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

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

What's "Working Full Time" for a Freelance Editor?

What does "working full time" mean to you as an employee? As a freelancer or consultant?

To me, as a freelance copyeditor, it means that my workweek ranges from 25 to 40 hours, but then most of my work is substantive editing (heavy copyediting), ESL editing (smoothing the nonstandard English of authors who aren't native speakers of English), medical editing, or ESL medical editing, rather than straight copyediting, so it isn't speedy enough to allow me to zip through it and work fewer hours. After 22 years in publishing, 11 of them as a freelancer, I do charge healthy rates (hourly, page, or project, depending on the client and the project), so you'd think I could get by with fewer hours and still meet my living expenses. But my husband and I

  • Live on expensive Long Island (New York State)

  • Own a home, a dinky, no-closet-space, 1,400-square-foot place that is vastly overvalued in an overheated housing market

  • Have three children. We're paying the lion's share of our daughter's costs for her impending August 6 wedding. We also paid a good portion of her undergrad tuition within the last 5 years; she's paying postgrad tuition herself now because she's been financially independent for just over a year. Then there was private preschool tuition this year for our youngest; our school district doesn't yet offer preschool.

  • Have his parents (ages 70 and 71) living in our home. Though they pay us a token rent, they're on a fixed income, so we cover a lot of the expenses that they'd have to cover if they lived in an apartment somewhere else.

  • Pay full monthly health insurance premiums (about $750/month) by weekly deductions from my husband's weekly paychecks. The firm he works for is so microscopic that it can't afford to pitch in for any employee's coverage. But for years, our insurance came through my company, and we paid those premiums in full ourselves.

Though my cabinetmaker foreman husband commands healthy hourly wages, his income alone couldn't anywhere near cover all of that by itself. Before he was given a substantial raise a couple of years ago, my annual gross income was pretty close to his. You betcha I'm competitive enough to be working at increasing my gross income to match his again. ;-)

Individual life circumstances are going to affect what's full time for any particular freelancer. What's full time for you, and why?

full time


Cris said...

Hi EM! I have the utmost respect for your trade. I'm surrounded by medical writers and editors and it's the best group of people I've ever had the opportunity to work with. "A gem really isn't a gem until after you polish it."

Best regards,

Kristen King, Inkthinker said...

Katharine, thank you for sharing the reality of the freelance life! We're not in this for kicks, folks. I mean, don't get me wrong, we like what we do, but we have to finance our lives!

My mother pays me when I do work for her, so what makes random strangers think they should get a break on my prices just because they whine a lot? Other people are cheaper than I am, so if someone doesn't like my prices, he or she is more than welcome to find someone else who fits better with their budget. But I have bills to pay, as does every freelancer out there, and freelancing is my business, not my hobby.

Right on!


Katharine O'Moore-Klopf said...

And you, Cris, get paid to learn all day and help others learn. What could be cooler than that?

Momma said...

For me, freelancing is just one of my "full-time" jobs. I have a regular 9 to 5 that brings in most of the bill-paying income. Then, I have a full-time (35 hours/week) freelance business "on the side" that pays for my graduate school (and studying for two Master's degrees should be counted as a full-time job). But above all, I'm a full-time mom who is very cognizant of the fact that all my hard work is for that little 2-year-old girl I come home to who always says, "Mommy, I love you."

Katharine O'Moore-Klopf said...

Yowza, Noelle! You have one busy life. But you're right—those of us with children do it all for them.

Katharine O'Moore-Klopf said...

Hi, Markp. I've never worked with getabstract. But you might subscribe to the Freelance and Copyediting-L e-mail discussion lists and ask list members about it.

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