Why Is Editing So Expensive?

This “Indie Author Minute” video offers insight into why manuscript editing services cost what they do, what you can expect from your edit, and why a professional book edit is an investment you cannot afford to skip.

Hi, I’m Jim Young, VP of Sales at BookBaby, and I’m here to address a question that we hear from new authors fairly frequently: “Why is editing so expensive?”

Well, the first part of the answer is that professional editing is an extremely valuable and very necessary part of the publishing process, and it takes time and talent to produce meaningful results.

When you think about it, an editor is going to read every page — every word — of your document, usually more than once. So, if you’ve written a 50,000-word manuscript, that’s going to take hours just to read from front to back. And editors do more than just read: they’re reading, evaluating, and considering improvements with their seasoned, critical eyes and mind.

The economics of editing

It’s estimated that a professional editor can edit somewhere around 1,500 words per hour. So that 50,000-word manuscript I mentioned is going to take about 34 hours of the editor’s dedicated focus.

At BookBaby, the price for 50,000 words of professional copy editing sells for around $1,300, which amounts to about $38 per hour. That covers the cost of the editor, the support staff, and all the other overhead expenses to run the editing business. That’s a fantastic value for independent authors.

And guess what? Having your book professionally edited can truly be the difference between selling a handful of books and selling a truckload of books.

Here’s another way to look at the economics of editing. If you choose BookBaby to edit your book and pay the $1,300 for copy editing, you would only have to sell 162 physical books at $15.99 through Bookshop to recover your investment. (BookBaby’s Bookshop pays 50 percent royalties on printed books.) If you sell eBooks for $12.99, with Bookshop’s healthy 85 percent digital royalty rate, you’d only need to sell 118 copies to recoup your investment.

Levels of editing

There are multiple levels of editing, all with different price points, so you want to be sure you are choosing the right type of editing for your manuscript.

At BookBaby, we offer three levels of editing: proofreading, copy editing, and line editing. For a deeper dive into what’s involved with each, read “What Type Of Book Editing Do You Need? And When?,” check out our other posts on editing, or head to the editing section of the BookBaby website.

When you purchase one of our editing services, you’ll be assigned a professional editor from our exclusive network of editors who have worked with traditionally published authors in every genre, including many on The New York Times best-sellers list. You’ll have a highly experienced and talented editor, specific to your genre, editing your book.

Author beware

As with most things you buy, you’ll be able to find editing prices that range from really cheap to super expensive. The cheap prices are usually cheap for a reason and are best avoided because you’ll get what you pay for. And the most expensive can be overpriced, over-promised, and under-delivered. At BookBaby, our editing services are affordable and you actually get the high-quality, professional edit your manuscript deserves.

Sadly, we’ve seen authors cut corners on editing, or even skip the step altogether, just to regret it later when the book is published and friends, family, and readers find typos and inconsistencies. When all is said and done, for the time required and the benefits it provides, a professional book edit is worth every penny.

For more information on BookBaby’s professional editing services, give us a call at 877-961-6878 and talk to one of our friendly, knowledgeable publishing specialists. We’re here to help!

See all our Indie Author Minute videos on the BookBaby YouTube channel.

BookBaby Editing Services


  1. Well, I believe that editing is one of the most toughest tasks. It is even more difficult when the book has been written by somebody else, and assigned to someone for mistake corrections. You need to read every page from start to finish and will stay accountable for any error if found hereafter. That’s why it isn’t unfair if the editing is expensive. However, author level and the country also plays a decisive role in deciding the editing cost.

  2. My brother worked as a pulp and paper engineer from the 1980s to the 2000s. He worked at three paper mills that closed years ago. Maybe we need to retool some paper manufacturing mills in our own country to supply paper for our industries, including publishing.


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