English copyediting rates in the EU
Thread poster: zabrowa

zabrowa
Local time: 06:36
Aug 27, 2012

I've been contracted to edit a business plan written in decent (but far from perfect) English. It is rather technical and scientific in nature and is a complex endeavor because of the competing ideas involved. Accordingly, I'm charging by the hour.

The trouble is, when I try to find a standard rate online, I see most businesses charge by word, not by hour.

Does anyone there know of an hourly rate standard published somewhere online? Ideally something provided by an editor's association or something semi-official so I can charge correctly and provide proper validation for my fees.

Thanks!


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Suzan Hamer  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 06:36
English
+ ...
Two places to start your research into this: Aug 27, 2012

http://www.sfep.org.uk/pub/mship/minimum_rates.asp
http://www.the-efa.org/res/rates.php

Just try googling "editing rates".... Good luck!


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LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:36
Russian to English
+ ...
Hi, just make sure Googling Aug 27, 2012

translation editing rates, not editing rates. Editing rates for texts that have not been previously translated are much lower. From my experience editing rates for monolingual texts are $0.01-0.02 (for English), and translation editing rates are usually 1/3 to 3/4 of the translation rate.

Sorry, I think you are really looking for monolingual editing rates. I think average editing rates are about $0.02. (in the US and the UK).









[Edited at 2012-08-27 12:21 GMT]


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zabrowa
Local time: 06:36
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Suzan Aug 27, 2012

That does indeed help -- but these prices are for English editing in primarily English-language countries. Do you think the rates should be different in Belgium?

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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 05:36
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Per word charging? Aug 27, 2012

Matt Coler wrote:
The trouble is, when I try to find a standard rate online, I see most businesses charge by word, not by hour.

I'm surprised, Matt, that you're finding so many freelancers charging by the word for editing, although of course, it all boils down to that in the end - the text is made up of words, so the more words there are, the more hours the job will take!. It's really not a clever idea to give a per-word quote until you've seen the text. As you know (and can see in the attached links), you're going to be able to handle a lot more well-written words in one hour than badly-written words.

It sometimes surprises me how long non-native English can take to put right (even though that's what I specialise in). I've been caught out in the past, thinking that the English is reasonably good, but then finding out (when I look more closely at it) that it isn't always clear what the writer intended to say. It's amazing how often you find a sentence with more-or-less correct words (maybe an odd choice of synonym), where the incorrect word order throws everything into doubt. Once a writer has shown that they don't really know where to put an adverb, and that they don't always get words quite right, then you can start to wonder whether that misplaced adverb isn't actually an adjective, or maybe...

The pace of editing quoted in Suzan's link surprise me somewhat, although I imagine they are referring to native texts. Maybe it's just that simple, light editing of non-native texts is very rare, but I don't think I tend to work as fast as they seem to expect.


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zabrowa
Local time: 06:36
TOPIC STARTER
English written by non-English! Aug 27, 2012

Hi Sheila and thanks --

You know it! Many of these texts at first glance seem fine but when you read them word-by-word it's a big mess that requires rewriting, reorganization, and often just rethinking. It definitely takes a while!

You hit the nail on the head with those links -- they are written by natives already and so are presumably much easier to edit.

Shat do you think a good hourly rate would be?


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LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:36
Russian to English
+ ...
It is often hard to tell what the author meant -- no matter if written Aug 27, 2012

by a native speaker or not. I agree with you, Sheila, that it might be even harder to decipher some texts written by non-native users of particular languages.

What did you have in mind by saying "texts written by non-native speakers": texts translated or written from scratch by them? Translation editing is a different type of job -- you have to concentrate on the source as well, not just on the translation. It may take longer to properly edit a translated text, sometimes, than to translate it from scratch. This is why the rates are much higher for post-translation editing.

I agree, any editing jobs are really time consuming, and nerve-wrecking, at times because authors are often unclear about what they mean. Some also use very sloppy language -- not translators, usually.


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 05:36
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
An hour is an hour Aug 27, 2012

Matt Coler wrote:
Shat do you think a good hourly rate would be?

My rate for an hour of my (professional) time is the same whatever linguistic work I'm doing - translating, proofreading, copy-editing, teaching (except that there I have to account for things like travelling time, too). After all, there are only a certain number of hours in a day/month/year.

So, my hourly rate, whether it's for monolingual or bilingual editing, is the same as I can make from translating for an hour, and that's what I would recommend you to do: multiply the average number of words translated in an hour by your normal per-word rate. My hourly rates aren't wildly adrift from those in Suzan's links, though I can afford to be a little more flexible on price now that I live in the Canary Islands (no heating costs, for a start!).

@ Liliane:

I agree that the number of words edited per hour when comparing source and target translation texts is going to be lower than when you're working on monolingual texts. In fact, I find bilingual proofreading very slow and a bit "sick-making" from the constant refocusing on different texts, so I don't often accept that work.

But the fact that it's a translation doesn't make any difference if you are doing monolingual editing on the target text, as I quite often do. Monolingual editing of translations is only really feasible when the client is convinced that the translation is near perfect i.e. jargon-type terminology is correct and the use of English is good enough for there to be no misunderstandings, but register may be a little variable, word order may be slightly awry and articles may be handled wrongly. As you can understand, done that way the client can't be 100% sure that the text I deliver matches the source text 100% - and neither can I. All I can do is bring anything that isn't clear to the attention of the client for checking against the source.

Sometimes, I'm given the source even though I don't understand a word of it (it's often in Polish, as it happens) and I've become quite expert at finding the correct sentence and seeing if Google Translate can make enough sense of it for me to correct the English. But I don't make much use of that technique as it's a fundamentally flawed way of checking anything! If things are going badly then all I can do is to hand the text back, unedited, with a recommendation that it be proofread by a Polish to English translator.


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Suzan Hamer  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 06:36
English
+ ...
I know they are for English-speaking countries, Aug 27, 2012

Matt Coler wrote:

That does indeed help -- but these prices are for English editing in primarily English-language countries. Do you think the rates should be different in Belgium?


but it does give you some sort of standard. I imagine nowadays, with the Internet, people in Belgium could send texts to editors in English-speaking countries.

I had the same difficulty you are having, in setting my rates when I first started, but I kept googling and, taking everything I found into consideration, plus my own skill and experience, I set a rate I was happy with. Some people are happy to pay my rate, some don't want to. So I work only for the people who find my rate acceptable.

Looking back at your question, I guess the correct answer would be no, I don't know of an hourly rate standard published somewhere. You just have to go by what you can find online, and estimate how long you think a job will take you and what your time is worth, and then, in a way, it's trial-and-error from there.

You said you were seeking validation for your rates. In my experience, if people are pleased with your work and continue sending your work, that is validation enough. Someone will always be able to find rates lower, and higher, than yours online if they take the time to look. Those sites I mentioned give you an idea of what some people find acceptable in certain places. I thought they might serve as a jumping off place for you. Personally, I find those rates on the low side.

[Edited at 2012-08-27 14:59 GMT]


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English copyediting rates in the EU

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