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How do I set a rate for a second edit?

I am talking to a client about doing a second edit for their 65,000 word novel. The first edit & format was performed by someone else, so the novel is 95% done and just needs a second pair of eyes to double check for errors.

So Iโ€™m having trouble determining how to set my rate for this client. At a basic rate of $0.01 per word, a first draft of editing could cost around $650. But since itโ€™s the second round of proofreading, I know I would need to charge a much lower rate.

The client has proposed a fixed price of $50, which I think is unreasonably low for the amount of time it would take me to even read through the book. Am I wrong? Would charging per hour or using a fixed rate work better for a project like this?
16 REPLIES 16
prestonhunter
Member

re: "The client has proposed a fixed price of $50, which I think is unreasonably low for the amount of time it would take me to even read through the book. Am I wrong? Would charging per hour or using a fixed rate work better for a project like this?"

 

If the client is offering a rate you find acceptable for the first milestone, but not the second milestone, then keep in mind that you are not required to do the second milestone.

 

You COULD hire on to do the first round, and somebody else could do the second round. If you are paid for the work you agree to do at the rate you agree to, then that is what you need to be concerned with.

 

You are very wise to EXPLICITLY state in any fixed-pice milestone agreement exactly what you will do. And if that means stating that this milestone includes NO revisions, but that a second edit or revision phase would be a separate milestone, that is definitely the right thing for you to do.

 

I never agree to ANY milestone price that is contingent upon subsequent milestones.

 

re: "Would charging per hour or using a fixed rate work better for a project like this?"

 

Charging per hour is going to be better for you if you can get a client to agree to it. If your services are in enough demand and if you have room to negotiate, then you can simply require an hourly contract, or not go forward with something.

petra_r
Member


Rachel B wrote:
I am talking to a client about doing a second edit for their 65,000 word novel. The first edit & format was performed by someone else, so the novel is 95% done and just needs a second pair of eyes to double check for errors.

Did you see the book and read some parts?  One client's idea of an edited book might be another person's idea of word-salad.

 


Rachel B wrote:

The client has proposed a fixed price of $50, which I think is unreasonably low for the amount of time it would take me to even read through the book. Am I wrong? Would charging per hour or using a fixed rate work better for a project like this?

What we are talking about here is essentially proofreading (going over something that has already been properly edited... if that is what happened) even if there were no errors at all to correct, reading it attentively would be at a maximum of 200 words a minute or 12.000 words an hour.

 

So just reading (and that includes no error fixing) would take between 5 and 6 hours. Minimum.

In a real world scenario most people can proofread (inc. fixing the odd stray error) a LOT less. 4000 to 6000 words an hour is a lot more realistic, optimistic even... So 10 to 16 hours for 65k words.

 

So 50 Dollars would give you an hourly rate of between  just over $ 3 and just under $ 10.

 

You do the maths.

 

 

Gotcha. What would be a good rate to charge per hour then, assuming I go that route? I've seen some places that beginning aditors start between $10-15 an hour, others $30. 

kfarnell
Member

> the novel is 95% done 

 

Is that what the client said or have you seen the text and this is your opinion? If you haven't, you need to look at the text to see how much work it needs before doing anything else - a sizeable chunk of it if the client isn't happy showing you the full book. Then you can estimate how long it will take you.  

 

It isn't YOUR second edit so $650 isn't unreasonable. If you really want the project and the text is fairly clean so you can do it reasonably quickly without getting a major headache, you might choose to reduce your fee a bit but $50 is silly. There aren't fewer words just because someone's already done some work in it.

 

> Would charging per hour or using a fixed rate work better for a project like this?

 

It's up to you in the end, but these sort of projects tend to be at a fixed rate so you might find it difficult to get the client to agree to an hourly rate.  Also, editing always takes longer than people expect meaning that the chances of arguments about how many hours it's taken you are quite high - especially with someone who is a new client (to you, at least) and has suggested it's only worth $50.

 

ETA: I've just seen Petra's response. I accept that might well be her proofreading speed, but being able to proof that many words per hour is rare. Unless you're sure you're faster than average, up to 3k words an hour is more likely.


Kim F wrote:

 

ETA: I've just seen Petra's response. I accept that might well be her proofreading speed,


It isn't ๐Ÿ™‚ It's an "oh I just have to read it and hopefully there will be no errors or just a comma once every 20 pages..." speed

 


Kim F wrote:

 

ETA:  Unless you're sure you're faster than average, up to 3k words an hour is more likely.


I completely agree.

$ 50: 22hours - just under $ 2 an hour after fees.

 

If that is what she wants to pay her proofreader, I wonder what she paid her editor.

 

I take between 2 Cent and 3 Cent for proofreading by the way, but proofreading translations is a little different. I average 1500 to a bit over 2500 (rarely)  words an hour depending on the text.

 

ETA: I've just seen Petra's response. I accept that might well be her proofreading speed,

It isn't Smiley Happy It's an "oh I just have to read it and hopefully there will be no errors or just a comma once every 20 pages..." speed

------------

Thank god for that. I thought you'd become an android.


Kim F wrote:

ETA: I've just seen Petra's response. I accept that might well be her proofreading speed,

It isn't Smiley Happy It's an "oh I just have to read it and hopefully there will be no errors or just a comma once every 20 pages..." speed

------------

Thank god for that. I thought you'd become an android.


Absolutely not!

 

Here is one I was "proofreading" earlier...

 

editing.jpg

Is that what the client said or have you seen the text and this is your opinion?

 

Thos are the client's words. They also said it was "an easy beach read" since most of the errors have been edited, but I haven't seen the text for myself yet.

 

you might choose to reduce your fee a bit but $50 is silly. There aren't fewer words just because someone's already done some work in it.

Unless you're sure you're faster than average, up to 3k words an hour is more likely.

 

Good to know, I'll keep that in mind. Would there be any benefit in suggesting a set hourly rate or fixed rate, then giving them an option between the two?

Before you do anything - get the client to send you the manuscript and read at LEAST 10 random pages.

 

Then quote what you would normally charge to proofread that quality of material.

Chances are, the editing wasn't as red-hot as the client believes... It hardly ever is.

 

Strongly support Petra's tip.

 

A client's description of her files is always irrelevent to me, if she wants to hire me using a fixed-price contract.

 

The client needs to provide me with the input files BEFORE I can provide a final quote. Otherwise, there is no fixed-price contract.

> Thos are the client's words. They also said it was "an easy beach read" since most of the errors have been edited, but I haven't seen the text for myself yet.

 

OK - you really need to see it.  "Most of the errors" could mean anything. 

 

> Would there be any benefit in suggesting a set hourly rate or fixed rate, then giving them an option between the two?

 

I don't do hourly based projects here, so am maybe not the best person to respond. But IMO, the simpler you keep it the better and offering choices just makes things messy. For this sort of project, you're much more likely to come to an agreement about a fixed rate.

 

I get that you may be tempted to go for a lower rate than you might offer later when you have more projects under your belt, but bear in mind that future clients will be able to see what you charged and if you go too low, that could damage your chances of getting higher paid projects later.

By the way, when asking for a sample chapter, request one somewhere in the middle. The first and last chapters are likely to be of better quality than average.

In addition to all the other great advice here, confirm whether he wants only one format proofed or if both print and ebook need to be reviewed.  I've seen a recent posting asking for both, and that's an extra read through. The typos *should* be the same, but that depends on how (and how close together) the PDF and ebook files were generated so you really can't count on that.


Rachel B wrote:

Is that what the client said or have you seen the text and this is your opinion?

 

Thos are the client's words. They also said it was "an easy beach read" since most of the errors have been edited, but I haven't seen the text for myself yet.

 

you might choose to reduce your fee a bit but $50 is silly. There aren't fewer words just because someone's already done some work in it.

Unless you're sure you're faster than average, up to 3k words an hour is more likely.

 

Good to know, I'll keep that in mind. Would there be any benefit in suggesting a set hourly rate or fixed rate, then giving them an option between the two?


Easy beach read? In the next step, he will be asking you to pay him for the priviledge of reading it. You need to start reading between the lines. It is the hallmark of a cheap client do denigrate his work and minimize the task, as in: easy translation, many words are repetitive. (oh great, then I will just omit every word that comes up more than once), tells you how little time it should take to complete it, and so on. 

> Easy beach read? In the next step, he will be asking you to pay him for the priviledge of reading it. 

 

"Easy beach read" is the style of a book. It has nothing to do with denigrating the text or saying it will be easy to edit.

You have received excellent advice. What clients have spent before contacting you, and how wisely or foolishly they have spent it, is not our business.

Linked below are some benchmarks for pricing and for working pace. Note that "page" here means 250 words (based on the traditional double-spaced typescript). Manuscripts that have already been electronically typeset may approximate that. The word count on authors' manuscripts can vary widely; it's often around 400 words per page. Once again, we must do the math.

If you are reasonably proficient at recognizing and executing the various kinds of editing, you may find that in evaluating a sample, your working pace can be a rough indication of the type of editing needed. Knowing the types well can be useful in discussing a manuscript's needs with clients; many would-be publishers ask for proofreading when they mean (at a minimum) copy editing. Expectations may range up to developmental editing.


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