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Copy editors - please would you tell me how much you charge?

(18 Posts)
bt1978 Mon 10-Mar-14 09:17:29

If there are any copy editors about would you mind telling me how much you charge per hour please?
I run a publishing company and I have found an editor I really want to work with, but before I go in there and agree terms/fees etc I just wondered what is the usual rate.

AshleyDieback Mon 10-Mar-14 11:12:12

The Society for Editors and Proofreaders gives minimum rates on its website www.sfep.org.uk/pub/mship/minimum_rates.asp. If it's someone you want to work with, I'd ask him/her for rates, though. The rate will depend partly on the quality of the original copy and also on how much work you want done on it. (e.g. Does it need rewriting? Is it technically demanding?) Expect him/her to ask for a sample. It's worth taking time to get both the pay and what you expect right before you start.

I've seen lower rates than the SfEP's ca. £25/h minimum quoted on here I think, and I've certainly been asked to work for less, but don't; offering poor terms suggests the potential client doesn't value what we do. On the other hand, some clients offer more, sometimes a lot more, but they also demand more.

Slightly puzzled that you're a publisher and aren't familiar with hiring copy-editors already, but I expect it makes sense.

bt1978 Mon 10-Mar-14 11:21:11

Thanks.
Yes, it would seem puzzling that I don't know this already - I have a business background but have stepped in to take over a struggling company with barely any staff.

CommsWhizz Mon 10-Mar-14 13:56:19

Hi there bt, oooh, sounds like you're having a publishing baptism of fire! It's a whole new world, I know.

I'd agree with Ashley on all the points above. My background is publishing and I'd say all of those points come into play when deciding on a fee. If it was a light copy edit for tone and consistency, I'd be looking around £25 per hour. If it was more labour-intensive and involving rewriting, and potentially research, I'd charge closer to £35 per hour. However, what worked well for me once I knew the client and knew their work was to complete it for a project fee. Most of the time it worked out about right in terms of the time I expected to work, though sometimes I was quids in and other times cursing myself.

If you've found an editor you really like and want to work with, start talking terms and see where it goes. Good luck!

whatdoesittake48 Tue 11-Mar-14 15:15:54

You may find that some people will quote you a per project fee (a certain amount for the entire book/article/chapter etc). That is how I prefer to work - that way you can agree a budget and stick to it. I never like to be accused of wasting time just to bump up my pay. I much prefer to be realistic about how long it will take and agree a price.

That said - £25 per hour would be my starting point.

CocktailQueen Wed 12-Mar-14 15:01:14

Ashley - the SfEP rates are suggested minimum rates.

And many clients aren't happy/are unable to pay them. I know a lot of editors who work for a lower hourly rate.

However, more experienced editors will charge more - you often get what you pay for smile

I would charge about £25 per hour for basic copy-editing (no foreign authors, no rewriting etc.)

Good luck!

PrimalLass Fri 14-Mar-14 15:34:57

I've been doing this a long time and personally I find that the SfEP rates are higher than most publishers will pay. If you are a member then the rates survey on their website is useful.

Pricing is something I am having an internal battle about at the moment as I keep under-quoting and I need to stop it.

dogrilla Sat 15-Mar-14 07:11:33

Me too, Primal. Feel almost apologetic for charging £20. Ridiculous considering I have 15 years experience... People do take the piss though and want something for nothing or think that editing should be much quicker than it is. Having to constantly justify your worth doesn't always come easy hmm

Punkatheart Mon 17-Mar-14 10:01:48

Yes - I have a friend who quotes ridiculously low rates and then puts herself under pressure. It does no one any favours. It's not easy but I stand firm. £25 per hour is a good price for a skilled job.

AshleyDieback Mon 17-Mar-14 18:07:39

Well there you have it: people who work for less and doubt their worth vs people who know their worth and work for more.

I sympathize over clients who don't understand what's involved; over time you may be able to drop them.

For me this is my livelihood, which does rather concentrate the mind.

PrimalLass Mon 17-Mar-14 20:08:47

I've been on both sides of freelance and in-house and some clients/subjects just pay less. I was a journal production editor for years and all the f-lances got paid the same. Journal work pays less than books but it is constant. I do charge more for one-off projects.

It is my livelihood too by the way. I prefer to be paid my higher rate, obviously, but also like to have a wide range of things to do.

Have you had clients say no to £25/hour? Do you walk away?

PrimalLass Mon 17-Mar-14 20:09:40

I do prefer project or per page rates. Makes life easier.

AshleyDieback Wed 19-Mar-14 10:40:17

Primal: I haven't had clients walk away that I know of, but most clients have a budget - it's the nature of the field I'm in. If something looks as if it's under-budgeted, I say I'm too busy - which is true at present and there's no point squeezing in underpaid work. I've had some clients for years but some drift away, and I guess my rate may be a reason. That's fine. I'm running a business.

AshleyDieback Wed 19-Mar-14 11:23:52

This is hi-jacking the thread rather (I hope the OP got what s/he wanted already), but replying to Primal's question made me think about why we are editors. Duh, to make money. Yes. But I know my motivations have changed over the years and I'm now far more business-like. When I started as a freelancer, I had small children and some time but not a lot, so it was a question of doing something I liked and was reasonably good at, keeping/building skills and earning money for some extras. I didn't really think about how cost-effectively I used my time, although I did get cross when things dragged on. Move on a zillion decades, and I have different pressures on my time. I also somehow have a business from which I can get a reasonable income. I'm not sure when the change happened, but I value my time a lot more than I did - in all senses of 'value'. Be interesting to hear what you all think.

SerotoninIsHavingABaby Wed 19-Mar-14 13:22:37

Slightly hijacking here but this is something I have been thinking about getting into - I have been helping friends and family with CV writing, essays and dissertation plus doing various copy for publishing on a voluntary basis - it's something I really enjoy and I like to think I would be quite good at it.

I just don't know where to start! If anyone has any pointers I would be very grateful

Apologies for the hijack OP grin

AshleyDieback Wed 19-Mar-14 13:45:01

Hi Serotonin, you might want first to think whether you like writing or editing. Copy-editing usually means sinking tendencies to (re)write and can be frustrating in that sense. But if you have a nit-picky, obsessive mind, you'd love it. The second post in this thread gives the website for the society for freelancers - have a look. If your name is correct in suggesting you're a medical/biological scientist, then scientific publishing might be the way to go. You could check job opps with relevant publishers - you'll know who they are from the references you'll doubtless be used to reading!

SerotoninIsHavingABaby Wed 19-Mar-14 17:33:50

Thanks Ashley smile

My name unfortunately is no relation to any speciality, but thanks for the help grin

I will have a nosy and see what I can find out that seems like a good place to start! I'm very nit - picky and I get real satisfaction in correcting errors, plus I can generally get a good sense of sentence structure etc. I can see that the itch to rewrite must be an issue, I hadn't thought of that!

Middleoftheroad Thu 03-Apr-14 18:02:43

Hello OP,

I enjoy writing/blogging. I work part-time for an employer and blog in my spare time for one client. However, I under charge because I enjoy writing those particular blogs. I'm charging £20 for a 500 word blog. Some blogs take 15 minutes - others have taken two hours.

I enjoy editing and re-writing less. This is more labour intensive and I charge more for this. Perhaps £35 per hour would be a good starting point: although, I'd still advise on charging per project, rather than per hour.

The trouble is, sites like People Per Hour commanding ridiculous rates. Some clients will always choose a cheaper option and still expect the earth. Having said all that, writing is an incredibly flexible job and if you have a passion for writing/editing then pitch somewhere in the middle.

Good luck!

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