Welcome to EditorNinja’s first editor pricing survey! We’re always being asked by:
- companies how much editors charge and
- by editors how much they should charge.
So, we decided to go to our data and find out.
To find the below numbers, we went to our database of writers and editors (if you’re a writer or editor, you should apply here to join our extended network, which is where we recruit from when we have the need) and downloaded the provided data, which totalled 102 entries. After de-duplicating, we had 100 rows.
From there, we narrowed it down to only entrants who say they offer editing services. This narrowed it to 70 respondents.
Finally, we removed any entrant that only provided writing rates and not editing rates.
The final tally of remaining editors is 63.
Do Editors Charge Per Word or Per Hour?
One of the most common questions we receive is around charging per word or per hour. Many editors provide their rates as either, but we were interested in how they primarily charge.
Our numbers tell us that:
- 65% of editors primarily charge per word
- 30% charge per hour
- 5% do either.
Thus, it’s reasonable to expect that 2 in 3 editors will quote per-word rates and 1 in 3 will quote per-hour rates.
Two words of advice:
- When an editor quotes per-word rates, ask them if they have different rates for the different types of editing. Most just present a blended rate, which means they’ll do whatever the piece requires to have it ready to go instead of dividing it up into stages. This can save you rounds of revision, if so.
- When an editor quotes per-hour rates, ask them approximately how many words they edit per hour. This can tell you if they are over or under charging you.
How Much Do Editors Charge Per Word?
According to our data, 1/3 of respondents charge $.03-$.05 per word, another 1/3 charge $.09-$.10 per word, and approximately 25% charge more than $.10 per word edited.
Because it’s most common for editors to charge per word edited, we wanted to know how much editors charge on average per word.
As you will see below, per-word rates clump into two ranges:
- Between $.03-$.05 per word
- Around $.10 per word
There are few editors, at least in our data set, with rates below $.03 per word. There is, however, a set of editors who charge $.20+ cents per word. When we looked at this data deeper, these also seem to be the most senior writers. Thus, it makes sense that they charge more, as they’re likely more focused on developmental editing and tone/voice correction. These types of editing are especially important for very results-focused brands.
Here’s a chart of per-word pricing:
|Per Word||Count||% of Total|
How Much Do Editors Charge Per Hour?
Two-thirds of per-hour respondents charge under $50 per hour, leaving 39% who charge $50 or more per hour.
Because one in three editors quotes per-hour rates, let’s try to understand how those work.
Across our survey respondents, of which there are 18 who bill per hour, the spread is fairly even across the results.
That said, the following data might be more interesting.
What we learn from this is:
- Almost 2/3 of respondents charge under $50 per hour, whereas
- Approximately 39% of respondents charge over $50 per hour.
Thus, it is reasonable to expect that an editor will likely charge under $50 per hour if they quote you a per-hour rate.
Here is a chart of per-hour pricing:
|Rate||Per Hour (% of total)||Per Hour|
What Could Explain The Lower vs Higher Rates?
When hiring a freelancer (or a service like EditorNinja, which works with pre-vetted freelancers to deliver the service), it’s important to understand why rates are what they are.
Freelance editors usually set their rates on a combination of the following:
- Type of editing they’re doing
- Their years of experience
- How much availability they have at that time
To explain this a bit more, a fairly inexperienced freelancer who is simply proofreading and does not have many clients will charge the lowest hourly rate. A very experienced freelancer who is doing in-depth editing and coaching writers and is near their capacity will charge the most.
To put it simply – you get what you pay for.
PS: this is why EditorNinja is transparent with our fees to you. You understand what you get for what you pay, and we are always balancing capacity with incoming needs. Thus, we always have capacity for your editing needs and take care of paying editors for the work they do for you. You get great editing without worrying about hiring, vetting, managing, and paying editors. It’s all the good of working with freelancers without the downsides.
How Does EditorNinja’s Data Compare To The EFA’s Data?
The EFA, or Editorial Freelancer’s Association, published a survey in April 2020 with editing rates. As you will see below, EditorNinja’s results fall roughly in line with the EFA’s, meaning both can be trusted as directionally accurate. Some of EditorNinja’s rates are a bit lower than the EFA’s, especially on the low end, which means that EditorNinja’s dataset likely includes respondents from outside the United States.
Here are some of the EFA’s gathered rates, as gathered in April 2020. Please note that these were taken near the start of the Covid-19 pandemic and, thus, may be a bit outdated.
|Copyediting, fiction||$36–$40/hr||$.02–$.029/wd||7–10 pages/hr|
|Copyediting, nonfiction||$41–$45/hr||$.03–$.039/wd||4–6 pages/hr|
|Copyediting, business/sales||$46–$50/hr||$.04–$.049/wd||4–6 pages/hr|
|Copyediting, medical/STEM||$46–$50/hr||$.04–$.049/wd||4–6 pages/hr|
|Developmental editing, fiction||$46–$50/hr||$.03–$.039/wd||4–6 pages/hr|
|Developmental editing, nonfiction||$51–$60/hr||$.04–$.049/wd||4–6 pages/hr|
|Developmental editing, business/sales||$51–$60/hr||$.07–$.079/wd||4–6 pages/hr|
|Developmental editing, medical/STEM||$61–$70/hr||$.06–$.069/wd||1–3 pages/hr|
|Developmental editing, book doctoring||$61–$70/hr||$.06–$.069/wd||4–6 pages/hr|
|Proofreading, fiction||$31–$35/hr||$.02–$.029/wd||11–15 pages/hr|
|Proofreading, nonfiction||$36–$40/hr||$.02–$.029/wd||7–10 pages/hr|
|Proofreading, business/sales||$41–$45/hr||$.04–$.049/wd||7–10 pages/hr|
|Proofreading, medical/STEM||$41–$45/hr||$.03–$.039/wd||4–6 pages/hr|
If you need to hire a freelance editor for your content, these rates should help you determine what you should expect to pay. EditorNinja’s rates are set to be in line with these, which means we’re able to offer top-end professional editing for reasonable rates. If you’re producing editorial content, whether with humans or AI, let’s discuss how our editing services can help you take your production volume and quality to the next level.