is the page I hate. But I need to set a rate, and you'll want
to know exactly what my services costs and factor that into
whatever writing budget you have (which, if my own experience
is anything to judge by, is not likely to be very big).
So here goes ...
Broadly speaking, I'm looking to
make between £10-£15 per hour, which is fairly modest.
To make a decent living at that rate means a lot of hours at
the keyboard. But that's my problem.
In reality, however, my true rate
is generally much lower because I frequently find myself working
"off the clock" and tidying up smaller things that are felt
to be below the billing threshold.
Also, there's the issue of "thinking
time" and "research time". By this, I mean that I'm usually
carrying work around in my head and looking for ways to deal
with this and that, and how to solve problems. Or I might be
doing a little research on the internet.
I rarely bill for any of this unless
I'm online for more than 20 minutes or so, or if I spend a lot
of non-writing time struggling to work out an awkward thread.
So I may not charge at all for ten
minutes work here or there if I can write-off the time (pardon
I find that I have to work by switching back and forth between
manuscripts, perhaps because I'm awaiting an email reply to
a query, or because I'm simply looking for inspiration - which,
naturally, doesn't always rise up on demand.
So there has to be a certain amount
Does that mean that my work is compromised?
You'll have to decide on that when you see the results. But
my own feeling is that it's often actually better not to stand
too close to a project. You need to get a little distance between
yourself and a manuscript, which is often exactly why people
choose an editing service; to get a more impartial view.
Anyway, so much for the sales spiel.
Here's a rough breakdown of costs—but
remember that all projects are different.
Fiction editing costs around
1p per word up to 1000 words.
This assumes some rewriting and
a brief report on the project (probably around 500 words). I
estimate about one hour work. If it's a particularly tricky
job, I'll advise beforehand. The rate could go to 2p per
word, which I think is still pretty good value. To keep
your costs down, edit as much as possible before I see the document.
All jobs, incidentally, are spellchecked.
For a 50,000 word fiction project,
the base cost is still likely to be around 1p per word,
but I'll give a more comprehensive report (probably around 2000-4000
words) and will assume a little more direct writing. That kind
of job usually takes around 50 hours. I'll spellcheck
and will do what I can to advise on problems, inconsistencies,
poor characterisations, etc. And I'll tell you straight if I
think you're wasting your money—in
which case you may want to try another editor, and/or work on
it yourself some more.
Make sure you want to hear my opinion.
It could be hard.
Some editors are happy to work on
anything (and I'm not casting aspersions on anyone by that remark).
For myself, I need to enjoy and become involved in a
project, and if I feel it's below a certain threshold, I simply
won't be able to do a good job and would prefer not to take
You might want to read my page
I might not want to take on a project
simply because I don't have sufficient experience of a genre
to be of any use. I've written some sci-fi, for instance, and
I've read a fair bit (mostly older stuff; Philip K Dick, Isaac
Asimov, Arthur C Clarke, Ray Bradbury, etc), but there are styles
within styles, and some sci-fi goes right over my head.
Keep that in mind.
Neither would I be much good with
fantasy, largely because I don't understand the conventions.
But if you think I've got something to offer, I'll help where
For a 100,000 word project,
the rate would usually drop below 1p per word. Yes, a
100,000 word project is twice the work of a 50,000 word
project (or often even more work due to reworking threads and
inconsistencies which tend to multiply exponentially). But most
writers simply won't be able to afford the costs involved, so
I try and keep it down to a more acceptable level and burn a
little extra midnight oil.
But it's not all bad, from my point
of view. It often means enjoying some good writing, and it beats
working at the car wash.
For non-fiction, editing costs are
I need to do a lot of research. With non-fiction, it's generally
a more mechanical process without the need to watch things like
plotting and characterisation (although there are other issues
to be addressed, not least accuracy).
It would be nice to give a fixed
rate. But it simply isn't realistic. As an absolute minimum
price, I'd want to earn
£10 for any job.
Query letters and synopses
The cost of writing
Query Letters is, I'm afraid,
higher. Ditto for synopses. These take a lot of thought to get
the tone just right. A 1000-word query letter might take 2-3
hours. It needs to be carefully reasoned and 'spun', so I charge
2-3p per word. But if you need something fired off quick, I'll
try to help. But I wouldn't recommend it.
My advice is to write your own query
letter and spend a few days on it, coming back to it over and
over again, each time trying to imagine it as an agent or editor
will view it. If you're still stuck, or feel I can add something,
let me know.
I would expect to spend around 3
hours writing a query letter. That's not enough, but if you're
totally inexperienced or really need the help, I think you'll
get your money's worth and will have a reasonably decent missive
to send off with your manuscript. Therefore, a 1000 word query
letter would cost between £20-£30. A 2000 word synopsis
would cost between £40-£60.
The costs would be lower if you
simply want your own query letter or synopsis edited, repaired,
Email me whenever you're ready and
I'll do what I can to accommodate you.
This is expensive. A 100,000 word
novel might take 3 months to write, or 6 months. I'd have to
commit a lot of time and energy to a project and would expect
to earn around £7500-£15,000.
By most people's standards, that's
a lot of money. And it may not be well spent. Selling novels
is hard. And risky. I've spent years trying to get that big,
or even small, publishing deal. And it could be many years yet
before I see it—if
I ever see it.
To have a ghostwriter turn your
own ideas into a saleable manuscript might be a success, but
might be simply money down the drain. And even if you have a
terrific idea for a book, you'll want to get the most suitable
ghostwriter, or at least a writer you feel you can trust and
So shop around.
Non-fiction projects of an equivalent
size are usually cheaper. But each job needs to be looked at
In short, approach ghostwriting
with extreme caution. Check the web. Ask around. Be sure of
what you want. And check your expectations.
If you still want to talk, email
me and I'll see what
I can do.
Meanwhile, here are
some of my You Tube videos that might be of interest to you.
Hope you enjoy them.
Mr Edit. Let's talk about dialogue
Mr Edit. Pitching fiction to a literary
Mr Edit. 5 Minute Fiction Fix.
Mr Edit. Let's talk about tautology.
Links for writers
& Editors. Here's where you can check out the credentials
of literary agents and publishers. A must for any writer.
Helpful resource for the creative community. Articles, links
Writing Blog. Lots of useful posts on all aspects of writing,
both for print and online, plus a guest post for anyone who
wants to make a contribution. Check it out.
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