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I have a friend who has almost completed a book. She belongs to a local writer's group, and has told me a person in this group that bills themselves as an editor says they can edit her work for $300 per page.

If I'm wrong, I apologize to the editors out there (I aspire to be one myself one day), but even half of that seems awfully high. It seems they've priced themselves so that they'll clean up even if they get negotiated down.

Also, this person has said things that lead me to believe their skillset is closer to being a proofreader rather than an editor.

Am I crazy for thinking writer's groups can be rife with opportunists trawling for pidgeons like my friend to take advantage of?

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    No experience, but that does seem rather high. And yes, anywhere people gather (particularly those wanting to "break in", is going to attract opportunists) – Thomo Oct 16 '17 at 22:26
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    My quick search of online editing services found that most expensive ones usually topping out at about $10/page. – Alexander Oct 16 '17 at 23:32
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A 100,000 word manuscript in standard format would be 400 pages long.

At $300/page, the cost for this editor would be $120,000.

Yuh. That's high.

I'm guessing that your friend heard the editor's fee incorrectly, and it's closer to $3.00 per page.

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Here is the data from the USA Bureau of Labor Statistics for the wages of a Proofreader, the median wage is $19.06 per hour. Their job description is:

Read transcript or proof type setup to detect and mark for correction any grammatical, typographical, or compositional errors.

For an Editor, the average wage is $31.77 per hour. Job description:

Plan, coordinate, or edit content of material for publication. May review proposals and drafts for possible publication. Includes technical editors.

Finally, here is a link that supports the industry rule of thumb in editing, that professionals can edit Six pages per hour.

I would bet proofreading is twice that rate. Put these figures together, and the COST of their proofreading is about $1.60 per page, and the COST of full professional editor work is about $5.30 per page.

How much profit they should earn beyond pay is a matter of opinion, but I generally think for a business owner you should about double the price of the salary. $3.20 per page for good professional proofreading, and $10.60 for good professional editing. I would not stray far from that.

Also, I would ask them if you can pay for perhaps the first 20 pages, unconditionally, in order to see the value of what you are buying. Before you drop $1280 or $4240 on it.

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At the seminar I recently attended I was told that any legitimate editor would edit the first 10 pages for free, so that you can decide if you want to use their services.

This was reiterated, don't go with an editor that won't give you a free sample. Those are scam artists, according to this group discussion.

But, you can send the first 10 - 20 pages to a bunch of editors, get free sample work from some, and then decide who to go with at their cost.

300 per page is not correct.

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You're not crazy - it happens, but this sounds particularly odd. Some likely possibilities :

1) As Dale suggested, the price was misheard - it was either $3.00 per page, or $300 for the lot (which could be a bargain at "mates' rates" since they're part of the same group, or because the person is just starting as an editor).

2) The "editor" is naive about editors rates, which suggests they're not experienced (and probably not competent) as an editor.

3) The "editor" is a charlatan, but is also incompetent at that (any decent crook will pitch their "work" at something approaching the going rate).

As with any financial arrangement, comparing at least three independent quotes and seeking at least two professional references would be the way to go. And get everything in writing - especially dates when manuscripts were sent. Your friend (if she chose this "editor") would be handing over her intellectual property to someone who seems at best unfamiliar with the business.

  • The way I heard my friend tell it, it sounds like a combination of 2 and 3. – KateF Oct 19 '17 at 4:37
  • That was the way I was leaning, too, but I thought I'd give them the benefit of doubt. Either way, it doesn't sound like someone who'd add something useful to your friend's book. – ItWasLikeThatWhenIGotHere Oct 19 '17 at 7:27

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