This is the fifth and final installment of my series about hiring a freelance editor. You can see an index here
and zero in on the topic that most interests you, or find all of the topics under the 'editing' tag. It may be the shortest of the series, but in some ways it's the most important.Pricing
Each editor's rates is, of course, set individually.
Some editors charge by the hour. Depending on their experience, they can charge anywhere between $20 and $50.
Others charge by the page. This seems to be more likely for small projects, such as resumes or academic papers. Though I didn't look too deeply into this, it appears that there's a base rate, such as $20, and then it goes up from there based on the number of pages in the project.
It appears that sometimes, particularly on the job boards, an editor will offer a flat rate for a large project like a novel. I suspect that an editor with few credits is willing to take a hit to the size of their paycheque in order to get experience editing a novel. I've even seen an editor offering her work for free, just to get the experience. If your budget is fairly small, this may be a good option, but you run the risk of not getting the best edit possible.
On the large job boards, it's fairly easy to cross-check different editors and compare how much they charge for various types of jobs, and it's worthwhile to check around if you're shopping for an editor, so you have a number in mind. However, my experience with the job boards was that the projects are generally smaller than a full-sized novel, so it's difficult to gauge how it will compare simply by looking at the listings.
Though it varies, getting a full novel edited is not cheap. If you think about it, it takes several hours to read a novel. Reading while taking notes and making changes can take many, many hours. A full, substantive edit can run upwards of a couple of thousand dollars.Contracts
It's important to see the terms under which the editor is going to work. A reputable editor will send you a contract, which sets out the work and how much it will cost. Scrutinize the contract - and by that I mean, read it. If there are bits you don't understand, ask. And if the editor isn't willing to clarify, run.
You shouldn't send your manuscript to someone - or several hundred dollars - unless you're sure that the person is legitimate. There are a lot of people out there more than happy to part someone from their money and not deliver anything.
Both you and the editor should have a clear idea of exactly what each of you is expected to do, and how much it will cost, before you begin sending money. Obviously for a large project where there is unpredictability in how long it will take the editor to get through the project, you may only have an estimate of how much it will cost, but you should have a good grasp of exactly how the final bill will be calculated. That way, neither of you will be surprised or angry at the end.
I will say this isn't advice only specifically for hiring an editor, but for pretty much anything you do that involves a contract.How it Turned Out for Me
One of the people I was referred to seemed to click with me right away. I scrutinized her website and saw that she had some good credits under her name, justifying her hourly rate, which is on the higher end of the range I saw.
At her request, I sent her a plot synopsis and three chapters. She suggested that I do a Manuscript Evaluation, and quoted me $800, saying that it could end up being lower because my writing was generally good. She will be documenting her hours - good, and if she ends up taking less time than expected, I won't have to pay the full amount, but she does want half up front. I feel that's quite fair.
The entire process of finding her and deciding to hire her took about three days, so when I made the decision of who to hire, I wasn't quite ready to actually take the step and send off my manuscript. I had expected it to take quite a while to find someone suitable, who was willing to take me on. Because I was still working on my own edit, and wanted some people to read my novel before I sent it out, and my editor was about to go on holiday, we decided that the work would start in June when she gets back. So I haven't signed the contract yet, and I also haven't sent any money.
And that is the end of my series on what I learned while working on hiring a freelance editor. If you know something I've missed, please feel free to share! And stay tuned as I go through the process. I'll definitely have updates.