The Cost of Editing

Given the job you are doing we’ll find the money to pay what you bill.

~ Email from a Very Happy Client

My satisfaction comes from client satisfaction. If I have done well for you and can pay a few bills as a result, I am happy. The cost of editing is equal to the time and effort required to bring about that result.

I started my business with a table of hourly rates on this page, based on the type of editing required and a range of words that can be edited at that level in an hour. That worked for a time, and then I updated this page with a bit of a rant about how sometimes I’d rather be paid in chickens than dollars (and I honestly was paid in chickens once; it was awesome) and updated my fee schedule to version 2.0, the “Ballpark Estimate Table for Managing Expectations”. That also worked well for a while, until it didn’t. Then I came up with a dual fee structure based on per-word or per-hour approaches.

I still hold the opinion that if I could measure the cost of editing in chickens, eggs, squash, cabbages, or hours of manual labour, I totally would. As it is, fees (by the word or hourly) are listed in Canadian dollars and do not include GST/HST for clients in Canada. For more information on the types of editing and services available, see my home page. For more information on my interests, experience and expertise, see About Me.

1. By the word

I reserve by-the-word fees for fairly light editing. These are ‘single-pass’ jobs to bring a finished document in line with a style guide and/or a ‘good polish’. A solid copy edit includes correcting spelling and grammar, adding queries if something is not clear, flagging inconsistencies (in hyphenation, numbers, dates etc.), checking citations and references, and so on. This kind of work is very similar to what you would get from an online service such as Scribendi. I cannot guarantee price matching, but I can most certainly guarantee similar or superior quality and a personal touch that online services cannot offer. My fees include a final check after edits have been inserted, if desired.

My per-word rate will be in the range of $0.05 to $0.08 cents per word, before tax, depending on the length and state of the document and the desired turnaround time. Similar to online services, I will need to know your desired spelling/dictionary, your required style guide (or the name of the journal), and whether you will need references checked.

I am pleased to offer a 20% discount for students paying out of their own pocket. I will apply this discount to any quote I provide. Supervisor permission is required in writing for editing of a student’s thesis.

2. By the hour

Hourly consulting fees are for more in-depth work, usually related to writing, structural and/or stylistic editing. My About Me page lists the kind of projects I have worked on. I specialize in research funding applications, scientific manuscripts, and academic reports, but I have also worked on technical reports, web copy and community communications.

My base consulting rate for academics is $90.00 per hour, before taxes. The number of hours required for a project varies widely. Shorter grants and manuscripts may be 10 to 20 hours. Larger grant applications or projects typically fall into a range of 40 to 80 hours.

Things to keep in mind

  • Be honest about your budget restraints. You will be surprised what I can accomplish for how little, depending on how much I believe in what you are doing. If you are reeling from a quote, make me a counter-offer and we’ll agree on an amount and scope that makes us both happy.
  • Be legit. Answer my questions about where you live and what you are writing for. I should be able to Google your name and find you. I reserve the right to ask for a deposit and to refuse payment by cheque (unless your funds are coming from a University). Scammers can find my template response here.

Payment methods

If you are using grant/institutional funds, most institutions pay by cheque. My business is listed as a supplier for the following Canadian universities:

  • University of Montreal
  • University of Toronto
  • University of Guelph
  • McMaster University
  • University of Manitoba
  • University of Alberta
  • University of British Columbia (Vancouver and Okanagan)

For out-of-pocket (personal) payments, I prefer e-transfer for Canadian clients and PayPal for international ones. PayPal fees are converted from CAD to USD on the invoice date, and a 4% processing fee is applied.