What a Copyeditor Charges

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What a copyeditor charges

Anonymous

I think the concept of "industry standard rates" is specious, and as editors we do ourselves a disservice to perpetuate this myth. Sadly, some editors advise potential clients that their rates reflect these "industry standards" or even cite/link the EFA table. The EFA table is predicated on a decidedly unscientific sampling and does not even serve as a good baseline. Baseline of what? As Erin explains, there are many variables involved in establishing a rate for any given project.

Further, I do not understand why the EFA attempts to assign a "pgs/hr" figure to developmental editing. Unlike copyediting or proofreading, DE is not a mechanical process that lends itself to a temporal formula; it is more a matter of acting as the author's editorial coach or guide.

The DE will likely reorganize the ms, in the course of which she may recommend deletion of large chunks of copy (or entire chapters); conversely, she may suggest more fully developing a concept, rewriting some or all of the ms, and/or adding supplementary material (glossary, etc.). I see no relationship between the number of pages in the raw manuscript (which oddly enough, the EFA does not identify as ms pgs) and the time that will be required to perform developmental editing duties.

Posted on Tue, 10/22/2013 - 4:47pm

byline

Anonymous

Didn't mean to post anonymously.

Aden Nichols
Little Fire Editorial Services

Posted on Tue, 10/22/2013 - 4:53pm

Adrienne Montgomerie's picture

good point, & what "industry"?

Adrienne Montgomerie

Thanks for bringing up those criticisms, Aden, I think they are important. It has been suggested that the data set on which those rates are based is too small to be statistically significant. I can't confirm.

It is really helpful to have a starting place when setting a rate, and the EFA does at least offer those publicly. Hopefully all parties will understand that charging less than those rates would not reflect professionalism. It is also very helpful for budget setters to have some rates and paces on which to base their numbers, as a starting point at least.

The EFA's page does specify that "the industry standard for a manuscript page, however, is a firm 250 words." http://www.the-efa.org/res/rates.php

The other angle for criticism that I see is that editing is not "an" industry. Our rates are largely affected by the market in which our clients exist. School markets pay less than financial ones, for example. In government work, I would expect to bill no less than $80/hr for any kind of editing. One department told me they would throw out any bids for less because it indicated that the bidder clearly was not familiar with the market, a requirement for the work.

Posted on Wed, 10/23/2013 - 6:47am

Good points, Aden and

Erin Brenner

Good points, Aden and Adrienne. There are a lot of issues with the EFA rates and lots of variables for any rate one charges. The whole idea of charging by the hour or by the page is foreign to some editors. Other editors define a page differently; one editor I know defines it by characters rather than words.

I don't think there's one right way to figure out how much work there is to do and how much that work is worth. But until new editors get some experience, a guideline like the EFA's, based on what EFA members charge, is a good starting point.

Posted on Wed, 10/23/2013 - 1:51pm

This rate chart is highly overrated

Anonymous

Aden's critique is spot on. The EFA rates do not reflect or even attempt to reflect "industry standards" (which are a figment of the imagination in any case). EFA merely provides figures on its members' self-reported rates. It then misrepresents those figures as "common editorial rates" that are a good gauge of where industry-wide fees "tend to fall."

The trouble is compounded when these rates are promoted to fledgling freelancers who haven't grasped the pricing element of running a business. They join EFA, charge what they have been told are "common" rates, report that those are the rates they charge, and perpetuate the misguided circular logic of the annual rate chart. I'm sorry to see it promoted here and hope the comments to this post will persuade at least a few freelancers to learn the business well enough to be able to calculate their actual value. They're likely to be rewarded with a more profitable business.

Posted on Thu, 10/24/2013 - 7:54am

EFA's rate chart is overrated

Anonymous

Aden's critique is spot on. The EFA rates do not reflect or even attempt to reflect "industry standards" (which are a figment of the imagination in any case). EFA merely provides figures on its members' self-reported rates. It then misrepresents those figures as "common editorial rates" that are a good gauge of where industry-wide fees "tend to fall."

The trouble is compounded when these rates are promoted to fledgling freelancers who haven't grasped the pricing element of running a business. They join EFA, charge what they have been told are "common" rates, report that those are the rates they charge, and perpetuate the misguided circular logic of the annual rate chart. I'm sorry to see it promoted here and hope the comments to this post will persuade at least a few freelancers to learn the business well enough to be able to calculate their actual value. They're likely to be rewarded with a more profitable business.

Posted on Thu, 10/24/2013 - 7:56am

editor@kokedit.com's picture

Other organizations' rate charts

editor@kokedit.com

Those who want more information may find it helpful to look at the rate charts posted by editorial associations other than the EFA. The "Business Tools" page of the Copyeditors' Knowledge Base has links to several other groups' charts:

http://www.kokedit.com/ckb_3.php

Search that page for the term "rates" to find the appropriate links.

Katharine O'Moore-Klopf, ELS (medical editor)

Posted on Thu, 10/24/2013 - 11:46am

What copyeditors charge

Ruth@writerruth.com

One vital point is to define a "page" before offering a quote or estimate. You also have to have a good sense of how much work you can do in a given timeframe. You don't have to charge by the hour, but you still need to know how many pages or words you can handle in an hour.

Posted on Sat, 11/02/2013 - 10:55am

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