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How Much Should You Charge for Rewrites?

Let’s be honest, some clients are just not worth it. These are the clients who expect the first draft to be perfect and won’t budge an inch beyond that. They’ll even expect you to fix every little thing they say even if the initial version is almost flawless. Some clients can be a pain in the ass. They’ll make you do things that are way above your pay grade and even when you think you’ve gotten everything done, they’ll send you some more stuff. And to make matters worse, these are the clients we all want. The ones who pay well and know what they want. So it really drives up your costs and takes more time.

Now, not every client is going to be like this but the ones who are are the worst. These are the clients who keep sending you stuff even after you told them the job is done. These are the clients who have low pay grades but demand high-quality work. When it comes down to it, you’ll usually end up charging them double what you would ordinarily charge for a standard rewrite.

So how much should you actually charge for a rewrite?

There are a few variables that can make this question difficult to answer. But first, let’s look at what a normal rewrite entails.

The first and most critical step in the revising process is to make a list of everything that needs to be revised. This includes everything from the overall story to the characters’ quirks. It could be a combination of both. Now, this is not an exact science and it really depends on the writer. Some may feel that setting the story in the present day is more important than fixing spelling errors while others might feel the opposite. It’s all about what you find vital to the story. Once you’ve established the essence of the story, you should be able to come up with a detailed outline that can be used as a reference point for the whole rewriting process. From there, you can develop a flow chart of the entire story that can be used to keep track of all the plot points as you go.

The Rate Sheet

Before you start quoting prices, you should have a rate sheet that you use to calculate your cost for each type of project. Simply adding up the hours you spent on the project plus what you spent on travel and lodging should provide you with a good starting point. Don’t forget to add in a little for additional copies, web hosting, and the like. If you’re looking to freelance, you’ll need to take into account the time it takes to find clients and the time it takes to complete projects. When it comes to billing, every moment should be accounted for.

If you’re going to be working on multiple projects at once, you’ll need to establish a rate per project. But it’s not like having multiple projects is a bad thing. On the contrary, it’s a great opportunity to get paid for your expertise while simultaneously building up your portfolio. Establishing separate rates for each project will avoid any misunderstandings down the line. When you’re quoting prices to potential clients, don’t forget to add in a little bit more because of all the other little things that come with the job. Time is money, and you want to be paid as much as possible without jeopardizing your own financial health. Now, how much should you actually charge for a rewrite?

The best way to find out is by looking at other professionals in your field. What would a typical writer’s hourly rate be? What would a typical editor’s rate be? These are the people you need to ask. Word of mouth is the best way to go about establishing rates. After all, you don’t want to underprice yourself or overprice your services. If you price yourself too low, you’ll never be able to make a living, and if you price yourself too high, you’ll lose customers who could’ve served as potential clients. You want to find that sweet spot where you can make a living and still have enough left over to enjoy your work. 

Rewrite vs. Revision

Now, on the subject of separating the two, sometimes it’s difficult to know when you’ve completed a rewrite and when you’ve simply revised something. For example, if you’re doing a rewrite based on a story that was originally presented in Spanish, you’ll want to make sure that everything speaks fluent Spanish. However, once you’ve established that the story is told in a way that makes sense and is linguistically correct, you should be able to identify the sections that require more attention and polish them up.

In a nutshell, a rewrite is when you substantially change the content of a manuscript, often with the aim of improving its quality. A revision is typically a less intensive process where you make smaller, more manageable changes to content or language without completely rewriting the piece. For example, you might want to rewrite the first chapter to include more useful information for aspiring writers, or you might want to rephrase a sentence here or there to make the piece read better as a whole. When you start getting into the habit of routinely doing rewrites, you might be tempted to just keep going until the piece gets to the point where it’s perfect. But that’s all wrong. Remember, you’re only ever as good as your last draft and constantly rewriting something that’s already perfect is a road to madness. Instead, take your time and do your best. Then, when you are satisfied that the piece is of good quality, you can deem it finished.

The Role Of The Editor

As an editor, you’ll often get stuck with a piece that needs revising. This is frustrating because you’re often not given enough time to properly review the piece and give the writer feedback. In some cases, the writer might even ignore your suggestions and go back to the drawing board. When this happens, the blame lies with the editor, and that’s a role you shouldn’t shy away from. Not every writer is going to appreciate your input, and sometimes they might even try to shut you out. But, at the end of the day, you’re there to help and guide them. This is your job after all.

Now, this doesn’t mean that you have to take on the role of an author’s assistant and shoulder all the burdens yourself. Sometimes, it’s better to hand over certain tasks to another person. For example, you might want to let a friend, or even a family member, read over the piece and give you feedback on whether or not it makes sense. This kind of collaboration helps both parties understand the process better and give you an opportunity to get some fresh eyes on the work. Ultimately, though, the buck stops with you. You’re still responsible for ensuring that everything is of good quality and that the writer follows your instructions. Sometimes, this means coming back and revising something multiple times. As an editor, you know what they say, 

“It’s never perfect, the first time you draft anything.” So, keep at it. Be patient and determined. You’ll get there eventually.