How to charge for essay/general editing?
September 22, 2013 8:39 AM   Subscribe

I have previous tutoring experience (as well as being an Ontario Certified Teacher). I'd like to get back into some tutoring/editing work on the side, but I'm not sure how to charge for what I'm hoping to do. I don't really have the time or the flexibility to offer one-on-one tutoring, so I was hoping to offer "editing online" types of services where someone would email me their work and I'd send it back in x amount of time with corrections, editing suggestions, etc. I've done this in the past for journalists, law students, etc. and it seemed to work well. Here's the problem: how do I set up a reasonable and attractive fee structure for this?

Some factors:

- I am very meticulous and it can take several hours to fix something up. Some people are willing to pay per hour, but not many -- especially if their writing is awful to start with.

- I have an M.A. in English literature and seven years of high school teaching experience

- the going rate for tutoring around here (Toronto/GTA) for certified teachers is $40-$50/hour, although of course there is a huge range out there

So I see a couple of options, but I hope Ask MeFi can suggest some others:

1. Lower the hourly rate for editing to something like $20/hr, knowing that I will still make a fair amount due to the number of hours it takes to do a comprehensive job

2. Charge for a certain amount of editing. I've seen people offer "two major, and three minor suggestions", for example, at a fixed price.

posted by The Hyacinth Girl to Work & Money (4 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
What about charging by the length of the essay?
posted by mr vino at 8:54 AM on September 22, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: You can charge by the word (or 250-word "standard" page) if you think you can get a decent ballpark average for how many words of text you can edit per hour. You can also set different per-word rates depending on the level of edit or quality of the text. You might offer a range from a "proofreading"--checking grammar/syntax/punctuation but not editing for prose style--paced at 2000-2500 words/hour or 8-10 standard pages all the way up to a heavy edit paced at 1,000 words/hr or less that would include extensive stylistic polishing and suggestions and tips. Figure out the hourly rate you're willing to work for and then calculate a per-word or per-page rate for each level of service.

The advantage here is that the client knows going in how much the job is going to cost them, and if they only have X budget for editing you can negotiate a service level that will meet their budget. Even if the text really would benefit from a more thorough edit, if someone only has money for a light edit they can get the worst of the egregiousness in the text cleaned up without getting the meticulous white-glove treatment they can't afford.

It's not really attractive to the client to offer a low hourly rate to draw in the budget-minded client and then rack up the bill (from their perspective) by billing a ton of hours.
posted by drlith at 11:13 AM on September 22, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I agree with drlith. Separate proof-reading from editing, and charge less for proofing.

A professional proofreading rate is usually 8-10 300-word pages per hour; more substantial editing is 4-5 pages per hour. Pay attention to your work rate and if you're taking substantially longer than those averages, you might be doing too much and/or you may need to realize that what you're calling "meticulous" is actually just "slow." I've always charged by the hour but I usually work a bit faster than those averages; if you're working much slower than that, you should charge by the page.

Tutoring is a different field and I wouldn't be using that as a comparison at all. I haven't freelanced in a while, but I used to charge US$20/hr for proofing and US$35/hr for editing.
posted by jaguar at 11:48 AM on September 22, 2013

Best answer: This pricelist, from the Editorial Freelancers Association, may be helpful.
posted by quidividi at 12:03 AM on September 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

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