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How Much You Should Charge as a Freelance Editor and Why

Updated on July 10, 2019
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Prachi has been working as a freelance writer since 2012. When not writing, she helps people with web designing and development.

Some people believe that the editors’ job is to correct grammar and spelling mistakes, but this is just a 1% work of what editors actually do. Editors work on different levels and their work varies from correcting spelling mistakes to checking the heavy facts.


Proofreading is the easiest type of editing job. This is the final stage before publishing the book. A proofreader is not required to change or edit the fact, indeed they just need to figure out any surface error possible. Their work is to go through the book and find out the left out mistakes.


Unlike proofreader, a copyeditor needs to do much more than just figuring out the basic errors. Their job involves:

  • Reviewing text
  • Correcting grammar, spelling, and punctuation
  • Reading entire manuscript
  • Examining consistency, redundancy and proper flow and usage of words
  • Checking the smooth transition from one paragraph to another
  • Checking the usage of proper tense and tone, which must be constant throughout the article to book
  • Providing suggestions to craft a smooth transition
  • Checking statistics and sources for 100% accuracy
  • Eliminating confusing words and providing clarity
  • Removing unnecessary and adding necessary details to maintain the readers’ interest
  • Maintaining the author’s style and tone

Developmental Editor

Copyeditor works, after the manuscript is ready, the developmental editor works while the manuscript is in process. A development editor’s job includes:

  • Structuring the development and organization of the book
  • Editing of characters and storyline
  • Maintaining the pace of the storytelling process
  • Suggesting the order of chapters
  • Providing suggestions about the presentation of overall content and arrangement of text

When the development of the book is done, it is sent to the copyeditor.

It is not necessary to recruit all the three type of editors, most of the authors prefer to hire only copyeditors for final editing and polishing. Since copyeditors can also do the work of proofreading.

The charges depend on the levels of copyediting and whether it is a basic or heavy line editing.

Editor Charges

Here are some suggested editors’ charge preferred by EFA (Editorial Freelancers Association)

Type of editing
Charges per hour
Pages per hour
Basic editing
$25 to $40
5 to 10
Heavy editing
 $35 to $50
2 to 5
Substantive/Line editing
$40 to $65
1 to 6
Developmental editing
$50 to $80
2 to 5

This is not a fixed rate, it also varies from one editor to another. Some of them charge $10 to $30 per hour, most of the experienced freelance editors’ charge starts from $25 or more per hour.

On the other hand, a proofreader can charge either $3 to $4 per page or $10 or more per hour, depending on the experience and subject matter expertise.

Some additional charges are included when it comes to editing technical writing or a specialized niche.

Charges on the Basis of Niche

Niche charges depend on your specialization. If your niche is highly competitive such as technical or finance, then you can charge up to $0.03 to $0.04 per word. In other cases, it can be little lower ranging from $0.01 to $0.025 per word.

Steps to consider while finalizing the rate

1. Research the Market

Freelancers are more than just remote workers, they’re entrepreneurs. And as any good business person can tell you, the first and most important thing to consider is your market. Research your market thoroughly and see where you fit in. As an editor, you must surely visit the site Editorial Freelancers Association to know any further changes in the editors’ charges.

2. Consult with others

Ask for help from experts or your colleagues. They are usually friendly and ready to help. They’ll also give you more precise ideas on how to ask for right and justifiable prices. Your price also depends on your genre and experience. Even if you charge a high amount, but deliver excellent services, people will pay for it.

3. Mind your Business Costs

Neglecting the overall costs is the common mistake that most of the newbie freelancers do. You start with setting your rate and get as much work as you can handle and sometimes over. At the end of the year, you realize there’s a lot more your needed to cover and things become overcrowded.

  • You need to estimate the non-billable time spent on clients’ work, your expenditure on materials and software as well as time spent in the learning of new skills.
  • Figure out how much you need to make to cover these expenditures and to also put some money into savings.
  • Besides that, geography plays a huge role in deciding the charges. If you live in places like New York or London, you can, certainly, take advantage of asking for higher charges.


4. Determine Rates for Specific Skills

Now, you’re done estimating the overall business costs and have thoroughly researched the market to set your base rates.

Another important factor that must be included is to decide the rates on the basis of specific services such as editing, proofreading, etc. Editors are more likely to charge higher than a proofreader.

5. Have Flexible Rates

While you are an experienced editor and charging more than $80 to $100 per hour, it is possible that you may receive a work that doesn’t require many efforts or some other work that asks you to work for longer hours. In either of the cases, you need to rethink your charges, whether you must reduce or increase.

  • If the manuscript is in its early stage, then you need to handle it with great caution. Don’t get indulged too much in rewriting the manuscript, when you should be editing and polishing the work. You’ll realize that you should have charged twice the rate. If any such case occurs, first advice the client to do a more thorough work on their project and maintain a proper structure of the manuscript before finalizing it.
  • If you’re an experienced freelance editor, then you must be having a good estimation of how long it takes to edit a manuscript. Stay aware of the content that may disturb your estimation because of its complexity and your unfamiliarity with the subject.
  • If the work requires specialized formatting, such as editing a technical document is entirely different from editing a children-based story. You need to be well-versed with the format. In such cases, clients are often willing to pay more, when there’s a need for specialized editing and lots of facts need to be considered.
  • As a freelance editor, you’re well aware of the fact that your work doesn’t stop at editing. You also need to communicate with the client, meet their expectations, explain your methods and finalize the payment method. While it seems a straightforward process, there are times when you may need to struggle with some clients with respect to miscommunication or payment issues.

On the basis of these situations, you can decide where you must place yourself.

6. Revise Your Rate periodically

By this set, you must have gathered enough idea of how to manage and demand the appropriate rates. However, these rates are subject to change on the basis of market demand and competition level. certainly, no one is going to pay you more than you ask for, so be straightforward with your genuine demands.

Here are a few suggestions to give you an idea of when to update your rate:

  • If the client accepts your charges without any argument, then you have reasonable fees and it can be increased after a while. On the other hand, if the client complains you are charging way too much, then you need to review your rates instantly. Consider this step only if you come across multiple such clients.
  • If you have broadened your knowledge spectrum and have gained expertise in wider fields, then this is a perfect time to modify your rates. If you are becoming an expert of something, your rate must reflect that. Also, revise your skills set after 3 to 6 months.
  • If your industry rates change, then revise your rates accordingly. In the case of editors, stay updated with the latest change in the market through the Editorial Freelancers Association.
  • If you are struggling with your daily expenses and the rate of inflation is affecting your savings, then update your price to cope up with the situation. It doesn’t conclude that you can switch from $30 to directly $100. This is not feasible, rather re-evaluate your skills, upgrade them and hen, ask for relevant price. Another important point is to negotiate with your existing clients about your increased rates, figure out if they find it acceptable or not. If they stumble, give them a good reason to accept you at a higher price.

A freelance editor is an important resource for writing and publishing a book. Their level of experience and expertise can be seen in the average and exceptional books. Editing is a careful job. You must know how to maintain readers’ attention, though the words, till the end.

© 2019 Prachi Sharma


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