Schmidt Kaye & Company
Professional Literary Services
ghostwriting | editing | book design | & more
Ron Kaye & Connie L Schmidt

New look. New domain.
Same impeccable service!
Helping authors
& small publishers
bring books to life
since 1995


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...our fees
& turnaround times


Schmidt Kaye & Company

"How much will it cost?"
("And how long will it take?")

Those are good questions, and understandably, they are some of the first ones we're asked by prospective clients. Of course it wouldn't be fair, either to you or to us, to quote an exact fee or turnaround time without first seeing your project and discussing it with you. Each project is unique. But we felt it would also be unfair, to you and to us, if we were to offer nothing more than a cagey, "Contact us for pricing." If we present our price range up front, you avoid potential sticker shock, and we all avoid a "tire kicking" process that takes up everyone's valuable time.

The purpose of this page is to give you a general idea of our fee structure and turnaround times. Note that the turnaround times listed are averages, and are based on the assumption that we will receive timely feedback at each stage of the project.

Hiring a professional to help you create or finish your work is not cheap — particularly if you are looking for a ghostwriter — and we aren't pretending it is. But it is a worthwhile investment if you want to make your book as marketable as possible. If you shop around, you will no doubt discover that we aren't the least expensive literary collaborators (or, for that matter, book designers) you can find, but we are far from the most expensive. Just take a look at some of the top "sponsored links" in Google, and you'll see what we mean. One thing you can count on: we will always give you your money's worth...and more.

Ultimately it is up to you to decide how much of an investment you are able or willing to make in your book project. The manipulative, subtly coercive sales-strategy thing for us to do would be to frame the issue of affordability in the question, "How can you afford NOT to...?" But we don't work that way. If you honestly cannot spare the money to have us write and/or design your book, we would never engage in hard-sell tactics or pressure you to try to find a way to come up with the funds. We have actually turned away some prospective clients who really wanted to hire us but implied that they were going to have to dip into very limited life savings, or beg or borrow from family or friends, in order to cover our fees. In our view, no book project is worth seriously risking your financial well-being or your most important relationships. But perhaps there are ways you can avail yourself of our expertise without breaking the bank or alienating Aunt Martha. Take a look at our entire menu of services on this page. For that matter, look around our site, and you might get some information you need for free.

Publishing a book is always a risk, and there are no guarantees that your book will be successful, no matter how professionally it is presented or how hard you (and/or your publisher, if you get picked up by a trade publisher) work to market it — and, quite frankly, no matter how much or how little you spend to get it marketable. But we guarantee that we will do everything we can to help you give your book the best fighting chance possible. And the value of that is...well, priceless (to evoke a famous credit card commercial).

So enough of this prelude already. Let's get down to the numbers...

All fees quoted are in US dollars. Prices are subject to change, but we will make every effort to keep this page updated.

Why we generally charge by the project or by the page, rather than by the hour. For ghostwriting, rewriting or substantial editing, as well as cover designs, we normally charge a flat (per-project) fee instead of an hourly rate. For basic copy editing (as well as for page layout), our fee is generally based on a per-page charge.

We realize that many editors charge an hourly rate for all types of editing. These rates can range from $15 to $150 per hour in the US, depending upon the type of publication, the level of editing, and the editor's experience (and, in some cases, his or her formal credentials such as educational degrees or membership in professional organizations).

We have done it both ways — the hourly rate and the flat fee or per-page rate — and have found that, in our experience, our way is more economical for our clients and easier on us. (Keeping track of our "actual hours worked" has never been our strong suit, and we do work LONG hours.) Other editors have had the reverse experience, and feel that charging by the hour is easier and more fair on everyone. The truth is that there is no single "right" way to charge for editing. Our method just seems to work best for us and our clients.

This doesn't mean that we apply a "one size fits all" mentality to our editing fee structure. The per-page rate is really only a general reference point. We do carefully evaluate every project before submitting a bid. This means that we will of course charge more to edit a roughly written, disorganized 200-page manuscript than one that is well-written and organized and only needs a few "tweaks."

The three major exceptions to our "per project" or "per page" fee practice are: consultation or coaching; intensive photo retouching; and a la carte printing/production quality control.

Note: With rare exceptions, we always work for an upfront fee and do not ask for royalties or residuals. Once the work has been completed to your satisfaction and we have been paid, all rights — and profits — belong to you.


The range of our fees: Our fees for full-length book projects can run anywhere from $100.00 for a one-hour consultation session (or $750.00 for a complete reading and critique of a book-length manuscript), up to the mid five-figure range if we do the actual ghostwriting and research (or the bulk thereof).

Manuscript evaluation: Our a la carte fee for a complete manuscript reading and critique is $750.00 50% ($375.00) of which is deductible from the total if you hire us to complete the project. We read the manuscript thoroughly and provide a six- to ten-page evaluation of its strengths, weaknesses and general marketability, as well as a short sample edit of the text. If desired, we will also present a proposal for editing, rewriting or whatever we feel the manuscript needs in order to be marketable.

Note that the above applies to book-length manuscripts. We consider a book-length manuscript to be 125-400 pages (double-spaced, 12-point-type), or approx. 30,000 to 100,000 words. Our fee for reading and critiquing shorter works varies depending upon the length and complexity of the work.

We do not generally charge a reading fee for a manuscript if you approach us for editing, rewriting or design and layout work. However, we will not provide a detailed critique in these cases; we will only provide, as part of our proposal, a general recap of the strengths and weaknesses as we perceive them.
The turnaround time for a manuscript evaluation depends upon the length and complexity of the manuscript, but the average time is two weeks.
NOTE: If you're not quite ready for a manuscript evaluation, you might consider a consultation session with us.


Book proposal: Our standard fee for a book proposal/query package is $1,500.00. However, we often include a book proposal as part of a "package deal" with ghostwriting, rewriting or substantial editing.
The average turnaround time for a book proposal is one week.


Our ghostwriting fee generally ranges from $25,000.00-$45,000.00, which is in the middle range of the market. (This is for writing only; interior and cover design and other services, if desired, are extra, although we almost always offer an attractive "package deal" for self-publishing authors. Alternatively, we usually include a book proposal in the "package deal" for authors who intend to approach an agent or publisher.)

The lower end of the ghostwriting fee range generally applies to nonfiction books of 200-250 pages. If the book is extraordinarily long and/or requires a substantial amount of extra research, the price goes up accordingly. Fiction is also usually a little more expensive because the development is rarely as straightforward as a basic nonfiction book. Travel expenses, if applicable, are extra, but we generally do not charge for supplies, postage, etc.
The average turnaround time for ghostwriting is four to six months but can be as short as two months or, occasionally, take up to one year or longer. As with just about every service we provide, much is dependent upon timely feedback from you.

For more information about what a ghostwriter does, and reasons to consider hiring a ghostwriter, click here.


The average editing job is in the mid- to high four-figure range, depending upon the length of the work and the level of editing. Unlike many editors, we do not offer a strict "hierarchy" of editing levels (e.g., "light" to "heavy" copy editing, "medium" to "heavy" content editing, etc.). Where does "light" end and "medium" begin? We’ve never been able to figure that one out. If a manuscript is essentially well written and well organized, but just needs copy editing (for grammar, punctuation, spelling, general flow, etc.) and minimal content editing, we normally charge $10.00 per standard formatted manuscript page. Again, this differs from the practice of many editors, but we hope that after reading the information on this page you'll understand why.

We cannot speak for all editors, but we have found that no matter how carefully we read a manuscript before giving an estimate, the actual editing almost always takes more work hours than originally estimated. We are willing to bet that many editors who charge by the hour have found this to be true as well. (Of course, many hourly-charging editors take this into account and put a little wiggle room into their bids. Some will evaluate a work and then simply submit an estimate that includes a maximum amount they will charge for the project.)

Do note as well that our standard editing package includes up to three drafts. We have found that very often, authors make unforeseen but substantial changes between the first and second draft. That definitely adds to the work hours. We could simply draw up a supplemental contract with each draft, or bill for additional hours, but that is laborious and generally would still end up costing the client more than our method.

We prefer to receive manuscripts in Microsoft Word format, as this is the program we use for word processing. We generally submit our edits by email, using Word's "track changes" tool, so you can accept or reject the changes as you wish. We usually insert our comments and questions directly into the text, with highlighting to differentiate them from the rest of the text. As noted above, we will produce up to three drafts. The finished product will be a formatted manuscript conforming to industry standards, at which point it will be ready for submission to a publisher or agent, should you not choose to self-publish. If you do want to self-publish, we also do page layout and cover design; see below.
The average turnaround time for editing a standard-length nonfiction book is three months.


How we define a "page"
For basic copy editing: We base our per-page copy editing fee on manuscript pages. A manuscript page is an 8 1/2 x 11 sheet, double-spaced, set in 12-point Times Roman or an equivalent font, with a 1.25-inch margin on all four sides. This amounts to roughly 250 words per page, so an easier way to figure it is $10.00 per 250 words. Note that we do not "nickel-and-dime" (or, rather, "dollar") our clients. For example, we don't charge $10.00 for "editing" a title or copyright page. And if a manuscript starts out at 200 pages but, due to changes and additions we make, becomes 325 pages, we don't add an extra $1,250.00 to our bill. Unless the client requests substantial additions and changes after the final (third) draft, we stick with our original price.
For page layout: We base our page layout fee (which starts at $10.00 per page) on the approximate number of finished (laid-out) pages. We can calculate the number of finished pages if we know the page count of the manuscript.


Sometimes, substantial editing or even a rewrite is needed. If the book needs a great deal of editing or a rewrite, the fee is generally in the high four-figure to low five-figure range. However, we always do the minimum amount we feel is necessary; we don't try to create work where none is needed. And in the interests of full disclosure we should also add that we almost always end up doing more than we charge for. (We've even been known to throw in some light editing when we were hired only for page layout; when we see a glaring error, we cannot in good conscience just let it go. Naturally, we do inform the client so he or she will be aware of the changes made.)

We always strive to give you your money's worth...and more.
The average turnaround time for substantial editing or rewrite is three to six months.


How you can save a little time and money
before hiring an editor


It's very difficult, if not impossible, to thoroughly edit your own work — which is the whole point of hiring a professional to do it. But there are some things you can do to make editing easier and a little less costly. In our experience, some of the most common mistakes authors make with their manuscripts — even authors who are otherwise excellent writers — are (1) redundancy; (2) lack of organization in the manuscript; (3) redundancy; (4) typing two spaces in between sentences (this used to be taught in typing classes, but, please note, it is no longer necessary and in fact throws off page layout); and (5) redundancy. Oh, and the other common mistake is repeating the same thing over and over and over throughout the manuscript. Recapping the same events or facts again and again is also a common error — as is redundancy. (Okay, we guess we've made our point.)

We realize that both lack of organization and redundancy are often the result of an author working on different parts of the manuscript over a long period of time, and not really having an idea of how it reads as a cohesive whole. No doubt you've heard the old saying that a camel is a horse designed by committee; well, sometimes an author with a manuscript can be a one-person "committee." When you sit down to write a chapter about your grandmother's wonderful rhubarb pie, it can be easy to forget that you wrote about that pie in an earlier chapter when you were working on the manuscript five months ago. And when you suddenly remember a story Grandma told you about her teenage years, it may be easier to just to tack it on to the chapter about how she dealt with being a widow at the age of 35 than to go back and insert the story into the chapter about her adolescence. Sometimes, of course, redundancy is intentional, and very effective. And sometimes, flashing back and forth in time is also intentional, and equally effective. The trick is to have these elements actually be intentional, and read as if they are.

How to get over the "humps" on that camel you've created...
The very least you can do, to save a little time and money in editing, is to print your entire manuscript out (if you haven't already), and then sit down with it and read it from beginning to end in as short a time as possible. Instead of reading it on your computer screen in bits and pieces, or reviewing printouts a few pages at a time over a period of weeks, try to experience it as you hope the end reader will experience it. That is precisely what we do when we evaluate manuscripts. It is really the only way to get an accurate idea of how the manuscript reads as a book.

As you read, watch out for unintentional redundancies and eliminate them. It's a lot easier to spot them if you run across them over a period of hours rather than months. And if you find a segment of text towards the end of the manuscript that would really fit more logically into an earlier section, don't be afraid to cut and paste!

If you find your attention wandering when you read some portions, whether because the writing is unclear or because it bores you to tears — well, first you have to be honest with yourself. Admit that you're confused or bored. Then consider rewriting or perhaps eliminating those parts altogether. Do not be afraid to "murder your darlings," as the old maxim goes. Don't be so attached to every little piece that you compromise the whole. If you're put off by the writing, your readers most likely will be too. Trim the fat now, and you'll save us the effort of trimming it (or suggesting that it be trimmed) later.

Of course, if you have been working on the manuscript nonstop for two years and are so sick of looking at it that you can't stand to read it again until it is edited...we understand. We also understand if you are an inexperienced writer and it was a huge effort even to get your thoughts down on paper (or entered into the computer). But do realize that your work will most likely require more than simple copy editing.

Now, as for typing two spaces between sentences: Please unlearn that old rule, left over from the old days of typesetting and typewriters. The existence of proportional fonts (such as this one) has made that extra-space rule obsolete. When you use a proportional font, a small extra space is automatically inserted after a period or other ending punctuation mark. The presence of an extra hard space between sentences will throw off layout, and this is a concern whether or not you intend to self-publish or submit your manuscript to a traditional publisher.

If you have already typed a 500-page manuscript with two spaces between every sentence, it's easy to undo it. Use the "find and replace" tool in your word processing program. Under "find" hit the "space" bar twice. Under "replace" hit the space bar once. That generally takes care of the problem.

By the way, if you haven't done so already, do take a look at our Author Questionnaire. It might help you make some improvements to your manuscript that could save even more editing.

Looking at your work objectively is difficult. If you're like most authors, you will go through extremes of loving and hating it. With practice, however, you can teach yourself to be more critical without tearing your work (and yourself) to pieces. If so, you have a great head start, and you're truly ready to have a professional take a crack at your manuscript.



Page design and layout: If an author whose book we write, rewrite or edit intends to self-publish, we quite often negotiate to include book layout and design, as well as cover design, in the package. Book design alone, depending upon length of manuscript, amount of graphics, and whether or not we do the cover design, generally runs in the low to mid four-figure range. Basic layout begins at $10.00 per laid-out page. This is generally for trade books of standard size (5.5 x 8.5 in., or 6 x 9 in). Oversized or more "artsy" books will be slightly more. We base our fee on a very close estimate of what the final page count will be. (See examples of some of our page layouts.)

Page design and layout includes typography as well as creation of simple graphics and embellishments to enhance the text. If a book has complex graphics that we need to create (or re-create), the price goes up accordingly.

If you intend for your book to have photographs, we charge $10.00 for each photo. For this we produce a high-resolution scan and, if needed, we do light retouching or enhancement (of background, etc.). Ron is an expert photo retoucher, and if intensive retouching is needed, the charge is $100.00/hour. Do note that for a printworthy result, the photograph should be from a quality source, preferably a professional photographer.
Note: We often offer "package deals," or quantity discounts on photo scans, for clients who hire us for the whole process, i.e., writing/editing and cover design as well as page layout and design.

We produce our page layouts in Adobe InDesign, and create error-free files which we either burn to CD for delivery to your book manufacturer, along with printouts to be used for soft proofs, or we can send the files electronically if required.
Turnaround time for page layout varies. Once you have decided on a page design, turnaround time averages from two weeks to one month. If the book is very long and/or complex, and/or there are numerous complex graphics or a large number of photos (particularly photos that need extra retouching), the process may take up to three months. Again, much is dependent upon timely feedback from you.

Indexing is a specialized procedure that we normally do not do ourselves (though this may change in the near future). We can usually generate a rudimentary index (and we do not charge extra for this), but for books that require a highly detailed index, we have subcontracted to a professional indexer. Not every book actually needs an index, and many are published without one. Note also that if you are planning to approach a trade publisher, you generally do not need to worry about an index; the publisher will handle that. For self-published authors, the index is usually generated after the rest of the book's layout has been finalized. If you have decided at the outset that your book requires an index, we will include the fee for this service in our bid. If do not decide you need an index until later on in the project, we will issue a supplemental bid and invoice.
Indexing may add a week or two to the average turnaround time for any project.


Shorter works (single chapters, portions of manuscripts, short stories, essays): The vast majority of our work is with book-length manuscripts, averaging from 30,000 to 100,000 words (generally 125-400 pages). We also edit shorter manuscripts — chapters, short stories, essays and the like. We charge on a per-project basis but the fee generally averages out to $10.00 per manuscript page.


Cover design fees: Our minimum fee for cover design is $1,500.00, which includes not only graphics and type but also scanning and placement of author photo if needed; and generation of barcode. And that's not all we do. Unlike some cover designers who are strictly designers (some of whom charge at least twice the minimum price that we do), we are also professional copywriters. That means we can write all of your back cover copy and/or jacket flap copy as needed. All of this is included in our cover design fee. (Note: Although we are designers, we are not illustrators. If a custom illustration is needed for the cover, that will cost extra, depending upon the extent of the work.) Click here to see some of our front-cover samples; we will have an expanded gallery soon.

We normally produce our cover designs in CorelDRAW (call us iconoclasts, but we love Corel), and we burn the files to CD for delivery to your book manufacturer. NOTE: Most book manufacturers handle CorelDRAW files and therefore can work directly from these files. We always check with the book manufacturer, or request that you do it, to ensure this is the case. If not, we will convert the file to a suitable format.
Turnaround time for cover design can be very quick; if we have all of the information we need (including spine width), we can have a complete cover for you within a week to ten days.


Printing quality control is an optional part of a design package. We can also coordinate the production (printing) of your book — doing everything from getting print bids to "holding your hand" through the process (which involves acting as technical contact and quality control) — thus saving you from the hard lessons so many novice authors are forced to learn. We will carefully review the interior and cover proofs from the printer and, of course, will show them to you too. (This is an important step that allows you to see the close-to-finished product and make absolutely necessary last-minute corrections before going to press. So even if you don't use us for printing Q.C., DO insist on seeing interior and cover proofs before your book is printed. Have the printer put the cost of doing these proofs into your print bid.)

Normally we charge on an hourly basis ($25.00 / hour) for production coordination if that is all we do for you, but we do it at no additional charge for clients for whom we do layout and cover design.
NOTE that the actual cost of printing is extra, and payment arrangements are strictly between you and your book manufacturer. As noted above, we will be glad to get print bids for you and help you choose your printer, but we do not handle any of the financial aspects of book printing. (Nor, for the record, do we receive "kickbacks" or referral fees from any printer at this time. We will advise you if this changes.)

NOTE ALSO that we generally deal directly with specific book manufacturers, but sometimes, depending upon the complexity of the project, a print broker might be able to get you a better price. We have frequently worked with a terrific print broker who knows the business inside and out, and if we think your needs would be better served by going that route, we will put you in contact with her. But we'll still be with you every step of the way to deal with technical issues, to help you review the proofs, and to offer expert support as you prepare to launch your new book.
Printing turnaround time varies with the book manufacturer, but averages about four to six weeks, except in traditionally busier seasons (e.g., the last three months of the year, when printers are overwhelmed with books for the holiday market). Naturally, if we handle the printing for you we will keep you apprised of progress.

Website design and other promotional and marketing material: Web design costs vary, depending upon the length and complexity of the site, but they average between $1,250.00 and $2,500.00. For this we provide not just design but (unlike many web site designers), we also create original content, e.g., all graphics as needed, custom backgrounds, and all writing (and/or careful editing of your writing). We also provide as much assistance as you need in finding a host and getting your site "live", and we offer some technical support. In some cases we also provide a certain number of updates, but our usual practice is to set up the site in a way that you can easily do your own updates. Frankly, web design is not our specialty, so if you need a more complex site than we can provide, we will refer you to a web design specialist if you wish.

Call or email us if you are interested in other materials such as brochures, newsletters (print or electronic), news releases and the like — including setup and maintenance of social media such as a Twitter or Facebook page, or a blog. We very often work out attractive "package deals" for our book clients; just ask! Click here for a link to some examples of some of our promotional work.
Turnaround time for websites and other promotional material varies but these are usually relatively quick turnaround times; e.g., weeks rather than months.

Consultation session or longer-term coaching to help you decide the direction for your book project(s): Are you completely undecided about the direction you want to go? You could hire us for a manuscript evaluation...but perhaps you're not even that far along in the process. We will be glad to sit down with you, look at your material, and go over your options. If an in-person session is not practical for you, we can work by phone and email too. Our phone or Skype consultation fee is $100.00 per hour, with a one-hour minimum. Consultations at client sites in the Houston, Texas metro area are billed at the rate of $100.00 per hour, with a two-hour minimum, which includes travel time one way. Prices for out-of-area consultations will be determined on a per-case basis.
Email us for an appointment or to set up a schedule.


Payment methods and terms

We accept Paypal (our preferred method), which means you can safely use your credit or debit card.

We also accept personal and business checks, money orders and cashier's checks, in US funds drawn on a US bank. (Sorry, Nigeria!)

For jobs totaling $10,000.00 or less, with an estimated turnaround time of two months or less, we generally require a 50% nonrefundable deposit upon signing the contract, with the balance due when the final product is delivered, or as specified in the contract. If the estimated turnaround time is longer than two months, we generally require a 50% nonrefundable deposit, with the balance divided out into monthly payments. The amount and number of the payments are dependent upon the estimated turnaround time. If the project takes longer than the original estimate, final payment can be withheld until completion.

For higher-dollar jobs that take longer, the amount of the nonrefundable deposit varies, depending upon the job. Subsequent payments are due at intervals, generally monthly, with the number and amount of payments being dependent upon the estimated time frame of the project. If the project takes longer than the original estimate, final payment can be withheld until completion.

NOTE: Consultation or coaching fees are due at the time of the session if it is an in-person session, and in advance of the session if it is a phone session.


And finally...We're sorry, but we cannot work on spec.
As much as we sympathize with the plight of a struggling author, it is our policy to not work on speculation — that is, for a promise of future profits instead of an upfront fee. Very few professional literary collaborators work on spec.


Okay...if we haven't scared you away, send us an email
our preferred method for initial communication —
and let's start a conversation about your project!
For serious inquiries we will provide you
with phone numbers and/or Skype information as needed.

HERE (and then follow the appropriate links).


Good news! We now accept Paypal payments, for quick, easy, and secure transactions.

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Ron Kaye & Connie L. Schmidt
e-mail: (both of us) (Ron Kaye) • (Connie L. Schmidt)

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