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View Full Version : How much do legit book doctors charge?



AnneMarble
11-29-2004, 11:45 PM
There's a discussion on the coyediting list serv about freelance editors taking on editing jobs for novelists.

I mentioned book doctors and how the legit ones charge very high fees. But just how high are their fees, and what are the changes they make for those fees? Do they do extensive line editing, or do they go beyond that and do even more, such as structural changes? Also, is it true they are most often hired to edit works written by non-writers with big names in their own field?

I think I upset an editor on the list by saying that the legit editors (I was thinking book doctors) charge very high fees. :o

vstrauss
11-30-2004, 10:59 PM
The Editorial Freelancers' Association has a chart of suggested rates:

www.the-efa.org/services/jobfees.htm (http://www.the-efa.org/services/jobfees.htm)

Substantive editing (a.k.a. content or structural editing) does indeed cost a whole lot of money, when it's done by someone with good credentials.

- Victoria

AnneMarble
11-30-2004, 11:27 PM
Substantive editing (a.k.a. content or structural editing) does indeed cost a whole lot of money, when it's done by someone with good credentials.

Wow! Remind me to learn how to edit my own work so I can save a lot of money. :lol

There are some people on the copyediting list serv who edit books (including fiction) on a freelance basis. Their eyes will probably bug out of their heads when they see those rates. Then again, some of them charge lower rates because that's what they feel better doing.

Is it true that book doctors are accredited, or did I misunderstand taht somehow? How would one get accredited, anyway?

vstrauss
12-01-2004, 12:08 AM
>>Is it true that book doctors are accredited<<

No, or at least I'm not aware of anything like that. As with agents, anyone can set themselves as a book doctor or freelance editor (and "anyone" often does, which is why you have to be so careful in checking people out).

An editor ought to have relevant professional experience (such as having worked for a commercial publisher) and verifiable credits (preferably, commercially published books that she's worked on, though some very decent editors do specialize in POD and self-pubbed books). Many of the most experienced freelance editors work mainly or entirely for publishers, as opposed to individual writers.

Lower rates are usually a reflection of less commercial experience, or of editors who confine themselves to copy editing-type work and don't do the substantive stuff. High rates, though, are also often charged by scammers, so they don't prove anything.

- Victoria

junkyardawg1
12-01-2004, 10:21 PM
Did I read that right? $50 a page????????

AnneMarble
12-01-2004, 11:28 PM
Many of the most experienced freelance editors work mainly or entirely for publishers, as opposed to individual writers.

I think should kill the old "No publishers will accept a manuscript that hasn't been professionally edited" line. :D Also, the only author I know of who could afford to hire that sort of editing expertise is an heiress, and she wound up starting her own publishing company. :rollin

It also makes sense, from what I've heard of the way the experienced editors are used most often. Does anyone know what types of writers they're most often hired for? (I think my sentence needs a book doctor! Clear! :D ) Are they hired for nonfiction books written by experts who can't write their way out of a paper bag? Novels written by celebs (when those aren't ghost written)? Or something else entirely.

maestrowork
12-02-2004, 03:01 AM
$1000-$3000, I'd guess? Depending on the ms. length and level of fix-up needed, of course.

I mean consider it costs $10K to $20K to get a ghostwriter, I think that figure is just about right for a book doctor.

Of course, do your research of the market and find out for sure. I'm probably WAY off.

Dancing Wombat
12-17-2004, 01:12 PM
Hi all,

Relative newbie here. Where I'm from (Canada) the going rate for a manuscript evaluation (an editor reads your ms., and prepares an honest, thoughtful , lengthy substantive report on its strengths and weaknesses, but doesn't do any copy or line editing), is between $400 and $1000, depending on the editor, the length of the ms, and the type of ms.

Most professional editors I know will do evaluations, but won't do pre-submission substantive or line editing (unless the author is self-publishing, which is another story entirely.) There's no point, when, if the ms is acquired, the book's editor may have a very different editorial hand. The small number of *very experienced* editors of my acquaintance who will do pre-submission editing (which seems to be called book-doctoring in other parts of the world) charge $100/hour at a minimum.

There is, as yet, no universally recognized accreditation process for editors or book doctors. Some schools teach the skills, others don't, and nobody has done an independent evaluation of the standards each school and house teach. The best way to find a good editor or book doctor is to shop very carefully, ask other writers (published ones for preference) for recommendations, and take reputable writing workshops. Sometimes agents and publishers will recommend an author have a particular editor evaluate their ms.

A reputable editor will be able to name books they've worked on, and they'll be books you've heard of and might find in a bookstore. They'll tell you up-front what they're going to do, prepare a written estimate, and sign a contract with you for the work. Editors are underpaid, but are more expensive than a lot of authors seem to think they should be. You should be wary of apparent bargains in editing.

rtilryarms
12-17-2004, 08:46 PM
$50 per page was just about what I was told a little more than a year ago when I decided to write my book and have a book doctor fix it technically.

I dd not consider $20,000 too steep for a 400 page book. A Ghost Writer was going to charge $25 - 35K.

Unless I get rich and famous and they pay me for my story, I will end up using some kind of book doctor / editing services.

skylarburris
12-18-2004, 11:17 PM
I don't know about those rates. I am a freelance book editor myself, and although I do charge a page rate that for me amounts to $20$35 an hour (as listed under "copyediting" in that chart), I certainly edit more than 38 pages an hour. I probably edit 1520 double-spaced pages per hour, depending on the manuscript. I don't do any restructuring or major stylistic revision, which I think would qualify as "doctoring" rather than editing. I can't imagine how it could take a full hour to edit only three pages, unless you are working with bibliographies, which I find requires a lot of care. I understand that I undercharge for the market, and I am considering raising my fees simply in order to be taken more seriously (and not because I absolutely need more money).

I don't agree that the "legitimate" editors necessarily charge higher fees. Some poor editors charge very high fees and some legitimate editors charge lower fees. Vanity publishing companies often have editors who charge very high fees, and yet they often fail to catch many mistakes. An English teacher who is not a professional in the publishing world but who provides inexpensive editing service on the side might do a better job. You really cannot evaluate a service based on the fee. You need to look at the editor's credentials and, most importantly, a sample of the editing itself. Only by getting a free sample from the editor can you truly evaluate how detailed and accurate his or her editing will be. I would never contract with a freelance editor unless I had first seen an example of his or her work, because anyone can market themselves as a freelance editor, and some unskilled people do.

One difficulty in this line of work is that if you charge a set page rate (which I do), you sometimes end up with a manuscript that requires a great deal of work, and you may make only $15 an hour, while with another manuscript you make $35 an hour. Some clients, then, end up compensating for others. It would be nice to be able to practice more perfect price discrimination. Yet charging by the hour means uncertainty for the client, and many understandably want to know how much the entire project will cost before they contract for an editor's services.

James D. Macdonald
12-24-2005, 09:03 AM
Book doctors and book editors. How much is too much?

waylander
12-24-2005, 02:17 PM
Last year (2004), I paid 350 here in the UK for a highly distinguished editor to do a full copy edit on my manuscript of 108k words and was very happy with the outcome. The editor has since put his rates up a bit.

If anyone wants to know more about the editor send me a PM.

DaveKuzminski
12-24-2005, 07:21 PM
Last year (2004), I paid 350 here in the UK for a highly distinguished editor to do a full copy edit on my manuscript of 108k words and was very happy with the outcome. The editor has since put his rates up a bit.

If anyone wants to know more about the editor send me a PM.

Okay, you got it edited. Did that get your work published? If not, do you still think it was a good investment?

It doesn't matter what his rates were if your work failed to reach publication and recoup your investment.

waylander
12-25-2005, 01:27 AM
Not yet published.
However, I have just finished a requested rewrite for a major UK publisher so the game ain't over yet.
I still think it was a good investment

cousin
12-27-2005, 01:52 AM
Earlier this year, when I had just completed the first draft of my novel, I was desperate for a Beta reader, but did not feel I could burden any of my friends or qualified strangers with my 250 page manuscript. I came upon this editorial service, where the editor was a published Iowa MFA and a critique of the first chapter was free. I liked what I got back, so I wound up investing a mere $250. Here's what I got:

I complete five page critique of the writing style, a critique of the characters and plotline. A couple of terrific plot suggestions. Line by line advice on where I could cut sentences (line by line editing would have been another $100, but I didn't want it). And, best of all, virtually unlimited email follow ups to questions like "what did you think of the wedding scene?" "Do you think my themes are strong enough?" "Could I use a better title?" The critique contained positive and negative elements, but answered many of my qualms. It gave me enough ammunition to do a rewrite, which I've just started sending around to agents.

Anyone who wants further details on this editor/doctor/reader, can send me a PM.

oracle
03-23-2006, 11:40 PM
How would one contact you to discuss editing of a manuscript?

batgirl
03-24-2006, 04:53 AM
Oracle, if you click on the user name (cousin) you get a drop-down menu that includes 'send a private message to', and you can click on that.
But seriously consider joining a workshop or critique group first, or checking the find-a-mentor board here, before paying for editing. No offence to cousin, but s/he is another new poster and thus something of an unknown quantity.
-Barbara

southernwriter
01-02-2007, 01:59 AM
I do freelance editing. I charge a very reasonable rate, and can supply references. http://manuscriptrx.blogspot.com/

TwentyFour
01-02-2007, 02:24 AM
Hey Southernwriter, I like your name...:)

aruna
01-02-2007, 12:28 PM
Last year (2004), I paid 350 here in the UK for a highly distinguished editor to do a full copy edit on my manuscript of 108k words and was very happy with the outcome. The editor has since put his rates up a bit.

If anyone wants to know more about the editor send me a PM.
This is similar to what I paid for my first novel. This was not for a line edit, but for a report of several pages on content. And yes, it helped get me published.

southernwriter
01-02-2007, 12:49 PM
Hey Southernwriter, I like your name...:)


Ditto. I don't come here often. Do we ever get mistaken for each other?

aruna
01-02-2007, 01:01 PM
Ditto. I don't come here often. Do we ever get mistaken for each other?
noticed the difference if you hadn't drawn attention to it!

nygirl
01-04-2007, 10:42 PM
A few months ago I got a quote for a 270-page novel. The book doctor would charge me about $2200. It included line editing, and a two-page report on what changes would be needed to improve the book and recommendations for selling it. It sounded pretty reasonable to me, but I don't know much about the competition. Hope that helps.

brenda c
08-02-2007, 08:34 AM
Last year (2004), I paid 350 here in the UK for a highly distinguished editor to do a full copy edit on my manuscript of 108k words and was very happy with the outcome. The editor has since put his rates up a bit.

If anyone wants to know more about the editor send me a PM.
Hi i am new to absolute write. was directed by fellow members to this pt of the faq, for which i'm gratyeful. I too have completed my manuscript, i wan';t sure if that was 350. us dollars? i was told by an agent at the bea expo if i got an editor to twak my manuscripy up abit she would give it another read. I have read that some editors help with getting your ms out to agents if you let them edit it, am i correct? If not i may try to self publish. but in my heart, i feel if i had just alittle help maybe with the editing part it would fly! it is a true story! please email me with the info at
brendastarnes@sbcglobal.net. and once again.....thank you

waylander
08-02-2007, 01:07 PM
That was 350 pounds sterling about 3 years ago. I believe he now charges 500

I've sent you a PM with details

The Backward OX
05-12-2011, 08:51 AM
What's a line edit?

BenPanced
05-12-2011, 09:30 AM
Copy edit is when your punctuation, spelling, and grammar are checked. Line edits go further down in, checking continuity and details about the story itself. This is where an editor will find you said on page 35 a character has blue eyes but on page 44, you said he has green.

LaneHeymont
05-18-2011, 03:53 AM
I used the efa for my first book and found a great and well-respected editor from Tor for $1,300 on a 100,000 word book.