Print media / Editing/producing books
Book editing and production is a separate business from book writing, which has its own section of this Guide.
See the notes below about the importance of clarity in contracts.
For full definitions of the categories, click on their names
- Rates for extremely sensitive or demanding editing, such as that requiring specialist legal or scientific knowledge or rewriting very rough drafts, should be higher than the above.
- Editorial freelances should be clear about the brief they are given, usually by commissioning editors. A brief is, indeed, a contract and should be treated as such. Freelances should always try to get it in writing.
- Many freelance editors work from their own premises. Traditionally they have been paid using a rather open-ended hourly (or sometimes daily) rate. In this case, the freelance would usually invoice for the time worked without prior agreement on how long that will be, but at an agreed rate.
- Editorial freelances are, however, often offered a flat fee for the job. This can lead to underpayment if the job proves more complex than the brief indicates. Editors should negotiate a break clause that specifies renegotiation of the fee at any point at which it becomes clear that the job is bigger than anticipated, and in any case a review about halfway through.
- It is in any case wise to agree that the freelance will warn the client if a job seems to be running over time. This can help prevent commissioning staff, who often have unreasonable expectations, from questioning freelances' invoices.
- Commissioning editors themselves are seldom hired as freelances, and nor are development editors (or their equivalent, as titles vary from publisher to publisher). Freelances who do undertake such work should be sure to negotiate fees higher than that suggested for project management.
- For rates for preparing original designs, see Design - books.
- Use the contract checklist to be sure that all contingencies are covered. In addition, make sure the client has adequate insurance to protect the freelance while they hold any physical originals of pictures or artwork. If in doubt, the freelance should insist that these will remain with the client and agree working methods that will accommodate this. Freelances should not have to bear the prohibitive cost either of insurance or of replacement should there be any mishap.
Browse a selection of NUJ freelances with relevant skills through the Freelance Directory:
Text © Mike Holderness & previous contributors; Moral rights asserted. The collection (database right) © National Union of Journalists. Comments to firstname.lastname@example.org please. You may find the glossary helpful.
The National Union of Journalists must not, can not and would not wish to dictate rates or terms of engagement to members or to editors. The information presented here is for guidance and as an aid to equitable negotiation only.
Suggestions apply to contracts governed by UK law only. In any event, nothing here should be construed as legal advice.