Pricing editorial work – SfEP conference session preview

I’ve been invited to present in a ‘Speed start-up: what newbies need to know’ session at the SfEP conference in September on the subject of pricing work, alongside Sue Littleford (Numbers for word people) and Louise Harnby (Banishing the marketing heebie-jeebies). Here’s a taster of my section of the session.

This post was originally published on the SfEP Blog.

Pricing editorial work comes up time and again in discussion between editors. In the session I’m going to look at the basic process of quoting for work, which can be applied across a range of situations. The same principles can also be used to work out if a fixed fee offered by a client is fair.

1. Assess the information provided about the work
The client should provide you with the project parameters, including extent or word count, schedule, level of editing required, and so on. They might suggest a price, or they might ask you to quote.

2. Ask for more information if you need it
You can’t accurately price work without adequate information and a sample of the text. If the client will not provide the information you need to price the work, proceed with caution!

3. Work out what your work is worth
To work out a price for the work, you can take the hourly rate you need/want to earn, multiply it by the length of time you estimate the job will take, and add on contingency to arrive at a total fee. Alternatively you can quote what you think the work is worth to the client. Other factors can influence the figure, such as the particular market, or the time frame allowed for the work.

4. Use data from previous projects/colleagues to help you
To enable you to estimate how long a job will take, it is essential to keep records of work you do. If you are asked to quote for work unlike anything you have done, you can ask colleagues for advice – for example, in the SfEP forums.

5. Prepare a quote, making clear what it covers
When you provide a price, you should also indicate what this price includes. For many publishers, this will be fairly straightforward, as they are likely to be commissioning you for a commonly understood part of the process such as copy-editing or proofreading. For a non-publisher, you will need to ensure they know precisely what they are getting for their money, and importantly what is not included.

6. Prepare to negotiate
If your client suggests a price, don’t be afraid to ask for more if you think the work warrants it; equally, if you suggest a price, be prepared for the client trying to negotiate down.

7. Agree terms with the client, and start work
Make sure you have the agreed price and the scope of work in writing before you start work. If anything changes that might affect the price, raise this with your client as soon as possible.

In the session I’ll be looking in more detail at each of the stages – with particular focus on working out what the job is worth – and taking questions. There will also be a handout with further information and links to resources to help you at each stage of the process.

photo 2016 cropped

Liz Jones has worked as an editor in the publishing industry since 1998, and has been freelance since 2008.

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