How Much Should I Charge For… It Doesn’t Matter For What!

in Money Issues

writing feesHi Anne,

I have a friend who has written a book with 13 stories in it. She wants to have me record reading the book and wants to know how much would I charge her. I suspect I should charge ether per stories or for the whole book.

I’ve never done this so I don’t know where to start. Can you help me?

TJ

Hi TJ,

I don’t know anything about charging for reading a book out loud for a recording. But that almost doesn’t matter.

It doesn’t matter a great deal because you should know what you charge per hour, regardless. Do you see what I mean?

Every writer should have a minimum hourly rate they do for whatever – writing, editing, dog walking, and, in your case, recording. Sure there will be some variation. But if you charge say $100 an hour for writing and only $25 an hour for dog walking, what happens to your income when you’re suddenly walking dogs eight hours a day? Plus the fact that the dog walking takes time away from your writing.

Okay, I can just hear some of you saying “but I want a business where I both write and walk dogs!” Okay, but someplace along the way you have to determine how much money you want or need to earn a week, or a month, or a year, then translate that into how much you charge for writing and dog walking.

Recording a book takes time. I don’t know how much time because I’ve never done it. If I were to take this on I might very well set an hourly rate because I wouldn’t know how, at first, to set a flat fee.

So TJ, I’d say to you charge her your normal hourly rate.

Which is why I wrote the Setting Freelance Writing Fees series.

Do you have a question about freelance writing? Email me with Q&A in the subject line and I’ll probably answer it here.

How do you set your rates?

[sig]

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Anthony March 26, 2013 at 11:28 am

You can look on ACX.com and see how much professional readers charge there. It’s usually $100 – $125 per hour, or many will work on a commission basis if you split the profit with them (after first splitting it with ACX/Audible).

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annew April 2, 2013 at 7:57 am

Interesting Anthony… Amazon really is taking over a lot of publishing isn’t it.

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Elizabeth West October 30, 2011 at 5:35 pm

I’m still confused by this, since the only thing I do now is by the article. It’s not bad, if I don’t spend more than an hour on each one. Then it’s pretty close to my actual pay rate at my day job.

As far as editing goes, I’ve gotten rid of family/friends by telling them I’d have to charge them to do something more than just look over a page or two. It may sound harsh, but I have so little time to actually do paying work that I can’t afford to spend hours and hours doing a freebie for someone.

And of course, I would expect to pay someone to look over my ENTIRE BOOK. I just had an online writer friend do a quick critique out of the kindness of her heart, but you bet I asked what her rates are when seeing if she’ll look at the whole thing. Her feedback is good; I hope I can afford her.
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Lessa September 29, 2011 at 9:03 pm

However, there is always the exception of when you think you can charge more. In the company I used to work for one of the 1st questions asked when quoting was “how much do we think that they can pay!”
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Nikki September 29, 2011 at 9:56 am

Great points! This is probably where I falter, a lot. I always try to price out per job rather than just setting an hourly rate because I get so many offers that are just to be paid by the job. Now I’m off to read how to actually set an hourly rate.

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Anne September 29, 2011 at 11:52 am

Nickki, I love working for a flat fee… but I base it on my hourly rate.

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Lori September 29, 2011 at 8:34 am

SUPER advice, Anne. Very sensible. I often get the question “And what do you charge for THIS?”

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Anne September 29, 2011 at 11:51 am

I know… how much should I charge for writing for my alumnae magazine, or for writing a press release… no way to tell with so little info and it wouldn’t matter anyway.

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Ron's SEO Copywriting Blog October 7, 2011 at 5:46 am

I think going by the hourly rate is one of the best ways to proceed. But then again, you have to understand the prevalent rates of the market, before you quote anything. If you charge $500 per hour for dog walking and someone else does that for $10 per hour, you are at a loss.
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Anne October 7, 2011 at 11:15 am

Ron, unless there’s something about your dog walking that is so extra super special the folks on park avenue and boardwalk are willing to pay you $500 an hour to walk their dog exclusively. And I’m 99% serious about that.

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Jake P September 28, 2011 at 6:26 pm

The other factor here is the “for a friend” aspect. I generally try to avoid doing anything for friends and family that I can’t do for free (which means only really small stuff, of course). In my experience, it’s just too messy. But, if someone was persistent and agreed to it being a pure business deal, it would be at my hourly rate, perhaps with a small discount.
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Anne September 29, 2011 at 11:48 am

You’re right Jake and I just decided not to address that part. When I do write for friends for a fee, which is rare, I always put together a brief letter of agreement so we both can remember what we wanted to accomplish in the first place.

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Cathy Miller September 28, 2011 at 2:44 pm

Love the solid advice here – nothing to add that hasn’t been already said. It does all come down to how you value your time.
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Anne September 29, 2011 at 11:43 am

Thanks Cathy – you and I usually see eye to eye.

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Ruth - The Freelance Writing Blog September 28, 2011 at 2:14 pm

What you charge should reflect BOTH the value of the service to the recipient AND the value of your time (to you!). An hour spent on this project is an hour less you have to spend on other projects. My hourly rate is $125 and I only reduce it for non profits (and friends). Admittedly, some jobs are more taxing than others, but time is time. Or is it time is money?!
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Grady Pruitt September 28, 2011 at 12:12 pm

I see people making offers to do things (not always writing related) that don’t factor in how much time it really takes them to do what they are saying they will do. So they wind up charging, say, $5, but doing an hour (or even two) for the work. To me, that is completely the wrong way to do it. Now, it’s one thing to charge $5 for an activity that takes you 5, 10, maybe even 15 minutes to do. But if you wind up taking 2 hours, you’re not valuing your time enough.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts here, Anne!
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Anne September 29, 2011 at 11:39 am

Grady, that’s one reason I suggest time tracking – http://www.aboutfreelancewriting.com/2011/08/time-tracking-for-freelance-writers/ – at least often enough to really know how much time something takes.

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John Soares September 28, 2011 at 11:10 am

You definitely have to have your hourly rate in mind. You also need to know all the specifics of the project. Is your friend OK if there you occasionally stumble over a word or there are other aspects of the recording that are less than perfect? If she wants perfection you’ll need to do multiple takes, lots of editing with software, etc.
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Anne September 28, 2011 at 11:14 am

Good points John – and yes, you’ve got to start knowing your hourly.

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