KOK Edit: Your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM)
KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) Katharine O'Moore Klopf

Friday, September 21, 2007

A Client I Can Do Without

Yowza! Just got an e-mail out of the blue from a project manager for a book packager that apparently does work for huge publishers; she wanted to know whether I was interested in editing a 780-page medical book manuscript (250 words per page, as is the industry standard); her budget for the project is $1,849. That's a measly $2.37 per page! Cheap, cheap, cheap.

(If you're not in the publishing industry, you'll want to know this: Depending on how much editing a medical manuscript needs, I might work at anywhere between 4 and 7 pages per hour. If I did 4 pages/hour, I'd be earning the equivalent of only about $9.50/hour for working on that packager's book. If I did 7 pages/hour, I'd get about $16.50/hour. Neither of those hourly rates is anywhere near appropriate for a professional editor in 2007.)

And her message was addressed to a few other copyeditors too. I know because she put everyone's e-mail address in the CC line rather than the BCC line, which is unprofessional when you're hunting for an independent contractor. My response:
Thank you for your interest in my editing services.

However, I will have to decline taking on [the project]. The budget for the book works out to only $2.37 per 250-word page, a rate well below what most medical copyeditors charge. I have nearly 24 years' experience, and for light editing, I might charge a total project fee of [many times over $1,849] for 780 manuscript pages.

If you should have projects with budgets closer to industry standards, I would be happy to discuss them with you.

I BCC'd the other copyeditors. I'm hoping none of them is so new to the business that they think $2.37/page is good. Just heard back from one of them. Her response? An enthusiastic "What you said!"

Editing requires many more skills, and thus costs much more than the minimum wage, than does flipping burgers. And medical editing requires yet more skills.

No, thank you, Ms. X. Your offer's an insult. I've never worked with you before, and I don't want to start. Not even a greenhorn editor should be paid that little.

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