What Editing Costs (and Why)
Estimates (and final costs to clients) for editing depend on various factors:
- the length of manuscript or number of words
- the complexity or difficulty of the manuscript and editing task
- what type of editing is necessary and wanted by the client
- additional tasks and how much time they will take
- other business factors such as requests for rush jobs, repeat work, retainers
Different types of editing take more or less time and draw on different skills. For example, proofreading pages that have already been copyedited, designed, and laid out well takes less time usually than copyediting that same text for those pages. Doing a substantive edit for the text that eventually becomes those laid-out pages will also take longer than proofreading the resulting pages. Editing maps that appears on those pages is an additional task and takes additional time.
Editors and manuscripts vary; however, here’s what I use to estimate editing costs:
- common definitions of different editorial skills, from the Editors’ Association of Canada (EAC)
- a word count, in order to apply the formula of 1 standard draft/manuscript page = 250 words (Why? See below*.)
- general guides to editorial productivity rates (estimated pace), from the Editorial Freelancers Association and another guide from the EAC and quoting a US source; these estimates from American sources show a range of complexity and difficulty
- correspondence with the client about what the client wants
- an evaluation of at least some of the manuscript (if not all) and possibly a sample edit to determine what the manuscript needs and what time that will take
- an understanding of the process, best practices, possible pitfalls, etc.
- my rate
- over 25 years of experience, including records of many different projects and the editing time they required
For more about rates, what editing involves, and more, please see upcoming blogs or contact me.
* A note about word counts: A standard guide for the length of a page helps editors compare apples with apples. For example, a manuscript that works out to 48 000 words = 192 standard manuscript pages even if it can be printed out in various type fonts and sizes to be 200, 150, or 120 pages. Those same 48 000 words might turn out to be 160 published pages. Whatever, the case, the 250 words/standard page formula ensures that editors can create and use guidelines effectively.