Hey mom let's say I'm a writer and let's say I wanted to hire a freelance editor and let's say I wanted to be Mr. Fuck Your Rate I'mma Pay You Way More Because You Deserve It --- what do you consider a fair/ideal rate for editing work?
It really depends on what kind of editing work you are engaging them for. Is it a proof and grammar only? Or do you want copy edit and feedback? Or do you want to engage them for a process of all of the above?
Some editors will list their fees per how many words they edit, and some houses will even pay their editors per word, but I have found this system to be utterly, utterly shitty for everyone involved who is not at the top taking a huge cut.
I’ve spent maybe a month working on something which was 100k words, and the author had to pay a premium rate in the thousands, but I did minimal work to it like fixing a few errors here and there.
I’ve also spent a month working on something that was less than 10k words, but only got paid the going rate for 10k, regardless of the fact that it needed so much work I couldn’t take on any other projects during that time.
This is why I now list myself as per hour, not per word, and request people send me their file/manuscript in full first so I can read through it and determine how much work it will need, rather than offering a blind estimate per word count. In my FAQ I have it listed as a $50 reading fee once the manuscript goes over 10k words ($100 if it’s a 100k+ manuscript), but I’ve been so desperate lately I’ve actually lowered it to $25.
The rates I am currently charging are $25 per hour for anything under 10k, and $50 for anything over that. That’s my rate for copy edit, and it’s half what my rate for copy edit was in house.
If you’re only wanting proof reading for minor fixes, I’m only taking $25 per hour (provided it wasn’t a total nightmare on the read through), though I have gone lower if it’s been something really short and I know it’s not even going to take me the full hour to work on. Basically I try to make it as fair an exchange for both of us as possible. I know most of the people trying to engage me for work are broke, I know most of them are college students or in a similar situation to mine, but I am also trying to not drastically undersell my work either because I also need to eat.
So if you take the idea at the moment that a living wage, and I mean a basic “you’re able to make ends meet without killing yourself working 60 hours a week” wage, is $15 an hour, you’re probably looking at paying someone a minimum of $20+ per hour for the time as an editor at a base rate. That is, if you want to pay them fairly, and even then I have some editor friends on here who are likely hissing between their teeth at me for low balling it.
But like I said, there’s a lot of work out there being sold for significantly less than that, and it’s killing us, it really is. I had an email this week from a freelance site from a client wanting me to rewrite his entire 100k manuscript for $150 and he thought that was “more than fair”. When I told him it wasn’t and I would not take on something of that size for anything less than $500 at a minimum, he went off on one about how there are other editors out there just desperate for work. And that’s the problem.
Also, just throwing this out there, if an editor hits you with a quote and you think “wow, I can’t afford that, guess I’ll not bother…” ask them about payment plans. If this is a project we will likely be working with you on for several months—and if it’s long we likely will be—some of us are more than happy to accept monthly installments. We’d rather have secure reliable work and take our time helping you to create the best damn thing that you can, than have no work at all.
And we want to work, we want to help people make awesome things, we want to see you get published and become successful because then that means you’ll write more which means we’ll get more work and do you see where this happy little cycle of productivity is going? I hope so. I really do, because the way current freelancing and editing work is set up, it’s helping no one.
Anyway, I hope that is helpful and answered some questions. If not, sorry, I’m tired and heading to bed. I hope when I read this in the morning it’s not just an incoherent ramble but who knows, maybe I made some sense.