Estimates, Agreements, and Costs

Naturally, you want to know how much it’s going to cost.

I’m happy to give a free initial consultation and estimate on your project. Simply email me.

For starters, I’ll want to read what you have now. Preferably, I will skim your whole manuscript, reading sample sections in depth. If you don’t have a completed manuscript yet, then a typical ten-page segment will do. We can follow that with a phone or email chat. There’s no charge until we have a firm agreement and I start work.

A letter of agreement sets out expectations for both of us. Click here to see a sample letter. Many variations are possible in the agreement you and I will work out between us.

I ask for a percentage of the estimate (usually 50%) as a down payment, before I begin work. We’ll talk more about this when we discuss your project.

editing estimates

I charge $40 (U.S.) per hour for most editing jobs with a nonurgent deadline (two weeks, short projects; four weeks, long projects).

Expedited editing is $55 per hour. That would be for complex projects with an immediate deadline of one week or less (also known as stay-up-to-all-hours-to-meet-the-deadline jobs).

My hourly rate is the same no matter how many skills I employ. I find that the average editing project takes a bit of everything — developmental, line, and copy editing — so a consistent rate is most fair to you.

I charge by the hour, but how many hours will it take? That depends on what your manuscript needs. Each writer’s skill varies — a lot! I must see the project before I can even guess. But to give you an idea…

A light edit on a well-written draft typically turns 2000-2500 words (8-10 editorial pages) per hour. So a light copy edit of a 62,500-word manuscript (250 pages) might run as low as $875. A heavy edit on a draft with problems turns about 500-1250 words (2-5 pages) per hour. If your 62,500-word manuscript needs lots of work, the cost might be $1750 or more. Many projects are somewhere in between. Remember that we will discuss the work and price well beforehand, and I only proceed with your approval. And note, “a page” is always 250 words — that’s a universal editorial standard.

Yes, there are ways to lower the cost. The more you can do yourself to make your manuscript clean and well-organized, the faster editing will go, and the less expensive it will be. Fewer comments allow a lower bill, too, so you can direct me to keep notes to a minimum. Conversely, if you want an explanation for each change in order to improve your writing skills, that takes time.

Developmental edits are the most time consuming, as well as the most rewarding. First I read your entire manuscript and analyze exactly what is or isn’t working. Then I start again from the beginning and “give notes” with specific questions, comments, insights, and suggestions. I’ll also write you a detailed report with an overall evaluation, a discussion of major issues, and helpful, kind critique. Depending on your goals, the report may also consider positioning your manuscript in the marketplace. Most likely we’ll continue to work together over the next draft or two to shape and polish your revisions. I often include a basic copy and line edit as part of the project, depending on the stage of the work.

coaching estimates

Don’t yet have a manuscript to show? No problem. Let’s discuss the nature of your project and how I can help you bring it to life. Here too, I charge $40 per hour after the initial free consultation. Once you have pages to work with, we can blend coaching with editorial development.

copywriting estimates

Unlike editing, I usually charge a flat rate for custom copywriting, after your initial free consultation. Fresh, new work often takes a lot of pacing back and forth before a single word is put down, and I always write multiple drafts. Here a flat rate is the most reasonable way to go.

keeping costs in perspective

Quality editing and custom writing are not cheap.

Consider it an investment in your career. Your writing represents you in the world: you want to look brilliant and communicate clearly. In addition, creative writers must sparkle with flair and talent. Fine editing can do just that.

Note that (in the U.S.) editing and writing services may be tax deductible on your schedule C. Check with your tax pro.

Just for fun, compare what you pay per hour for other highly trained professionals. These are actual going rates in my area: auto mechanics $100/hour, plumbers $140/hour, electricians $125/hour, computer repair techs $80/hour, lawyers $250-400/hour, marriage therapists $100-200/hour, psychic readers $100/hour.… As you can see, $40 an hour for an experienced editor is a bargain (and might even save you from the marriage counselor).