Four Tips for Setting Editing Fees

There’s more demand for book editing services these days than ever before, thanks to the explosion of digital media content. But making a go as an editor means having the right skills, one of which is knowing how to price work. Here are some tips for how to do this correctly:

Price according to the type of editing done.

Proofreading, copyediting, and in-depth editing all require different levels of skill and amounts of time on the editor’s part. Perusing a few pages for grammar and spelling issues is an easier task than spotting plot holes, structural errors, and organizational problems within the text of a 500-page novel. Keep this in mind when setting prices.

Decide whether to price by the hour or by the page.

Those who work better without time-related pressures should go the per-page route, while editors who can do their job both quickly and accurately might be better off charging for their actual time. Remember that billing per hour means hours actually worked. Going to the fridge, chatting online, or running to the store don’t count as work time. Also, those who bill by the hour should remember that the amount of time required per page will differ, depending on how much work the manuscript needs. An editor may want to review the manuscript before deciding on a billing structure, to get an idea of how much work will be involved.

Check the rates suggested by the Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA).

It recommends a proofreading rate of between $30-$35 per hour, based on 9-13 pages edited during that time. Basic copyediting, on the other hand, should command $30-$40 per hour, assuming 5-10 edited pages every 60 minutes. And in-depth editing, the most labor-intensive of the three forms of editing, should fetch $50-$60 an hour, at a pace of 1-6 pages.

Be flexible. None of these guidelines are set in stone.

For example, those who are new to the field may have to set their rates lower to get their feet in the door. Established editors with a strong reputation, on the other hand, can command significantly higher rates than the ones suggested. Also, taking the client’s resources into account can affect the quoted rate. Many self-published authors simply don’t have the wherewithal to pay standard fees. An editor who believes in the writer’s work might have to reach some accommodation in this regard.

As with so many aspects of the writing field, setting rates is more of an art than an exact science. So take the above suggestions more as general guidelines than as hard and fast rules. Each situation is different, and a savvy editor will keep that in mind when dealing with compensation. Good luck and good editing!

Bill W is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.


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