How should you approach your editor, and what can you expect to pay?

If I approached any service provider—dentist, mechanic, plumber—I’d give a sense of the service I’d like performed, and I’d ask about their rate and availability. Yet so many authors reach out with a variation of: “I’m writing a book, and email isn’t great for me so please call me asap.”


When you reach out to an editor, indicate you’ve done your homework. How did you hear about this editor? A personal referral goes further than an online search.

Does this editor perform the type of editing you need?

Is this editor a good fit for your book? My fave queries are those that include “I see you’ve edited X and Y titles, and they’re similar in tone to my book.” Beautiful!

What is your book about? Just a general overview, a few lines to a paragraph. Do not send a sample chapter and expect the editor to read it for free as a way of figuring out your book.

Do you need help with the idea? If you’re hiring a developmental editor, they still need to know who you are and the intended subject of your book, so include your website and social media links.

Where are you at in the process? Have you just started, do you have a couple chapters, or do you have a full manuscript? Giving the editor a sense of where you’re at helps them determine if they can work with you. Some editors only work with full rather than partial manuscripts.

When do you need the work completed? Editors book up quickly (no pun intended) and they’re especially busy at the beginning and end of the year. Consider reaching out to an editor now to line up a job for later in the year, or join a waiting list.

What can you expect to pay? Editors often give free 15-minute discovery calls, but you should expect to pay for a call longer than 15 minutes. Developmental and substantive editors charge in the thousands, on a project rate. Copy editors and proofreaders usually charge by the hour, and their final invoices can be between $500 and $1500 depending on the length and complexity of the book.

If you have any questions and want to explore your writing idea, reach out for a Publishing Plan call with me. In this one-hour call, we explore your idea, I co-create the idea with you, and I give you a written summary and action plan.

Good luck, writers!

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