WHAT THE HELL

Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like

Penny wise and pound foolish?

 

Lately at Indie-Scribable, I’ve had a few prospective clients contact me about proofreading their novels, only to lose them when I quote my price. As you’ve heard me say before, I started Indie-Scribable as a lower-cost alternative to the typical “professional” editor, who often charges upwards of $3K for proofreading a novel. Let’s not even talk about the cost of copyediting. It’s out of reach for most indie writers.

Now I’m a little baffled at the idea that I might be charging too much.

My rate for proofreading boils down to a penny a word. That means an 80,000 word book’ll cost you $800 vs about $1200 at the common rate of $35/hour. What bugs me is that it seems as if a lot of indie writers would like to have their books proofread for a couple hundred bucks — or less. And the sick thing is, thanks to freelance directories like Upwork, they can often find freelancers willing to do it. One recent contact of mine found someone to do her 74,000 word book for $150.

Obviously there’s a “get what you pay for” factor here. Someone going over 80,000 words for $200 isn’t going to settle for $6 an hour. Nope, she’s going to do the job twice as fast and push the rate up to at least $12, and even that’s ridiculously low for professional quality. Guess what? You might not get professional quality.

And you won’t get, as well, the kind of editorial advice I provide as part of the package. When I proofread a book, I also essentially beta read it. And I give you back your edited manuscript along with extensive notes. I can’t help it. I’m a writer. When I think of something that can help you, I’ll throw it out there. No proofreader charging $200 will do that for you; she can’t afford to.

So here’s today’s poll question. What do you think is a reasonable price for indie writers to pay for proofreading? Am I running too high at a penny a word? Or do a lot of indie writers have unrealistic ideas about what editors ought to charge?

Federal minimum wage is $7.25/hour. It’s $10.50 in California. Why are there so many editors out there willing to work for less than a dishwasher gets?

Advertisements

22 comments on “Penny wise and pound foolish?

  1. pinklightsabre
    March 23, 2017

    You’re spot on with your rates and you’re right, how could you NOT beta read it if you’re a writer and taking the time (and because you care) to proofread? You know, don’t let those people get under your skin. Some people are just like that, which is why I never have garage sales. They come out picking around for deals. Yours is its own deal, they’re not seeing it, tough luck. Get what you pay for.

    • Kevin Brennan
      March 23, 2017

      Thanks, Bill. Good analogy with the garage sales. People are gauchely cheap at those things.

  2. kingmidget
    March 23, 2017

    Your rates are fine, particularly given the quality of your work and contributions to the writer’s effort.

    The problem is that indie writers are playing a zero sum game in which there is very little hope for them to add to their side of the ledger. Particularly for writers who have already independently published and seen just how hard it is to make money, it’s difficult to start with the hole even deeper because of the cost of editing, the cost of cover art, and all of the other little costs that add up. You basically have to be willing to lose money and spend your vacation fund or your nest egg, or empty your change jar, to go out on a limb and pay for an editor.

    I do know that I’ve learned my lesson and if I ever independently publish anything again, I’m going to take that cost on to ensure the best product. But it’s not the decision I could have made when I published my first couple of books.

    • Kevin Brennan
      March 23, 2017

      As an indie writer myself, I definitely hear that. But I hate to think (but I do suspect) that too many indies dispense with the editing cost altogether and hope they’ve caught all the errors themselves. They haven’t. When you think about it, though, an artist has to invest in good materials, a musician in good instruments, an actor in good training … Why shouldn’t writers invest in good editing? 😉

      • kingmidget
        March 23, 2017

        I had at least half a dozen people read One Night in Bridgeport before I published it. I read it myself who knows how many times and when I published it, I subsequently learned of about 25-30 typos in the thing. Same thing with each of my publishing efforts. So, yeah, I get it. And that’s just typos. Doesn’t even include the other things you point out.

      • Kevin Brennan
        March 24, 2017

        Then again, it seems like traditional publishers are spending less on proofreading than they used to as well. I see boo boos all the time!

      • kingmidget
        March 24, 2017

        Yep. It’s something I see everywhere now. It seems I can’t read an article in the SacBee without finding boo boos. People have mistakes in written product at work and the typical response is “oh well.”

  3. Carrie Rubin
    March 23, 2017

    I don’t think your prices are too high at all. In fact, having used your services, I’d argue they’re less than many other editors out there. If we want quality editing of our work, we need to be willing to pay for it. I think hiring a good editor is the most important investment an indie author can make. Investing in good cover art would be second. But no matter how pretty the cover, a reader won’t finish a book full of errors and poor flow.

    • Carrie Rubin
      March 23, 2017

      I should add that like kingmidget above, I know the costs can be prohibitive for indie authors and that’s why they might take the lower-cost route. It can be a tough balancing act financially.

      • Kevin Brennan
        March 23, 2017

        For sure. See my reply to Mark about artists, musicians, etc.

      • Carrie Rubin
        March 23, 2017

        I agree with what your response to him. And there are many parts an author can take on themselves if they have the skills: the formatting, the cover art, the marketing (which we have to do whether we have the skills or not!) But the editing is a different beast. Certainly we develop a good eye over time, but our eyes are always better editing someone else’s work than our own.

    • Kevin Brennan
      March 23, 2017

      Thank you, Carrie. It’s good to know that someone I worked with felt like she got her money’s worth!

      It’s so true that getting through a book riddled with mistakes is hard. And I’ve always hated the idea that people think ALL indie books are like that.

      • Carrie Rubin
        March 23, 2017

        Just having you run through my revised chapter last week was so helpful. At first I thought, “Oh, I can get by changing one chapter without having an editor’s eye on it.” But then I figured I better have you look at it given the all-important first chapter. So glad I did, because even just those small changes make it so much more fluid.

      • Kevin Brennan
        March 23, 2017

        Here’s hoping you can nail down an agent soon!

      • Carrie Rubin
        March 23, 2017

        From your lips (fingers?…) to their ears.

  4. John W. Howell
    March 23, 2017

    I think your prices are right on.

  5. Phillip McCollum
    March 23, 2017

    Some people are just poor of sight when it comes to viewing the long-term. It irks me that folks aren’t willing to invest in something that apparently means the world to them. If woodworking was your thing and you spent months bent over the lathe, would you finish it off with crayons?

    I hope other people begin to see the value of what you’re offering, Kevin. You’re getting ringing endorsements from me!

    • Kevin Brennan
      March 23, 2017

      Appreciate it, Phillip! Yes, there’s a certain myopia out there, and you’d think this has been talked about enough in indie land. Oh well …

  6. S.K. Nicholls
    March 23, 2017

    I paid around $800 to have two rounds of edits and one final proof of my last independently published book of 74,500 words. I haven’t had the pleasure of using your services but feel you have set a fair price.

    • Kevin Brennan
      March 23, 2017

      That was a mighty good deal. Glad you think I’m not overpriced!

Chime in

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Information

This entry was posted on March 23, 2017 by in Writing and tagged , , , , .
%d bloggers like this: