Over the years, I’ve consulted many a freelance editing contract template that the internet has to offer. I didn’t want to reinvent the wheel, and yet I also wanted a customized contract. Over the years, I’ve refined my contract less, and this updated post represents my most current rendition. Please feel free to copy and paste the information in this post to revise for your own use. If you’re a prospective client, this post provides a good idea of what to expect.
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 contains the types of editing services, which may differ from your own. Once a solid working relationship has been established with repeat clients, I then switch to an ongoing services contract.
Freelance Editing Contract Template
CITY OF _____, _____
EDITOR & AUTHOR AGREEMENT (??? Type of Edit)
_____ (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 $_____ US Dollars, which will be invoiced via [PayPal or QuickBooks’s Intuit Payments]. This fee applies to manuscripts up to 80,000 words. The total will be split into ____ payments of $_____. A non-refundable 50% deposit is due upon signing this contract with the other half due upon return of the manuscript. In the event of a missed submission deadline, the Editor will reschedule the start of the project as their calendar allows.
3. This price above includes a 3.5% surcharge of $_____ to cover transaction fees as the Author has opted to not pay via check or electronic funds transfer. [The Author has opted to pay via check or electronic funds transfer. Doing so avoids the need to add a 3.5% credit card transaction fee.]
4. 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). [The Editor will be out of town the week of XXX, thus necessitating a five-week turnaround time.] The editor will communicate any unexpected delays immediately.
5. 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).
6. 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, 17th 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.***
7. In a copy/line 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.
8. 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.
9. 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. Consistency in formatting is also addressed. A manuscript style sheet and overview letter is also included. Each page receives multiple passes. The Editor will only proofread manuscripts they have already performed a copy/line edit on. It is preferable the Author submit a manuscript after formatting rather than before.
10. 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. Whole pages or scenes may need reworking, but the overall story is sound and has already undergone some revision. Note will be taken of successful and questionable issues with characterization, conflict/tension, description, inconsistencies, pacing, passive writing, plot, point of view, scene development, and showing vs. telling. If warranted, consistent grammatical errors will be pointed out as a common courtesy. No comments are made within the manuscript.
***Pick one section above depending on service, and delete the rest.***
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. The Author agrees to not tag the Editor on Amazon or Goodreads. This is because the Editor does not want editing projects to be displayed on their author profile.
13. The Author shall provide reasonable cooperation and assistance to the Editor in preparation of all materials. This includes being available for email 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 emails 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. Additional consultation time beyond the follow-up will be billed at $50 per hour.
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. 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.
This agreement is made on this the _____ day of ________, 20__.
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 and January 2019.