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Upon taking the self-employment plunge, I consulted many freelance editing contract templates that the Internet had to offer. I didn’t want to reinvent the wheel, and yet I also wanted a customized contract. I’ve been refining my current contract for a while now and am finally satisfied enough to share it with prospective clients and fellow editors. A download link appears at the end of this post.


A detailed contract definitely helps alleviate any confusion over project expectations. After a potential client contacts me, I will ask a few more questions about their manuscript before completing a sample edit. Once the choice is made to go with my editing services, I then send a contract for negotiation. This freelance editing contract template combines the four main types I use for my freelance editing services. Once a solid working relationship has been established with repeat clients, I then switch to an ongoing services contract.


CITY OF _____, _____



_____ (hereinafter, “Author”), an individual with a place of residence located at _____, _____, and _____ _____ (hereinafter, “Editor”), an individual with a place of residence located at _____, _____ do hereby agree to the following:


1. The Author has prepared an approximately _____-word manuscript currently titled _____. Pursuant to the terms and conditions herein, the Editor will provide service(s) as mutually agreed, confirmed in writing by the Author.


2. The Editor agrees to accept, and the Author agrees to pay a fee of $_____ US Dollars per 1,000 words (rounded to the nearest hundred) which will be invoiced via PayPal. The fee of $_____ will be split into ____ payments of $_____. The initial payment secures the start of the project. The final payment ensures the return of the edited manuscript. Payment via wire transfer or ACH can be arranged for cash payments.


3. Depending on the final word count of the submitted manuscript, the feel will be adjusted accordingly. (OTHER ADD-INS: The fee above reflects a 5% loyal client discount in the amount of $_____ as well as a deduction of the non-refundable $75 deposit paid via Invoice #??? to reserve a spot on the Editor’s calendar. OR… The fee above reflects a 25% rush job surcharge in the amount of $_____ and is not eligible for promotional discounts. OR… The fee above reflects a 10% discount on a follow-up service, i.e. a full critique after a reader report or a proofread after a copy edit, in the amount of $_____ and is not eligible for promotional discounts.)


4. All electronic files submitted via e-mail attachment (or DropBox for particularly large files) shall be formatted as a Word document in 12-point Times New Roman font, double-spaced, with one-inch side margins, and indented paragraphs (scripts, poetry, and informational text excluded).


5. The Editor shall use Word’s commenting and tracking features to make edits in accordance with usage guidelines set forth by The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th Edition as well as adhering to spellings as specified by the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary for American English and the Cambridge English Dictionary for British English. The manuscript will be returned as two versions: one with the edits visible for acceptance or rejection, and one that is a clean copy with all changes accepted. (Remove this section for reader reports and manuscript critique contracts.)


 ***Pick one section below depending on service, and delete the rest.***


6. In a line or copy edit sentences and paragraphs may require reworking rather than whole pages or scenes. Areas addressed include awkward phrasing, syntax issues (sentence variety and structure), repetition, showing vs. telling, best word choices, passive verb elimination, suitable dialogue, clichés, anachronisms, chapter breaks, timeline consistency, and more. Minor fact checking as well as potential copyright issues are also covered. A follow-up proofread by another set of eyes is advised to catch minor errors and formatting issues. A manuscript style sheet and overview letter is also included.


7. In a manuscript undergoing a critique whole pages or scenes may need reworking, but the overall story is sound and has already undergone some revision. The Editor shall use Word’s commenting and tracking features to note strengths and weaknesses with characterization, conflict/tension, description, inconsistencies, pacing, passive writing, plot, point of view, scene development, and showing vs. telling. Consistent grammatical errors will be pointed out as a common courtesy, but not corrected repeatedly. A written evaluation is also included.


8. A proofread focuses on proper conventions of sentence mechanics and fixes basic errors in spelling, grammar, capitalization, and punctuation. In general, there is no restructuring or re-writing of sentences for clarity. A manuscript style sheet can be requested for an additional fee. It is highly advised to thoroughly review the manuscript once again after it has been formatted for publication.


9. The Editor shall prepare a 3-5 page single-spaced reader report that addresses big picture strengths and weaknesses present in the story regarding basic elements of successful storytelling. Some suggestions for revision are included as well as a follow-up consultation. No comments are made within the manuscript.


***Pick one section above depending on service, and delete the rest.***


10. The Editor generally requires one week per _____ words. This project necessitates _____ weeks for completion. Each page receives multiple passes. Pending manuscript submission on or before Thursday, _____ and initial payment, work will commence on _____ and be completed on ____ when the final invoice will be sent (if the project has been split into multiple payments).


11. The Author shall have the right to unlimited reproduction of the work.


12. It is up to the Author whether to mention the Editor’s role in the finished product. If so, the Editor shall receive credit by name in conjunction with the website address _____ in any distributed version of the work in such places as are customary and usual within the trade for the type of work.


13. The Author shall provide reasonable cooperation and assistance to the Editor in preparation of all materials. This includes being available for e-mail communication on a regular basis as needed. At the Author’s request, one video or phone conference (up to half an hour long with the most pressing questions submitted in advance) can be arranged at the end of the editing process. If desired, short follow-up e-mails can be sent in lieu of in-person conferences. The follow-up should take place within four months of receiving the completed manuscript from the Editor.


14. Any additional fees for editing required or requested after the follow-up consultation will be decided on a case-by-case basis.


15. The Author warrants that the materials delivered herein are the original work of the Author and that the same do not violate any copyright, trademark, or other protection of intellectual property by the Author.


16. The Author acknowledges the contracting of professional editing and/or writing services does not guarantee book sales or representation by a literary agent.


17. The Editor will promote the Author’s work across various social media platforms to draw attention to the services of Word Bank Writing & Editing.


18. At the Author’s request and for additional fees, the Editor can produce book descriptions, taglines, pitches, press releases, and author bios. Query letter and synopsis assistance are also available as are book club discussion questions and answers.


19. This agreement, in its entirety, contains the full understanding of the parties and may only be modified by a writing executed by the parties hereto.


Picture of Word Bank Editing Logo



This agreement is made on this the _____ day of ________, 20__.






_____: EDITOR


_____: AUTHOR


Please feel free to download my freelance editing contract template to use and share as you see fit.



Is there anything you would add to this type of contract? What type of contracts have you encountered in the past?



Please share responsibly. Jeri Walker, 2015. Post updated November 2016.