Editors and Writers discussion

What are you willing to spend?

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message 1: by Emily (new)

Emily | 18 comments Hello fellow authors and editors.

I have been running several sales for my editing business and am now currently booked until the end of June (thank you to all the authors). Eventually, I would obviously like to charge my regular prices. I currently price my services for around 0.005 a word for full copy/developmental editing. I'm an author, I have an editing certificate, and I am a former journalist--I feel I'm qualified for that price.

In your experience what is a good price for editing. I feel my price is not outrageous, but understand even a low price can add up for 100,000 word novels.

I'm interested to know how other editors have phased into their regular prices after sales?

Thank you for your advice!


message 2: by Krystal (new)

Krystal (krystallee6363) I generally decide what I think the job is worth, then demonstrate value for money with a free sample. Unfortunately, a client being unable to afford the price doesn't necessarily mean your services are worth less. As my business is less structured at the moment, I do often find myself giving generous discounts because I'm excited about doing the work, so am willing to work to the client's budget, but obviously if this is the job that puts food on the table then you need to either convince the client you're worth the money or find a different client. It's a tough world, but we do it because we love it, and if we can get that message across the clients will understand why we are worth what we charge! Best of luck to you. :)

message 3: by HKelleyB (new)

HKelleyB (hkelleyb-editor) | 40 comments The Editorial Freelancers Association (www.the-efa.org; look in the right margin) provides an editorial rates chart for several types of editorial work such as editing, fact checking, indexing, proofreading, web design and layout, and copy writing.

So, if you want to compare your rates to the industry's standard rate, you should check out this website.

message 4: by J.M. (new)

J.M. Rankin (jmrankin) | 64 comments I agree with Krystal that we as editors need to charge what we feel we are worth. If you are fully qualified and have experience, then why shouldn't you charge what justifies your work? After all, we all began somewhere, but if you have the qualifications you should not feel that you cannot charge what is recommended by the EFA or the SFEP, or at least find a happy medium. Everyone, in any job, starts somewhere, but you wouldn't find a doctor working for free because they only just qualified, or a teacher. Yes they earn less, but still enough to justify the work they do, so any other job should be no different.

I've had sales in the past but only at certain times of the year, and then I go straight back to my regular fees. My fees might be more expensive than others, but still a lot less than recommended by the SFEA. I charge per 1000 words, so no author has to pay for a whole manuscript in one go if they don't want to/can't afford it, and I've had many clients since starting (both authors and publishers alike) who have liked this approach.

It's a difficult business as there are so many of us charging different amounts, but perseverance works. You have the experience and qualifications, so don't sell yourself short :)

message 5: by Carol (new)

Carol Tietsworth | 194 comments I charge reasonable rates, because even though I need the money I am happy to just be reading and helping an author realize their best work. I also offer first chapter, or equivalent, free. Then they can see how I work and determine if that's what they want. I am a trained proofreader and an experienced editor.

message 6: by Longhare (last edited Apr 27, 2015 11:59AM) (new)

Longhare Content | 43 comments Editing is a highly skilled profession. A reasonable rate for a fully qualified and competent editor should be the equivalent of any other highly skilled professional contractor. My mechanic, for example, charges $100 an hour for labor. My horseshoer, who is the best anywhere (under)charges $85 for a trim and front shoes, which takes about forty minutes if you include setting up and packing away and catching up on the families. A piano tuning is about $120.

But editing a book takes longer than fixing an oven or giving a gymnastics lesson. It's more like re-piping a house or remodeling a kitchen--it takes many hours of sustained concentration and skill.

The market rate quoted on the EFA site is fair and reasonable, but it won't make anybody rich. After subtracting taxes, operating expenses, and health care, there isn't a whole lot left for groceries, let alone horseshoeing and piano tuning. Editors who set their rates in order to obtain a living wage are not greedy. In fact, editors are frequently reluctant to quote even a living wage because authors are assumed to be in the same scrappy boat, income-wise.

There are many hungry freelance editors out there right now, and while the self-publishing field is bulging with authors needing editors, the ability or willingness of these authors to pay $30-$40 for a job that will take (a very conservative) 34-68 hours for an 85,000 word manuscript (that's a total of $1020-$2720) is unusual. I will go a bit further and argue that a single-round copy edit is not adequate to ensure a professional-level publication. A proofreading, at least, is necessary to get the manuscript really clean, and many authors want the editor to check their revised draft before publishing--which is wise and understandable, but it is more hours of labor that deserves to be remunerated.

The best I can offer in the way of advice is to try and negotiate with your authors for payment equal to the work you contribute to their project. If they cannot budget more than a few hundred dollars, you and they might be better off considering alternatives to a copy edit. There are beta readers out there who like to read with a red pencil in hand, and there are novice editors willing to work for next to nothing to gain experience.

Don't assume right off the bat that your authors can't pay for your services. Those who can, should. It is that simple.

message 7: by Sheila (new)

Sheila Trask (sheilatrask) | 8 comments One thing that I do is offer graduated services, with each level's payment credited to the next.

So, a self-publishing author without a lot of money to invest up-front might start with a paid beta read at a basic rate. With this, they get a good general overview of the manuscript's strengths and weaknesses.

Then, if the author wants to pursue a full manuscript critique, they can get a credit toward that, in the amount of the beta. Likewise on up the ladder, to developmental editing, line editing, copyediting and so on.

Which means nobody has to stare a huge fee in the face just to get started, and they can come back to me if/when they're ready for more.


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