How Much Does Editing Cost?
I saw this tweet about openness of pricing and pay rates;
@Atlathewriter tweeted: Talk openly about your pay rates. A common tactic of manipulating workers that works particularly well on artists and comics creators is making discussion of wages a social taboo. So talk about them. I charge, bare minimum, $150USD for my editing services.
It can be tricky being open about rates because it’s not always as cut and dry as ‘this is what I charge for this service’.
However, here’s my baseline; $50hr/ .01cent a word. No service has ever worked out this simple but that’s where I start. Let me also add that my starting point doesn’t mean it only goes up, it also goes down. I do sliding scale quotes based on the author’s needs and budgets. And I also offer less intensive but still valuable services for less.
Some potential clients don’t understand the different kinds of editing available. For the purposes of this discussion I’m going to be talking about structural editing/ manuscript assessment/ developmental editing (it’ll be referred to as DE for the rest of this post). This kind of editing is what you need to do before you get to copy editing and then proofing.
DE is the kind of editing that delves into plot, characters, dialogue, etc. It's not easier or harder than copy editing, just different. Both take huge amounts of skill, knowledge, and experience. I’ve spent my whole life acquiring my skills. Not just through school but through a driving passion of writing and story. The same is true for my colleagues.
I’m a member of the EFA-Editorial Freelancers Association. They provide a fee schedule and I base my fees off that. Here’s a link to the schedule https://www.the-efa.org/rates/
In my experience, potential clients will just throw some information at me and ask for a quote. “I have a 67,000 word novel, how much to edit?”, “How much to edit a sci-fi novel?”, “What’s your rate for editing romance?”. But I always need to discuss with them what kind of editing they’re looking for so that we’re both on the same page with what’s expected. I also request to see the manuscript before I provide a quote. In this way I can advise on how much editing the author will need or if they should work on it a bit more on their own before my help will be necessary.
What I want potential clients to know is that through discussion we can come up with a service and a fee that works for them. However, I understand that sometimes you just don’t have the money and no amount of discussion is going to change that. That’s fine. Or, they just don’t like me, and you know what? That’s fine too. If you’re going to invest in an editor you need to feel that you’ll work well together.
Along with $50hr/ .01cent a word being the starting point, I also require 50% upfront for jobs $100 or above (100% upfront for less). The last 50% can also be split into multiple payments.
When you take into consideration that it takes about 20+ hours of reading a manuscript because there’s a lot of stopping to think and take notes you realize it’s not a leisurely book reading experience. And then for DEs there’s the report. I’ve spent as long as 20 hours writing a report. I wasn't paid $50hr or .01 cent a word for that report. Less.
A single DE is a full week of pretty intensive work.
All my pricing and work policies are not set in stone. Most freelance editors aren’t either. It can be a little intimidating approaching someone for a quote to tear your work apart. “Hi, yes, how much money will it cost me for you to tell me my plot has glaring holes, my main character is flat and unlikeable and that I’ll never make it as a writer? The manuscript is 87,000 words.” Hey, I don’t just break your work into problems, I also let you know what's good!
So for all my potential clients and current clients; You are brave!
@ParkerDHicks Asked this question: Do you generally charge a per project rate? Or a per page rate with a minimum of $150? Talking for a short comics project, under twenty pages. Thanks for being open!
Parker brings up an interesting question. Do you charge a per page or per project fee? The quote I provide is ultimately a per project fee. When charging per page an editor typically calculates each page as 250 words or quotes based on how long it takes to complete a page. So you're getting into per hour or per word fee scheduling. I, personally, never do per page for that reason.
Going off of @AltaTheWriter's comment about not going below $150 for her editing services, I have a minimum as well. Although, my minimum is $50 but that's for short form editing work.
Atla brings up a good subject and a good point. I hope more freelancers dive into the subject and open up about their fees and pay rates.
I charge 250$ for an authenticity (sensitivity) read.
1250$ for a full developmental edit, going rates.
100$ for custom cover art w/good stock
60$ w/free stock This said, as it *is* my only income, I'll very oft work on a sliding scale for other authors. I get how tight $ can be