments etc. Again, each to our own how we work. Editing and proofing have changed radically over the last 20 years or so.

          Liked by 1 person

  12. I wish I had read this yesterday! I was at the airport and looking for a good read! Ended up with a James Patterson and read nearly half of it on the 2,5-hour flight.

    And I hate hourly jobs – they’re like the proverbial pieces of string and when a client opts for this approach because “it’ll be cheaper”, I know that there’ll be nickeling and diming. Unless I know the client well, or can check with previous providers, I would rather not… Useful information on editing though, thank you!


    • I think a good thriller/suspense whatever is exactly what is needed for travel.enough to grip your interest but not to demand too much concentration, just the right amount (ie not to miss the last call if anywhere still does that).

      Hourly rates ugh! They are farcical in a way too. Someone can charge a cheaper hourly rate, take longer and come out better off than the person charging more per hour but working faster. And yet, there is a view, that if someone takes longer, they are doing a better job. That’s one reason I don’t charge by the hour, whether I spend two hours or 20 on something, that’s my choice, but the job gets completed as per what I said I’d do.

      The only time to do hourly rate is for time-consuming laborious work, preferably in front of the client, usually gardening and cleaning. (Gardening is effectively cleaning the garden anyway.)
      This people will pay for, it seems.

      In terms of editing in your field, you’d be looking at the academic rate of £27 acc to the NUJ, ie academic/technical.


      • I never travel, well almost never, without something to read. If it’s a business trip, on the outward-bound leg, the reading is usually related to the job. Homeward bound, I need something to take my mind off it all – and I’m usually too knackered to concentrate on much.

        And, actually, in our airports, we do still get those last calls.. And the “Will passenger Jones, delaying flight XYZ, please board immediately or s/he will be off-loaded”. And yes, “off-loaded” is the term they use….

        I quite agree with you about the hourly rate and when to use it. Regrettably, in the type of work I do, as I am sure it is with you, is not always about the value we bring, bu about how long it takes to research, develop and/or report, so it ends up being time-based. I’ve stopped sending out a rate card but rather engage the client, and tease out the requirements, tie them into activities and then charge a project fee based on milestones and deliverables. It does also help to know the client’s budget; there is no such thing as “no budget” or “the budget’s not the object”. Oh, and I always indicate that the days that it will take are non-consecutive….

        I also find that the ultimately acceptable rate (regardless of the service) ends up being what the client is willing to pay, and what one is prepared to accept for the job. I’ve consciously and substantially reduced my rate to get a job that is strategically important. The last time I did that, I was a bit nervous, but it paid off because it meant that I was invited to bid for a bigger (scope and value) project on which I and my team are now working.

        Thanks for the tip about rates for technical/academic writing.


        • In theory I used to do reading for work during travel. In practice, I gazed out of the window. Getting up to catch the 5.30 train to arrive in London for 9am was a bit depleting on the energy reserves.

          My moment of fame for the last call was at Sydney when I was flying to NZ. We’d agreed to get married not long before so I was somewhat distracted until I heard my name and went flying through the terminal.

          If I charged an hourly rate I would be at the top end of the pricin quoted above rather than the bottom. OK maybe not three thousand quid, but probably around £1500–2000. Whether you work fast or not, at some point you have to read slowly, and take rests, or the eye mises the obvious. I provide a fixed price, 50% payment up front, remainder on completion, and a set of simple T&Cs. The simpler the better. I should probably move to payment in advance like a lot of firms, but I think that’s unreasonable.

          A few editing firms offer a discount for repeat customers, although usually within a set timescale. I do it too, but without the timescale. It’s the reverse of your scenario, but the work doesn’t change significantly, only the length and style/quality of writing, and errors.

          That was technical editing, as I said to Maurice below, I’ll look at writing on another post.

          Liked by 1 person

          • When I lived in the Eastern Cape, 20-odd years ago, I had a 2,5 hour drive to catch a plain in East London. One particular occasion, having had a 6am departure from Queenstown, and encountered a jack-knifed petrol tanker which necessitated a significant detour through farms and on farm roads, I arrived at the then very tiny (now still small airport), to hear my name being blared all over the car park. I parked and tore into the terminal building and boarded. As I buckled up, I couldn’t remember whether I’d locked the car or not.

            It was before the days of mobile phones and I contemplated for half the trip what to do. Then figured that there was nothing I could do about it, anyway, even if I phoned someone who lived in East London. All he could have done was go to the airport and tell me whether my little blue car had been stolen or not. He couldn’t have locked the car, and if it had been stolen, then what? I would have had to report the theft in person.

            Anyway, I can’t recall whether or not I did lock the car. I arrived back from wherever I had been going, and there she was, where I’d left her. Phew!


          • Good story Fiona and don’t we all have those ‘did I lock it?’ moments? Usually about house front/back doors. We’ve both had a few of those for our house in Spain. And you are on the bus or half-way down the autovia thinking, ‘did I/didn’t I?’ Nine times out of ten you did. I think I returned once to find I’d forgotten to lock the back door 😳

            Your ‘plane story sounds very tight though. Our other bad story was when I was working to finish a report and fax it through before the flight to Portugal at 6am. Or 7am. Or something. Whatever it was, they’d put the stairs away and we ended up going on after the food and had held up the departure time …


          • Oh, my! Other passengers mustn’t have been pleased.

            On locking doors – that reminds me of occasions when the opposite has happened: I’ve locked myself out……. I have a number of (true) stories about that. Dunno what all this says about me. Ditsy, I suppose….


          • I think there were a few tuts and hisses … We were actually lucky to get on, I think we arrived at the airport with 10-15 mins to spare, if that.

            When we took in the rescue puppy and I was stuck in Spain with him and partner was in Gib, I’d take him out every 2/3 hours in the night. I was terrified of locking myself out at some early hour in the morning and having to spend all night out there waiting for the neighbours to get up and ask them for the spare key. Luckily it never happened and the nights were quite balmy back then.

            Liked by 1 person

  13. I would like to add one thing–technical writing. From time to time I take on external eLearning developing projects and during the downtime (between external review cycles and such) oftentimes the firms get me to do some technical writing for them. I charge a VERY reasonable rate (in line with what you quoted fro developmental editing), which is why they ask me, but I know that local technical writers are fond of charging over $120 (CDN) /h for it.


    • I should do a summary of writing rates, I have looked at those too, so I’ll try and remember that for another post. Technical editing is interesting though, sometimes better to have a non-expert querying the obvious (mistake) that experts don’t even see. Plus it’s more likely to be readable. I quite like tech editing, and technical/academic writing in my own fields. Maybe you should up your rates.


  14. You’re absolutely right about the publishing side… there are some scams to watch out for with publishing though if you don’t have what it takes. I looked into some publishers packages and thought, hang on, that’s no more and I do myself and you want to charge me? …that much?!

    Anyway, I completely agree about book covers… love the one you used. Then, you got into numbers… I went boggle-eyed within seconds… you’ve found my weakness. Yawn, almost skipped the rest of the post (so glad you didn’t drone on) You must know my threshold ’cause you go so damn close to it, You redeemed yourself with some interesting material. :)

    You need a doggy pic or something to break up the monotony of the numbers…. blah, blah, blah.
    with a much preferred, woof, woof, woof. :D

    Ok, I’m done! :D


    • Don’t you love people charging you for what you do yourself? Clever move. We were caught once like that. Never again. I think it’s fair for everyone to minimise their costs, but sometimes, it’s best to pay, but not an arm or a leg. Speaking of which my legs are trapped by a horizontal white thing.

      Anyway, you should have been interested in the numbers for cost comparison. I’m one of those anomalies that is nerdy about words and numbers.

      I’ll try and remember the doggy request for the next numerical post. Pippa can count to ten in four languages 🐶

      Liked by 1 person

      • The only numbers I like are the ones in my bank account… when they exist. :P

        Mm. If Pippa keeps that up, I’ll have him translating my books. :D


        • Of course, it goes without saying I have a fixation for checking out all numbers to see if there are any errors in the adding up …

          I’ll get Pippa to brush up his Portuguese, he can still do 1–3 but has forgotten the rest but that would take him to five. He’s a non-drinker, but Snowy can order cerveja in an alarming number of languages.

          Note: do not leave unattended beer near to a Podenco.

          Liked by 1 person

  15. This is another great point of reference. What if I want both types of editing done? How do they charge then? Thank you again for linking me here! I am so happy to have read up on the process.


    • I think part of the problem with editing lies with all the different terms people use, and what they mean by them. British terminology is different to American (as usual), so I think it’s important to know what you want done with your book. And of course, all the terms are pre-internet yet many/most of us now work with computer MSS and not hard copy. So proofreading on the internet is not the same as proofing hard copy.

      Anyway, that technical point aside, you’ve got the option of someone looking at your novel as a whole and suggesting alterations to character development, plot, pacing etc, basically, does your story work, and if not, why not? Then you’ve got the edit that will look at your writing style, is it too passive? do you have headhopping? do you use inappropriate dialogue tags or ‘lazy’ writing by including too many adverbs? You’ve got the editing that picks up repetition either of words or actions, inconsistency of actions/descriptions, fact checking, grammar checking, punctuation, spelling, consistency with style guides etc etc

      That’s why it’s important to know what you want and can ask the editor/s what they will provide. I do re-edits of published works which tends to be primarily correcting all the ertors, but can involve some re-writing. For raw MSS, then I’ve got more of an open field and can suggest more significant changes to plot, characters, content, structure. So, some editors are like me, and blur the boundaries, others stick rigidly to a title and specific function. If you look at firm E above, they offer a publishing-ready edit, ie combining some of the functions, which could be a good bet, the downside is that it works out at 20 bucks per thousand words.

      As I said in the other post, there can be a multitude of reasons for cheaper pricing and expensive pricing. Not everyone will offer more than one type of edit. Some people use two editors plus a proofreader (and still end up with mistakes).

      What most readers complain about are spelling errors, punctuation errors etc but you can have an immaculate book with not a single spelling error, and if the writing is weak, it’s still going to leave the reader dissastisfied. I would suggest you start by asking around for a decent copy editor, but find out what they do, how many edits they will do, do they recommend a separate final proofread or do they include that? Then you can start to budget and see if you can afford an additional edit, or see if the editors you approach will cover the other aspects. It’s a slightly back to front way of doing it, but the one sure way to get criticism on Amazon is to publish a book full of errors.

      Hope that helps. Good luck :)


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