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Editors/writers what do you charge?

(39 Posts)
tinypop4 Wed 11-Oct-17 21:47:29

More by accident than design, I have happily created a little freelance editing business in the field of education.
I'm getting quite a bit of work in but no idea if I'm charging appropriately.
I charge £30 per piece of work and it takes me roughly an hour - sometimes a little more sometimes a little less but this is a fairly accurate average.
Does this sound about right or would you charge more?
If more, how does one go about putting up prices in the freelance world?

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cheesypastatonight Wed 11-Oct-17 22:17:50

Bit silly charging per piece of work. What if one takes double the time of another? Charge per hour.

tinypop4 Wed 11-Oct-17 22:23:56

Okay so what's an appropriate hourly rate then?

Is it really so silly? No piece of work would ever take me more than 1.25 hours and many take me 45-50 mins so charging per hour would involve a lot of calculations wouldn't it?

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Frequency Wed 11-Oct-17 22:30:26

All the editors I use charge per word and vary drastically depending on experience but that's for fiction. I would assume that non-fiction is the same.

I am crap at working out exchange rates but I paid 0.5 cents per word last time with a newish editor for proof reading and line editing.

I've seen more in demand editors charge 10 cents per word for copy editing or developmental editing.

Are there any freelance forums in your field you could check your prices against people offering similar services on?

GwenStaceyRocks Wed 11-Oct-17 22:30:56

It depends on your experience and what you are editing . When I was a freelance editor, I would have charged much more than £30 for a piece of work and my hourly rate was much higher but I had over 15 years experience.
For a rough idea of fees, check NUJ suggested rates. But if you aren't as experienced, your customers might expect to pay less.

64PooLane Wed 11-Oct-17 22:32:26

I have a few regular clients, and they pay in different ways.

One big publisher pays a standard hourly rate (currently £21 for copyediting, £18 for proofreading). They always tell me when briefing that they think the job will probably take between X and Y hours - but if something takes longer than expected, they're very good about it.

A different publisher quotes a flat fee specific to each job - I'm not sure how they calculate this, but I just try to get through the work as efficiently as possible and I normally feel it works out reasonably well for me.

Another client, in the public sector, asks me every so often for my latest day rates (which I cluelessly made up out of thin air when I started years ago) and then if a job comes up, they ask me to quote for it based on those. I can't remember what they are at the moment though! Something like £150 a day for simple stuff, a bit more if it's more in-depth. I never really quote for less than half a day's work.

Mistoffelees Wed 11-Oct-17 22:36:52

Sorry to hijack but can I ask how people, especially the OP got into this line of work, it appeals to me but apart from finding links to online courses I can't find much info online, e.g. how you find clients, what exactly is involved and what an inexperienced copyeditor/freelancer could expect to earn?

Mistoffelees Wed 11-Oct-17 22:38:02

Sorry that should read copyeditor/proofreader

64PooLane Wed 11-Oct-17 22:39:18

That's really interesting, Gwen. I have a fair bit of experience, but I don't know of many clients prepared to pay much more than £30 per hour for editing (I'm basing that on what I saw when I worked in-house as well as in my freelance life). Perhaps I should be looking harder! Were you doing something quite specialised?

64PooLane Wed 11-Oct-17 22:45:38

All the editors I use charge per word

I've never really come across this (and I've worked in STM, trade and academic contexts for the past 15+ years), so it's not always the norm. Are you maybe in the US/Canada (as you mention cents)?

PoppyPopcorn Wed 11-Oct-17 22:45:44

I don't edit, but I do copywrite. I charge according to what I'm doing but prefer to work on a "per piece" rate. For a very simple 500 word blog post which requires zero research and will take 20 or 30 minutes to rattle off, I'd charge £10 to £15. (I write a lot of content for the same client which is all on a similar subject which I know a lot about, so if I can get my head down and no distractions, it can be done very quickly). Something more in depth or technical I will charge more.

So although I'm really working it out on a rate of on average £25 per hour, I'm billing on a per item rate. Six of one and half a dozen of the other though.

Frequency Wed 11-Oct-17 22:51:40

I'm in the UK but write for an American audience and so use American editors to make sure I'm not getting my sneakers and sweaters mixed up grin

They all charge per word. I've never heard of anyone charging per hour and as a client would be reluctant to pay per hour as I'd never know how many hours they spent drinking coffee vs editing my stuff. Per word is easier for me as I then have an exact price.

As I said, that's fiction, so maybe that's why the difference. I'd just guessed it would be the same as it makes the most sense to me.

64PooLane Wed 11-Oct-17 23:09:35

Pretty sure per hour is standard in the UK for fiction as well - about half my work is fiction editing, for one big publisher with various imprints. Anyone spinning it out and overcharging them would soon stop getting work, because their in-house staff have a good idea of how long the work ought to take. They are lovely about it if a job takes more time than estimated, but it very rarely does.

I appreciate being trusted to bill accurately, and because of that I don't feel tempted to overcharge; I think most freelance eds are the same, tbh. Would be less keen to work for someone who suspected I'd fleece them given half the chance!

I do drink a lot of coffee, though. But I work while I drink it grin

GwenStaceyRocks Thu 12-Oct-17 07:33:42

64 yy fairly specialised with a focus on business-to-business publications and most of my clients were overseas (US and Europe) but writing for UK.

tinypop4 Thu 12-Oct-17 11:30:52

this is interesting - seems there are a lot of different opinions and norms out there when it comes to pricing.

For the poster who asked how I got into it- I was a trailing spouse for a couple of years and ended up falling into it while looking for part time work- a favour from another expat to keep me busy before I went mad from boredom and loneliness....! Now back in the UK I have offered my services to similar organisations and one big one is offering me regular work.
I wouldn't quit my regular job but it's building up my savings and bringing in a reasonable amount (that I can spend on a holiday grin)

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Mistoffelees Thu 12-Oct-17 21:37:00

Thanks tinypop I'm a teacher at the moment so it might be an option for me to give it a try during a summer holidays sometime. Enjoy your holiday when you get it!

editingfairy Thu 19-Oct-17 12:20:32

Can I ask how people, especially the OP got into this line of work, it appeals to me but apart from finding links to online courses I can't find much info online, e.g. how you find clients, what exactly is involved and what an inexperienced copyeditor/freelancer could expect to earn?

Blimey, If you want to be a freelance editor you'll have to be a bit more motivated and savvy than that.

Try as a starting point. The only editing courses worth doing in the UK are by SfEP or the Publishing Training Centre.

You also have to be able to decide on your market, find clients, market yourself, and run your own business, including invoicing.

* it might be an option for me to give it a try during a summer holidays sometime.*


editingfairy Thu 19-Oct-17 12:26:56

Tinypop - I'd recommend getting editorial training - try SfEP's suggested minimum rates are at

I work for self-publishing authors, businesses and traditional publishers. I charge per hour. American editors seem to charge per word more than UK ones do.

Mistoffelees Thu 19-Oct-17 21:23:16

Thanks editingfairy I had looked at their website but the most basic questions I had weren't really answered other than with a recommendation to book on the initial course which I don't want to do without knowing a little more. My comment about perhaps doing some work in the summer holidays was only because the OP said she does proofreading alongside a regular job, before that I had imagined it would be a full time role in itself.

editingfairy Thu 19-Oct-17 21:49:28

What are your basic questions, Mistoffelees? Can I help?

Said she does proofreading alongside a regular job, before that I had imagined it would be a full time role in itself.

It can be either - but you have to put the work in to finding clients first!

Mistoffelees Thu 19-Oct-17 22:08:24

I'm basically completely clueless (as well you might be able to tell!!) and my basis for being interested in proofreading or copy-editing is nearly entirely from hearing an author in an interview talk about how their copyeditor picked up on what they thought was a really insignificant detail blush I began to think it sounded like a pretty interesting area to get into.

Having only worked in education which can be a bit of a bubble I think, I have no idea how freelancing with that sort of skill works, how do you find clients when you're new and inexperienced?

Should I be looking at proofreading as a way in to copy-editing or are the two more different than I realise?

And purely from a practical viewpoint, how much could one expect to make early on, most detials of pay I've found online have been an 'upto' amount which isn't helpful to see if it's a financially viable alternative to teaching.

editingfairy Fri 20-Oct-17 11:00:30

Right, First off, you need to have a really good knowledge of grammar, spelling and punctuation. SfEP runs a Brushing up your grammar course.

Then you need to think about subject areas and specialties - what do you know about?

What is proofreading? - (also see 'Could I be a proofreader?' on that page)

What is editing?

Many people start off proofreading and then learn about editing after they've been proofreading for a while.
Then you need to train. The PTC does a distance learning course, Introduction to Editorial Skills - - that will equip you to start taking on proofreading.

Then decide who your clients will be: publishers, self-publishing authors, businesses?

Then contact them.

The SfEP has an excellent FAQs page - - that is full of advice, esp. on starting out, how to find work, how the SfEP can help, how to find clients, etc.

Re money, the SfEP recommends that you will need a second source of income while you are setting up your freelanc business. It can take two years to get established.

Sorry - no quick fixes here! But it is a rewarding, creative and stimulating career that works well round children. (Sometimes. Sometimes deadlines get in the way and it doesn't work well at all.)

Mistoffelees Fri 20-Oct-17 18:35:21

Thanks so much, I don't know how I didn't manage to find those pages on the website! I've been teaching for a few years now so I was thinking possibly children's books, text books for teacher training or the suchlike. I think I'll have to get some money in savings before I start but I don't mind putting in some hours if it's going to be a way out of teaching for one thing and a job I could see myself doing for at least a few years for another. That is all really helpful, thank you so much!

PoppyPopcorn Mon 23-Oct-17 21:39:56

Blimey, If you want to be a freelance editor you'll have to be a bit more motivated and savvy than that

Totally agree with this. A huge part of working for yourself in this type of field is being proactive and looking for opportunities. You cannot expect any spoon feeding whatsoever - you're on your own.

tinypop4 Fri 27-Oct-17 08:45:35

Thank you all for the advice on this thread. I will have a look at the way that I charge for next year.

This work is particularly niche - I'm editing and revising a particular type of educational document that is related to international students. I'm really pleased with how it's going - at the moment is is making me a little extra money (think few hundred pounds a month) but does not substitute my teaching wage sadly....! I have joined the sfep too.

I fantasise a little about leaving teaching to do this only but currently not feasible.

I'm excited about the possibility of expanding my network and potentially turning this into my main job but I think that would be several years away and I would need to improve my business and networking skills drastically - this is not in my realms of experience...

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