It has taken several days of research, namely checking what prices other editors charge, but I have finally decided on my new pricing structure. While it doesn’t quite stretch to the recommended minimum rates suggested by the Society for Editors and Proofreaders or the Editorial Freelancers Association, it is a massive step forward for me.
One of the trickiest aspects (I think anyway) about being a freelancer is deciding what to charge. It’s about finding the balance between what a freelancer needs to earn to be sustainable while considering the restrictions posed by the market they have chosen to work in.
My ideal market is independent, self-publishing authors, namely because I am one, or hope to be one day. Also because this is the market I know and understand, from scrawling that first idea down on a piece of paper through to formatting and publishing and beyond.
I started out as an unpaid beta reader while completing my English Literature degree and progressed into developmental editing at some vague point in time. It wasn’t an active decision, it just sort of happened, mostly because I can’t keep my mouth shut if I can see something ‘not quite right’ in a story or its construction. When I started charging, I was definitely in the ‘cheap’ zone, mostly because I found it difficult to ask people to pay, and it took me quite some time to stop offering to work for free. I introduced another price rise about two years ago, and have spent the two years since promising to do so again (but never did). If it wasn’t for the impending change to my financial situation, I probably wouldn’t even be thinking about raising my prices, but it is, and I have to do this.
So, I followed the advice given to me in one of the editorial courses I studied. I worked out how much I need to earn to run a sustainable business and ended up with a price per word that would have put most edits over the one thousand pound mark, thus pricing myself out of the market I wish to work in. After consulting with a couple of good friends, I decided to settle on an hourly rate, which I know many indie authors aren’t keen on. One of the times I got a quote and was given an hourly rate, I may have freaked out (just a little), but when I looked at the time it takes me to do an edit, I realised it isn’t as expensive as it first sounds. I am experienced enough to estimate how long an edit will take me and confident enough that I can guarantee a final figure to the author. If I go over that time frame, the onus is on me for misjudging the work required, not the author. So, under this new payment rate, if I advise a client a job will take me X number of hours to complete, that is all they will pay for, and not a penny more. For anyone thinking ‘yes, but… sometimes a manuscript looks good and then ends up needing a lot more work than you thought’, I would like to say that this is a mistake I’ve made on a few occasions and that I’ve learned to recognise exactly how much work is required, and my guarantee stands.
The rate I have decided on is £25 an hour ($34.81 per hour in dollars at the current exchange rate) and as a rough guide of how much we’re looking at, I have detailed some examples of how long it takes me to do an edit:
108k, clean copy manuscript critique (one read and an editorial report): 20 hours
77k, clean copy developmental edit (two reads/one edit and an editorial report): 24 hours
60k manuscript assessment (one read and an editorial report): 12 hours
80k, final read (one read to check for typos) 6 hours
I will also be implementing a coaching/mentoring service for new and inexperienced authors, or where I feel an edit will go into too many hours than is healthy for myself and/or the author (details to follow).
I hope that I won’t lose a single client as I have enjoyed working with each and every one. If anyone does have any questions or concerns though, please do not hesitate to contact me. (All currently booked work will not be affected by this change).