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I've been a computer programmer for thirty years and an expert in some niches. I was a technical editor before that.

I'd like to be a free-lance editor again if the pay is right.

How does a technical editor charge for the service? What can I expect to be paid?

Thanks!

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Is this question on topic? –  Lynn Beighley Apr 18 '11 at 13:06
    
I would say so, yes. –  Ralph Gallagher Apr 18 '11 at 14:39
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Agreed, unless this exchange is about Writing and not Writers it seems to fit under the professional career end. –  Adam Caverhill Apr 19 '11 at 19:43
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2 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

It all depends on how much work you want to do. If you're willing to put in the time and effort, you can make a decent amount of money doing freelance editing. But it takes time to build up a portfolio and a reputation. You're not going to jump into the field and start making a six figure salary.

It's also going to matter how long it takes you to go through pieces accurately. Does it take you an hour to go through twenty pages? Or can you do it in half an hour? This will affect the amount of assignments you can take on without overloading yourself.

I'm a fiction editor, so I'm not sure how much my personal experience can help you but I'll give it a shot. I generally charge a per page rate for my manuscripts. Some places like to charge a per word rate. I generally make about $1700 for 40 hours of work and I've been doing this for about two years now.

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thanks, that's the answer I was looking for. –  Pete Wilson May 6 '11 at 11:40
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It all depends on your particular niche.

If it's a hot new field with few experts, then you can name your price. If it's a common segment and there are a lot of people (even if they just look good on paper) trying to move to the tech writing/editing side, then they'll often work for nothing just to get the credit—bringing the perceived value of the work down for everyone.

Do you know people who are currently working in the field as authors or editors? Ask the authors to introduce you to their editors. Ask the editors if they're hiring freelancers and what their pay rates are like.

My experience (having done tech writing & editing since 1997) is that the field is a trailing indicator of the economy. That is, if the economy has been going up for the last n months, the writing biz will have been good for at least the later part of that time period. If the bubble then bursts, writing takes the hit ~six months later. The result: you're always trying to figure out what's about to be popular, but your gigs are based on the economy of a few months ago.

So, how have the economics of your tech niche been for the last few months? That should give you an idea of what the writing side will be like for the rest of year.

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I've not been fortunate enough to be in the right niche! I've consistently found that the pay as a programmer or developer is much higher than that of a tech author or editor, at least in my areas of expertise. –  Lynn Beighley Apr 18 '11 at 13:09
    
the economics of free-lance programming have sucked for the past few months^h^h^h^h^h^h years but are getting better now, it seems. +1 for the "trailing indicator" observation. –  Pete Wilson May 6 '11 at 11:47
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