I was recently involved in a Facebook group thread in which someone asked how much editors generally charge. I replied that the Editorial Freelancers Association‘s website lists the ‘going’ rate for editing at between $30-$40 per hour, but that many editors of my acquaintance charge per page – anywhere from $1 per page (I still have NO idea how) to $5 per page.
One author seemed to be of the opinion that editors charge much too much for the work they do, considering that the author him/herself works oftentimes for a year or more to write the book, has to cover all of the costs of producing that book (as a self-published author) or all the costs of obtaining an agent or publisher, and may never actually see any profit at all from their book. As an author myself, knowing how much each separate service (editing, formatting, cover art, cover design, etc.) costs, I sympathize, but that doesn’t mean that I can afford to give away my services as an editor. I’m sure that there are editors out there who are in comfortable enough financial circumstances that they can, and I certainly wouldn’t cast aspersions on their work. However, I can, as an editor, grumble about editors who do so and undercut everyone else in the field who is trying to earn a living. I like to think of it like grumbling about jobs being shipped overseas to countries where the ‘minimum wage’ is $1.40 or so an hour.
Here’s another perspective – say this is all about some other set of professions…
Let’s go with Mad Scientists, because they’re just FUN. Igor is a hobbyist. He puts together a monster and he thinks it’s awesome, but he can’t get it to work. He goes to Dr. Frankenstein and wants *his* professional (with training) help to make his monster work.
Well, Dr. Frankenstein has to remove the third arm from the middle of the monster’s forehead, re-route more than 40% of the monster’s circulatory system, and directly supervise Igor installing a heart because he hadn’t realized that his monster needed one to pump blood.
While Igor bore the expense of finding all the parts and of the equipment to actually bring the monster to life, the monster would be a useless lump of flesh without Dr. Frankenstein.
Now, should Igor expect Dr. Frankenstein to do all that for free? Maybe for the “exposure” and naming the monster after the good doctor? Sure, yes, Igor sank a lot of time and effort into the monster, but it doesn’t work.
If Igor could put together a monster that worked without Dr. Frankenstein, and every last one of his hobbyist friends commented on how well the monster was up, jumping around, terrorizing random villagers, etc. I could see Igor refusing to use Dr. Frankenstein’s services. Sure, it could work better and be more efficient, maybe not rely on frightening villagers with its third arm, and the Doc could probably make the monster better, but Igor can get by without him.
I guess that’s the question to ask yourself. Does your book work well, or does it need professional help?