How to Charge for Edits

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If you are a beginning freelance editor, it may catch you by surprise when a potential client asks you to name your price. You have several things to consider when deciding how much to charge for your work: your experience, the type of writing you will edit, the amount of words or pages and how much editing you need to do. Editorial tasks include proofreading, line editing (checking for errors line by line), substantive editing (improving the work as a whole) and rewriting. You also need to decide whether to charge by the project, hour, page or word.

  • Ask the potential client what kind of work you will be editing. Typically, creative writing and easier reads cost less to edit than technical writing, business writing and higher education writing, such as dissertations. If you are unsure of the difficulty of the manuscript, ask for a sample.

  • Find out how many words or pages your potential client would like you to edit. Some editors charge by the word, while some charge by the page.

  • Ask your potential contractor exactly how much editing he would like you to do. If he just wants proofreading -- typically marking spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors and syntax -- you will know to charge a lower price than if he wants you to do copy editing. The latter entails correcting awkward sentences and making suggestions for improvement as well as proofreading. You will typically charge the most if the client wants you to reorganize and rewrite whole paragraphs, or even an entire document.

  • Integrate your experience into the equation. If you have 10 or more years of experience, you can negotiate a higher price than if you are just starting out.

  • Put together the knowledge you have about your potential project and calculate a price: this will be your judgment call, but an average price for light proofreading is $3.00 to $25.00 a page, or 1 to 10 cents a word, depending on all of the above factors. Medium editing can range from $5.00 to $40.00 a page, or 2 to 15 cents a word. Heavy editing and revision can range from $15 to $50 a page, or 5 to 20 cents a word.

    If it helps, try to figure in about how many hours it would take you to do the work and decide what sort of hourly wage would be fair for the project based on the above criteria. Hourly rates can range from $20 for proofreading to $50 or more for heavy editing.

  • Negotiate with your potential client: quote him either a fee for the entire project, a per-page or per-word charge or an hourly rate, and explain why. Understand that he may decide the price is too high. In that case you can either offer a discount or decline the job.

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