“So, What Do You Charge?”
Updated: Mar 7
That is the $64,000 question and the number one thing prospective clients ask. Mostly, they are looking for a quick and straightforward answer, such as “I charge XXX an hour.”
In reality, the answer to that question is not as easy as just quoting an hourly rate. When this question is posed to me, I gently deflect it by explaining my process and how I ascertain what to charge for any given project.
There are several factors a writer and editor have to contemplate when considering taking on a project. They include the scope of the work, the length of the manuscript, the writer/editor’s working pace, the client’s deadline and budget, and the writer/editor’s other client projects, also known a “capacity.” Let’s examine each of these in detail.
The scope of the work – If you are hiring me to ghostwrite your book, that will cost you more than if you have written the manuscript yourself and want me to edit it. And, if you are hiring me to turn your completed book into an audiobook, that is a different computation as well. Ghostwriters typically charge more than editors because the work is more intensive and time-consuming. A ghostwriter has to interview you or utilize your notes and turn them into a book. In contrast, an editor will polish your manuscript and make it shine. But even that can be a challenge, depending on whether you need general editing or more comprehensive structural editing.
Manuscript Length – The length of the document also affects the price. Editing your 50,000-word manuscript will cost approximately twice as much as your 25,000-word manuscript. It is simple math. The same holds true for turning published books into an audiobook, as well as ghostwriting a book. Time equals money.
Time & Pacing – Another factor good writers and editors consider is their own work pace. Do I write and edit 2,000 words an hour, or am I more in the 1,000 to 1,500 word-an-hour range? Again, do the math. If you want me to edit your 40,000-word manuscript and I know I can handle 2,000 words an hour, that equals 20 hours of work at whatever my hourly rate is. So, if I typically charge $40 per hour, I would quote you a rate of $800 for your 40,000-word project. However, a more experienced editor may charge $50 or more per hour and have a slower editing pace because they are more thorough. So, instead of $800, they may charge you $1,300-$1,500. Like many other things in life, you typically get what you pay for. The higher rate likely includes at least two rounds of editing (often by a second person), as well as a more thorough look at your manuscript.
Client Deadline & Budget – A third factor in the pricing formula is the client’s deadline and budget. I typically ask the prospective client what their budget is for the project, but usually, they have no idea. Regarding deadline, a fast turnaround time on your book editing project will cost you more money. Most editors tack on a “rush” fee to a project that needs a quick completion. I ran into this last summer with a client who wrote her book manuscript in two weeks and wanted speedy editing. For me, this required temporarily putting other projects on the back burner, so I charged her an additional 20-percent, which she agreed was reasonable. The 30,000-word manuscript and shortened time frame required me to work seven days a week for two weeks to edit at least 2,100 words a day. The good news was I met the deadline, the client published by her target date, and everyone was happy. The moral of the story is if you want to save some money, plan your book project to leave adequate time for editing.
Capacity – Another factor a writer and editor considers is their own work capacity. In other words, can I take on another project at this time? I have been guilty of quoting a higher rate for a project that I did not really have the time to take on. I also knew that if a prospective client really wanted me to work on it, I would do it for the right price. At other times, I referred the prospect to a colleague because I knew I did not have the capacity or interest, no matter the price.
When a prospective client asks, “how much do you charge?” I deflect from their question by asking a few of my own. Among other things, I want to know how lengthy their manuscript is (by word count) and what kind of time-frame they are looking at. I ask the same questions for editing, ghostwriting, or audiobook projects because the factors are the same for all of them. From there, I offer to put together a formal proposal for the prospect’s project, typically giving them several prices and time-frame options to choose from.
I also quote prospective clients a project rate, rather than an hourly rate, although I use the latter internally to come up with a quote. I find this does several things. It gives the client a set number to budget for, plus ensure them I am not jacking up the price by billing them a differing number of hours each month for a multi-month project. A second thing I do is reference my rates against the Writer’s Market Guide. This yearly industry publication reflects what writers for differing types of projects charge for their services. I find that reassures clients that my prices are reasonable and reflective of what they will find elsewhere within the marketplace.
The Answer Is...
So, as you can see, “How much do you charge?” is not a simple question to answer because there are a lot of factors involved. The experienced writer/editor knows this and considers all of these factors before answering this “simple” question. All of these factors must be considered to give a prospective client a clear picture of the cost and what they can expect when they hire me.
As a prospective client, you can expedite the process. Be prepared to answer a few simple questions about your book project expectations, so the writer and editor can give you an accurate price quote.
Do you have a book ghostwriting or editing project in mind for 2021? Perhaps a book you would like to turn into an audiobook? If so, let’s talk about it! Contact me today, and let’s get the process started.
Dave Ficere is an Author, Editor, and Ghostwriter with over 30 years of experience in broadcasting and writing. When Dave is not writing and editing manuscripts for clients, you can typically find him narrating and producing audiobooks.
“Bringing Your Story to Life” is more than just a tagline at Ficere Writing Solutions. We provide clients with top-notch writing, editing, and audiobook services to get your book or audiobook ready to publish. Our portfolio of services includes Ghostwriting books, editing book manuscripts, and narration and production of audiobooks.
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