Suggested minimum rates

Although the negotiation of fees is obviously a matter for the individual freelance and client to resolve, the SfEP does suggest minimum hourly rates as a starting point for negotiations.

Suggested minimum rates from 1 March 2016

Type of workSuggested minimum hourly rate
Substantial editing, rewriting, development editing£30.50
Project management£33.00

Society of Indexers' suggested minimum.

For details of suggested minimum rates in other areas of freelance work, the online NUJ freelance fees guide is recommended.

If you are a member, it is also worthwhile checking the SfEP rate for the job in the Members' area. Here you'll find the rates actually paid for copy-editing and proofreading by various companies, submitted anonymously by SfEP members. This has been modelled on the NUJ rate for the job, which can be checked for other types of editorial work.

How the suggested rates are set

The rates are reviewed annually, when they're either increased (broadly in line with inflation) or kept static during periods of economic downturn, but always with the aim of keeping them realistic yet still aspirational for our members.

Each review is carried out by the full council, taking into account inflation, the general economic situation, the health of the publishing industry, and any anecdotal evidence available concerning editorial freelance pay rates. Finally, the council discusses whether its proposed revisions are 'reasonable' given all of the above.

Each suggested minimum rate includes a factor to allow for holidays and other working time not actually spent editing/proofreading. It should also be remembered that editorial freelances are responsible for paying for their own National Insurance, pension provision, continuing professional development (CPD), office space, hardware, software and utilities. These all represent considerable savings in overhead costs for those employing the services of a freelance, over and above other savings made by not having to provide holiday pay, sick pay and family leave.

Although these rates are only suggestions and not enforceable, we would always encourage members and others working in the profession to accept lower rates only if they feel they are fair and reasonable for the job in hand, and never to accept unworkably low rates even to gain experience.

You may be able to find experienced individuals who will do editorial work for less than the suggested rates, as there is some variation depending on subject area, and an individual may always choose to accept a lower rate to take on a job of particular interest to them. Less experienced individuals may also be willing to work for a somewhat reduced rate to gain valuable experience. However, a member of the SfEP will always expect to be paid a fair and reasonable rate to reflect their professionalism, and we would always support them in this regard and suggest to clients that a good job is worth paying for. Non-SfEP editorial professionals may accept lower rates, but may also turn in a less professional piece of work.