Deciding how to charge for freelance editing can be difficult. Here are some of the issues involved.
Occasionally, I am asked to edit something. When I first started out as a freelancer, I took editing jobs because I had to. Now, though, I try to avoid editing jobs. Because it's not something I'm overly fond of. But, maybe, if I really like you, I can be induced to edit something for you.
One of the reasons I don't like taking editing jobs is because it's such a pain to figure out how to charge. Anytime you have to set rates as a freelancer, it requires a great deal of careful thought. However, it seems like setting rates for freelancing editing is much more fraught with difficulty. When you write, it's easy to say, “This is how much I charge for a blog post. This is how much I charge for creating a press release. This is what web content will cost you.”
Editing is a different animal altogether. But, as you consider your rates, here are some things to keep in mind:
What Type of Editing Are You Doing?
The first task is to identify what type of freelance editing you are doing. Different types of editing come with different challenges and difficulties. Some types of editing are more involved than others. There are three main types of editing:
- Proofreading: This is the easiest type of editing. Proofreading is about getting rid of cosmetic errors. It is usually the last step in the writing/editing process. It's not meant to be comprehensive; when you are proofreading, you shouldn't be re-working text or re-arranging content. Proofreading is about doing a last run-through to catch surface problems with the content.
- Copy editing: Copy editing is about improving style, formatting, and accuracy. Copy editing is about making sure there aren't inconsistencies, and that the style flows well — in addition to being grammatically correct. There are different levels of copy editing: light, medium, and heavy. Light copy editing might consist of double-checking accuracy and taking care of most grammatical issues. Medium copy editing includes heavier lifting, such as correcting flow and re-working some of the text. With heavy copy editing, the editor might re-structure some paragraphs, or heavily correct style, flow, and grammar.
- Content editing: When you are involved in content editing, the work is much more intensive. You might need to add things that were left out or re-write sections of content. This takes copy editing to the next level and can include some level of content creation along with making corrections.
Your first job is to figure out which type of editing will be done. The harder the work, the more you should charge.
Hourly? Or Per-Page?
Once you figure out what type of work you will be doing, you need to figure out how you will charge. If you charge hourly, often the difficulty takes care of itself. After all, the more intense your efforts, the longer it will take, and the more the job will pay. A beginning editor can expect to charge right around $20 an hour. However, an experienced content editor can charge more, as much as $50 to $85 an hour (or even more, depending on what you're doing). Even as a proofreader, after you have established yourself, you can charge $25 – $35 an hour.
Another option is to charge by the page. (It's possible to charge by the word, but that can get tricky in some cases, especially if you have to add quite a bit.) Many editors like to charge by the page. When charging by the page, the type of editing matters. According to the Editorial Freelancers Association, the average for basic copywriting, on pace for between five and 10 manuscript pages per hour, is going to amount to $30 to $40. That breaks down to between $3 and $6 per page.
I have charged both hourly, and per-page, and don't really have a preference. When I'm going through and editing old posts that a blogger might have, I often charge by the hour. When I have a manuscript, though, I usually charge by the page.
Things to Consider When Setting Freelance Editing Rates
When deciding how to set your rates, a few things should be considered:
- The intensity of the work: How involved is the work? The more you're required to do, the more you should charge. If you're doing serious line editing, or if you're helping with development, your fee should be higher than if you're just reviewing spelling and grammar.
- Your level of experience: Don't forget to factor in your experience. Remember — if you've been editing for a long time, a client isn't paying for the hour you spend today. They're paying for the years of experience that have made you a superior editor.
- Your area of expertise: Your ability to provide insight related to a niche area can also allow you to charge more. I'm going to charge on the low end if I decide to edit fiction. However, if I decide to edit financial content, I can charge more because financial content is my wheelhouse.
- Other services: Are you providing other services, such as layout or translation? When setting freelance editing rates, don't forget to include those services. You can charge a premium if you have value you can add.
Just like anything else, it can be tough to set your freelance editing rates. The good news, though, is that you can find resources to help you get a feel for market rates. Do a little poking around. You can also join forums and groups and talk to other freelance editors. I've found that, as we are more transparent in our groups about our fees, we're more likely to be paid what we're worth.
Image source: The Land via Wikimedia Commons
141 thoughts on “How Should You Charge for Freelance Editing?”
I am finding that figuring out how much to charge for self-employment is among the most difficult parts of the whole process. Being paid for your time and not driving away customers is difficult, since the business I am starting is in tax preparation. The free programs are generally okay, but I find they each seem to have their quirks. The large franchises charge a premium based on their overhead and franchise costs. The do-it-yourself programs are nice, but if the user has a concept error, their only assistance is someone on the other end of a phone, reading from a playbook.
Trying to find that balance between what you think you’re worth, and what others think you’re worth, is definitely hard. And I can see where it would be hard with tax prep, since there are so many cheap programs. But I’m right there with you. I have an accountant that I’ve used for years do my taxes. It’s worth the money to get that personal service.
This was a very timely post for me! Question, how are you providing your editing remarks to your clients. I use track changes and comments in word to mark up their original Word doc…and I also provide a “clean edit” version so they can read how it flows without being interrupted by the mark-ups. My rates are a good bit higher – especially for content editing – than what you noted. It can take 1/4 – 1/2 hour to content edit a page depending on the condition of the original draft so $7.50 would be a tad too low. Plus there’s the time for collaborating with the author…
I agree that it’s hard to figure out what to charge. I think I’d be more inclined to do it per-hour, instead of per-page. Like you, I thought the $7.50 per page sounded a little low for content editing, but that’s what I could find on a couple of different sites. Like you, I use track changes, plus a clean one, when track changes is possible.
I’ve made necessary content edits (translation from English to Spanish) and the client continues to change the layout and format. He then sends it back to me to proofread and he hasn’t made the necessary corrections. This has gone back and forth 3 times. Should I switch to an hourly rate instead of my per page rate?
If you have clients that repeatedly do this, then yes, an hourly approach might work better. And you need to point out that the client isn’t making the necessary corrections and you are repeating work already done.
Could you also consider the new layout and format as new pages to edit in addition to the original pages and add them to the total # of pages you edit and charge accordingly?
Charging for formatting should, IMO, be something different. I usually base my prices on what they send me originally. If I need to do a great deal of formatting, or substantially alter something, I get back to the client and try to work out what they feel works in terms of a separate charge.
Makes sense. The reason I ask is that when I was an independent contractor designing training for the Federal government, clients would often come back with changes – typically additions – during revision that were beyond the scope of the original agreement. I learned to watch out for that and to let the client know that these new additions were beyond the scope of the original contract and let them know the additional cost of making those changes.
I’ve done a little myself and we decided on a set rate for below 500 words and 500-1000 words. It seems fair as its more in the proofreading category.
And would you be willing to share what the set rate would be for under 500 words. I was looking over a manuscript for a client to give her an estimate and discovered it needs quite a bit of copyediting as my client is ESL so there is a lot of grammar to correct. So I’m trying to figure out how to charge her.
Are those prices based on single or double-spaces manuscript pages?
I feel like I’m desperately undercharging!
I think single-spaced. So about 500 words per page. I could be a little off, though. In the end, you charge what you think you can get, and what the market bears. But $7.50 for each 500 words isn’t unreasonable for a good editor, I don’t think.
The Editorial Freelancers Association defines a page as 250 words. – See more at: http://www.copyediting.com/tip-week-what-copyeditor-earns#sthash.ZAdlMXaJ.dpuf
The Writer’s Market defines a page as 250 words, therefore it is a typical double-spaced manuscript page.
I found your article quite helpful. If I could impose, I thought I’d ask for your opinion on a delicate issue, which freelancers might face from time to time.
How do you handle requests for editing a large project for charitable purposes. In this case, one of my wife’s colleagues is writing a book about his experiences with leukemia. He says it will be partly a fundraiser for The Leukemia Society as well as for his own future medical expenses. He’s planning on 85K words and has about 60K completed.
It seems he needs something between proofreading and content editing. I don’t have to tell you how much work this will be. I’m going to do it for him pro bono, but in general, how would you handle such requests? There is a reality that one is operating a business and only has so much time.
If I believe in the cause, I’m happy to help out, gratis. But I do warn that it might be slower going, since I have to fit it around the paid work. And, there are times that, just as when you have to say no, you need to pass. Really it comes down to what you can handle, and what you have time for. And for a large project like that, I would be up front about it taking a little bit longer. You want to help out, but you also need to earn a living.
Sounds like we are on the same page.
I’ve been told on this topic, first to quote my usual price, but then to say, “But for you I’ll do it for free.”
This give you the acknowledgement of your worth, and then allows you to make such a gift. Everyone knows then what is truly going on. Makes everyone act differently re: gratitude, etc.
Also there is the matter of a receipt, and tax purposes. The quote is needed.
Such a strategy could also lead to a tax deduction for charitable contributions.
This reminds me of my poetry. People started asking me for poems for their weddings, anniversaries, etc. Finally, I started giving them a price and they stopped asking.
You should also prepare a quote and track the time you spend on the ‘pro-bono’ project for tax purposes. That would go under the heading of ‘volunteer time’ and is applicable for your income taxes in most states. You’re not getting paid, you might as well get a little tax break for your time.
You used to be able to take tax deductions for in-kind professional services but that was eliminated.
Thank you. I’ve done a lot of editing as a “favor” in my writer’s group, but am now being asked outside of that group and I didn’t have a clue.
I believe I’ll charge by the single space page.
This might be a silly question, but if I’m providing light copy editing and proofreading together, is the rate combined? (Ex. if a going rate for proofreading is $3/hr and light copy editing $4/hr – would you combine both under the $4 rate?).
Thank you for your website. It is very user friendly and informative!
The proofreading is sort of part of the light editing, so I would combine them. Although I wouldn’t charge so little!
Hi, Tracy! Just wanted to point something out real quick: Your message says $3 per HOUR for proofing and $4 per HOUR for light copyediting, but I think you meant per PAGE, as Miranda writes in her blog post. Is that right? That’s probably why she thought your rate was so low—you changed it to $3 or $4 per hour instead of per page. 🙂
If you think a company may want to use you on a regular basis, what would you think about charging a kind of retainer fee, i.e., per month or per issue if a publication.
A retainer can make sense, if it is ongoing work. You just need to make sure that the retainer is sufficient to cover the time you spend when you are required to work.
Another thought if it is ongoing or a very large project is to ask the customer for your monthly rate of your cloud program. For example, I always use Adobe InDesign to give the customer the final “look” of what the text should look like as well as a word document. So, in other words, in addition to the page or hourly rate would be a $20 a month rate for programs used.
Enjoyed your article but my question is what does one charge for website proofing/ copy editing. Like you, I’m more of an article writer and have my rates I use. However, I have no idea what to charge for this kind of project. $20.00 an hour sounds fair to me because there are several pages/ links to go over. Any input you have about this type project would be helpful.
Hi Doug, it really depends on what kind of editing you are doing. $20 is probably good for simple proofing, but if you are more experienced, you might want to charge $25 to $30 per hour. More in-depth editing, where you are line-editing, and you are dealing with a lot of links, is probably something more int eh $40 to $50 range. If you are doing a lot with links, and cleaning it up and doing SEO, you might want to charge around $60 or $70 per hour. I know really good editors who charge $100 to $120 an hour, but that might not be feasible in your situation.
The real issue, though, is whether or not that $20 per hour is worth giving up writing gigs to do the editing. When I work out my hourly rate, it’s not worth it for me to do editing when I could be writing something instead. The problem with editing, and doing it on an hourly basis, is that you’ll only make that much each hour, and you might be able to do something more profitable. I stopped taking editing jobs because no matter how much I make hourly for editing, my time is more profitably spent writing an article or two.
You know, if it wasn’t for websites like yours, I really doubt I ever be able to figuire all of this stuff out. This has been very helpful as I am considering being a editor and offering my services to people. There’s a lot to learn about all this and its very helpful to have people like you writing about all this. Now I am wondering if I offer to all three types of editing should I still charge only 20 dollars a hour for each?
If you charge by the hour, you should charge differently based on the type of editing. The more in-depth it is, the more you should charge. It doesn’t need to be a lot more, but it could be a little more.
See this isn’t really be true at all, and makes no economic sense. You should try to get the same hourly rate regardless of what you are doing (because it’s your time and expertise that is being paid for). Your output should be what varies, with more output on less intensive tasks (proofreading vs. editing, for example).
I totally agree. I’ve been editing since 1982 and my rates have gone up steadily from $25 per hour to $125 per hour. I have Friends and Family rate, and I do some pro bono work.
I hate to do this to you, but as an aspiring editor I almost can’t help it! So, here goes! Before you worry so much about what to charge, I would make sure that your skills are refined, and that you are in fact qualified to provide this service. In your paragraph I have found several spelling and grammatical errors. I only say this to be helpful, both to you and to those of us in the industry who wish to maintain the integrity of the English language. After all, we want people to always be assured that paying good money for editing services will yield good results.
You have split your own infinitive, My Dear Corrector of Others’ Career Goals. For all you know, this brave adventurous soul is doing research on an English site and making inquiries here because she found professionals discussing her topic of interest. She might be planning to do her professional editing in one of the five other languages in which she is fluent. You would do better to spend time and effort correcting yourself first, before going after others’ flaws.
So here goes!
Your copy would have been more correct and would have had better stylistic flow, had you written instead,
“… I say this only to be helpful, both to you and to all of those in the industry who wish to maintain the integrity of the English language. After all, we want people to be assured that paying good money for editing services will yield a good result.”
Each of us has a great deal to learn every day. Personally, I am not as concerned with the integrity of the English language as I am with the integrity that people do or don’t show when they have an opportunity to choose between either encouraging others, or building themselves up at others’ expenses. Linguistic theory tells us that languages which are in use will necessarily change. That’s fine and proper. Being unkind doesn’t stop progress, nor should it.
Good luck in your career, your further education, and your social learning.
My question is about quoting hourly rates in general–that is, before a manuscript has been seen. I’m just getting started in freelancing editing skills developed in Corporation Land. I tend to evaluate any piece from the copy editing point of view with a strong impulse toward content editing. And, my natural inclination is to work dirt cheap. Thanks to your discussion here, I see that’s not necessary (and certainly not desirable on my part). What method might I propose up front to assure a potential client that the time I would charge reflects actual time spent on various types of editing? What do you (or other lancers) suggest?
Normally I ask to see the manuscript before I quote a price, and I make sure that the client understands what type of editing they want. That allows me to make a more accurate quote during the times I actually agree to edit something.
Very informative – however I find the per page rate, even at $7.50 per page, incredibly low; and the hourly rate only works if you’re going to be able to calibrate realistically how many hours you’re going to take – most of the authors I deal with are small, self publishing ones. They are concerned about freelancers padding the hours to make the rate higher. I thought a combination of $8.50 to $10.00 per page, plus an additional collaboration rate of $30 to $50 an hour with the author, would be a pretty decent rate. Then you could get an initial deposit of 50% on the current number of pages, and work out the balance upon the finalized copy, plus time spent consulting with the author before, during and after the completion. It would be much better balanced and worth the time and effort. What do you think?
That’s an interesting take. I like the idea of trying new ways of charging to make the experience more beneficial for everyone involved.
I really love your ideas, Gloria Dulan-Wilson!! I am going to write this down and use it to develop my price structure! I just received my first request for book editing in the non-ficton category and had no clue how to structure my pricing to come up with a fair quote for both me and the client. By charging different rates for the editing and consultation, and basing the original quote on the initial page count or word count, it seems more fair to both parties. Also, charging a greater fee for the consultation portion brands the writer/editor as more professional in the value of their time and effort.
Great response! This is almost the route I plan on taking. I know some clients may be skeptical about the per hour charge and the actual bill. If the that time was actually used editing and proofreading. Your approach is balanced!
I like the idea of this mixed rate. Has anyone tried this or know about it?
I might suggest charging by the quarter hour (say $10 per quarter hour). But what if the author is not consulting/collaborating by phone or face by face, but responding to your written queries? Do you charge them for the time reading and responding to those?
What about times when you, as the editor, want to consult with the author? Much of the time discussion ia to help you (the editor) understand the writer to clear up misunderstandings and make the editing more efficient. Sometimes, especially with non-native writers, trying to figure out what their written response means takes longer and is more frustrating than picking up the phone and talking with them for a few minutes.
So if you went to that system (charging for ‘collaboration’) might it make sense to mention something like, “The first 30 minutes of consulting/collaboration are free.”
Hi Miranda. I’m grateful to have come upon your site. I’m retired and having my own home-based typing service – doing what I’ve done for the past 40 years – is my ultimate goal; retired at the age of 54 after 30 years of government service. I have always put my skills to work outside of my employment; especially as a single parent. I’ve typed book chapters, proofread and edited religious books, dictaphone transcription, resumes, wills, forms, startup business cards and forms, contracts, basic copy editing, online research and typing – to name a few – LOL!
Can you give me some pointers on putting it all together to run a home-based typing service? Where do I advertise – I live in Miami, Florida. Your expertise would be greatly appreciated. It appears, from the comments of others on your site, that I’ve been charging way too little for a long time.
I suggest looking online for virtual assistant jobs, and being active online. It helps to have an online presence. A blog, and a LinkedIn account are good places to start. People are always looking online for that type of help.
I am starting my firt official Freelance editing job as something for fun. I am new at this and the financial part ( in the sense of rates) scares me and I want to be reasonable since I am doing this for a friend. I enjoy all parts of writing including editing for myself and yes- even for others. So I am more comfortable with your rate $7.50 per page for friends because I am editing a novel right now as we speak and this is a book not meant to be on the caleber of Harry Potter, Twilight series, The Hunger Games series, or other popular books that have turned into movies and T.V series. Now if that was the case and my friend was looking for her novel to be main stream then yes I would see the rates as Gloria would. Please give me advice and comments on how to make sure my conpensation is subtantial and she is not left with nothing.
Doing work for friends is always tricky. I’d stick with something lower, since she is your friend and you hoping to do it for fun. Plus, maybe offering a discount could mean a free copy of the book when it’s published!
The point to be made here is that all of our written communiques are examples of “our work”. If I were searching for a freelancer, I would not have chosen Aedina based on the multiple errors in her response. We will be judged on our written output. Proofread! Proofread! Proofread!
That being said, I hope I didn’t miss something! Chris
Did you mean “first” instead of “firt,” “caliber” instead of “caleber,” “mainstream” instead of “main stream,” “compensation,” instead of “conpensation,” “substantial” instead of “Subtantial”? — I need to hire someone to edit my papers as English is not my first language, but I’m not willing to pay $7.50 to anyone with glaring copy editing errors.
Ouch, Star! This is a great site. It is always advisable to have an editor. All writers make mistakes in their own copy. Hence the editors! I encourage you to hire an excellent professional like Miranda.
And, as she points out, she refers to averages when she quotes $7.50.
Freelancers appreciate straight forward clients, but no one wants to work with nastiness.
Thank you, Miranda, for a stellar site, with great information!
Oh, thank you for your kind words!
I’m an English Language teacher and do paid editing and writing work on the side. 20 years of teaching, along with a Masters degree in English from the UK, have given me immense experience. Picking out grammatical goof-ups, punctuation problems, skewed sentence structure and poor paragraphing are second nature to me. Let me know if you want help with your papers.
I’m glad you pointed that out. Yes, we all make mistakes. However, this person had multiple mistakes and obviously didn’t even proofread her own work.
Despite what others have said about everyone making mistakes, you make an important point. I would never hire anyone claiming to be an “expert” who makes it clear in their own writing that they’re not. One typo in a full-length blog is understandable, but seven or more blatant errors in a single paragraph (even if it IS just a reply to a post) certainly are not.
There’s a plague online these days of people desperately wanting to “be their own bosses”; but, unfortunately, they must have verifiable and proven skills to make that work. In the same way that you can’t just wake up one day and say that you’re a lawyer, you can’t just decide you’re a qualified editor and have it be so.
Also, Star wasn’t referring to Miranda; s/he was referring to Aedina.
I was asked earlier today by a coworker to “proofread” her blog just before she sends it out and, she wants to know how much I will charge her.
This is new to me, to charge that is. I’ve recently did some proofreading, copy editing and content editing for, her free of charge. As a beginner, how do I rate blogs? Can you please help me figure this out? thanks, Susan
Hi Susan, I’d rate them the same as you rate other types of proofing and editing. It’s really a marketing move, so I’d charge about what you’d charge for these services in general. You could provide a discount to friends and family, though.
It doesn’t work to charge for blogs what you charge for books. I find there has to be a minimum charge for anything.
I just wanted to drop by and say that this article is helping me immensely in creating a website for my freelance nonfiction editing services! I appreciate freelancers like you who provide this type of information.
I couldn’t find a date on this article. I’m updating my rates as a part-time writer/editor.
It’s probably a couple of years ago. The rates are probably still pretty close. But as you update your rates, you want to base them on where you’re at now, and move up from there.
There is good information here but still no date. “A couple of years ago” is not helpful without some reference. Most guidelines for evaluating the quality and reliability of online sources mention the need for clearly dated information.
FYI Today is December 5, 2016.
Hello Miranda, I am so excited reading these tips and commentaries. I am a freelance writer and Poet. I love the world of writing and aesthetics. I have a few published works and have decided to become more professional about writing. My most recent Book is titled “More Than A Miracle. ” lt is the account of my son’s liver transplant journey in 2009, and the book is available on Amazon.
After the success of my book launch in Nigeria where l live with my family, l have a few individual who want me to write theirs stories. I did not know how to charge but immediately after speaking to a friend who is an editor, l decided to go online to understand in depth what the standards for charging are.
Thank you so much for this blog.
I will also extend my search to the writers’ blog. But this pretty much tells me most of what l needed to hear.
I’m glad I came across your site. I was just approached with eduting a 70 page book project. I’ve never edited a book.before but I have a professional background in editing and writing for national print publications and digital magazines. I’m thinking $40 an hour but don’t want to overcharge. I also need to find out what type of editing is involved. What are your thoughts on book projects?
When editing book projects I usually charge what I would for most others, by the page. Like you said, it depends on the type of editing you will be doing. Additionally, with book editing, you might need to charge a little more if they expect you to watch for plot points and continuity (depending on the type of book).
I am working for friends but as a business arrangement (they have a lot of papers to be edited almost weekly and I do this is in addition to my full time+ professional job, so it’s not for fun). I read elsewhere that $7/page was a low price so I thought that would be fair for friends. I realized, however, that their papers are all double-spaced, so now I feel like I’m charging too much. I’m performing heavy copy editing and content editing, which sometimes includes research, re-writing, and doing a couple pages of references from publications they either provide or I look up. The collaboration time also is substantial as they like to be present during a big part of the process (sometimes we talk through ideas, etc. for several hours). Am I really charging too much? They seemed fine with paying me this amount (in fact, one friend offered more initially). I was thinking of offering them a lower rate in the future if they can simply send me their papers and allow me to work more independently without the face-to-face time. My rationale would be that I have a pretty good understanding of what they want at this point and could save time for both parties by communicating via email or text when necessary.
Honestly, if your friends are happy with the arrangement, there’s no need to change things up. Part of deciding what is “too much” is when clients (or friends) balk. If no one’s balking, everyone wins.
I have written poetry and short stories since my teen years but have done nothing professionally. I am wondering if it is important for a writer or editor to know the difference between fiction and nonfiction?
It can help since there are different styles involved. When looking for an editor, I prefer someone who is well-versed in the genre.
Thanks for this very useful information. Are these rates up to date (i.e. Jan 2016)?
Not really. They haven’t moved much, so you can use them as a starting point.
What do you consider experience? I have 35 years of editing experience as an English teacher. In what ways can this count towards being experienced? Thank-you.
I definitely thing you can leverage 35 years of experience as an English teacher into a higher pay rate.
How long ago was this written? Are the fees for proofreading services as described in this article still up-to-date?
They aren’t too far off, still. You can always search to see what others are charging. In some cases, it really is the wild, wild west out here in Internet land.
The Editorial Freelancers Association has recently updated their rate chart (note: the ranges are not prescriptive). Fees range according to location, experience level, and other factors, so I’d take the fee ranges on the chart as guidelines. Go here to see: http://www.the-efa.org/res/rates.php.
Thank you Freeman
Dear god, who are these people?! Their translation figures are ridiculous. Standard (for quality) is no more than 300 words per hour and certainly higher than $50/hour.
This is really helpful information, Miranda! Thank you for laying this out with specificity AND room for variations for experience, etc. Have a good week!
Editing tips above are so helpful. How much should be charged per page for writing?
Also, if you have a prospective client who needs proofreading. An editor has already edited the document. Should the client provide a style sheet from his editor? If none is available, should I charge extra for creating my own? I’d need to create one to follow so I remember what styles have been done. This is a 250 page book.
You can ask for a stylesheet from the editor so that you understand what you are doing. Up to you whether or not you want to charge extra for creating the style sheet. If you think it will take very long time, Then maybe you should charge. But if it’s something that only takes a few minutes, you might not need to.
How do I start getting paid for editing/reviewing books? I have always been a reader and I review on a site that I track what I’ve read. Here lately, I’ve gotten an overwhelming amount of authors wanting me to edit/review their material. I need to turn this into a stream of income. Can you help me get started?
If people are asking you to edit their stuff, start charging them. When someone asks you to edit something, say “I would love to this is my rate.” You can also look on job boards for people who want editors.
Thank you so much for your response. Where can I find job boards for editors?
I’m new to your site. It’s very interesting. I have been thinking about doing some proofreading for court reporters. I think I would prefer to charge by the page. Do you think the rates would be the same as other proofreaders? I don’t have any formal training. I usually proofread for friends, relatives, and coworkers right now. I really enjoy it. I was planning on getting a medical dictionary and The Gregg Reference Manual to start. I also found a good online legal dictionary I can use.
You can always charge more when you have training and experience, so you might need to start out at the low end. Getting reference tools is always a good way to go. Good luck!
It would seem work like that would already have a determined method of payment for proofreading.
How (and how much) do they usually pay for that? By the word? By the hour?
I was recently hired to copy edit a manuscript. I generally charge by the page and told writer my rate. She told me she had 225 pages. We agreed and she sent me the manuscript—a single, 225 page paragraph. I spent equal amounts of time cursing my stupidity at not previewing the work before taking the job, and laughing at myself. I decided that I will no longer charge by the page. You live and learn.
Alls I can sayd, is that, with all this proofreaders, and editers in hear their better not be any typoes, or stuff!
A potential client and friend sent me a manuscript to review for editing, proofreading and anything else that needs to be corrected as a trial run. Should I charge for this? It’s 136 pages. Is this customary? I don’t mind at all since I am a “newly professional.” But I’d like to start things off on the right foot and couldn’t say with certainty this won’t take more time than originally thought. Your insight (and others’) would be greatly appreciated.
If you want to help your friend, I suggest charging a small amount. The time you spend working on this manuscript means that you won’t have time to do other paying work, so a little compensation isn’t a bad thing.
But to the person whose friend asked them to edit/proof 136 pages as a “trial”, dangling the possibility of regular work in front of them:
The “trial” should be doing only be a few pages. Doing the sample pages also will give you an idea of how long the project might take.
Then say, “I think this gives you an idea of my work. My rate for this is normally x; as you are a friend and given the circumstances, I’m willing to discount that [e.g. 50%].”
or, “Here’s a sample of my work on this project. What is the budget for this?”.
I love this. I was asked to simply proofread a book and I didn’t think it fair to charge as much as my copy editing rate. I don’t normally even do copy editing either (I do content writing and management for digital media with monthly fees for regular clients). I thought, well, I’d like to charge $25 to make this fair for both of us. And, yeah, the prospect is someone I really like!
I’m so glad I found this site as I have been asked how much I would charge to proofread by a brand new author. I’m not working so I have been known to read all day long. Depending on the size of the novel it could be 2 or 3 books per day. I often read an ARC with the promise for an honest review. I do take the time to notify the author of errors if I find any. However I am not trained so I’m wondering if $20.00/hour or $3.00/page if a fair price? And is there a way of determining which price is more favorable? Is it based on content? Length of story? If I could parlay my love of reading into a job what a wonderful world this would be!
Editing rates can vary widely based on years of experience, areas of expertise, and most of all LOCATION (i.e., cost of living). I have over 30 years of professional experience; I specialize in environmental, engineering, geoscience, health & safety, and other technical documents; and I’m located in the San Francisco Bay Area. My rates as of 2016 range from $90 to $120 an hour.
This article is very helpful. Thank you for writing it. My question is, how do you accept payment for jobs? Do you have a credit card service service set up, or do you use PayPal? Do you require payment upfront? How do you deal with clients who aren’t happy with your work (not with the grammatical corrections–those can’t be argued–but with the more subjective types of input)? Do you refund them at all?
Sorry if these questions are weird or too invasive. I’m brand new to this.
I like PayPal. PayPal can accept credit cards. However, you have to deal with fees. Many designers offer a set number of revisions. You have to ask a lot of questions up front if you want to get an idea of what they want. I like to get paid half up front for large, one-time projects and half at the end.
Thanks for the helpful information, Miranda. I am kick-starting my editing career and am looking into helping my future clients with resumes. In the beginning of your editing career, what did you charge for editing and/or helping to construct resumes and cover letters?
I started by charging about $15 an hour, but it feels low to me now. Other people I know, though, have a flat-fee structure for that kind of service work. Resume and cover letters can have fees of anywhere between $30 and $300, depending on how much needs to be done. I don’t do much in terms of resumes and cover letters, though.
I was directed to this site by a friend, whom I asked for advice. I appreciate the advice here, but am also getting a kick out of all the errors from people who say they are already doing a lot of editing! No I am definitely not perfect, but I try to proof my copy (email, FB post, whatever) before I hit send!!
Very Interesting article. My experience as an editor and translator over the past six years bears a lot of this out too. However, I find my biggest challenge is actually identifying beforehand what type of editing work will be required to “fix” the text and put it in its best form for the client.
A few times I’ve thought I had a proofreading job, but once I’ve started the job, to get the text to where it needs to be actually required light to medium copyediting work. It’s difficult to then, at that late point, raise a price from the estimate, even by explaining to the client why, and so I have ended up working very cheaply for what is substantially more work.
Nowadays this happens less as almost all my clients do need copyediting work, so that’s what I generally quote. I guess I just wondered if anyone else has any thoughts or tips on quickly identifying what level of work will be required for a project before starting it without having to spend more than 15 minutes to produce the quote? I think this is an even more pressing decision than knowing what to charge once you have decided.
Ask them if the manuscript has already been copy edited. If it has, then you are proof reading. If it hasn’t, you’re copy editing. Of course, I’m assuming that if it has already been copy edited, it was done well. I would ask for a copy of the manuscript in order to determine which one you’re doing.
GREAT information, Miranda! I, too, have started an editing business. For those wondering about the best ways to get your “name out there” for promoting the business, create a business page on Facebook. I have one and it’s fantastic! (Look me up – it’s called “Make The Message”). You can list all of your services, fees, add an email contact, and more. Customize it any way you like with pictures, logos, your web site, etc. As I am a bit of a PowerPoint junkie, I also have services like creating funeral/wedding programs, social media event flyers, and even transcription.
Great page, Heather! I’d like to start doing some copy editing online and was wondering how I would market such a service to find work. How successful has your page been in terms of getting jobs?
Miranda: I’ve been practicing law for >26 years but am now semi-retired. Over my career I have written countless trial level and appellate briefs, memoranda of law, persuasive arguments and proposed orders. Such documents were drafted, re-drafted and edited many times. I consider myself qualified as an experienced proofreader and editor. I have been asked to “proofread” a dissertation for a Ph.D. candidate. Would you anticipate that such a document must conform to a specific format as directed by the university or dissertation committee? Based on the commentary on this site, I have an idea as to how much to charge for such work. The Ph.D. candidate speaks Spanish with ESL. Your comments are appreciated.
I’ve worked professionally as an in-house editor for many years, but because of a recent move due to my spouse’s job, I’ve been moving into some freelance work, and am (like many of the people commenting) struggling with how to set my rates. I’m familiar with a lot of the sites people have mentioned (EFA, ACES, etc.), and have found them helpful, but I’m wondering if any of you have ideas about how to charge for last-minute requests. I have a potential client who has said they may need to send things with a very fast turnaround. I’m open to the work, but want to protect my time for other clients. Does anyone add a surcharge for last-minute requests? Thanks!
I often add a surcharge of $75 – $150 (or more) depending on the rush.
How do you feel about a project rate? Like you, I am no longer a fan of editing – because I always get the short end of the stick. I hesitate on an hourly fee for some projects, since it can vary so much from editor to editor – and that doesn’t always translate into quality. The page rate can get confusing – especially since some charge on double-spaced pages and others single (all based, I believe, on 12-point font). The project I’m looking at is close to 20,000 words. A project rate is really in essence a page rate – or somewhat based on that. Based on let’s say 250 words per page, we’re looking at up to 80 pages. At $5 per hour (for light to medium editing, I’d say), it would be $400. I’m thinking of offering the project for $350 as long as it stays under no more than 10 hours (I’ve edited before for $40/hour, page rate at $5, and project priced), along with first a free sample (a couple of pages offered with time it takes me) – especially because it’s my first work for him and there may be more he has in mind (he indicated). Thoughts?
Whenever possible, I prefer to charge a project rate. I estimate what a potential per-page cost might be, and then add a buffer to it and quote on the project. It’s just easier in general to give them a package.
You didn’t mention what currency. Are you quote USD or something else? Also you didn’t mention the size of the page – A5, A4 something else?
Thanks for the information, though, very useful.
Hi Miranda. I found the information you provided to be most helpful. A friend of mine recently asked me how much I would charge to edit a devotional for him. I honestly had no idea what to tell him. To my delight, I happened upon your article, which has given me useful information. Thanks.
I”m curious to know how current your introduction and the comments are, as there are no dates attached to any of them. The reason I ask is that $25 an hour ten years ago would be $30 in 2017, and $25 in 1997 would translate to almost $40 now.
I have been asked to edit a 65,000-word/210-page book and, even though I taught English for over 40 years and had two books published (using the in-house editor), I have no idea how much or how to charge (i.e., per hour or per page).
Any suggestions would be most welcome and appreciated.
(5 MAR 2017)
Hi. I have to relate a story to you. I read a book recently and couldnt let it slip. Being one who doesnt subscribe to the principles of being politically correct and sacred cows I just had to contact the author and tell her after the first 2 of 126 pages that it was total garbage but I was still going to finish it. I however was certainly not going to read anything else she produced going forward and I said it to her. I informed her that if no one else had said this to her in the past she needed a new set of friends and she should divorce her husband post haste. It was that bad. She wrote back and was sincere in her apologies so I offered to look at her next book and find as many faults as I could before she put it out there. In exchange she would purchase a book from me (Getting The Neighbor To Work —by Iami N. Cognito)for the princely sum of $3.00. The result is that in addition to profusely, repeatedly thanking me she is now asking me to be on her editing team. She went further and sent me that initial book I had told her was garbage and asked if I would be interested in sorting it out for her. My dilemma is how much to charge… which landed me on this page, lol. I was doing punctuation, proofreading, rearranging sentences, the works. In one paragraph she used the word “she” to start 4 consecutive …you get the picture.
This piece here I found it timely and informative. I have a concern though. I wish posts were dated so I would know if they were made last week or 10 years ago. As things are I’m not even sure when the piece was written so I can determine if the rates suggested are still relevant. Thanks though as it has helped.
How HAPPY I am that your name, Miranda, came up on Google, and I clicked on your site!!! What an encouragement you, and all those who posted a question and/or reply, have been to me, especially because this will be my first time editing a creative non-fiction book. I too, was looking for a rate to charge my first client, and realize that just because it’s my first time, doesn’t mean I need to come in with too low a price. Editing and the English language has always come naturally for me, especially being a former language arts teacher, and having edited and published my own book, so I look forward to a nice little side career being a freelance editor!
I feel to charge my client $4/page, and the consultation fee as it was mentioned above.
Dear Miranda, Thank you for such a comprehensive and easy-to-understand guide for charging for freelance editing. On September 11, 2017, the niece of an old friend contacted me on Facebook Messenger for the first time since I accepted her friend request on May 15, 2017. Her aunt and I had worked together for many years, now both of us have moved on to different adventures. The niece wrote: “I heard you were good at writing and making words that sounds great when you need it. How much will you charge me to proof read a book I wrote? Or if you do not have the time I do understand.” Since I have been retired for over a year, I was intrigued by this request. I replied, “I would love to help you with your book. The price will be negotiable. Thanks for asking.” She was excited by my reply and wrote and asked me to let her know when we could begin. The next day I wrote to her again, “I would like to read perhaps a chapter of your book to see how to charge you. Would you be willing to email some of it to me?” She agreed and sent it to me. Then I began my Google search to see how to proceed and I found you. Since this would be my first official job editing for someone, I am inclined to do a simple proofreading and charge according to The Writer’s Market recommendation for that service. As I read the chapter that she sent to me, however, I wondered if it would be enough to just proofread when it seems to me that copy-editing may be what is needed. I now wonder if copy-editing would be rewriting her story with my voice instead of hers? Do I need to explain to her the different editing types and see what she really wants or simply let her know what I am willing to do and charge accordingly? Thanks for your help with with matter. Jim
Hello, and thank you for this helpful information.
Do these sample rates assume you are paying all your own taxes (receiving a 1099) rather than having a W2 arrangement? Some of these rates seem depressingly low to me if I would have to deduct about 40% of what I make to pay all my taxes.
One thing that drives me crazy about many (most?) blog posts is that they do not include a date. How can I know whether you posted this, say, last week or seven years ago? If it was years ago, the rates you cite as examples would be out of date.
This article was enormously helpful. Thank you! I did identify one, tiny error. You use the word ‘anytime’ in the sentence:
“Anytime you have to set rates as a freelancer, it requires thought. However, it just seems like setting rates for editing is much more fraught with difficulty.”
This usage should actually be two words: any time, as the one-word version is an adjective.
However, I really appreciated the content of your article. Thank you so much for posting it.
Thanks Miranda for a very useful article. Please help.Id like to start editing for the first time How do I go about advertising my services? Where do I start ?
I’d start with a blog. That’s a good way to advertise. Get a Facebook page, and make sure you apply for editing jobs on various boards.
I cannot find work. I’ve advertised and visited some local companies. Seems like this kind of work is not needed in our area. Any suggestions?
I hope you can help me. I will be editing a memoir by a nonnative English speaker. It’s an acquaintance of mine, so I want to give him a break while being fair to myself. I saw one chapter so far, and found that his English writing is not all that great, though not terrible, and I can tell that he will have to add a lot of material to the beginning of the book. There might be a need for some rearranging, so I think it would qualify as developmental editing.
The thing is that I don’t feel comfortable charging by the hour because I’m not the fasted editor in the world (by the standards of the rates page at the EFA site, I’m only average). Also, we will likely be spending time together discussing the book in conversations that will be half work, and half, well, conversation.
Moreover, I haven’t done a memoir before, but I have edited or copy edited some books. So I don’t want to call myself overly experienced, even though I’ve been an editor for many years.
There is another point: The book looks to be very short, maybe under 40,000 words, and I’ve seen no online posts or sites that give estimates for books that short.
So, I have two questions that I hope you could answer for me:
1. What do you think I should charge per word?
2. How do I handle the word count when I may be asking the author to add some material? (Charging per page would present the same problem)
If you could help, I’d be very grateful.
Outsourcing the tasks to foreign countries, such as India for cheaper rates.
Why people still make use of to read news papers when in this technological world everything
is existing on net?
Hello Miranda, I just found your website but some of the dates are last year. I am a retired journo of some 25 years and belong to two writers groups. I have proofed two books for members at no cost, but I have been asked to do two more. All are family history books, no technical stuff and the first two were pretty straightforward. The next two have asked me for the cost and I don’t know what to ask. What would be a fair price in 2018 – by the page or by the hour? I think I would prefer by the page as I do them over a few days at my leisure. Hope you ca advise me. Kaye Hawley, Western Australia
Good job Miranda! The article will surely serve helpful. As a proof-reader, I suggest charging on an hourly basis or for complete project, if you are working on a brief, short pieces (say about a maximum of 200 words. But if the content is large say of around 1000-2000 words, charging on per word basis will be beneficial.
Trying to figure out what to charge to copyedit a novel. I don’t see any dates on this post, so I’m wondering if these amounts are current.
Thank you for writing this article. I am start my own proofreading business and this was definitely helpful.
How many drafts of one book will you look at? I’m teaching online and some of my students have longer work they might want me to edit.
For fun, I recommend everyone interested in editing read the novel The Book Doctor by Esther Cohen. I’ve published 25 books in many genres, teach creative writing, and have done editing work and I found it hilarious.
When you talk about content editing, do you mean what an editor friend calls “global editing”–that is, editing from on high?
She doesn’t edit for style, diction, or anything like that, but looks at the big picture.
HI Miranda, as a novice freelance editor I am having a hard time figuring out a reasonable rate of pay. Your article is very helpful but since this is the first time I will be charging for my services I want to make sure I charge appropriately according to my skills and lack of experience. Would it be necessary to charge a lower rate per page than what you suggested for copyediting?
Also, would it be a bad idea to offer a promotional deal of free services for a limited time to gain a repertoire?
(My target audience will be authors, not sure if this information will help with you answering my questions)
I hope the rates discussed here works good for Native speakers. What about the rates charged by non-native speakers?
Thanks so much for this helpful information. I just landed my very first editing job for a small and upcoming publishing house. I have zero experience working in book publishing (most of my experience is corporate communications). I’ve read from other copy editing professionals to be prepared to charge very little for a first gig. I’ve taken a look at my first manuscript and it’s mostly medium to light level editing. The reality is no one else has been knocking down my door for editing work, so I feel like this is a great opportunity, but they’re going to pay me very little about 500 per book). I would greatly appreciate any advice. Thanks!
Hi Miranda, Thank you for your very helpful article! I need one of your advices though. I live in Manhattan and an establish writer I know asked me to help him in his writing process. To discuss about his ideas, to read in the morning the pages written the previous night, to help him find solutions when he is stuck, advise him to develop a character or topic in a certain chapter etc.. etc.. He works mostly alone and would like to collaborate with someone that way.
I have absolutely no idea how much I can charge him for that work. We agreed on an hour rate but I don’t know what is reasonable to ask. I would really appreciate your help! Thank you so much. Regards.
When charging per hour, do you have something you use to track your hours and submit it to them so they don’t try and question anything? Also, just going off of basic business ethics, you always charge the client before you commit the service you’ll be providing. Is that the same here? Thank you!
Thanks for your and your contributors’ helpful insights. I’ve been in communications for 50 years — newspaper reporter and copyeditor, corporate communications manager, two-time author, content creator for a dozen blogs. I’ve been approaching small businesses whose websites display botched GPS –Grammar, Punctuation, Spelling — for all to see. My recommendation to the website owners is that they apply my editing before any more damage is done to their image and brand. Companies trying to sell their services do themselves no favors by displaying such poor attention to detail, let alone their meager knowledge of how the language works. Somebody or several somebodies approved their content somewhere along the way, and the website owners seem genuinely appreciative and accepting of my input. It seems to me that under these circumstances, my unbidden intervention has a higher value than what’s been discussed so far in responses to your original article because my edits clean up not only the company’s website but its brand, as well. I’d welcome your thoughts on whether you think these circumstances support charging a relatively higher fee for this service, which relies on decades of experience and observable self-editing capabilities at those blogs. Many thanks.
I’m a multi-published author (26 books) and experienced teacher of CW, and I’m charging $10 a page to edit a friend’s thriller. That includes line editing as well as content editing. I’m giving the author two reads for each section (we’re doing it in increments). We have a contract but it doesn’t include reading the finished manuscript for a final edit. The book is close to 300 pp. What seems fair at that point?