I received this post today from GoodReads purporting to give reasonable figures for editing and page layout for books. The table is from the original blog posting.
While these may be common charges for freelancers living in large cities, they only serve to show how far out of touch the bi-coastal publishing industry has gotten.
Let me give you some idea of what we are talking about here. I just finished a non-fiction book today with 124,000 words. At 250 words per page [as the post uses for its standard], that’s 496 pages. Interestingly enough, with 260 illustrations in 7″x10″ book I have 474 pages including the front matter and the index. Yes, I realize that this is a very large and difficult book for many.
So what I want to do is multiply this out and see what the charges in the chart come to for a book like this.
Production Charges for a 500-page graphically-intensive book
Shorter books will have some extra charge built-in because the overhead costs the same for a large or small book. Things like file management, storage, upload and download times are all built into the prices I list. So, a $150 set up charge may be 10% or less for a 500-page book, but it might be half or even three quarters of the expense for a 100-page book.
- Basic copyediting: $1,500 to $4,000
- Heavy copyediting: $4,000 to $7,500
- Developmental editing: $4,500 to $27,500
- Indexing: $875 to $4,062+
- Book Layout: $2250 to $7,055+
These are absurd prices. I’m a pro. I’ve been doing this stuff for over 40 years. I charge $60 per hour. Yes, I’m very fast. However, my charges are much lower than these.
My copyediting charges for a book like this would be: $600-$750 for what this chart would consider basic copywriting. Plus, I copyedit the book as or after it is laid out. So, it’s an additional charge to the page layout.
I hate indexing, so I overcharge to reduce the volume, but I would get about $500 in addition to an editing charge for something like this. Figure $1250, but that also includes editing.
Book layout: I charge $2-$3 per page, plus $7 per illustration (not including any creation time for the graphics) so this would be $2,820-$3,300 [$1800+ for the graphic production]. For a novel, I’d probably quote $500 for the page layout [a dollar per page], plus $7 per illustration. But you should also consider that my charges include the conversion to ePUB and Kindle.
Am I too cheap? Maybe
But I worked as an in-house art director for commercial printing companies for years. This was when we were still typesetting with photo paper and pasting up by hand. We were shooting all the halftones ourselves. I commonly quoted those page layout jobs for books at $2 per page—$3 per page if they were very complex, plus the graphics.
Beware of greedy editors and graphic designers!
On the other hand, if they are much cheaper than what I am charging, or if they are working in a word processor for page layout, avoid them like the plague. If the editor or designer is experienced, 10 pages per hour is almost the minimum you should expect. An editor can work in Word, but the indexer and page layout specialist need to working in InDesign or QuarkXPress. Once I get into the job, I run close to twenty pages per hour for straight copy.