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How Much Money Does a Writer and Editor Make?

When you’re starting out as a writer, getting paid to do what you love can feel like a dream. You pour your heart and soul into your work, and before you know it, you’ve published a book and made a name for yourself. While the process can be exhilarating, it can also be a little daunting when trying to figure out how much you’ll actually make. Here’s some insider information on the topic.

The Biggest Lie

One of the most common questions that comes up when you’re first establishing yourself as a professional is this: How much do I actually make? The short answer is, “It depends.” The longer answer is, “It depends heavily on how many hours you put in and how well you perform.”

What this essentially means is that every writer and editor’s salary is pretty much completely based on how much they make per hour. This hourly rate can vary from nothing to thousands of dollars per hour, so the more you put in, the more you’ll earn. It really is that simple. If you want to become a professional writer, you need to figure out what your hourly rate is and then get to work. The more you produce, the more you’ll earn. There’s no other way around it. This is true regardless of whether you’re an established writer or you’re just starting out. In the beginning, you’ll likely be putting in a lot of hours and won’t be earning a lot of money. But eventually, like any skill or profession, you’ll learn how to maximize your earning potential and how to effectively bill your time. 

The Most Commonly Used Rate Figure

When you’re first getting started, it can be hard to find a steady, reliable stream of income. You may try working for free for a while just to see what kind of traction you can gain. But eventually you’ll have to make a decision on how much you’re willing to take on. There are a few most common rate figures that you’ll encounter when trying to figure out how much you should be charging per hour. These are:

  • $25/hr
  • $20/hr
  • $15/hr
  • $12/hr
  • $9/hr
  • $7/hr
  • $5/hr
  • $2.50/hr

These are all fairly high rates for those who are just getting started. But you have to keep in mind that if you’re serious about being a professional writer, you’ll eventually have to raise your rates. You’ll learn how to effectively negotiate and how to ask for what you deserve.

How Much Does an Editor Make?

While you’re at it, how much does an editor make? This is kind of a follow-up question to the one above it, but it’s a vitally important one. An editor is someone who works with a writer to make sure that everything is perfect before publication. They might take on the role of a ghostwriter for hire, helping with the actual content while also giving advice and coaching on structuring and editing the piece. An editor’s role can be a lot of work, so be careful not to overestimate how much you’ll actually be able to bill. But if you’re ever wondering, the typical rate for an editor is between $25 and $50 per hour. A higher rate is only justified if you’re extraordinary and have a fantastic track record. But even then, you’ll probably only charge $50 to $75 per hour.

The Perfecting Process

So you’ve got your story finished. Or at least, you think it’s finished. Once you’ve got your draft finished, the next step is to go through and make it perfect. There are some pretty high-profile individuals out there who might be willing to pay you to help with this process. For the average joe, this step is where most of your income will come from. This is where you’ll be spending a lot of your time. It’s also where a lot of your frustration will be coming from if you’re not careful. The perfecting process can be tedious, and it can also be pretty boring if you’re not careful. Which is why it’s so important to find ways to make the process not only efficient but also interesting. Here’s where a lot of freelancers make their money: