Rates for freelance medical writing?
March 12, 2014 9:48 AM   Subscribe

I have been offered some freelance medical writing work, and need help to determine a reasonable hourly rate to quote.

I have been working full-time as a medical writer for about a year, and have been offered the opportunity to pick up some additional freelance work. I'm very interested in doing so, as it would help me to expand my portfolio significantly. The work would involve developing journal articles and grant proposals, and possibly presentations, on behalf of an academically affiliated hospital research lab. Funding source is NIH grant awards. I'm located in the northeast of the US.

I've asked around a bit, and the one person I know who has actually done this sort of work has charged $50-75/hour, depending on the client, and indicated that $50 was actually somewhat below market rate. I'm trying to figure out what would be reasonable for me to ask. I am published, but haven't written anything for peer-review in a few years (though on the whole I'd say I write better and faster than I ever did in grad school).

I would appreciate any input on how I should go about determining a reasonable hourly rate to quote, and the boundaries of reasonable rates to accept (e.g., ask Z but don't take less than Y, or 2X salaried rate, etc). I'm happy to follow up with any additional information on my qualifications and experience as they may influence this. If you are a freelancer who doesn't want to disclose your rates publicly, I'd love a MeMail.

Of potential significance: the PI who approached me about this has not previously used an outside writer, and asked me to research rates.
posted by amelioration to Work & Money (5 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
The Editorial Freelancers Association suggests $60 to $70 an hour, or 85 cents to 90 cents a word.

If you heave a user name and password at the American Medical Writers Association, you can check out how your competition is marketing itself.

Remember that freelance rates shouldn't be compared to hourly rates for employees. An employee gets paid holidays, paid sick time, vacation time, health benefits, retirement benefits. The company also foots the bill for the tools and overhead for its workers (computer, desk, electricity, heat light). You have to build that into your freelance rate.
posted by Longtime Listener at 10:05 AM on March 12, 2014 [4 favorites]

I'd also say your rate floor should be $60 hourly. Take what you're earning per hour in your (presumably) salaried position and double it.
posted by woodvine at 11:04 AM on March 12, 2014

Do you really want to charge an hourly, rather than a flat rate for the piece? I freelance for various publications, (more like journalism than medical writing) and every editor who contacts me offers so much a story. If I get done fast, yay me, and if it takes longer, well, I need to work more efficiently. I'd say $$ for $250 words, and go from there.
posted by Ideefixe at 1:12 PM on March 12, 2014

Mefite wolfster is in this field I believe, maybe shoot her a memail?
posted by smoke at 2:40 PM on March 12, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks all. Between the answers here and those I received privately, I've got a good handle on the general numbers.

It does appear that charging hourly is the standard within this subfield, Ideefixe, with per-job fees generally being considered a pretty big discount, but I appreciate the suggestion and will certainly consider it further if and when I've gotten more experience and have a better sense of my own rate of production.
posted by amelioration at 6:59 PM on March 12, 2014

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