Dear WordCount answers your questions about writing, blogging or working as a freelancer. Got a question? Send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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I am looking for a proofreader/editor. I write career-type articles that may appear anywhere, so I’m not sure the standard by which they might be judged. Since I’m dyslexic I also need things like my website, etc., done. Can you tell me if you know anyone out there who charges by the word? I’m new to this so it’s hard for me to compute what it will cost. — CB
I am not a professional proofreader, so I don’t have first-hand advice to share. However, a quick Internet search revealed a variety of rates offered by professional proofreaders. Some include:
- Per hour. The Editorial Freelancers Association lists common editorial rates of $30 to $35 an hour for proofreading, based on a proofreader’s ability to cover 9 to 13 manuscript pages an hour. That’s higher than statistics from the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, which shows the median hourly wage for proofreaders is $15.76.
- Per project. According to answers that LinkedIn members left to the question “How much would you pay for a good copy editor?” proofreaders and copy editors often charge by the project. (Sorry, since LinkedIn killed its Answers section, I can no longer link back to that conversation thread).
- Per page. Compass Rose Horizons, an editing services company, charges $2.25 to $12 per page, with a page equaling 250 words. The range depends on how much proofreading, copyediting or rewriting is involved.
I’d also add that the price you’d pay a proofreader, or that a proof reader would charge, could depend on the type of copy being edited or proofed. Proofreading business, scientific or technical copy may cost more.
What you’ll pay also depends on the standard by which the copy would be measured. Does it need to be AP style, MLA or something else? You could also expect to pay more if you’d like the proofreader to also catch any grammatical errors or fact check your copy.
If you’re already using a virtual assistant, he or she might be able to do this work for you. I hire a virtual assistant for a few hours of work a month, and while I don’t I use her for proofreading, I know that she regularly provides proofreading work for at least one other freelancer, and I’ve heard from the VA that the other writer swears by her work.
Create a Proofreading RFP
If you’re looking to hire a proofreader for a specific project, create a request for proposal (RFP) that includes:
- A detailed explanation of the required work
- A separate list of extras that you’d like them to do if it doesn’t cost too much.
Make the RFP a list, outline, chart or something else that’s simple enough to limit to 1 page. Then you’ve got something you can circulate to prospective proofreader/contractors. Ask them to bid on the work on an hourly basis or as a flat fee covering a set number of hours. If you’ve separated your must-haves from your want-to-haves, you’ll be able to see what you can afford. It might also help you with budgeting, so if you can only afford X work now, you can build the rest into your monthly, quarterly or yearly budget.
Hiring a writer, editor or proofreader is just like hiring any other contractor you’d work with, so you need to take a similar approach to penciling out the expense. Smart freelancers do the same thing when they’re deciding whether to take a job.
[Flickr photo by Unhindered by Talent]