Editing Work - How Much is Normal?

I’m thinking of doing some freelance editing. I’ve heard that advertising at ShiDa and TaiDa can get jobs editing students’ work. Does anybody with experience in this sort of thing have an idea what the going rate is for freelance editing work? I assume it’s per page, possibly with a minimum charge? Appreciate it-

(and I thought my English major was useless)

Copy editors don’t charge by the page; they charge by the hour. Although some might say they charge by the page, unless they’re masochists they base that “page” rate upon their real hourly rate after having looked at the manuscript and evaluating how much time it will take to finish. Otherwise you would charge the same for a manuscript you need to spend ages on as for something that needs but one extra comma.

And any definition of “page” needs to be clearly established in advance. Single-spaced 10-point Arial? Double-spaced 12-point Times New Roman? What about footnotes? Word count? Are additional Chinese characters words?

Do not trust clients when they say “It’s just a couple of pages and should only take a few minutes to clean up.” They might believe that, but it’s seldom true.

Charge extra for last-minute jobs.

Establish whether you are responsible for checking facts.

While getting started, base your hourly rate upon what you would charge as a one-on-one English teacher.

Work on an hourly rate. There are so many variables involved. A well written 5,000 word essay may take less than an hour to edit. A badly written 500 word essay could take all day if it proves to be possible at all.

Freelance writers here usually get paid per word. For editing, get a sample of a hundred words or so if you don’t know the source to judge the degree of mess you might be working with and then set your rate.
How much? How much can you ask and how specialized is the editing? “See Spot run,” is hardly worth the same as a term paper on quantum mechanics.
You want to charge per hour? That’s good too.
Look on that Internet thing for more info such as this:

If they want you to finish the editing within 48 hours, it is reasonable to ask for double your normal NT$ rates.

This should be clearly stated on your “service sheet” or advertising circular.

Hourly rates are best, for the reasons mentioned above. However, I’ve found that many clients are more comfortable with a per-page rate. For these clients, I offer a per-page rate that is signficantly higher than what I would normally charge, and then give a discount if minimal editing is required.

What’s a fair per-page rate? That depends on the complexity of the material as well as your expertise in both editing and the specific topic. At an medical editing agency I used to work for, beginning editors were paid NT$100 per page (double spaced, 12-pt font, approx 250 words/page). More experienced editors were paid twice that, but were expected to perform CPR on the paper if necessary. (I could spend a full day on a troublesome 25-page manuscript.) The agency then tacked on a percentage to cover their expenses and clear a little profit, so clients were billed at about NT$200/page for light editing and NT$350/page for substantive editing. That was several years ago, so I imagine prices have gone up since then. When I left the agency, I billed my clients $300 to $400 per page, and increased the price for rapid turnaround.

“That agency’s” translation rates haven’t seemed to go up, so I doubt their editing rates have, either. They’re crying extreme poverty at present…

Originally posted by ironlady: "That agency's" translation rates haven't seemed to go up, so I doubt their editing rates have, either. They're crying extreme poverty at present...

Well, then I hope you’re not still working with them!

By the way, you were the best translator they had at the time I was there. I only saw 1 of your projects, but it was far better than anything else I saw. Usually, I’d have to do a full edit on translation projects, but not with yours.

Gosh…caught! I’ll really have to watch my grammar in future!

Thanks for your “o-lo” [praise] as the Taiwanese speakers say.

I was still working for them occasionally until last month, when I did quite a large “irregular” job for them that had to do with a certain survey of a certain institution by a certain committee on a certain Beautiful Island ('nuf said!). Said Committee predictably contained a Member whose English was Better than that of Said Translator, and Said Member complained roundly that Said Translation was (quote): “Bad.” Bad how or where, said Member would not say. However, Check for said Job had already been cashed before said Member managed to read said Translation, so said Translator is bearing up rather well under the circumstances. :slight_smile:

To kind of relate this to the original topic – this is also a consideration in editing. Particularly if there is a mid- to upper-range Chinese professor involved, very often you will get people claiming to know more about English than the editor/translator. In some cases (unfortunately) the low language level of those permitted to be editors in Taiwan just based on their native language status means this is true. In other cases, it is just “face” for the professor in question.

I recorded 84 hours of audio tapes in 1996 or 1997 teaching the “Middle School English” textbook series in Chinese for the little tykes to listen to on their Walkmen (I will never forget the producer sitting out there and occasionally jumping up and waving his arms with great agitation when I’d made a particularly unbearable Chinese mistake!! x() Anyway, this textbook series was so BAD, there was at least an English error on every page, on average. I asked the producer about this, and he happened to know the committee in question. I’m told there was one foreigner of very long duration in Taiwan who sat on the committee, but he was completely overpowered by the Chinese professors and unable to get these very obvious errors corrected. (My favorite in the newer series was “The taxi bumped into a bus.” I can just picture the vehicles in question saying, ‘No, no, we don’t need the police, dui bu qi, bu hao yi si’ and driving off.)

When did you leave “said agency”?? Just curious!!

This is all quite helpful. Thanks! (And I’ll check back later to see if anyone else chimes in.) I’ve duly noted - here and from another inside source - that editors charge by the hour, not the page. And I like very much Richard’s idea of charging double for service within 48 hours.
Thank you, folks!

I’m a stay-at-home-mom with 10+ years experience as an Executive Secretary and have been thinking about offering a resume service, as well as editing, wordprocessing, etc. I might even be willing to work for tips :slight_smile: but no promises.

I was inspired by the guy who owns Self Promotion. See his article on tipping

My question: do you think the foreign teachers and other professionals would find this useful (resume prep and tweaking)?


I’m not sure that the companies and schools in Taiwan would be that much more impressed with a tweaked resume for foreigners in Taiwan to justify the cost. If you were tweaking Chinese language resumes, there might be some need…? I don’t know.

If the school or company were foreign-owned, there might be more payback for having perfect English. Otherwise, most employers won’t really know the difference (this is an over-generalization, of course, but I think that’s the way many people would think.)

Thanks for the reply IronLady.

Something to think about.

I, too, am wondering about fair rates for editing, as I’ve been approached by several researchers wanting me to edit their papers for them. I have a science background and I’m working as an editor for a research journal here in Taipei, but I don’t have a clue how to charge people for free-lance work. According to the previous forum discussion on this subject, I gathered that a typical rate was similar to private language teaching (NT$1000/hour, I’ve heard), or approximately NT$300/page, with double rates for rush jobs. I just completed several rounds of extensive revisions on a 24-page paper as a rush job, taking me a total of about 11 hours. Can I (should I?) seriously charge the guy NT$11,000 for this job?!? That seems like a huge chunk of money, but I don’t want to cheat myself either. Will he have a heart attack if I ask for that much money? I’d appreciate whatever advice people may have.

Did you make your rates perfectly clear before you started the work?

If so, there should be no problem, as far as I can see, although 11 hours for 24 pages seems pretty long – I have around 15 years experience and usually manage around 4 pages per hour if the work is pretty messy.

I also routinely make sure the client gets an email with a written quotation that he or she must approve and return before I’ll start the work.

It seems long because I did several different revisions of the same 24-page paper. I did the first round in a few hours, submitted it to him, he made revisions and gave it back to me (still with lots of mistakes), I re-edited it, etc. etc. So it was the equivalent of editing maybe 50 pages by the end of the process.

I didn’t make rates clear ahead of time, because he gave it to me at the last minute (“I must submit this for publication in two days!”) and I had not yet even thought about doing free-lance editing for people.

Sorry–I forgot to say thanks for the comments/info! I really appreciate it!

I billed a (corporate) client NT$15,000 for a 53-page report just before I replied to your post, and it wasn’t a rush job.

I know this doesn’t do you much good right now, but it should at least give you some idea of prices and reassure you a little. Whether it will also reassure your client, though…

I urge you in future to get into the habit of demanding written approval of your rates from the customer before you embark on any future projects.

I have a feeling you might have to bite the bullet on this one, drop your price to, say, NT$9,000 as a “goodwill gesture” and just chalk it up to experience.

Good luck.

Thanks for your advice–very helpful to me. I will definitely establish a rate ahead of time for future projects. I like your idea of getting a written agreement ahead of time… Gotta run, but thanks!

Oh, sh… shh… OOPS, SORRY JEFF! shoot! (can I say shoot?). Just realized I inserted TWO posts in Living in Taiwan without including any profanity. Won’t happen again.