Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like
Partly, this is a reminder to you indie writers out there who might be needing a copyeditor/proofreader as you steam toward self-publication. I’m ready, willing, and able to help, and at a significant discount compared to the norm.
Also partly, this is a wee rant at the freelance job market, which has been funneled mainly into a platform called Upwork (formerly Elance-oDesk). I created a freelancer profile there not long ago, hoping to gather a few new clients to get my editing biz up and running, and what I discovered right away is that the “employers” on Upwork are unbelievable cheapskates.*
Most of the jobs listed have budgets so low there no point in applying. I know my mighty reasonable $2.50/page proofreading rate is already a bargain, but these people want to pay $50 for proofreading a whole novel! I really hope they get what they pay for (which may be one reason self-published books have such a bad rep out there …) But aside from that, the fact that there are dozens of applicants for each job means that the rate gets driven down by competitive bidding. I’ve applied for quite a few jobs already, sometimes bidding more than the listed rate just to make a point, but no employer has chosen me yet. Surprise surprise. They’d rather find some doofus to edit their 200,000 word fantasy novel for $75.
Good luck with that …
My philosophy with respect to indie authors is, I want to help you get your book into the best possible shape it can be, but I don’t want you to take out an equity line on the house to pay for it. I don’t want to rip you off. However, I want my rate to reflect the level of expertise I’ve reached over the years so that it feels like my time is worth the expense (e.g., $750 for proofreading a 300-page novel).
Upwork reinforces the idea that the lowest price should be the goal for an employer. It also appears to require (not officially) that a new freelancer work for free until a minimum number of Upwork hours has been reached, which will attract new potential employers. I don’t qualify for most of the jobs I’ve applied for because I have zero hours on Upwork.
It could very well stay that way too.
I’d much rather work with writers I’ve been following these last three years on WordPress, or with their referrals. So if you’re getting close to finishing your book, drop me a line. And if you know someone who’s in need of a good, experienced editor with three indie novels under his belt, spread the word, eh?
Bottom line is, if you’re only willing to pay pennies for something as important as proofreading, you might as well save your money and publish your book as is. It comes across the same either way: amateur hour.
*Just today, for example, there’s a job posted for copyediting a 90,000 word novel for $300. And that’s copyediting, not proofreading. This dude basically wants professional service at an 80% discount.