Fair editorial rates

We don’t publish our typical editorial rates. Why not? Pricing varies greatly from project to project based on length, how polished the manuscript already is, the number of services in a package, the type of manuscript, and the author. So attempting to guess a price without seeing a manuscript would more often than often be inaccurate and seem misleading.

I’m very up front about the fact that we’re not the cheapest firm in the business; I’m also quick to point out that a majority of our clients were burned by discount editors before they found us. But we don’t charge a little more just because we do a better job; we charge a little more because it’s the right thing to do.

Let me explain.

I’m a cookie dough ice cream addict. On principle, I buy only Ben and Jerry’s. Why? Because the chocolate industry is notoriously corrupt, and a lot of the cheap chocolate we enjoy from American supermarkets was produced by slave labor and by children working in abysmal conditions. Ben and Jerry’s cookie dough ice cream, however, is certified Fair Trade. While I’m under no illusions that the supply chain is perfect even behind the Fair Trade label, by purchasing this (more expensive) Fair Trade ice cream, I’m doing the best I can to reject an exploitative system in favor of one that is more just. If I see myself as having responsibility for the kind of chocolate I buy, how much greater is my responsibility to make sure people I give work to within my own company are fairly compensated!

A couple days ago, someone pointed out the website of another editorial firm to me. This firm published their (shockingly low) prices on their website for all to see. The prices were all flat rate, based on word count and service type. I calculated they would typically result in a wage for the editor of about $12/hr. Undoubtedly the firm also takes a cut–let’s be generous and say they take just 8%, so our intrepid editor is left with $11.04 before tax. In some areas of the country, this might be a living wage. Not a professional wage, certainly, but you might be able to support yourself on it, especially if there are two wage-earners in the family. But these editors are almost certainly not employees–they’re contractors who are not guaranteed hours, have to purchase their own health insurance, and pay self-employment tax (which essentially doubles the normal income tax). Suddenly this $11.04 seems like they may as well be bagging groceries at Walmart. I can’t imagine asking my team to work at those rates. They’ve gotta eat! And there isn’t much point in hiring an editor if their pay is so low that they have to get through a dozen books a month just to pay rent–even the most talented editor wouldn’t be able to help you craft the best version of your book under those circumstances.

But we also want to find a balance. I don’t think that the experience of writing and publishing a book should be accessible only to an elite class with lots of disposable income. Everyone should be able to afford high-end editing services to make their writing the best it can be. That’s why we offer payment plans, run contests for discounts, and work to figure out which services we can slash to keep you in your budget while maintaining the quality of your book. That’s how we serve clients with limited incomes, from graduate students to stay-at-home moms, as well as professional authors, including one who ranked in Amazon’s top 100 bestseller list for books. In the end, we hope everyone wins.

Time for my bowl of Ben and Jerry’s!


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