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How much does a proofreader charge?

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
Someone wants to hire me to do academic proofreading (his English is somewhat shaky but he wants to publish his chemistry papers.) What in the world should I charge?? I have done proofreading before and am good at it, but I've only done it for free.

I don't want to overcharge, because I don't have any professional experience, but I don't want to undercharge either! I'm a busy mom!

It's my first job----I'm so excited!

Edited to add: My first PAYING job, that is!
post #2 of 14
I've done it in trade, so I don't have any advice on a rate. Congrats!
post #3 of 14
Don't know your location, which can be a factor, but I'd start between $15 and $20 per hour (estimate about 5 pg per hour, dbl spaced) or about $1.50 - $2 per page. That's basic proofing--spelling, basic grammar, punctuation, stylebook compliance. Anything deeper becomes more of a copyediting job, and will take longer and cost more.

Are you marking hard copy or correcting files? Marking hard copy is faster, easier, and IMO a better method, because your client makes the changes.

You can charge more as you gain experience.
post #4 of 14
You might try the forums on the Chronicle of Higher Ed site. It is mostly academics posting so you might get good info on how much people charge and how much they are willing to pay.
post #5 of 14
Also, for academic proofreading be sure to check whether the person expects you to know APA style. You should be clear that you're doing the basic spell/grammar check. People who know APA can charge serious money as it's a PITA!
post #6 of 14
Thread Starter 
What's APA style? Also, I think this particular writer is wanting me to proofread because he has TERRIBLE English and this is more about correcting his English than mere grammatical errors and such. I wonder how hard this will be.
post #7 of 14
APA style is a format used by a lot of graduate programs and educational publications- its rules govern how pages should be formatted and how sources should be cited in endnotes and footnotes.

Google it and you'll get tons of hits.

If he's looking to publish, then I'm sure his papers will need to be in APA style or something similar.
post #8 of 14
These are the going rates for professionals in the New England/New York area.

http://www.the-efa.org/res/rates.php

ETA: University papers, especially ones that are geared toward later publication, are almost always done in either APA or CMS (Chicago Manual of Style) format. These formats are complicated. I trained professionally for 3 years in using both and still resort to looking things up often. My boss, who had been editing for almost two decades, also still ran into situations where she had to reference and work to find the right solution. I would be clear with your friend that you are proofreading for spelling and grammar only, not formatting his paper, because that's a whole different level of editing and it takes a LOT more time and energy. If he's not going for publication, then a more relaxed form of APA or CMS is generally used, but it's still a bit of a pain, especially if you haven't used that format in a while and have to look everything up to check it.
post #9 of 14
Just as information, one of my friendly proofreading jobs was for someone whose English is not the best (second language). Spelling was the least of the work. Complete restructuring of sentences and paragraphs was required and this was for a lengthy children's book. I was very grateful it was hard copy!
post #10 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by freestyler View Post
What's APA style? Also, I think this particular writer is wanting me to proofread because he has TERRIBLE English and this is more about correcting his English than mere grammatical errors and such. I wonder how hard this will be.


http://www.apastyle.org/manual/index.aspx

You need to know APA sytle inside and out if you are going to proof-read. APA can be very techinical in set up, formatting, etc.
FYI the actual APA manual is something like 300 pages
post #11 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by freestyler View Post
Someone wants to hire me to do academic proofreading (his English is somewhat shaky but he wants to publish his chemistry papers.) What in the world should I charge?? I have done proofreading before and am good at it, but I've only done it for free.

I don't want to overcharge, because I don't have any professional experience, but I don't want to undercharge either! I'm a busy mom!

It's my first job----I'm so excited!

Edited to add: My first PAYING job, that is!
Good for you!

I have a proofreading/copyediting job, but it is for Web publication and I'm able to use my style preferences and judgment. I'm not trained in any particular style, although I own a copy of the Chicago Manual of Style and the AP Stylebook for reference. I have never worked with APA.

I'm wondering if any more formally experienced folks can comment on how critical it is to learn these styles inside and out before calling yourself a "proofreader" or marketing yourself as such?

It sounds like there might be stricter professional conventions than I imagined. If you are more of an informal proofreader (like me), maybe you can't charge as much...or maybe it all depends on the needs of the client. Anyone care to share thoughts on this? I would find it helpful, and I am betting the OP would, as well.
post #12 of 14
Some places want APA and others want MLA style documentation. If you help him restructure his sentences, someone else can help him with the documentation. I wouldn't expect you to do it all. Will this be "under the table" or will you be paying taxes? I'd make sure I'd get at least $10/hour AFTER taxes. So that'd be approx. $15/hr. before taxes.
post #13 of 14
Congrats on a paying job! These are some really difficult questions to answer.

Here is a link to the Web site of a professional proofreader. It's not me, but she offers a great deal of information/detail about her sevices that might help you think through things. I really like how she spells things out. I have not yet, but certainly have strongly considered using her services for academic writing.

http://www.wordbywordediting.com/

Good luck!
post #14 of 14
If it is a paper for a chemistry journal, you don't need to worry about APA or other style issues except for the way references are cited. The American Chemical Society does publish a style guide, but I don't know anyone who actually uses it. There might be a few issues as far as abbreviations and such, but you would just need to look at the webpage of the particular journal he's planning on submitting to.
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