How much to charge to edit a 65,000-word book?

ETA: Title should say word, not dollar! :smiley:

I don’t know if “edit” is exactly the right word. Basically the person watched me help someone re-write a blog post, then PM’ed me a book they have written, with the following request:

I’m happy to help, but unless there is money in it, I can’t justify the time spent. This person did not mention money, and may be hoping for help pro-bono, friend-of-a-friend to friend-of-a-friend.

So I have a couple of problems I’m asking for advice about:

  1. Can I ask for money without coming off like a jerk?
  2. How much money would be reasonable to ask for?
  3. How long do you suppose this would take? (I haven’t looked at it at all yet so I can’t say much right now as to what kind of state it’s currently in.)
  4. What else do you think?

$65,000.00 for a book? In the internet age? Seems excessive :D.

Anyway I’d politely decline and say you just don’t have the time, unless she would like you to do an editing job for which you would unfortunately have to charge.

What to charge is she were interested, I have no idea.

Total WAG…

Sounds like about 215 pages, maybe more.

Lets say 4 pages per hour to edit - that’s around 54 hours, if you think you can do it faster round down to a 40 hour week of work. I’m no expert by any means but I’m guessing that’s about a weeks work of work.

I’d want $40/Hr but I have no idea what the going rate is.
So I’d ask $1600-$2000

Rewriting a blog-post for free is a little different than proof reading an entire book. Unless the person has provided you a significant favor, shouldn’t feel obliged. You could offer to give the manuscript a look to give the (potential) client an estimate/see if it is even within your grasp.

This professional service seems to start at $0.02 (2 cents) a word, for a week’s turnaround. Zoid’s estimates seem reasonable.

Someone I know who works as a freelance editor starts at 5 cents/word. That would be $3,250 for that project. Of course they’re known to negotiate down from there.

From my personal experience, I used to estimate about 5 pages an hour for editing, coming up with results not too different from Zoid’s.

However, there’s a big difference between editing and merely providing feedback. With average reading rates between 200-250 words/minute, you could read that book in about 5-6 hours and give some detailed feedback in maybe an hour or two more of writing notes or discussing the book. So even 10 hours would be somewhat generous if you’re just providing feedback.

Many author round-table kinds of things work by giving you feedback on just a page or two of material. So it could be that the person would be happy if you spent fifteen minutes perusing the book and spent half an hour letting them know how you felt about it in the most general sense.

Whatever your response is, I’d preface any price with what you’ve based it on. Tell them “I feel like I’d need to do X to make it worth your while, and I feel like I’d need to be paid $Y in order to do X properly.” This should help to prevent you from sounding like a jerk, and it gives you a chance to make sure your expectations of the work match theirs.

If all else fails, there’s always the tried and true “Sorry, but I’m working on a project that sounds similar and I want to avoid any possible appearance of plagiarism.”

I have published a few things and I also use an editor, he charges me .03 cents a word. I have no idea if that is standard or not. Most of my stuff has been under 10,000 words and I require a good amount of editing.

The expectation on such requests is usually that it will be done free, or as a favor. I suspect any mention of there being cost involved will end the request.

I’m a publisher, and I’ve paid as little as $200 to get a hardcore, detailed content analysis and copyedit of a 65,000 word book. Roughly $20-25/hour.

I pay about $25/book for a light evaluation, usually of the first four or five chapters.

But I agree with Amateur Barbarian that this person wants you to read it for free. Good luck with that. You’re right to ask for something in return for that potential suffering. :smiley:

Elsewhere I started and commented in a thread about connecting with old friends and flames. One incident I left out was rather surprisingly being contacted by an old and once dear friend - he was actually my best friend and mine’s high school teacher, not even a decade older than we were. Out of the blue I get email from him, we strike up a conversation, we meet for lunch, we talk about family gatherings… and then in a second lunch it turns out he wants to know if I’d be interested in publishing his book. When I gave a noncommittal answer, more or less saying it would have to go through the usual processes, I never heard from him again.

Amateur writers are… funny. Sometimes.

Yeah, like dracoi said, it’s not clear what the writer wants from you: a read and a couple of pages of general feedback, or a full line edit. Hard to estimate fees or time-frame without that

Either way, I’d phrase your response as, ‘Thanks for getting in touch! My rates are $xx per hour, and this would probably take me around xx hours, so the fee would be $xxx. I’d be able to do it within x time frame. Let me know if you’d like to go ahead!’ In other words, take for granted that this is a business transaction. That should stop you sounding like a jerk.

Although I bet the writer will never get back to you.

Frylock, if you’re an actual editor, this is what I would do. If you’re not I would just turn them down. I get this all this time for ‘photography gigs’. I have a ‘big camera’ (a DSLR and a bunch of lenses) and about once a year I’ll have someone ask me if I can do a wedding for their friend or their cousin or even worse I’ll get volunteered for it (“Joey, I told my friends you’d be able to shoot their wedding”). I’m NOT a photographer. I have a camera, I take a good picture here and there but that’s where it stops. I don’t know any more about wedding photography then the guy you see with pruning shears in his hand knows about trimming your 100 year old 40 foot Sugar Maple. Anyways, when it happens I politely turn them down…and sometimes I do have to use some force. Unfortunately, for whatever reason I usually come off as the jackass, but only because they’re so suddenly let down because they thought (assumed) they were about to get free wedding pictures and now they’re back to paying a few thousand for them.
Also, they assume they I just ‘don’t want to’ even when I’m trying to explain that ‘I can’t’ and if I try they’ll just get a bunch of crappy picture and they’ll be mad at me. They might as well just pick any other random guest to do it.

If you are a writer yourself you may want to refuse as the person might seek legal action against you at some later time if elements of any of your works resembles (even if it’s only their mind) the work that they have asked you to edit.

I would set a rate, create a basic contract and explain them both to the writer. If they demur or you don’t hear from them again, then you have your answer.


Here on SDMB, among the frustrated and struggling authors, there is a small and very loose-knit community of readers-in-exchange. You read mine, I’ll read yours. I’ve made some good friends this way, and enjoyed reading some mighty fine work.

(All those ideas to steal! Ha ha ha! Oh, oh, did I say that out loud? Um…)

Anyway, such communities aren’t hard to find…or to found. There are LOTS of writers out there who will happily read your stuff, if you read theirs. This is a truly excellent way of identifying continuity errors, as, often the author is “too close” to the work to notice that the Master Villain had ten tentacles on page 50 and eight tentacles on page 300. We’re also pretty good at noting run-on sentences, trite similes, or casual repetition. Repetition is one of the easier, and more repetitive, traps that writers fall into. A friendly reader helps a lot.

I fixed the thread title.

It would depend on the amount of work, so charge $15/hr at least and see how it goes.

How much did you charge?