Post contributed by Toiya Kristen Finley, SIG Committee Member.
What Are the Going Rates?
The prospective clients you want to attract will expect you to charge professional rates.
Only the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain has suggested professional rates for videogame writers. They say a fair rate is £350-£450 per day. For an 8-hour work day, that equates to about $60-80 US per hour.
Other writers’ organizations have suggested rates for copywriting, scriptwriting, and ghostwriting. These types of writing are somewhat comparable to writing and narrative design tasks. You can use suggested rates for these to determine what you’ll ask for.
The Editorial Freelancers Association says $40-50 per hour or 20-25 cents per word for fiction writing) and $50-60 per hour or 26-50 cents per word for ghostwriting.
You might also want to look at “How Much Should I Charge?” This PDF is available online. It was published almost 10 years ago. The numbers may be outdated, but they’ll still give you ideas.
The Scale for Professional Rates: Minimum, Maximum, or Somewhere in Between?
The professional rates you can command are based upon your experience, education, and professional writing history.
If you’re experienced and have a degree in writing, game design, or game development, then you want to aim for the maximum end of the scale.
If you have little or no experience, ask for the minimum, or a little less than the minimum. Prospective clients aren’t going to expect you to ask for $50 per hour or $2500 for a game design document. They’re going to recognize you’re new to freelancing. That’s why you should start with smaller jobs and work your way up.
Definitions for levels of experience:
Experienced: Have worked several years as a freelancer, have a degree in your area of expertise, have published extensively, or have worked professionally as a writer.
Somewhat Experienced: May or may not have experience as a freelancer, may or may not have a degree in your area of expertise, have some credits as a writer, or have done some writing work professionally.
Less Experienced: Little or no experience as a freelancer, working towards a degree or no degree in your area of expertise, few or no credits as a writer, or no work professionally as a writer.