How to Make Money From Editing

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The write-up delves into how to make money from editing. Turning your editing skills into a profitable career is an increasingly attractive option in today’s publishing landscape. As the demand for quality content continues to grow, so does the need for skilled editors who can polish and prepare manuscripts for publication.

For those with an eye for detail, strong writing abilities, and a passion for the written word, editorial work represents an exciting professional opportunity brimming with earning potential.

Editing has traditionally been viewed as a behind-the-scenes role, but in recent years, talented editors have begun stepping into the spotlight. Propelled by the rise of self-publishing and fierce competition in the publishing industry, there is now incredible demand for editors who can elevate manuscripts to publishable quality.

Whether working for a major publishing house, assisting independent authors, or striking out independently, skilled editors are discovering that their services are valuable and lucrative.

The Growing Demand for Skilled Editors

The publishing world is currently facing a shortage of qualified editors. As more writers produce content and self-published works continue gaining legitimacy, publishers become overwhelmed and unable to keep pace.

Many independent authors also struggle to afford professional editing services despite understanding their necessity. This widening gap between supply and demand has placed skilled editors in an enviable position to secure steady work and command competitive rates.

The Potential Earnings for Editors

For talented editors who invest time honing their craft, a profitable editing career is eminently achievable. Depending on experience level and specialization, salaries for in-house publishing roles can range from $40,000 to over $100,000 annually.

However, skilled freelance editors stand to earn even more on their terms – top industry professionals can charge $50–$150 per hour while setting flexible schedules. With diligence and dedication, six-figure incomes are realistic for career editors. The earning potential reflects the value that quality editing adds at every stage of the publishing process.

What is Editing?

Editors play a crucial role in the publishing process by improving the quality and readability of manuscripts. They review authors’ work critically, checking for issues like grammar, spelling, punctuation, consistency, flow, and factual accuracy. Editors suggest revisions and guides to strengthen the manuscript before publication.

Different Types of Editing

Let’s talk about different types of editing: developmental editing, substantive editing, copyediting, line editing, and proofreading.

Developmental Editing

Developmental or content editing involves working with a manuscript at the earliest stages. The editor focuses on the work’s structure, organization, and content. This can include evaluating the plot in fiction or the arguments in non-fiction, assessing character development, pacing, and thematic consistency.

Developmental editors often work closely with authors to help shape the narrative, suggesting significant changes that may involve rewriting or reorganizing text sections. Their goal is to ensure the manuscript’s overall arc is coherent and engaging.

Substantive Editing

Substantive editing is similar to developmental editing but tends to occur after the initial draft has been completed. It is a deep form of editing that examines the use of language and how effectively it conveys the message or story.

Substantive editors look at clarity, voice, tone, and style, making substantial changes to improve readability and flow. They might suggest reordering paragraphs, rewriting ambiguous passages, and eliminating redundancies.


Copyediting focuses more on the technical aspects of writing than developmental or substantive editing. A copyeditor’s primary role is to ensure that the text adheres to specific grammar rules, punctuation, spelling, and syntax.

Copyeditors also check for internal consistency regarding facts, dates, and references within the manuscript. They ensure the manuscript follows a particular style guide, such as APA, MLA, or Chicago Manual of Style, essential for academic and professional publications.

Line Editing

Line editing stands between substantive and copyediting, focusing on how individual sentences and paragraphs form the larger work. Line editors refine the language to improve its effectiveness. They focus on sentence structure, word choice, and the rhythm of the prose. Line editing aims to enhance the author’s voice and ensure the text reads smoothly. It is a detailed process that makes the writing more compelling and enjoyable for the reader.


Proofreading is the final stage of the editing process. After all other edits have been made, proofreaders conduct a last review to catch any minor errors that may have been overlooked, such as typos, misspellings, or inconsistent formatting. Proofreading is crucial because even small mistakes can distract readers and detract from the work’s credibility. It serves as a final quality check before publication.

Each type of editing serves a unique purpose in preparing a manuscript for publication. Editors may specialize in one particular type or offer a range of services. The demand for these skills reflects the importance of presenting polished and well-crafted material to audiences, whether in print or digital form.

The Importance of Editing

Careful editing by professionals is crucial for producing publishable and commercially viable books. It improves quality, ensures consistency, and makes manuscripts clearer, more concise, and more engaging to readers. Good editing often makes the difference between success and failure for self-published authors.

Overall, editors add immense value throughout the publishing process. Their insights and expertise elevate manuscripts to a higher level.

Why Editing Can Be Lucrative

The publishing industry is more competitive than ever before. With the rise of self-publishing and an abundance of new titles hitting the market daily, authors face immense pressure to produce high-quality, error-free manuscripts. As a result, there is tremendous demand for skilled editors who can polish drafts and prepare them for publication.

As the number of new books published yearly grows exponentially, publishers cannot meet editing demands internally. Many outsource editing work, fueling opportunities for freelance editors. At the same time, self-published authors, who make up a major part of the growing market, often seek editing help to refine their manuscripts before publication. This rising demand, coupled with the complexities of modern publishing, has created a lucrative editing niche.

Great editors are invaluable in the publishing process. For authors, editors enhance storytelling, strengthen arguments, refine structure and style, and fix errors. This polishing process often takes a manuscript from good to great.

For publishers, quality editing alleviates the risk of accepting new manuscripts and improves overall quality. Skilled editors play a key role in connecting books with readers by improving clarity, flow, and readability. The value they provide allows quality editors to command healthy fees.

From freelancing for publishing houses and independent authors to working full-time for top publishing imprints, there is immense scope for skilled editors. Top editors at major houses can make six-figure salaries, while freelancers typically charge $30 to $50 per hour, depending on experience.

Hybrid models like consulting for publishers and authors are also popular. Editing work’s flexible and entrepreneurial nature enables editors to choose career paths aligned with their passions and lifestyle needs.

How to Make Money from Editing

There are several ways for editors to make money in the publishing industry. The most common routes are the following:


Freelance editing provides flexibility to work from anywhere and set your rates. You can find freelance gigs on sites like Upwork, Fiverr, and Reedsy or contact authors directly. Building a website, portfolio, and social media presence can help attract clients. Specializing in a niche like sci-fi or academic editing can boost earnings potential.

Working for Publishers

Many publishing houses employ in-house or contract external editors on a per-project basis. Jobs may involve copyediting manuscripts, checking proofs, or developmental editing. Networking at industry events and having a solid editing resume are vital to landing these roles.

Editing for Indie Authors

Self-publishing is a fast-growing market. Indie authors often seek affordable editors to polish manuscripts before publication. Having experience with genres popular with self-publishers, like romance, sci-fi, and fantasy, can provide a steady stream of author clients.

Marketing Your Editing Services

Successful marketing is vital for getting editing work. Tactics can include:

  • Building an online portfolio showcasing your experience
  • Leveraging social media and industry hashtags to connect with potential clients
  • Guest posting on popular authors or publishing blogs
  • Attending writers’ conferences to network in person

By diversifying income streams and relentlessly promoting services, editors can build lucrative careers in the publishing industry.

How Much Can an Editor Earn?

The average income range for editors in the publishing industry can vary greatly depending on factors like experience level, specialization, and type of editing work. Entry-level copy editors often start around $30,000 to $40,000 per year, while more experienced developmental or line editors may earn $50,000 to $70,000 on average. However, some senior editors at major publishing houses or working with bestselling authors can make six-figure salaries.

Experience Levels

Generally, the more experience an editor gains, the higher their earning potential in the industry. Some examples of average salaries based on experience level:

  • Entry-level/Assistant Editor: $30,000–$40,000
  • Copyeditor: $35,000–$55,000
  • Line/Development Editor: $45,000–$70,000
  • Executive/Senior Editor: $70,000–$100,000+

Editing Specialties

Editors can boost their income potential by developing expertise in certain genres or niches. Some lucrative specialties include:

  • Academic editing: $50,000–$80,000
  • Medical/Scientific editing: $60,000–$90,000
  • Business/Finance editing: $70,000–$100,000
  • Fiction editing: $40,000–$150,000+ (depending on authors)

Successful Editors

Some examples of editors who have built highly lucrative careers include:

  • Robert Gottlieb – The former editor-in-chief at Knopf and The New Yorker, edited authors like Toni Morrison, John le Carré, and Bill Clinton, who likely earned over $200,000 annually.
  • Nan Graham – Current Senior VP and Editor-in-Chief at Scribner, works with authors like Stephen King and Don DeLillo, with an estimated salary of over $250,000 annually.
  • Amanda Cook – Editor at Crown Publishing, edited Michelle Obama’s Becoming (2018 bestseller), likely earns over $150,000 annually.

Skills Needed by an Editor to Make Money

To make money as an editor, one must possess technical skills, industry knowledge, and soft skills that enable them to collaborate effectively with authors and publishing professionals. Here are some critical skills that contribute to an editor’s ability to generate income:

  • Command of language: Editors must have an exceptional grasp of their editing language. This includes grammar, spelling, punctuation, syntax, and vocabulary. A strong foundation in language is essential for all types of editing, from proofreading to developmental editing.
  • Attention to detail: Editing requires meticulous attention to detail. Whether it’s catching typos or ensuring consistency in a narrative, an editor’s ability to notice the slightest inconsistencies is crucial for producing polished content.
  • Technical proficiency: Editors often use specialized software such as Microsoft Word’s Track Changes, Adobe Acrobat, or other editing and publishing tools. Proficiency with these technologies helps editors work efficiently and collaborate effectively with authors and other stakeholders.
  • Genre-specific knowledge: Understanding the conventions and expectations of specific genres (whether fiction, non-fiction, academic, or technical writing) enables editors to provide more targeted and valuable feedback to authors.
  • Communication skills: Editors must communicate their suggestions and feedback clearly and diplomatically. Building a positive rapport with authors and understanding their vision is vital to a successful editing relationship.
  • Project management: Editors often juggle multiple projects at once. Managing time, meeting deadlines, and prioritizing tasks are essential for maintaining a steady workflow and satisfying client expectations.
  • Networking and marketing: To attract clients and build a freelance business, editors must market their services effectively. This can involve social media marketing, attending industry events, and developing a solid online presence.
  • Business acumen: Freelance editors must handle the business side of their services, including setting rates, invoicing, budgeting, and negotiating contracts.
  • Adaptability: The publishing industry is constantly evolving, so editors must be adaptable and stay informed about trends in self-publishing, digital media, and reader preferences.

Editors who develop and refine these skills can create a strong foundation for a profitable career in editing. As the demand for high-quality content remains high, skilled editors with the right mix of abilities will find numerous opportunities to monetize their expertise.

Finding Editing Jobs in the Publishing Industry

Finding editing work in the publishing world can seem daunting, but there are practical steps aspiring editors can take. The key is leveraging connections through networking, seeking opportunities, and persistently putting yourself out there.

Network with Industry Professionals

Build relationships with authors, publishers, editors, and other publishing professionals. Attend industry events, conferences, and workshops to meet people. Social media groups related to editing and publishing are also great for making connections. When networking, have a strong social media presence and editing portfolio to showcase your skills.

Check Job Boards and Online Platforms

Many websites like MediaBistro, PublishersMarketplace, and list editing and proofreading jobs. Create alerts and check regularly for new opportunities. Local classifieds and community boards may also have gig work. And be open to remote, freelance, and contract roles to increase your options.

How to make money from editing

Market Yourself as an Editor

Actively promote your editing services instead of just passively searching for jobs. Create an editor website, build social media channels showcasing work samples, and distribute business cards to get the word out. Cold email publishers and independent authors to market your services. Persistence and self-promotion are key.


The write-up has delved into how to make money from editing, turning your editing skills into a profitable career in the publishing industry. As the demand for quality editing continues to grow, skilled editors have the opportunity to build thriving freelance businesses or land stable in-house positions.

The key takeaways include:

  • Editing is an essential part of the publishing process, with copyeditors, developmental editors, and proofreaders all playing vital roles.
  • Strong editing skills are highly valued in the competitive publishing market, allowing talented editors to command premium rates.
  • Editors can make money through various income streams, including working with publishing houses, freelancing for self-published authors, or even self-publishing their books.
  • With experience, specialization, and effective marketing, editors can earn $50,000 a year or much more in the publishing industry.
  • Networking with industry insiders is crucial for finding the best editing jobs and building up a roster of clients.

The publishing world offers incredible opportunities for those interested in exploring editing as a career. Consider developing a specialization, building your portfolio, and tapping into your networks to make valuable connections.

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