When You Quote, Remember To Include Editing

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Man editing a waveformIn our previous article about rates, specifically to do with audiobooks, one comment sparked an idea for further discussion regarding editing as a separate fee to charge if you are required to provide more complex engineering services to your clients.

Editing is its own service.
The cost depends on how long the voice over is and how complicated the editing requirements are.
Learn more about why editing should be accounted for now in today’s VOX Daily.

Editing Awareness

Do you charge a separate fee for editing voice overs for your clients?
Shorter recordings such as voice mails or commercials may not be of much consequence editing wise where your time is concerned, but what if you were requested to edit longer projects?

Shouldn’t there be a fee for editing levied, too?
While the answer may seem obvious, many voice over talent working today have adopted the mindset that the recording of a voice over and the editing of that voice over are one in the same.

This is simply not the case, and if you were to believe that, you’ll be doing a lot of work for free!
For the purposes of this article, we are going to focus on editing in particular, but it’s important to note that editing isn’t the only service some voice over talent are unintentionally (or intentionally!) giving away for free.

Editing: Time + Expertise = Money

If you were to go to a professional recording studio, they often charge separate fees for editing, mixing and mastering.
As most talent who have worked any length of time as independent producers realize, editing in general takes twice as long (if not longer in some cases) as the time it took to record the voice over itself.

To illustrate my point, here’s the comment that Diane Havens left on yesterday’s article:
“Regarding audio book rates, $200 may be a union rate — but that’s without editing. The editing factor is huge — even for someone proficient at both reading and editing. Also, the complexity of the material, the prep time involved in developing character voices, researching accents and/or specialized terms, or just reading the whole book ahead of time has to be factored in when quoting.”
– Diane Havens

Determining Rates For Editing

Recently, we also explored the concepts of relativity and perceived perception.
These factors also come into play when you are determining how much your time is worth. From what I understand, editing is quoted for on an hourly basis. What is an hour of your time worth? That’s up to you! Hopefully, your clients will agree with what you have discerned and realize the value you are offering.
Remember, it’s facts not feelings that will convince the skeptics.

Voice Over Pros Share Their Thoughts

When I asked some friends on Facebook what they do when quoting for editing or if they even charge for editing period, I received the following replies:
“Yes I do specially when the revision isn’t included in the prior agreement.”
– JC Baron

“If copy changes are needed during a current airing, then yes. And FYI if an ad agency requests us to record, then an additional production charge is added.”
– Perry Edward Perez
“Small changes to regular clients are usually free. Copy changes during current airing and agency fees same as Perry.”
Carole Richards

“There are lots of different rates for editing long format. Typically I go with whatever the publisher is comfortable with. Usually $25 per man hours (or $100 per finished hour of audio). Some companies go with an amount per word. Of course, rates can go up or down, depending on the importance of the product. Straight to download titles are usually lower priority, thus pay less. If the publisher decides to make a shelf able product for stores, those typically have more budget behind them. Hope that helped.”

What Do You Do?

I’m interested to hear about what you are doing in your business when you quote. Do you display that line item (“Editing”) as optional or does it appear as an included line item that is consistently charged for and therefore part of the final cost?
Looking forward to hearing from you!
Best wishes,
©iStockphoto.com/Chris Schmidt

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  • Diane Havens
    April 28, 2010, 3:43 pm

    Well, thanks so much, Stephanie. I just finished up on a book last week so the editing was uppermost in my mind. Robert Jadah and I worked on a book a couple of years ago that I voiced and he produced for me — the client had wanted music and effects. Robert and I agreed upon the rate that each of us would get in that case. I have also been approached by audio engineers who know I do audio book work — if I use them (and only if I am very busy do I do that) I would add on their fee separate from mine. This most recent book I did entirely on my own. Here’s the process — prep is invaluable. I read the book straight through, note and research any unfamiliar names/terms/accents, and then rehearse what I will be recording the next day. I record in the morning, relisten against the text and time stamp mark for edits, for any one of dozens of reasons it might be needed, making sure the recording is word for word perfect, and edit that portion in the afternoon. Then, since I use ProTools, I bounce the whole thing in desired format. These are long days. $200 per finished hour is a very modest amount for all the work that goes into an audiobook. It is a labor more of love than of profit.
    When audiobook narrators record in at the publisher’s studio, it cuts your job down by easily half. They not only direct (that would make another good topic — self directing one’s audiobook is another responsibility, one often taken for granted) and research for you — when you leave the studio after your exhausting 6 hour workday, then you are truly done until they call you in for a few minutes of pickups.
    Editing even without further production, which includes hours of quality checking, is tedious and time consuming. Even when the book is compelling.

  • Robert Kraft
    April 29, 2010, 9:34 am

    I usually include the engineering/editing fee in the initial quote, but not separately. I just quote a flat fee for the script, depending on the length.

  • Jerome Santucci
    April 29, 2010, 9:34 am

    Your audition should be representative of your final product, so whatever editing you do for your audition should be included in your quote. For example, I remove breath sounds and normalize the audio in my audition, so I do the same for my final recording for no extra charge. If they want more than that (like copy changes, multiple versions, or music added) then I charge extra, and I am clear about this in my quote.

  • Lucinda Gainey
    April 29, 2010, 9:35 am

    I don’t charge separately for editing as it seems most clients are looking for mistake-free tracks. I say that I will provide finished dry voice tracks. I do noise-removal, edit out mistakes and reduce obvious breaths, and then normalize. I have found that it takes me 3-4 times the finished recording time to produce a recording with simple editing. I use that formula when constructing a bid.

  • Dana Detrick from Serious Vanity Music
    April 29, 2010, 12:02 pm

    I was actually an audio editor and worked in post-production way before I decided to become a voice artist. I got to work with other speakers and artists that helped me hone my chops, and there can be a lot more to it to if you’re going for a amazing, fully-produced-and-ready-to-use voice product. Some of it can be downright magic!
    But as voice artists, we have the ability to create careers completely isolated from other audio industries. This can be good in a way, because you have the freedom to start your career whenever you like! Each commercial, home, or mobile studio can be as different as night and day, because it comes down to what works for *you*. But the downside is that we don’t always develop ‘stock’ industry jargon or practices (I think it’s why we have such a hard time coming up with non-union rate sheets, too), because of our separateness. (It’s great we have forums like this to connect!)
    It’s clear, editing means different things to different artists. What some call editing, others call proofing, or doing pickups. Others define it in terms of noise or fidelity, and some go deeper into post-production and manually digging into every word, seeking utter perfection.
    Audio editing is definitely its own beast, and I would encourage any voice artist who has an interest in pursuing it further do so, it can be so rewarding! Honestly, and this may sound off the cuff, but if you have a friend or family member who stutters, you’ve got a great opportunity to really learn more about your editing chops. Find difficult, bad, low quality audio, and see what you can do with it. Always challenge yourself, so your asking price can go up, and your quality can be top!
    As far as how I quote, I *do* include it (unless they’re specifically asking for raw audio), but unless the client is industry-savvy, I no longer mention editing or full production within my proposal. It’s just confusing. It’s like going to a restaurant and asking for sauted vegetables, and the chef explaining that the oils they’ll use and the skillet are included or excluded in the price. I either already assume that, or really don’t care–just give me delicious veggies!!
    So I look at my overhead, the amount of clientele I have coming in, the level of editing and production I’ll need to do for the client (time and sweat – hours under headphones is WORK, people!), and develop my standard rates. I go from there on a client-by-client basis, but it doesn’t stray too far out of that window. And as my skill level continues to grow and my abilities become known on a broader level, my rates change to reflect it!

  • Julie Williams
    April 30, 2010, 8:40 am

    I think it’s important to make sure the clients know that editing COSTS whether or not you are charging them for it. Because I don’t have time to edit, I hire editors who charge between $20-$30 per hour. Whether or not that gets passed on to the clients varies, but I build it in to the budget in my mind when I bid.
    Some editors charge $1-$2 per file when they edit eLearning and projects with multiple files. Be sure they don’t charge you for BOTH editing and cutting. I will not work with editors who do that.
    I’m actually thinking about teaching my son to cut/name/upload files. I can probably get him to do it for 50-cents a file (he’s an adult, btw) to make a quick $100 or $200—and I’ll save as much–by keeping it in the family.
    Julie Williams
    Sign up for the FREE VoiceOver Insider Magazine at http://www.voice-overs.com.

  • Richard Williams
    April 30, 2010, 11:35 am

    Thank you so much for Vox Daily.
    I’m a broadcaster since 1977, with some years away from the microphone. However, I’m about to start up my voicing over business. Keep the information coming.
    Thanks for the daily comments.

  • Pete Bunch
    May 4, 2010, 9:46 am

    This is a tough one. Doing post is totally subjective. After a couple of hours and your eyeballs are about to fall out, mistakes are made.
    The client may not like what you’ve selected as “your best read”.
    I make sure that the client knows up front what the additional charges are. Music is a whole different beast, and they pay for that too. My fees are my fees, and presented in a pleasant manner usually there is no problem. Negotiation is important too, if this is a client that you see as coming back with future work!
    Rock on,

  • Tony Tee Neto
    August 11, 2010, 10:00 am

    This is a great distinction! Editing is a different animal.
    All great comments, but I love Dana’s analogy about veggies! LOL– excellent. And I agree, since I come from the editing and producing side originally. I’ve done public speaking/MCing for many years, and started pursuing professional voice-overs about 8 years ago. “Editing” really is different for different types of projects.
    For e-learning and corporate-type of voicing, editing is more getting rid of the mouth noises, proofing and pick-ups, and finding the best takes. And yes, that easily takes about 2-3 times the recording time.
    When there are beds involved, you’re looking at more intricate, time-based editing. Radio spots, for example, can be very complicated with multiple voicing, music beds, and sound design.
    Basically, I include it in the quote. If they want dry voice, it’s pretty easy. Otherwise, time is money. And yes, I’ve definitely under-quoted a few projects.
    Lucky them. ;o)

  • Paul Fegan
    August 11, 2010, 7:02 pm

    I’ve been recording and editing VOs for (mainly) the eLearning industry for over 10 years. Editing doesn’t usually fetch the same hourly rate as the recording itself, naturally, but it *is* a big job and I usually use a work ratio of 3:1 when quoting. That is to say that if a script takes an hour to record, it may take 3 hours to edit. I can often get it done at 2:1, but anything higher than 3:1 would have to come with a good reason (such as really bad VO with lots of re-takes that need to be spliced together). Haven’t edited audio books, just audio book audition demos, and I know that timing is crucial. If a pause is too long or too short, it can change the meaning and/or pace of a line. I appreciate that competition for gigs must be fierce, but that anyone would edit their recordings for free is nothing short of charity. Just my tuppence worth.

  • Michael Dodson
    May 26, 2011, 10:14 am

    I have not ventured into the voice-over field yet, but, as a former radio news anchor/reporter with 25 years experience, am considering doing so. I am the Public Information Director for an American Indian nation in central Oklahoma. One of my duties is a once-a-week, half-hour, public affairs radio program. I edit with Adobe Audition.
    Thousands of hours of experience (I’ve hosted this show for some 22 years) have taught me that editing takes considerably longer than obtaining the initial recording for the show. That is especially true if I record considerably more than a half-hour’s worth of material. So, I agree with the article author that a voice-over pro who also has good editing skills needs to charge for both, either as separately-itemized charges or as elements of a per-project cost quote.

  • John Ardelean
    May 28, 2011, 4:57 pm

    Yes, and it depends on the complexity of the editing. What I usually do is have a set price for the v/o according to length, plus an estimated editing rate based on the number of hours I expect to spend editing. I do not charge extra for editing if it is a straight v/o; only if there are zips and zaps and additional audio elements.

  • Ian Pinnell
    May 28, 2011, 4:57 pm

    If someone asks for me to produce their voiceover, I will charge them the appropriate editing fee on my rate card, or a reasonable rate for the work they want undertaken. As a voiceover artist and imaging producer, clients can order one or the other, or both together.

  • Bobbin Beam
    May 28, 2011, 4:58 pm

    Included in my rate is the rough cleaned up edit unless client specifies otherwise, raw voice only.

  • Nick Montague
    May 28, 2011, 4:58 pm

    I agree with Ian I have a dry voice price and a produced price. Again being a production house there are different rates for different things. I always include 1 revoice at no charge so the client gets what they would like exactly.

  • John Beeman
    May 28, 2011, 5:01 pm

    In reference to if editing is included in a quote:
    Usually? yes. Always? no. Discussed and negotiated.

  • Nick Montague
    January 31, 2012, 7:47 pm

    I always include 1 re-do and if I am asked to do the editing then I include it.

  • Ben Going-Crazy
    January 31, 2012, 7:47 pm

    I do offer editing. Most of my past clients refused, wanting to control the final cut. They just want a competent audio file to work with. With that in mind, I do my own noise removal and normalize the volume so it is good enough to work with.

  • Kira Gurnee
    July 11, 2018, 8:00 pm

    I have found that it often helps the clients who may not be industry savvy to understand all the work and expense that goes into a project (and why your rate may be higher than another bid) if you mention all the things it includes. For example, a directed session, studio time, engineering and minor editing to remove mistakes, extraneous noise, breaths, pops, etc. Remember that in the “old days” before so many of us invested in our own high quality studio equipment and learned recording and editing software, the client expected to pay fees for both of those. The difference now, is that WE are the ones who invested our money to provide both services along with our voices and acting abilities. Always factor that in to your bid! And remember that the union rate card DOESN’T include studio time or even minor editing….then take another look at some of the “suggested non union rates” and decide what will truly be fair for your complete service. We are all in this together after all, and undercutting what is fair will only make it harder to be a full time professional.