Written by Jayna Baas
Welcome to our bimonthly blog series for “newbie” editors. You’ve finally taken the plunge into professional editing—congratulations! Or perhaps you’re still testing the waters. In either case, you may be wondering, Where do I start?
One of the first questions new editors ask is how much they should charge for their services. The Christian PEN is excited to announce our new Christian freelance editing rate chart! This chart includes ranges of rates, both per-word and hourly, that show the full spectrum of fees charged by Christian freelance editors, as well as “average” rates that show the fees most commonly charged for specific services. These averages are simply a guide to what is often an appropriate fee for a certain service.
There is no single “right” way to handle rates. Each editor is different, as is each project. Here are some things to consider as you decide your rates:
It’s fine (and often wise) for new editors to charge less than experienced editors charge. You may also choose to take some jobs pro bono or for a reduced rate to get more experience or assist in a ministry opportunity. But never undersell yourself—your time is valuable, and clients who pay full price often have a higher respect for the editor’s recommendations. Surprisingly, editors who raise their rates often see an increase in clients.
- Level or type of service.
Some forms of editing, such as developmental editing, usually warrant higher rates. Writing-for-hire services like ghostwriting have an especially high price tag. Other types of editing (proofreading, for example) may typically be “cheaper” but are worth higher rates if the work is very involved. Freelancers have the ability to adjust their rates for especially difficult or complex projects. If you would like to learn more about the levels and types of editing services freelancers offer, visit our new Editing Definitions page.
- Type of client.
Similar to the previous point, some types of clients will require more complicated help even for standard editing needs. For instance, pastors or instructors who want to turn their lectures into books usually do not approach their projects from a writer’s perspective, so it’s normal for editors to charge a little more because of the extra work these projects entail. Some clients may also need extra help if they are new writers or if English is their second language.
You’ll also need to decide if you want to list your rates on your website or simply tell potential clients to contact you for a quote. No matter how you decide to charge, keep track of the time you spend editing. Even if you charge by the word, tracking your time will allow you to estimate how much you actually make per hour.
Freelancing gives you the flexibility to adjust your rates as you learn more about the business of editing. You’ll gain confidence as you gain experience and familiarize yourself with The Chicago Manual of Style and The Christian Writer’s Manual of Style. But even as you learn, your time and skill are valuable, and treating them that way is one of the fastest ways to boost your confidence.
Thank you for subscribing to PEN Tips, and we hope you continue to enjoy the education, tips, and inspiration we offer.
Jayna Baas is the current PEN Director and has been in love with words ever since she learned to use them. As a freelance editor, she specializes in copyediting and proofreading for a polished reading experience. As a Christian fiction author, she is passionate about helping fellow writers present Christ-honoring messages with confidence and excellence. Jayna lives in northern Michigan, where she enjoys gardening, good coffee, and time with family.