by Karin Beery
Starting out as a freelance editor is quite exciting—you set your own hours, can work from home in your pajamas, or take your laptop to any coffee shop in the country. But then people start asking for your rates.
Today I’m not going to talk about how much to charge. Instead, I’m going to look at different ways to charge. There are four primary ways to charge for your services:
- Per Word
- Per Page
- Per Project
There are pros and cons for each:
Pro: It’s a traditional system, so you’ll get paid as long as you’re working.
Con: You have to track your hours; if you have kids or dogs or people living in your house (or recognizing you at the coffee shop), you may be often interrupted.
Pro: You don’t have to track hours and can give an exact rate instead of estimating how long it will take.
Con: If the project turns out to be more complicated or difficult than you’d originally expected, your rate is already set.
Additional Per-Word Con: If someone asks you to edit short stories or flash fiction, you’ll make very little money even though your training and experience are the same.
Additional Per-Page Con: You will get people who try to save money by sending you manuscripts with 8-point font, single-spaced with ½-inch margins.
So what’s the right way to charge?
There is no right answer. In fact, I use all four methods. Here’s why:
I edit promotional material for a client. I never know how many pages or words there will be, so I can’t use those methods. Because I’ve been doing this so long and am familiar with my client’s wants and needs, I can edit her work quickly, but that’s because of lots of experience and training (for which I should be financially rewarded, not penalized). For us, the easiest route is per project—she knows exactly how much I’m going to charge, and I’ve made sure to cushion my prices (so I can spend two hours on one project and thirty minutes on another and the rates balance themselves out).
For another project, however, I was hired to do something I’ve never done before—because I had no idea what to expect, I charged per hour to make sure all of my time was covered.
My recommendation to you:
Set some guidelines on your website, but don’t commit until you’ve evaluated each project (some of my rates say $100-300/project, so I have the flexibility to charge more or less, depending on how much work is needed).
Regardless of which method you use, make sure you aren’t undervaluing your talent and experience—set rates that reflect your ability and stick with them. Your time and experience are valuable, and you should be compensated accordingly.
Owner of Write Now Editing and Copywriting Services, Karin Beery specializes in fiction and professional business copy. She is an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers and the American Christian Writers Association. A Christian Proofreaders and Editors Network member, she is the Substantive Editing for Fiction instructor for the PEN Institute. Karin is represented by literary agent Steve Hutson at Word Wise Media. You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, or at her website, www.karinbeery.com.