Rates, estimates, and proposals

As I’ve noted elsewhere in this site—and as I’ll emphasize when you approach me for an estimate—each project I receive is different. 

You have to agree: we each think differently, we each read differently, we each write differently; some people are just better at certain things than other people are. 

Since every person is different, I think I should treat each person’s work on its own merits and base my editorial rate on its condition.  Having said that, you should not be surprised that I do not have a single, established blanket charge that covers every single job.

And, yet, people still ask for my “flat rate” for “editing a novel of 32,157 words”!

How do I create an estimate?

Now, let me emphasize that I don’t mind potential clients asking—I do understand that you need a general idea of cost so you can plan your budget.  But please don’t be irritated by my response: “It depends!”

I am happy to offer individualized estimates because I get a chance to know your work and the chance to learn about you; in addition, I’m able to offer you a  solid maximum estimate  and a fairly concrete tentative schedule or timeline for completion.

To create a free estimate, I will ask you to provide me with a random but consecutive selection (a maximum of 10 to 12 pages is usually sufficient) from your work.  With that selection, we will each discover something:

  • First, you will get to see a sample of my work and see how I edit—after all, we have to be a good fit for each other to be totally successful.
  • Second, I will get to see a sample of your work and see how you write—that knowledge will enable me to provide you with an educated estimate of what the total project will cost as well as some ideas about how I can help you and your project.

After completing a sample edit of your selection, or at least enough of it to have a good feel for your project, I will calculate a personalized estimate for editing by the hour or for completing your entire project.

Then, I compare and evaluate

Once I have a number in mind, I weigh the reality of my estimate against a couple of standard industry formulas.  One formula is based on the suggested “Common Editorial Rates” of the Editorial Freelancers Association, which are surveyed and adjusted periodically.  I will also compare my estimate with at least one other rate structure; depending on the type of project, I may even weigh it against additional rate averages from other professional organizations I work with.  The final estimate I present to you will be in line with industry averages and it will be competitive for the amount of work I provide.  If I cannot do your edit for a competitive fee, which does happen occasionally, I will let you know and we can go our separate ways; the edited sample is yours to keep, regardless.

Remember that my estimates are guaranteed maximums, so you know from the start what your final cost  could  be; in my experience, though, actual charges almost always end up below that maximum.  Remember, too, that the estimate takes into consideration the amount of editing I think you need based on the sample you provided as well as any budget constraints or deadline limitations you have let me know about.  Any changes in quality, timing, or any other condition during the project can impact the cost.

What comes after you accept the estimate?

If we do decide to work together, I will draw up a proposal that takes into account any updated information or negotiations that followed presentation of the estimate.  It will present a tentative schedule and outline any progress payments necessary during the project.  It may also request a small upfront retainer, especially if you have an urgent deadline or we are working on our first project together.  Nothing in the proposal should come as a surprise to you.

For your protection, the proposal will also outline the following “guarantees”:

  • The maximum estimate is really your maximum cost: it is the maximum amount you will be responsible for paying under ordinary circumstances.
  • If a delay is necessary, the estimate is nonbinding and will be honored for up to sixty days.

So, you’ve got nothing to lose—let’s get started . . .


If you still have questions or concerns after exploring our site
or  if you’re ready to see about getting your complimentary sample edit
and an estimated rate and schedule, contact me today.