Print media / Editing/producing books

Please note that the suggested rates below are minima; that rates for copyright works are for limited licences; and that VAT is not included. See notes on negotiating rates and *find a freelance

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.

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RATES: Production and book editing
Editing/producing books

We cannot say it too often: be clear on what the contract covers. Additional days of work generated by others' changes of mind must, for example, be chargeable.

Project management, per hour GBP 31.00
Specialist editing, such as classical languages or complex mathematics, per hour GBP 27.00
Substantial editing and rewriting, per hour GBP 27.00
Design, per hour GBP 27.00
Copy-editing, per hour GBP 24.00
Production control, per hour GBP 24.00
Rights and contracts, per hour GBP 24.00
Publicity, per hour GBP 24.00
Full indexing, per hour GBP 24.00
Picture research, per hour GBP 22.00
Proofreading, per hour GBP 21.00
Manuscript reading and reporting, per hour GBP 19.00
Index adapting and simple indexing, per hour GBP 19.00

Notes:

  • 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, 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 original design rates, see Design - books.
  • Use the checklist to be sure that all contingencies are covered, and make sure the client has adequate insurance to protect the freelance while they hold any pictures or artwork. If in doubt, the frelance 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.
  • Freelances who submit work on an expensive medium (such as a Zip™ disks) should make sure the client agrees to return it after use and to pay for or replace any lost or damaged disks.
Agreements
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Text © Mike Holderness & previous contributors; Moral rights asserted. Comments to ffg@londonfreelance.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.