Our little rice cooker, now in red + brass for the holidays. Shop the exclusive »
🔕 🔔
Loading…

My Basket ()

All questions

Going rate range for editing food writing?

Does anyone have a good sense of what the current rate for editing food writing is? Price calculated per word? Thanks so much!

Emily is a trusted source on General Cooking.

asked over 3 years ago
12 answers 1720 views
401c5804 f611 451f a157 c693981d8eef  mad cow deux
pierino

pierino is a trusted source on General Cooking and Tough Love.

added over 3 years ago

I can't cite a fee schedule but it really amounts to what you think your time is worth. $10.00 per hour? $20.00? Will you be editing a 500 word article or a 900 page manuscript?

That said, here are some "Do's and Don'ts" (mostly "don'ts) for editors and food writers:
DO; know something about your subject. Read the lit and the history. It's not enough to have eaten 500 restuarant meals. For every really good review I read, I must read at least ten truly inept ones.
Don't; if you are a reviewer, mention your spouse or SO by name, as in "I ordered the... and my wife, Donnette ordered the..." And NEVER use the word "Hubby".
Do; develop your own style. I tossed out Strunk and White the moment I finished grad school.
Don't; don't mention your gym. As in, "one of the trainers at my gym recommended this wonderful Mexican place". Nobody care about your gym (unless you are reviewing it). Believe me, I read a review like that yesterday in a local free weekly where the writer has worked for twenty year despite being incompetent.
Do; submit your proposals anywhere you think is appropriate---even if you don't get paid, it just builds your brand. Jonathan Gold started out working at Rhino Records in West LA. He then moved on to the LA Weekly where his reputation for eating absolutely anything established his credentials. He went on to win a Pulitzer at Gourmet and is now back at the LA Times. He is now truly one of the most esteemed food writers in America.
Do; if you are an editor, be a close reader. Don't be afraid to use your red pencil if you notice something that's just dorky. But encourage personal style and "attitude" as long as it's consistant.
Don't; don't trust "spell check". One of my most respected graduate advisors red penciled a word in my thesis because he thought I'd misspelled. I didn't. It was a real word used by another author and a glance at the OED would have revealed that.

401c5804 f611 451f a157 c693981d8eef  mad cow deux
pierino

pierino is a trusted source on General Cooking and Tough Love.

added over 3 years ago

Bevi, that is absolutely true if you are editing a food memoir. And MFK is an excellent example. But my point is that that stuff doesn't belong in a review, and if you read reviews it turns up all the time.

5b7755f4 f84e 4738 be55 06b56e9c2553  dsc 0008 002
em-i-lis

Emily is a trusted source on General Cooking.

added over 3 years ago

Yes, indeed, Bevi. I find personalizing food writing one of the best ways to draw in readers.
In this instance, I guess I should have been clearer in my original question. I have been asked to take the position as editor for a food product company a friend founded and owns. So, I'd edit her blog/website/recipe cards/pamphlets and so forth. I love to edit, am good at it, and would very much enjoy this job, but I have no idea what current rates are re: charging for this mixed-media sort of work. I've seen all sorts of range estimates (http://www.writersmarket...) but want to neither overcharge my friend nor undervalue my time and ability. Thank you!

2f4926e2 248b 4c22 a6f7 8f2d888b8488  3 bizcard
sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

added over 3 years ago

Here is the article from Amanda that has some great information including rates. You may have read this but in case you didn't here it is: http://food52.com/blog...

1097a5b5 1775 4eec a8ea 7421137b65dc  image 2 apples claire sullivan 2
amysarah

amysarah is a trusted home cook.

added over 3 years ago

Emily, I've done a lot of freelance writing/editing for design publications - not quite the same thing, but I'd think the scales are pretty similar. Amanda's piece and the Writer's Market are good guides - unfortunately, print almost always pays more than online. I wouldn't pay attention to random 'editing' rules - this is where working with a good friend comes in handy: you probably have a good sense of her 'voice' and the content she's going for (assuming this is content and copy editing.) That's probably one of the reasons she'd like you to do it - she knows you'll 'get' the site's style.

5b7755f4 f84e 4738 be55 06b56e9c2553  dsc 0008 002
em-i-lis

Emily is a trusted source on General Cooking.

added over 3 years ago

Hi amysarah, thank you so much for your feedback here, and Suzanne, thank you for the link to Amanda's piece. I very much appreciate it all! Best, Emily

F8c5465c 5952 47d4 9558 8116c099e439  dscn2212
boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

added over 3 years ago

What an interesting project you have. What you think your time is worth and what the market will bear may be two very different amounts. I have a good friend who is a relatively well-known writer who is also a prolific and proficient editor, and I will run your question past him for some advice. And obviously, when editing someone else's work, the question is not how much of your voice or life is included (none, in other words), but rather how much of the original writer's. It will be very interesting to see how your project develops and, moreover, where this leads you.

60d970cf 53cb 427d 8e85 6341fad71c47  057
added over 3 years ago

Congratulations Emily. This could be an excellent opportunity to extend your well-honed skills. I have been reading your blog and watching your participation on food52 at arm's length for quite some time. You have a special energy, tons of education and you know your food. Here in the Washington DC area, we are very lucky to have you and a number of very distinguished food bloggers within our midst. The individual advice above is good although frankly I would take Mr P's advice with a grain of salt for what it is worth. He has not answered your question but rather gone off once again on a personal rant about hi opinions and himself.

23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar
added over 3 years ago

I've never edited another's food writing, but I have edited fiction writers. Even if you know the subject very well, you need to rely on the author, as a professional, and by extension their editor at the publishing house, magazine etc. to know the rules for what they are writing. It would be inappropriate for a freelance editor to tell an author they can't mention whomever in their project. That's not what a freelance editor does. An editor at a periodical/publisher can do that, because they set the rules for their publication, but I'm pretty sure Emily is talking about freelance editing.

When I was offered a book project, for example, I usually read at least a full chapter and glanced at the rest to determine how much work it would be for me to bring it up to standard -- so large projects. If it needed too much work or had major problems, rather than cost the author a fortune in editing fees, I would recommend that they go back and rework some of the specific problems I saw. I should think it would be the same for food writers.

I don't know what rates are in this industry, but I can tell you I charged $80/hr for literary editing. If that takes your breath away, let me say that I was also a writing coach, so it wasn't just line editing. The author gained a lot of knowledge in the process, and I work very quickly, so less hours than someone slower. ;) I believe Pierino is thinking in terms of shorter projects (which don't pay the writer that much) with the rates he suggests. But really, if a writer is so new they need a simple review edited, they should take a class, find a mentor, or join a critique group to get them on a more solid footing before looking for an editor. An editor can become a crutch that writers use rather than learning their trade.

401c5804 f611 451f a157 c693981d8eef  mad cow deux
pierino

pierino is a trusted source on General Cooking and Tough Love.

added over 3 years ago

Beejay makes some excellent points here. I worked in the publishing world for quite a few years. One of the sad truths is that these days editors don't do any real line editing. Their job is to acquire books and consult perhaps on some plot points etc. but publishers expect your work to be professionally edited before it's even submitted. And it has to be agented to them as well, otherwise good luck in the slush pile.

23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar
added over 3 years ago

Huh. After all that, I had meant to say that setting an hourly rate isn't always the best idea. I preferred to quote a project price. Straightforward, we both knew what it would cost. I only gave a refund if it took me substantially less time than I'd estimated. If it took me more, I bit the bullet and stuck to my estimate, unless the extended hours were due to the author decidingto "rewrite the last half of the book." That's in quotes because that's what one client told me. For the most part, giving a flat rate is best for everyone. No surprises. Mostly.