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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.

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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

The suggested rates (Know a better rate? tell us!)
For full definitions of the categories, click on their names
* See also: reported rates, to compare: Print media / Editing/producing books
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.

Specialist editing, such as classical languages or complex mathematics, per hour GBP 50.00
Project management, per hour GBP 35.00
Substantial editing and rewriting, per hour GBP 30.00
Design, per hour GBP 28.00
Copy-editing, per hour GBP 28.00
Rights and contracts, per hour GBP 28.00
Publicity, per hour GBP 28.00
Full indexing, per hour GBP 28.00
Picture research, per hour GBP 28.00
Proofreading, per hour GBP 24.00
Manuscript reading and reporting, per hour GBP 22.00
Index adapting and simple indexing, per hour GBP 22.00


  • Again: rates for extremely sensitive or demanding editing 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 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 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.
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Text © Mike Holderness & previous contributors; Moral rights asserted. The collection (database right) © National Union of Journalists. Comments to 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.