Early this week, I stumbled upon an infographic from Reedsy, a bidding site for book-publishing services. The infographic is aimed at self-publishing authors, guiding them on how much self-publishing actually costs.
What’s Behind the Data
Keep in mind that infographics oversimplify data by design, and Reedsy is promoting its services to its potential customers: self-publishing authors. It’s going to present information in the best possible light for those customers.
The data comes from 2,000 work quotes submitted to the Reedsy site in the past 15 months (the company’s lifespan to date) and responded to by 400 freelancers from the United Kingdom and North America. That’s a small sample, but Reedsy is still new, so I’m willing to cut it some slack there.
Is the Data Good?
Note that quoted rates were used rather than actual paid rates. This is an important point. Freelancers who bid higher rates but didn’t win the projects are included in that average, inflating the rate. For the target audience (authors), this might cause them to budget more than necessary and feel like they got a deal when they paid less—a good marketing tactic, as long as you’re offering data that’s in the ballpark.
Freelancers, too, will overestimate the rates they can earn through Reedsy, however. This could be disappointing at best and budget crushing at worst.
Another problem with the infographic is that it doesn’t state whether the rate includes the 10% Reedsy charges authors. (Reedsy also charges the freelancer 10%, but it likely comes out of the rate listed; this is for authors, remember, so an unnecessary detail.) There’s also a 2.9% fee to process your payment (paid to Stripe, which processes the payment, not Reedsy).
So the amount of money you actually make from Reedsy—before you pay your taxes—could be a good deal less than you’d hoped. It almost feels like being an employee, with everyone taking a bit from your salary before you get the actual check.
Readers are encouraged to think these rates are standard. They’re not. They’re standard for Reedsy. Only Reedsy projects were considered. An author might shop around and find much lower or higher rates.
What Do Reedsy’s Rates Mean?
Reedsy’s rates are per word, but let’s give them some context (setting aside the problematic combined copyediting and proofreading rate):
Reedsy's Editing Pay Rates, April 2016
|Task||Per Word ($)||Per Page ($)||Per Hour ($)|
|Developmental editing (5 pgs/hr)||0.021||5.25||26.25|
|Copyediting (10 pgs/hr)||0.017||4.25||42.50|
|Proofreading (13 pgs/hr)||0.009||2.50||32.50|
I’ve assigned the highest page-per-hour rate from the Editorial Freelancers Association’s (EFA’s) common rates chart to each task. The number of pages you can edit per hour depends greatly on your skill and tech savviness, the quality of the writing, and the topic you’re editing.
Even keeping in mind the limits of the EFA’s chart (e.g., the data is compiled only from EFA members), the per-hour rates are a mixed bag. The developmental editing rate is extremely low. The proofreading and copyediting rates might be acceptable to some editors, but to make them work you need to have clean copy and be a speedy editor.
How do Reedsy’s rates compare with independent editors’ rates? Is it worth working for Reedsy? I’ll explore those questions next time.