Fair Rates of Pay for NZ Writers 2023


This information has been collated and anonymised to provide general guidance for writers on what to expect when engaging in different types of work, and to aid advocacy efforts for fairer compensation.

These minimum rates of pay are designed for established, professional, freelance authors covering their own sick pay, holiday pay and superannuation.

As with all such recommended rates of pay, the demand for your work and your level of skill and experience will all play a part in the way in which you negotiate these rates. Highly experienced and skilled writers may charge higher fees.

Note that pay is given as either a range or average depending on the responses received.


Public Appearances

Pay rates for authors vary depending on location and whether you are the sole author, on a panel, chairing, or giving a workshop.

If travelling from out of town for an appearance, travel and per diem costs should also be added. See ‘Travel/Per diem’ below for more.

Other benefits that festival directors can provide include lanyard access or a festival pass to other festival events (except workshops and catered events), promotion via print programme, and a welcome pack.

Activity Pay range or average
Reading existing work $200
Keynote address $500
Solo presentation $250-300
Panel member $100-300
Chair/host $200-300



Workshops take considerable preparation time and include authors’ intellectual property. If a recording of the workshop is continually made available online, the ability of an author to book future income producing workshops may be undermined. Therefore, we recommend authors negotiate an additional fee for recordings based on the length of time the recording is made available. For example:- an additional 10% on top of the appearance rate for each week the recording is available.

If travelling from out of town for a workshop, travel and per diem costs should also be added. See ‘Travel/Per diem’ below for more.

Activity Pay range or average
Workshop (in-person) 1-2hrs $250-400
Workshop (online/recorded) 1-2hrs $300-400
Workshop preparation 1hr $75
Online course module 1-2hrs $1000 + 10% royalties


School Appearances

As with other public appearances and workshops, school appearances require travel costs to be considered, plus preparation time for any workshop or presentation.

Activity Pay range or average
Virtual lesson (online, up to 1hr) $200-250
Half-day visit (up to 3hrs) $300
Full day visit (school hours) $450
Multiple-day visit (up to 5 days) $300/day
Workshop with teachers (up to 2hrs) $400


Travel/Per Diem

It is usual to be offered accommodation especially if you are an out-of-town author presenting at an evening event. Some festivals offer a mileage allowance or fuel card for petrol, others fly their authors in or pay reasonable travel costs.

Some festivals arrange for a complimentary breakfast to be included with a hotel stay, and if a per diem is not offered then out-of-town authors may be taken for lunch or dinner after their event.

Activity Pay range or average
Per diem (day only) $25-40
Per diem (overnight) $50-70
Travel reimbursement $0.79 per km petrol voucher, or transport covered to a specified amount



Expected compensation for published writing varies greatly from journal to journal, with some paying different rates for online vs print, some paying per word or word range, and some paying flat fees regardless of word count or platform. Larger publications or sponsored publications are able to pay more than small independent presses.

Activity Pay range or average
Poetry $10-30
Set of poems $100-500
Short story (less than 1500 words) $30-400
Short story (over 1500 words) $100-650
Personal essay (less than 1500 words) $30-400
Long-form essay (over 1500 words) $100-650
Anthology (existing piece republished) $250
Review $200-500
Freelance writing/journalism per hour $25-55
Freelance writing/journalism per word $0.10-0.60



Proofreading, structural editing, line editing, and manuscript assessment rates vary depending on factors like word count, manuscript quality, level of detail required, and the editor’s skill/experience.

Note that these rates do not include GST.

Activity Pay range or average
Proofreading $48-60/hr
Structural editing $50-80/hr
Line editing $50-80/hr
Manuscript assessment (for an 80,000 word novel) $800-1300



Rates for ghostwriting vary greatly depending on the client – a high-profile celebrity biography is worth much more than a local family history. The rate will also depend on word count, research or interview requirements, duration of time required to complete it, and possibly travel.

The below gives an idea of what to expect within a few different categories.

Activity Pay range or average
Celebrity biography $15,000-80,000
Individual for self-publishing $5,000-15,000
Corporate history $15,000-80,000
Family history $5,000-15,000



Film options

An option will generally cover a one-year period with the right of renewal for a further two. Pay is negotiable, largely depending on the type of film they are likely to make, your standing as an author, the popularity of the book, and so on. The range can be $2000 to $4000. Read more here.



Translation rates depend on the length, genre, and difficulty of the work. For example, a picture book publisher may pay $400 while a YA book could be $20,000.

Most publishers pay a set fee for translations, although some will offer a royalty split also/instead.



Standard royalties are 10% of RRP. Some publishers are offering 8% of nett receipts or 8% nett less costs. Read more. And for notes specific to eBooks, read here.


For more rate-tracking information, see:

The  most recent Horizon Research report conducted by CLNZ into Writers Earnings in Aotearoa can be accessed Horizon Research Writers’ Earnings Survey Report 2021 FINAL