An American Editor

July 25, 2012

The Business of Editing: Killing Me Softly

I recently reviewed the various groups I am a member of on LinkedIn and was astounded to find a U.S.-based editor soliciting editing work and offering to do that work for $1 per page in all genres. Some further searching led me to discover that this person was not alone in her/his pricing.

What astounds me is less that someone is offering to do editorial work for such a low fee but that people actually believe that is a fair price to pay for professional editing. I recently spoke with an author whose ebooks are badly edited — yes, edited is the correct word — who told me that he/she had paid a professional editor $200 to edit the novel in question and so was surprised at all the errors the novel contained.

Recently, I wrote about the publisher who wants copyediting but calls it proofreading in an attempt to pay a lower price (see The Business of Editing: A Rose By Another Name Is Still Copyediting). In my own business, I have been under pressure to reduce my fee or see the work offshored.

I am being killed softly. (And for those of you who enjoy a musical interlude, here is Roberta Flack singing Killing Me Softly!)

Unfortunately, so is my profession for the past quarter century being killed softly.

I write “being killed softly” because that is exactly what is happening. There are no trumpets blaring; clients aren’t shouting and ordering me to work for starvation wages. Instead, what they are doing is saying that they can get the services I provide for significantly less money because the competition is so keen, driving downward pricing.

There is no discussion about whether the services clients get for less money are valuable services. The base assumption is that any editor will do and any editor will do a competent, quality job. Alas, there is little to disprove the assumption in the absence of postediting proofreading, but that work is being driven by the same dynamic and so clients set a mouse to catch a mouse, rather than a cat to catch a mouse. If the proofreader’s skills match the skills of the editor, little by way of error will be caught. We see this everyday when we pick up a book and discover errors that should have been caught by a professional editor and/or proofreader.

When passing out the blame for this situation, we can look elsewhere — to the international conglomerate bean counters, to the Internet that has brought globalization to the editing profession, to the death of locally owned publishing companies that count quality higher than cost — or we can look to ourselves — to our insistence on being wholly independent and our resistance to banding together to form a strong lobbying group, to our willingness to provide stellar service for suboptimal wages, to the ease with which we permit entrance to a skilled profession. Looking at ourselves is where we should look.

Individually, we may strike gnat-like blows against this professional decline, but these will continue to prove of little avail. The profession of editing used to be a highly respected profession. It always was an underpaying profession, but it was a prestigious profession. All that has changed in recent decades. Our bohemian attitude towards our profession has worked to hurry its decline. It is now one of those work-at-home-and-earn-big-bucks professions that draws anyone in need of supplementary income.

It has become this way because we have let it become so.

I wondered if anyone was going to challenge the $1/page person, but no one did. There was no challenge of the price or of skills or of services. The idea that at this price level superior services can be provided is rapidly becoming the norm. That a good editor can often only edit five or six pages an hour — and in many instances even fewer pages an hour — does not seem to be a concern to either clients or to the editors advertising inexpensive services.

It is increasingly difficult to compete for business in the editorial marketplace. There are still pockets of clients who pay reasonable fees, but I expect those pockets to diminish and eventually disappear, and to do so in the not-too-distant future. Those of us with specialty skills are beginning to see the encroachment of downward pricing pressure.

What I find most interesting is that so many people do not even notice poor editing. There is a cadre of people who care about precision communication, but that cadre grows smaller with each passing year. A rigorous language education is now passé. The result is that there are fewer individuals who can recognize good editing from bad/no editing, and even fewer who care, being more concerned with cost.

I have no surefire solution to the problem. My hope is that some day someone in charge will see the light and decide that quality is at least of equal importance to cost control and recognize that it is not possible for an editor to provide a quality job at $1/page. Unfortunately, I do not see that day arriving any time soon.

What solutions do you propose?

138 Comments »

  1. Somebody who reviewed my novel asked if they could sell it through their site and, as it is written by an Englishman but set in the US, asked if they could make a ‘few minor changes’ to make it believable. When I got it back the person had fully edited it. I got through about 50 pages, before I emailed and said they couldn’t sell it through their site. They were very polite about it, but they had changed sentences around, added sentences – I even saw a sentence beginning with a lower case letter. Another example was a sentence re-written, and after the re-write it had the character’s name in it twice. All very poor. The thing that shocked me the most was this person is offering editing at $1 per page too. Thankfully I wasn’t requiring their services (I have a degree in English language and literature), but god help anyone who does. Someone else I know published with Iuniverse, and paid something like $4,000 dollars for editing. Her novel has hundreds of errors in it that should have been picked up during that ‘editing’. It reads like a minefield of errors, and a ten-year-old could have probably done a better job! I guess you have to be careful, and aware that sometimes you don’t get what you pay for. If paying for editing services, make sure you get the ‘real deal’.

    Like

    Comment by davidmcgowan — July 25, 2012 @ 4:12 am | Reply

  2. Interesting about that $4,000 paid for editing. I used to edit for iUniverse and received a fraction of that amount. I wonder where the rest of it went?

    Regardless, there is no “solution” to the dilemma this posting describes. The problem is a by-product of our times, and it creates a catch-22: As your book of business shrinks, and the pay rates offered for your expertise continue to decline while the number of competitors at lower rate increases, at some point you have to deal with paying the bills so you take what you can get in order to do so. I’ve been backed into that corner many a time, and it’s a constant struggle to find the shrinking pockets of clients who value quality performance and pay for it.

    I’m starting to see signs of change, in that the shocking drop in quality of editing is making news and garnering protest, with the value of professional editing getting pitched by authors themselves. At the same time, in some of the same author forums, I see more people complaining about the damage that editors do to their work. So the paying client base is splitting into those who understand and value editing, and those who don’t. Many authors using vanity press services are downright hostile toward editors. I see the same reflected at the other end — these authors diss (and distrust) book reviewers, as well. IMO, it’s an author as well as an editor/publisher problem, because many in the new generation of “self-publishers” do not take responsibility for their own inadequacies, yet they carp loudly enough to be heard and influence other people into believing the generalities. I waste a lot of time banging my head up against this wall.

    Time is better spent seeking and bonding with the remaining people who care about language, care about communication, care about books (and documents of all sorts). They’re still out there and always will be. Rich’s suggestion that independent editors start organizing into more stable professional groups is a good one, but that’s a head-banger, too. Every feeler I’ve put out in that direction has resulted in either rejection or indifference.

    So, like all the other solo editors out there, I do what I gotta do, and keep on keeping on.

    Like

    Comment by Carolyn — July 25, 2012 @ 6:36 am | Reply

  3. What would you say about a fee of $0,01 per word… sigh… this is what I’ve been offered – and accepted – just because a higher fee isn’t on a horizon and because in total for the job (novels) it amounts to just enough to cover for my electricity and food bills. Everything else I need to squeeze out of my fingertips on a paid-per-hour freelance job. The market nowadays is a beast.

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    Comment by Camilla Stein — July 25, 2012 @ 8:01 am | Reply

  4. I wonder sometimes whether this isn’t mostly amateur writers hiring amateur editors–in my opinion, a non-issue. If you want to compete for authors whose sole interest is self-publishing (who, granted, seem to take up more and more space on the job boards every day), you can count on their having no clue as to what a reasonable rate might be, or on their not having the money to offer more than a hundred bucks or so per 100,000 words. Whenever I see an author advertising rates like these, I usually think, “Thank you, sir or madam! Your ridiculous offer just saved me several weeks of work on what is very likely a novel that will never in a million years be published.” Every professional author or publishing house I’ve ever worked for has paid good money for good work.

    I do, however, very much like the idea of organizing with other professionals to create a set of quality standards and offer training/apprenticeships to up-and-coming professionals. I’m new enough to the game that I don’t yet have the clout to try to organize this myself, or I would. Even if I ended up not meeting the standards at first, I’d still like to see this happen–I’m not afraid of working hard towards a goal. I don’t know that attaching an editorial union logo would sway the amateurs, but it would be an at-a-glance way for professional authors and publishers to proceed in hiring an editor with confidence.

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    Comment by Dave — July 25, 2012 @ 8:13 am | Reply

  5. Some problems are that (1) in the world of Twitter, where “U R” is standard, many younger readers won’t recognize misspellings, (2) even those who do won’t realize a book is full of errors until after they’ve bought it, and (3) the bottom line has always ruled at publishing houses, where editors were paid a lot less than salespeople.

    I think we need to accept that quality editing will be less and less in demand, and each editor needs to figure out how to develop an alternative career on the basis of his or her skills and interests. This is not easy.

    Like

    Comment by Gretchen — July 25, 2012 @ 9:13 am | Reply

  6. It isn’t valued anymore by readers, many of which take good editing for granted. Your business is getting squashed by a sluggish economy, and you, like writers, are feeling it in no small measure. This reminds me of wedding photographers who were used to charging exorbitant fees to shoot a wedding, and then were able to charge high prices for photos and then keep the copyright on said photos. These people are also being squeezed out by anybody with a halfway decent camera and access to Craigslist. You either have to start charging less and take on more work, or starve. That’s the sad outcome of this, not only in editing, but across the spectrum of working in America.

    Like

    Comment by Paul A Maher Jr — July 25, 2012 @ 9:33 am | Reply

  7. Carolyn and others,

    Many countries already have well-established societies for editors and allied professions. For example:

    Society for Editors and Proofreaders (UK): http://www.sfep.org.uk/
    Institute of Professional Editors (Australia): http://iped-editors.org/
    Society of English-Native-Speaking Editors (The Netherlands): http://www.sense-online.nl

    (I know that there are some in the US and Canada too, but the site where I can usually access these links is down at the moment.)

    In my opinion, there are two approaches: firstly, we should behave like any other professional group and join/form organisations such as the above, so that we have a collective voice in matters such as pricing, quality, etc. Secondly, on the individual level, we should continue to develop ourselves professionally through ongoing learning and keeping up to date with developments in our field, so that we can stand behind the rates we charge just as any other trained professional does. Who ever heard of a doctor or lawyer or plumber agreeing to work for a pittance? Everyone expects to pay for the training and experience that these professionals bring to the table – it should be the same for editors and their colleagues in other language professions.

    I will come back and add the other links as soon as I can get to them.

    Like

    Comment by Camilla Brokking — July 25, 2012 @ 9:45 am | Reply

    • I still can’t get to the page I want, but in the meantime I found this: American Copy Editors Society (http://www.copydesk.org/)

      Like

      Comment by Camilla Brokking — July 30, 2012 @ 4:18 pm | Reply

      • Just a note about the ACES: The ACES is a society for newspaper copyeditors, not for book and journal editors. This is not to say that there would be no benefit for a book editor to join, just that the focus of the group is on journalism and newspaper-type organization copyeditors/editors.

        Like

        Comment by americaneditor — July 31, 2012 @ 6:32 am | Reply

  8. An excellent summary of our situation. Thank you.

    Sometimes, there are no solutions. As my husband is fond of telling me, “Don’t worry, sweetie:once upon a time we had stagecoach drivers and they, too, are gone.” 😐 Once upon a time the craft of making pottery by hand was an essential skill. Those who reached the highest level in the craft would hand painted delicate designs on glazed porcelain with gold. Then machine-made plates and bowls became available, followed by plastic and there you have it. Handmade pottery still exists, but as an art form, an exotic craft of interest to an elite few.

    The fullness of our craft is no longer needed. Lovers of the craft, those who appreciate and value the knowledge and skill needed to communicate well through the written word will become a fringe group. Book fairs will become like Saturday morning art fairs – a nice diversion but not necessary. In the same way that daughters threw out their grandmother’s and mother’s hand-me-down handmade quilts in the 1940s and 1950s, preferring modern machine-made fabrics and designs, we are in the process of “throwing out” the old-fashioned, cumbersome, embarrassing requirements of “good” writing and editing.

    Hey,! Get with the program! Oh, you, with your fuddy-duddy ways! We have Spellcheck and Grammarcheck and iPads with two-finger keyboards. That’s good enough! Slick, fast and modern. And so what if the software misses some of the nuances – hey! We all know what it means anyway!

    And only generations later did the grand-daughters and great grand-daughters begin to fully appreciate the skill and time and experience and love that was required to sew a quilt by hand. The appreciation will come , but only long after you and I are gone.

    By the way, it’s OK to grieve. It really is over. Some of us will survive in various ways banding together with the few who care, but the days when government agencies had an entire staff of editors is gone. Gone are the days when corporations developed style guides from day one of their existence. Newspaper editor is an archaic concept. Long gone are the days when errors were considered to be a negative reflection upon your character and intelligence- what kind of ignoramus could/would write something like that?!?

    We loved our work. That’s why this is so hard. In the same way that my husband tends to his plants so that they are healthy and strong, we tended to our texts.

    I’m not into blaming myself and have my doubts about banding together, although I do appreciate deeply the banding together that is offered by this blog. However, the computer finally killed the scribe and hand-wringing and asking how it could have been avoided is probably futile.

    So here’s a cheery thought for editors who feel that the current state of communication can not sink much lower: soon, the final vestige of personal communication, the human voice, will become obsolete. We will no longer need to speak. We will not be taught how to enunciate, properly verbalize our thoughts, learn how to modulate our tone and volume of speech. Nope …. Soon computer voices with names like Siri will communicate on our behalf. It will start with the news. Some poor bloke in a faraway land will type newscopy into a computer and throughout the world, Siri-like voices will announce the day’s events. Why pay for a human voice, which comes attached to a body that must be clothed and housed and fed and is accompanied by an attorney to negotiate a job contract? Who needs the hassle when a computer is so much cheaper?

    And final note: the following headline appeared on a blog title “Mind Hut” –

    Top 5 Most Badass Presidents
    Find out which of our nation’s leaders kicked the most duff!

    Maybe it’s time to re-read “Brave New World”.

    Like

    Comment by irene jarosewich — July 25, 2012 @ 10:11 am | Reply

  9. Gracias. Yo no lo podría haber expresado mejor respecto de la edición en español.

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    Comment by Analía — July 25, 2012 @ 11:17 am | Reply

  10. I was recently offered a technical editing job with a company that makes educational videos. The editor told me that tech. editing pays better than copyediting. However, the technical editing was actually developmental editing. For some reason they call it tech. editing. Well, the rate they offered is $3/per page. I was afraid to ask about their copyediting rate.

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    Comment by Mick Spillane — July 25, 2012 @ 11:20 am | Reply

  11. Charging by the page or word is making editing a commodity hence, people new to writing who want/need editing think that they should find the best price. Why pay more than others would pay?

    There are other ways to set fees that can take editing out of being a commodity:

    * Charge #.xx for each error found and corrected,

    * Set fee ranges (minimum and maximum)by the number of pages, (the maximum fee is the top the client will pay but the editor may charge less than the maximum . . . and be seen as a hero to the client

    * Have different fee ranges for novels, non-fiction, magazine articles,brochures, technical books.

    This is called, in the world of selling, “productizing” services. While the above suggestions are based on time, as are pricing by page or word, they do not present it as being figured by time.

    BTW I hope my response doesn’t call for editing.

    Like

    Comment by Alan J. Zell — July 25, 2012 @ 11:49 am | Reply

    • Alan, a couple of real-world problems with your suggestions. (1) Who determines whether something is an error? Is it an error to use “since” instead of “because”? “About” instead of “approximate”? (2) The fee range is already done as most clients have a budget they will not exceed and make the editor aware of the budget. (3) It is already standard practice among professional editors to have a different fee range based on the complexity or difficulty of the subject matter. Generally, editors of pharmaceutical inserts, fro example, charge more than an editor of a novel.

      Productizing is alkready standard practice among most professional editors. Clients, however, are trying to bring all editing down to a single bottom-line price regardless of subject matter and skill level required.

      Like

      Comment by americaneditor — July 25, 2012 @ 12:07 pm | Reply

      • You posed a good question re who determines what an error is. Where there are choices such as your examples, it would be the job of the editor to suggest the change and let the client make the decision. That’s what the editor of my book, Elements of Selling” did. Almost all the suggestions I did but some I did not as I would not use it in my talking about it. Of course, that is the challenge or trying to put voice into print.

        Yes, most authors, professional or rank amateur have budgets but they may be mental budgets because they have no idea of what the fee will be. No one wants to pay more than they have to which would tell an editor that this person is doing what they should be doing i.e. watching their money. Plus, the budget figure may be set by someone else such as a spouse, parent, children, friends who also have no idea of what a “reasonable” fee should be.

        Writing a book is not unlike starting a business. One sees in one’s mind the finished product long before putting pen to paper or setting up an office or store. Some may do a “back of the envelope” budget but most do it mentally. It is, until reality happens, all made up of intangibles.

        From a merchandising point of view, I see it as a matrix form fee schedule. It has some basic topics/services that fit all editing categories and then there are “add-on” topics/services each with it’s own fee range.

        If an editor had the mss in hand, by scanning it the editor may guesstimate the time it would take. The next step is to put a $ hourly figure on one’s time and that becomes the minimum fee. By adding 20% or 25% to the fee, this becomes the maximum fee the client will pay no matter if it exceeds the time estimated. The client is told the fee is based on a time basis so if the maximum time is not used, the client will only pay for the time used. Even if it is used or exceeds the time, if the editor charges slightly less than the maximum, in the client’s mind the editor did two excellent things – one, of course is the editing, the other is that the editor helped the client spend their money wisely. These are two very effective marketing ploys.

        Alan

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        Comment by Alan J. Zell — July 25, 2012 @ 12:55 pm | Reply

  12. The “editor” who offered editing for $1 per page probably ships the work to India where the Indian “editors” will work for 25 cents per page. The American “editor” will make a handsome profit.

    I had an even better offer from a publisher–75 cents per BOOK page. Also, pull your own hard-copy proofs; we don’t supply those, and we want the hard copies returned by snail mail. They offered to pay the postage. Probably the postage offer will be scuttled in the future. No consideration for the time spent going to the PO or calling or emailing FedEx. Just a take-it-or-leave-it offer.

    The competition today for editorial work (this includes proofreading– clients mean editing) is fierce. One reason is the proliferation of “editors” who have no experience whatsoever in anything pertaining to editorial work. “I’ve just decided I’d like to procure some freelance editing. How do I get clients?” Judging from what they post on the editorial lists, they have no trouble finding work. Editorial organizations which charge a fee for joining no doubt are responsible for the decline in editorial quality. I don’t know how anybody is going to change that.

    Today there is more respect for the computer literate than the editorial literate.

    Like

    Comment by Cecilia E. Thurlow — July 25, 2012 @ 12:03 pm | Reply

  13. I’ve worked as a professional editor for the past 15+ years, although in the past couple of years I’ve gotten pulled more and more into ebook production work. So that’s one Darwinian form of answer: Adapt or die.

    But there are things we can do to improve the situation for editors. First, we have to think about what we do that provides value for customers. Then, we have to find a way to tap into that value in a way that motivates people to pull out their credit cards (I almost said checkbooks, but…).

    I see two main forms of value that editors provide: (1) We know what really good writing is, and we get excited when we see it. (2) We know how to make good writing better. (We also know how to, ahem, polish turds, but we never get excited about seeing that writing go to market. As one editor once said, “Our job is to heal the sick, not raise the dead.”)

    We tend to focus on the second form of value — making good writing better. But I believe we need to start focusing more attention on the first — finding and making noise about the good writing when we see it. That is real value. As the amount of written material increases and the quality decreases, there is a need for curators — not gatekeepers (those days are gone), but people who will select and arrange and help provide a higher quality experience all around.

    Now, how do we tap into the value of finding and recognizing good writing, and of making good writing better? Some practical suggestions:

    1. We need go against our natural reclusionary tendencies and become leaders in whatever genre we are interested in. Blog about the books we like in that genre, start putting out a newsletter, build a following of people who appreciate this service. It’s hard to turn those activities directly into money – that comes later.

    2. We need to become publishers. As we grow in our reputation, readers will begin to look to us for recommendations, and authors will begin to come to us for help. Using the tools that are becoming more and more widely available, we can edit and publish authors ourselves.

    3. We need to create a professional editors association, with training and/or testing requirements for entry. The genius of the legal and medical professions is they have an exclusive right to practice their profession, and that exclusivity is one of the key ways that they drive up prices. Editors are unlikely to get such high prices, nor are we likely to get the government to help enforce our monopoly the way they do with law and medicine. But the same dynamic can still work using the mechanism of trademark + brand. Professional editors can be certified by the organization and use that certification, and writing that they have edited can carry the “professionally edited” certification. As the organization grows in its reputation, people will begin to pay attention. The increase of quantity and decrease of quality of written materials makes the situation riper all the time for such an association / certification process to come into being.

    The market for editing has changed, and the large publishing organizations have become more and more driven by sales and marketing and less and less by editorial. Everything I’m saying involves editors re-asserting ourselves as key value providers in the publishing ecosystem.

    My disclaimer is that I have been thinking about these issues for the past several years, but I haven’t actually done the things I’m suggesting. I have been strongly influenced by Seth Godin (Tribes, Ideavirus, Linchpin, The Dip) and by the O’Reilly Tools of Change conference.

    Like

    Comment by Sean — July 25, 2012 @ 12:56 pm | Reply

    • Hi Sean,

      Re: your point 3 – IPED in Australia runs an accreditation program (http://iped-editors.org/Accreditation.aspx) whereby editors can take an exam to prove their skills, after which they get to use the coveted initials ‘AE’ as part of their title. I have already had a client ask me if I was an Accredited Editor, so the program is clearly having the desired effect, i.e. clients are looking for proven quality before looking for a budget price.

      There are graduate-level courses on offer at a number of universities, focusing on the publishing industry and associated skills (including editing). There is also the Ian Potter Foundation Editorial Internship (https://www.australianbookreview.com.au/programs/ian-potter-foundation-internship).

      I’m sure Australia can’t be the only place to offer this sort of thing. Depending on where you live, you may find that some of your ideas already exist in reality.

      Camilla

      ps in clicking around the IPED site, I see that the UK and Canada also offer accreditation tests (http://iped-editors.org/Accreditation/Discussion_paper__IPEd_accreditation_exam___mode_of_delivery.aspx#elsewhere)

      Like

      Comment by Camilla Brokking — July 25, 2012 @ 4:51 pm | Reply

    • Maybe we could create an article out of all of this thread and post it on our individual Web sites. Or let’s create a list of cheap clients who contact us for work and post that. No? Then what? Prank calls to their places of business; TP their offices? Boycott test taking for jobs, unless they are only a one-page test? At least I’m trying here. So much for solidarity….

      Like

      Comment by Mick Spillane — July 25, 2012 @ 10:54 pm | Reply

      • How about a Web site with examples of howlers, including sources.. The New Yorker tidbits of such were always popular, and no author would like to find his/her name on the site. Our local paper recently reported on the retirement of an official from the nuclear power plant, after “45 years of servitude.” Shortly after that, someone wrote of his “fraternal grandparents.”

        Like

        Comment by Gretchen — July 26, 2012 @ 6:50 am | Reply

  14. “My disclaimer is that I have been thinking about these issues for the past several years, but I haven’t actually done the things I’m suggesting.”

    And therein lies the rub. Many if not most of us have been thinking about such things but not actually doing them. The leadership gene runs pretty thin in this occupation. I’d love to join an association such as described here and proposed elsewhere, but I’m not going to be the person who organizes and administers and funds it, for a long list of reasons.

    Who is the person who will break out and do these things?

    Like

    Comment by Carolyn — July 25, 2012 @ 2:31 pm | Reply

    • We can start by refusing to join organizations that take dues and provide nothing. Organizations that take anyone in (uncertified, unqualified) who’ll pay the dues.

      Like

      Comment by Cecilia E. Thurlow — July 25, 2012 @ 2:39 pm | Reply

      • What about The Editorial Freelancers Association? I have always felt, in a way, that the pricing guide that they have on their Web site, under resources, sets a standard for the industry. It is rather high and pricey. I would like to be paid those amounts for every job. I tend to direct potential clients to that link.

        What I hate is when a potential client asks me for my rate guide. They all ready have a price in mind. What’s the point. It’s wasting everyone’s time….I try to deflect that question, with the question,”What is your budget?” Even when I send them my rate guide, they still ask, “What rate are you offering?”

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        Comment by Mick Spillane — July 25, 2012 @ 2:56 pm | Reply

      • Cecelia, I think it may be rather throwing the baby out with the bathwater to shut out unqualified people – after all, many people join these associations in order to gain access to training and professional development opportunities. It’d be better if an association had different levels of membership, e.g. associate membership for someone who is unqualified, and full membership for someone who has attained a minimum level of qualification. I think SfEP may do something like this, from memory.

        Camilla

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        Comment by Camilla Brokking — July 25, 2012 @ 5:04 pm | Reply

  15. I work primarily with ebook and self-publishing authors. In general, I’ve found them to be very receptive to the idea of editing, and even the idea of paying a decent rate for decent work.

    In one of my favorite forums, there was a self-professed editor who was offering those cheap $2/pp rates. I finally saw some of the “finished” work on a friend’s document. Those few dollars might have been overcharging. When I politely let the author know, she was grateful for the email and curious to know about the cost of hiring a trained editor. Selfpub authors, including this woman, might not be able to pay for it right off the bat, but they’re starting to see high-quality editing as a good investment.

    On a more basic level, one of the biggest problems with self-publishing is that selfpub authors usually don’t know what editing is. Beginner writers will say “proofreading” when they really mean “copy editing”, and “editing” when they really mean “structural/developmental editing”. I recently posted an article titled “Editing, Explained”, which aims to outline the various types of editing (it can be found at PopularSoda.com). I feel that part of the problem with charging standard editing rates is that most people don’t know what editing means, let alone the knowledge, skill, and effort required to properly edit something.

    Stinginess is certainly an issue, but so is ignorance of the field.

    Like

    Comment by lilacheartattack — July 25, 2012 @ 3:17 pm | Reply

  16. Re Shawn’s remark, “We need to become publishers . . .”

    I just got word that The Writer magazine is suspending publication after the issue now in production (October 2012) and is up for sale. So if anyone is thinking about a publishing venture, there’s a great opportunity.

    Like

    Comment by Carolyn — July 25, 2012 @ 3:51 pm | Reply

  17. The internet is an anonymous, totally individual market place where employees and employers conduct business largely away from the regulatory eyes of governments who may be expected to impose standards of fairness and equity. The worker is in ‘a take it or leave it’ predicament and in direct and unfettered competition with others, offering their services from around the world. The internet employer, on the other hand, has only their personal moral compass to guide them, as to what is a fair and equitable rate for the services provided by their employees. More often than not, this moral compass swings unerringly towards self-interest. There is little, if any, incentive to pay properly for work performed, if the employer can reach across the globe for their workforce in the full knowledge that he or she is able to pit thirld world workers against those of the first world, and still achieve a comparable outcome.

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    Comment by Pamela Smit — July 25, 2012 @ 9:11 pm | Reply

    • I would rather pay a few $$ more for something and keep my neighbors working. Unfortunately, nothing is hinged on quality anymore – its all about slashing costs.

      Like

      Comment by Parlor of Horror — July 28, 2012 @ 2:14 pm | Reply

  18. I think one of the problems is that many writers do not really know what an editor does. Editors need to be properly identified in the publishing process. Their work needs to be better understood by writers and publishers alike. Readers need to be encouraged to reject poorly presented work. The list goes on, but it’s clearly not an easily solved problem.

    Here’s two essays I wrote on the subject last year >> http://kevinprice.posterous.com/pages/my-essays

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    Comment by Kevin Price — July 25, 2012 @ 11:40 pm | Reply

  19. I missed the LI post with someone offering to do editing for $1/page (probably without even defining “page”), but probably would have said something if I had seen it along the lines of “a skilled, experienced editor charging $1/page is selling him-/herself short” and then braced myself for all the group members who would say either that that’s all they would pay or that they can’t find anything that pays better.

    On the other hand, sometimes I just let posts like that pass me by without reacting to them. For one thing, I know there are a lot of experienced people who are desperate for income and willing to work for peanuts, and inexperienced people who are willing to accept such rates to get started or don’t know the value of skilled editing.

    That may not necessarily have been from someone outside the U.S., by the way – I’ve seen plenty of U.S. people offering to work for such rates.

    This can be a scary landscape to navigate.

    Like

    Comment by Ruth E. Thaler-Carter — July 26, 2012 @ 2:55 pm | Reply

  20. […] The Business of Editing: Killing Me Softly […]

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    Pingback by Book Editing In The Age Of Ebooks. The Problems Of Editing | eBookanoid.com — July 26, 2012 @ 7:05 pm | Reply

  21. […] The Business of Editing: Killing Me Softly […]

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    Pingback by Book Editing In The Age Of Ebooks – A Look At The Problems | Ebooks on Crack — July 26, 2012 @ 8:43 pm | Reply

  22. Reblogged this on CWC – Berkeley Marketing.

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    Comment by Lloyd Lofthouse — July 28, 2012 @ 11:11 am | Reply

  23. wow, that was indeed a long comment. I have to say that I am very far from good writing and that is why I read books; to pick up the right words and sentences along with appreciating the story. Not to mention that many books are used for literature in classes. I think it is the duty of the author and editor to offer the best quality, since probably the whole world is going to judge.

    The advise from an amateur reader (me) is to continue editing for the “normal” price. Trust me, in the end, we people do recognize quality.

    Like

    Comment by pimpmyworld — July 28, 2012 @ 11:18 am | Reply

  24. “What solutions do you propose?”

    Taking everyone who thinks there is nothing wrong with the sentence, “You should definately loose weight!” and putting them in a rocket ship that is then sent into the Sun.

    It’d have to be a big rocket ship.

    Like

    Comment by fireandair — July 28, 2012 @ 11:22 am | Reply

    • By the comments made, you all are afrad to ask a price/fee for your editing. Just as any business, no matter wnat authors are will to pay for editing if tney never have been told a criteria tnat tells tne autnor’s family. friends, assoiates and the author’s own conscience (called their FFAACCCs) the appoximate costs. Tnat/where selling takes place.

      When editors undercut themeslves, it is that they are trying to “buy” the job. That is wny I suggested matrix format for “teaching” their FRAACCCS

      Like

      Comment by alan@sellingselling.coml — July 28, 2012 @ 6:09 pm | Reply

  25. Ugh, the comments weren’t so long after all. I just couldn’t distinguish where they ended or started. d–.–b

    Like

    Comment by pimpmyworld — July 28, 2012 @ 11:23 am | Reply

  26. I really liked this post and since I did not find a single error in grammar or punctuation, I give your thoughts and opinions a great deal of credibility. But, where do amateur writers go to find a professional editors like you?

    Like

    Comment by E. Raven — July 28, 2012 @ 11:24 am | Reply

  27. […] Oljelampen 21 Han sa til dem: «Når en kommer inn med en oljelampe, blir den da satt under et kar eller under sengen? Settes ikke lampen på en holder? 22 For det finnes intet skjult uten at det skal bli synlig, intet hemmelig uten at det skal komme for dagen. 23 Om noen har ører å høre med, så hør!» 24 Og han sa til dem: «Pass på hva dere hører! For i samme mål som dere selv måler opp med, skal det også måles opp til dere, og enda mer skal gis dere. 25 For den som har, skal få. Men den som ikke har, skal bli fratatt selv det han har.» Såkornet 26 Og han sa: «Med Guds rike er det slik: Det er som når en mann har sådd korn i jorden. 27 Han sover og står opp, det blir natt og det blir dag, og kornet spirer og vokser, men han vet ikke hvordan det skjer. 28 Av seg selv gir jorden grøde, først strå, så aks og til sist modent korn i akset. 29 Så snart grøden er moden, svinger han sigden, for høsten er kommet.» Sennepsfrøet 30 Han sa: «Hva skal vi sammenligne Guds rike med? Hvilken lignelse skal vi bruke? 31 Det er som et sennepsfrø. Når det blir sådd, er det mindre enn noe annet frø på jorden, 32 men når det er sådd, vokser det opp og blir større enn alle hagevekster og får så store greiner at himmelens fugler kan bygge rede i skyggen av det.» 33 Med mange slike lignelser talte han ordet til dem, så mye de var i stand til å høre. 34 Uten lignelser talte han ikke til dem. Men når han var alene med disiplene, forklarte han alt for dem. Jesus stiller stormen 35 Samme dag, da det ble kveld, sa han til dem: «La oss sette over til den andre siden av sjøen.» 36 De lot folkemengden bli igjen og tok ham med seg i båten der han satt. Også andre båter fulgte med. 37 Da kom det en voldsom virvelstorm, og bølgene slo inn i båten så den holdt på å fylles. 38 Jesus lå og sov på en pute bak i båten. De vekket ham og sa til ham: «Mester, bryr du deg ikke om at vi går under?» 39 Da reiste han seg, truet vinden og sa til sjøen: «Stille! Vær rolig!» Vinden la seg, og det ble blikk stille. 40 Så sa han til dem: «Hvorfor er dere så redde? Har dere ennå ingen tro?» 41 Og de ble grepet av stor frykt og sa til hverandre: «Hvem er han? Både vind og sjø adlyder ham!» Ray Boltz – “The anchor holds” Her om dagen skrev jeg “edderkoppspinn” og det er nok feil, for de kaller det vel for spindelvev, men jeg lærte å si “spinn”. Derfor lar jeg det stå! Nordnorsk har mye til felles med svensk. Om de kaller det for spinn der, vet jeg ikke, men jeg synes det er på tide at man anerkjenner “spinn” – Bare ikke man blir heilt “spinn” i “haue” av edderkoppen. Jesus takla nok også det. https://americaneditor.wordpress.com/2012/07/25/the-business-of-editing-killing-me-softly/ […]

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    Pingback by Ord om å være trygg ombord | rutsroots — July 28, 2012 @ 11:33 am | Reply

  28. Anyone that charges $1 a page is the Wal-Mart, Dollar Store of editing and the quality will match the price.

    I’m an indie novelist and I do a lot of my own editing with the help of two editing programs (Word and Serenity Software’s Editor), but I still know that I have to have other trained eyes edit. My first novel, after I spent literally hundreds of hours on the final edit went through several more edits by two English teacher friends in addition to two other published indie novelists and still there were errors to be found.

    When the two English teacher friends edited the same draft at the same time, they both found errors the other person did not find and one found more than the other.

    Then four years after publication, a neighbor found another 16 errors in the 250,000 word manuscript. These were subtle and not smack in the eye errors but they were still there.

    Humans are not perfect so why do we expect human eyes to be any different. Even the most skilled editor will miss something. Currently, I’m considering an editing service called Proof Reading Pal to edit my next novel after I take it through my own exhausting editing cycle that takes several hours a chapter and the average chapter runs six single spaced pages (8 1/2 x 11 – Times New Roman 10 pt) so I’m spending about one hour on two pages.

    My last step is to use Serenity Software’s Editing program that was written by retired college professors for college papers and it is multi-level and exhaustingly interactive calling up every possible error it finds besides some potential stylistic gaffs and then it is the still the human editor’s job to discover the real errors and fix them. About half of what the program finds is actual errors but that was the way the program was designed. However, even after all that, there will still be errors as I have discovered. It isn’t enough to just be skilled at grammar, mechanics and spelling. One has to have an “eagle eye” too.

    By the way, I proofed this comment once and only used Microsoft Word twice to check the spelling so I expect we will find errors in it. All it takes is a slight distraction to divert our attention away from the text and miss something.

    I suspect that most writers do not understand the writing process that starts with the writing of the rough draft using the right side of the brain while the logical editing skills are stored in the left side of the brain. To activate the left side of the brain (for most writers—Hemingway was the exception) means finishing the rough draft, letting it sit for weeks or months and then returning to edit and revise. This is what it takes to disengage the right side of the brain and switch to the left, or editing, side.

    Trained editors, on the other hand, should start out using the left side of the brain engaging all of the skills needed for editing from the start. Instead, we have writers that finish the rough draft, run it through a Microsoft type spelling/grammar check and believe they are done and then those indie authors self-publish unaware of the hundreds of errors that remain that will grow a bad reputation with the reading public.

    A few errors may be expected, but when they appear on almost every page, that is a death sentence in the publishing world.

    Like

    Comment by Lloyd Lofthouse — July 28, 2012 @ 11:41 am | Reply

  29. One dollar a page isn’t worth the time. It’s a shame that people don’t recognize the necessity of error-free published material. My elementary school–age children point out errors and tell me the copy editor should have caught that (I’ve trained them well). Great post and great point. Hopefully someone will find a great solution.

    Like

    Comment by muddledmom — July 28, 2012 @ 11:43 am | Reply

  30. Do you have an “About” page?

    Like

    Comment by Lloyd Lofthouse — July 28, 2012 @ 11:44 am | Reply

  31. I understand you completely – I was recently made redundant as editor, and, despite my boss claiming that my work was ‘exemplary and faultless’ he decided to bring in ‘someone cheaper’. It seems like many people – whether clients or business owners – are choosing the cheaper and not the better quality option. Even though this may continue for some time, I believe that very soon the professional editors will be sought after once again, because businesses and writers cannot survive without them.

    Like

    Comment by l0ve0utl0ud — July 28, 2012 @ 11:47 am | Reply

    • I used to be an in-house editor for a major U.S. publishing company, but left after I was asked to help train overseas “editors” to do my job. The skills of these non-native English speakers were terrible and they couldn’t do much beyond applying changes from a standard list of corrections (“change ‘US’ to ‘U.S.'”). My company didn’t seem to care as long as they were saving money. The punch line? Six months after I left, I was offered the opportunity to come back as an “independent contractor”–at 2/3 the salary I had been making previously. I’m out of the business for good now, but I feel for those still struggling to get by.

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      Comment by lachavalina — July 28, 2012 @ 10:49 pm | Reply

      • I think many publishing and media companies are hiring non-native English speakers to work for them for very low fees, and sacrifice good quality and good services for an extra income. I hope that there are still companies out there who respect and value true professionals.

        Like

        Comment by l0ve0utl0ud — July 31, 2012 @ 9:26 am | Reply

  32. I can’t offer a solution to the problem, but do believe that there is certainly a problem.

    Like

    Comment by Shay M — July 28, 2012 @ 12:13 pm | Reply

  33. When I finished my undergraduate degree, I was told point-blank that book editing was dead. “Nobody cares about grammar anymore. They can publish e-books without it,” said my unsolicited advisor. It’s so discouragingly true. Many people just want to publish their stories the cheapest way possible, often sacrificing quality in the process.

    I went into technical writing/editing instead. It’s quite awful as well. “Here’s a 200-page report that’s going to a big government client. I need it perfect in 1 hour.” =/

    Like

    Comment by The Smile Scavenger — July 28, 2012 @ 12:41 pm | Reply

  34. The problem you’re describing is hitting everyone. With the economy the way it is, everyone is looking to save a buck. People buy fewer expensive books, which forces publishers to lower prices, which then means they can’t pay as much to authors, editors, cover artists, etc. I am an author myself–both published through a publishing house and self-published. The person I hired to edit my self-published novella charged $0.005 per word, which I have since then learned is the same rate she gets through my publisher as well (as opposed to getting a cut of the royalties, which it used to be but is no longer). I don’t necessarily agree that self-published authors are to blame, however. True, there are many self-published works which probably never should have seen the light of day, but that is not for anyone but the readers to determine. Which, I believe, is how it should be. A book should succeed or suffer on its own terms, not because some spent millions of dollars promoting it. Publishing houses have created a filter on what they think people should read. This filter is based solely on sales and that is why you see big name authors continue never ending series which basically repeat the same story line with different character names. The problem is, these big name authors already have a loyal fan base, which is why they will continue to sell their bland stories while an author daring to be bold and new will never get an acceptance letter because there is no guarantee their work will sell. I applaud each and every one of those authors who are willing to take the risk and self-publish. Which then brings us full circle back to people just starting out not being able to afford high priced (not to be confused with high quality) services. It just keeps going ’round and ’round. I don’t have a solution either. But I do sympathize.

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    Comment by Bee — July 28, 2012 @ 12:49 pm | Reply

  35. As both a writer and an editor, I feel your pain. It is getting harder to get paid for anything having to do with language since standards are sinking, and many people are willing to work for peanuts or even for free. Self-published ebooks are one thing, but the decay of language is appearing in newspapers, magazines, and even traditionally published books. As for working for a buck a page, both those people end up with what they deserve. Perpetual wages on one hand, lousy work on the other.

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    Comment by Tess Fragoulis Books — July 28, 2012 @ 12:53 pm | Reply

  36. The commoditizing of services that aught not be commoditized is a sad part of our current culture–especially when accurate writing is so undervalued. However, as you say, the problem is primarily in the service providers, who don’t take the time to educate their customers, or who expect good customers to come to them. Business plans, even for copyeditors, need to develop with time as demand shifts. Great post!

    Like

    Comment by Jonathan Slonim — July 28, 2012 @ 1:17 pm | Reply

  37. A top notch professional editor, the kind who roots out nonsensical writing, is critical. I pray you stay in business and are paid fairly. At the moment I’m reading a novel GIRL ON THE LANDING by Paul Torday, and my assumption is the Orion is a publisher dependent upon a top editor such as yourself. I love, love, love your writing.

    Like

    Comment by Kathleen Rowland — July 28, 2012 @ 1:34 pm | Reply

  38. I can empathize. I have never needed the services of editing and proofreading professionals, but have watched with dismay the decline in the quality of grammar and spelling in books, magazines, and newspapers over the last 20 or 30 years. When my children were younger, back in the early 80s, I thought I would reinforce good grammar and spelling by offering to pay them a small amount for every mistake they found in our local newspaper. After about a month, I realized they would make more money than I could afford to pay them! And it’s not only the written word that is being corrupted, but also the spoken word. I cringe every time I watch our local news, and sometimes the national news, too. I realize that usage changes, but I must be old-fashioned, because I don’t like the changes. I don’t believe the Internet is to blame but the poor quality of education.

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    Comment by Ruth Rainwater — July 28, 2012 @ 1:43 pm | Reply

  39. Your article is on point. A few months ago I read a work by a first time author. I was shocked by how much this so called editor had not caught. I casually mentioned to the author that maybe next time he would let me edit his work before publication. This began a discussion that ultimately led to my re-editing his first book and a contract for a second. He had paid his first editor the $1.00 per page rate and he was no quite pleased with the work. I did a special one-time rate of $4.00 per page to get in with his large writers group. When I gave his manuscript back, I told him that what I was giving him was at the $25.00 per page level of editing. After reading my edits, it took him a couple of weeks to get over being offended but, has ultimately accepted 99 percent of my recommended changes. He is trying to figure out how to pay me to edit the second novel he is currently writing.

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    Comment by waterfallofgrace — July 28, 2012 @ 1:44 pm | Reply

  40. Thank you for this post. As a writer and future self-publisher I need to let you know that not everyone has such low opinion of the work of editors. The problem is people whose egos refuse to allow them to admit that anything they do can be less than perfect. They do not see the point of having anyone edit their work. I recently cringed when a friend posted online that he had uploaded the update of his book to amazon to fix all of the typos from the original.

    Like

    Comment by monolithbooks — July 28, 2012 @ 1:53 pm | Reply

  41. I used to belong to a freelancing writing/editing board (can’t remember the name of it) and was appalled at what “clients” wanted for $10-$20 a pop. I’m talking full-length academic papers. For $10, you could submit five short articles. (Oh, boy!) Same thing for editing projects (although my first and only gig was an edit of a full-length fantasy novel for @$350…the client was nice, and I was broke). This was more discouraging than surprising; in a society where education has been dummied down and mediocrity is the norm for so many, I think it’s just one of those “is what it is” deals. (To see scores of people bidding on these projects blew my mind. I’d log into the board from time to time, not trying to land a freelance gig but more because it was a sort of literary train wreck.)

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    Comment by Jane — July 28, 2012 @ 2:05 pm | Reply

  42. Great, offshore editing. They have children’s books printed in India and China that spell ‘cat’ – ‘Kat’ and often use the word ‘bitch’ when referring to mother dogs. Not to mention the ‘cursing’ baby doll – made in China. There are just some things you can’t learn about a language unless you have lived in a country for many years. Think of how many words have a double meaning, used the wrong way they become derogatory or inflammatory…but big business will push to get it done cheaper overseas.

    Like

    Comment by Parlor of Horror — July 28, 2012 @ 2:07 pm | Reply

  43. I feel your pain. I used to be a salaried editor. I worked most of my adult life as a newspaperman, mostly as a copy editor. With technical advances from hot type to cold type to computers, the distinction between proofreading and editing has been forgotten. (And many jobs disappeared.)

    Newspapers employed legions of skilled workers, from printers in the composing room to editors and proofreaders in the newsroom.

    Proofreading was a specialized job. After the printer set a story in type, the type was inked and a paper “proof” taken. The proof went back to the newsroom, where a proofreader compared the printed proof to the original copy, word for word, and corrected any errors made during typesetting. Corrections were marked and sent back to the composing room so the type could be corrected before printing.

    Copy editing was an entirely different specialty. Before the advent of computers, five or more copy editors sat around the “rim” of a large, horseshoe table, with a supervising copy editor in the middle of the horseshoe, called the “slot.” Paper copy came from reporters to the city editor, and then to the copy desk for a final, fast but thorough editing.

    The slot editor assigned stories to the editors around the rim, who edited for spelling, grammar, AP style, readability, libel, and fact. And famously, the copy editor cut excess words and paragraphs so the story would fit in the alloted space. Finally, the copy editor wrote a headline and handed the copy back to the slot editor, who reviewed the work. The finished story was dropped by gravity to the composing room on a lower floor of the building. The final steps were setting the type and reading and correcting the proof.

    Newspapers paid notoriously low wages. Enter the printers unions in the composing room, the pressmen’s unions for workers who operated the huge rotary presses, and the Newspaper Guild for newsroom workers. Thanks to the Newspaper Guild, I was a reasonably well-paid copy editor at a major metro daily.

    Alas, with the rise of computers and the demise of newspapers, the composing room has been eliminated, along all the proof readers and most of the copy editors.

    The moral of the story: In order for editors to be well paid, there must be some balance in the supply and demand for editors, and preferably a union strong enough to negotiate for fair pay.

    Like

    Comment by John Hayden — July 28, 2012 @ 2:18 pm | Reply

    • Thanks for sharing your knowledge of how newspapers used to work. It’s always fascinating the amount of care and work that went into physical print. I think part of the issue is that digital formats, and spell-check/grammar check programs make it appear everything is simpler and easier to do. In contrast, twenty to thirty years ago, everything had to be carefully checked by hand.

      Like

      Comment by L. Palmer — July 31, 2012 @ 1:25 pm | Reply

  44. The same is happening in translation and interpreting. People don’t seem to realise the skill (and knowledge) required to do language based jobs.

    Like

    Comment by Sarah Clark — July 28, 2012 @ 2:23 pm | Reply

  45. This seems to be something of a theme – copyeditors, sub-editors, editorial staff, staff writers, newspapers in general, are all suffering under the brave new internet-driven media environment. Oddly, there are more and more books being published, there is clearly more written material in many more languages more widely available than at any other time. And yet, here we are.

    If you examine the ecomonics, the price being driven down seems perfectly reasonable (so, a legitimate question might be whether or not we should care about the quality of the editing as long as the material remains (or becomes) comprehensible). The situations professional editors face does not seem all that different to the position weavers found themselves in when they were replaced by mechanical looms, and indeed, the general industrialisation of manual labour.

    This is probably a long winded way of saying, maybe the problem is that although some of us (and I probably include myself in this number) want there to be a problem, the truth is that for many the problem does not exist.

    Like

    Comment by foldedcranes — July 28, 2012 @ 2:34 pm | Reply

  46. I’m going to continue following this blog. I got out of editing years ago to do something else, and when I considered getting back into freelancing, found the same problems outlined here. I did find clients who were willing to pay well and were grateful for my work, but since I had been out of the field for such a long time, it was taking too much energy to get fully into the swing and find more clients. I started working on something else that has done very well, but would still love to get in some editing, since I enjoy it and care about it so much.

    This is one among many fields that are becoming obsolete or radically changed due to new technologies and the realities of a global workforce. I don’t know what the solution is, but I’ll willingly put my oar in if there’s something that looks workable.

    Thanks for bringing up the topic, and I’m delighted that you were Freshly Pressed!

    Like

    Comment by Sarah Doyle — July 28, 2012 @ 2:52 pm | Reply

  47. It seems everyone is trying to get something for nothing in all the creative fields. You wouldn’t underpay the doctor or anything else you considered essential.

    Like

    Comment by transitionscoachingcayman — July 28, 2012 @ 4:05 pm | Reply

  48. I’d like to comment from a reader’s perspective. Since I started reading ebooks the “bad editing” problem has come to my attention big time. Sadly, the majority of ebooks I have read give the impression of being either un-edited, or of having been edited by someone who is not in command of their native language. Lately I’ve started leaving reviews about the state of (un-)editing in a book at Amazon, and in cases where the editing is so bad it takes away all the joy of reading I have even contacted the author. Maybe more readers should do that to get them thinking about hiring a qualified editor at a fair price.

    Like

    Comment by Kiki — July 28, 2012 @ 4:50 pm | Reply

  49. Reblogged this on The Starving Journalist and commented:
    This article is true down to it’s core, that the world of publishing is going down the drain. People are paying too much money to get published. Maybe I shouldn’t even consider it… but then there’s the thought of hiring a literary agent to get published for the big time with big time publishing companies.
    However, it’s still sad to see that fewer and fewer authors are out there not getting as much attention online and getting paid enough money for their works than paying editors and publishers online.
    I mean, $200 to edit a novel at a dollar a page? Ridiculous.
    Still, agents also make 15 percent of everything the writer makes.
    And even though I hate this song… the “business of editing” really is “killing us softly”. This is why we should look over our work carefully and turn it over to college English professors and our dear writing pals (like my best friend who was an English major) to edit and critique our works for free. This is the reason for self-publishing on the rise.

    Like

    Comment by rachelbethahrens — July 28, 2012 @ 4:50 pm | Reply

  50. As an author looking for a good editor, I see the problem from both sides. I’ve found s/p books with hundreds of 5-star reviews while I couldn’t make it through the first chapter due to the errors. I don’t want my book to end up like that. But we have bills to pay, too. Why pay a premium for good editing when readers don’t demand it?

    Like

    Comment by J M Gallagher — July 28, 2012 @ 4:56 pm | Reply

    • You ask: “Why pay a premium for good editing when readers don’t demand it?” Perhaps for self-pride, perhaps to give your book a chance to have long-term survival, perhaps to insure that good language and grammar skills are passed on to future generations.

      Like

      Comment by americaneditor — July 29, 2012 @ 7:07 am | Reply

  51. Oh, this post is wonderful. Personally, I believe that the less you pay someone, the less motivated they are to do a good job. “You get what you pay for” in action. How many times do companies have to be embarrassed by poor editing before they hire good editors again? Congrats on being Freshly Pressed.

    Like

    Comment by Eagle-Eyed Editor — July 28, 2012 @ 5:19 pm | Reply

  52. It seems that the moderator of the LinkedIn group should remove such gimmicks from the promotions area. The other members of the group should not be viewed as low quality and substandard from such a post. Maybe some standards could at least be applied to posts on this group?

    Currently, I am trying to break into the world of science editing and writing (and yes, some of the motivation is to have income but I am also very interested in this career path and see a need for editing to help others get published in my field). The company to which I have applied has very strict qualifications (i.e. institutional degree requirements) and testing procedures….I am actually procrastinating on the test edit that is due tomorrow so thanks for the distraction!

    This company anonymously partners with publishers to specifically help non-native English speakers increase their chances of getting quality data published by removing the language barrier. Thus, I think it is important for publishing companies to advertise top quality editing services and either provide a list of editors or partner with them. In addition, if an author receives a poor edit in my field then they will most likely not be published and will not use the subpar editor in the future. So such people offering ridiculous rates will likely just shoot themselves in the foot…..

    Like

    Comment by Donna Kridelbaugh, MS — July 28, 2012 @ 5:44 pm | Reply

  53. Thank you for an interesting post. Unfortunately it seems that this is a reflection of a larger decline in general, with people willing to accept mediocrity. I think that’s when the change will begin, when the consumer stands up against crap. Right now people just want it cheap and fast – they can figure out what the author was trying to say anyway, never mind reveling in the pleasure of re-reading a beautifully written passage just for its own sake. It is tthe era of the Facebook post and text message, after all. . .

    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

    Like

    Comment by Mom Meets Blog — July 28, 2012 @ 5:48 pm | Reply

  54. Quite an interesting post. Never knew that about the business of editing.

    Like

    Comment by Daniel Abram — July 28, 2012 @ 7:35 pm | Reply

  55. The price for “editing” or “proofreading” should be equal to the difficulty of the task. I am a part-time professor of journalism at a local university and college students today – whether they be interested in journalism or just writing a memo to the boss – have little idea what it is to clean up their work before submitting it. The sad part is they don’t care. On the other side I am in a position to hire journalism students. When I see poorly written resumes with spelling mistakes and grammatical errors I recycle the paper. Oh … am I paid equal to the task of editing upper class students? There is no university in the country that has that much money.

    Like

    Comment by kentuckywindage — July 28, 2012 @ 9:04 pm | Reply

  56. I am sorry to hear this. I am a new blogger and the one (and only) thing I know for sure is that I need an excellent editor.

    Like

    Comment by narcissista1 — July 28, 2012 @ 9:16 pm | Reply

  57. I’m also an editor—copy editor to be more specific. I can’t think of a solution at the moment, but what I do know is that people take an editor’s job so lightly. When people ask me about my job, I seem to get a lot of comments like, “What’s so hard at editing anyway? Anyone can do that!” Sadly, not “anyone” can memorize the Chicago Manual of Style or Oxford. Sheesh.

    Like

    Comment by kristennemarie — July 28, 2012 @ 9:26 pm | Reply

  58. Many years ago, as I observed harsh developments in a variety of industries, I came to realize this unfortunate trend could be traced back to one source. Bean-counters.

    “Bean-counters were being given authority”. Bean-counters are essential to many industries, but they should never ever be taken too seriously, let alone be given authority.

    As an editorial/political cartoonist, I have battled with editors for a job at a fair price. So, yeah, I know where you’re coming from.

    Solution? If we could wind back the clock and cull the bean-counters,,,,, well,,,, it’s too late for that. The rabbits have been set loose.

    I guess globalisation will eventually level the playing field to some extent and create a new set of “norms”. But until then ??? Maybe try promoting the “quality” end of your services, or diversifying your talents.

    Like

    Comment by cartoonmick — July 28, 2012 @ 10:23 pm | Reply

  59. It is always a negotiating strategy to claim to get a service cheaper elsewhere. Sometimes it is true, sometimes not, and sometimes it is just someone trying to scrape along a little longer when funds are drying up. Don’t expect to always be working for the same people and companies. Continue to charge a fair price and do good work, and don’t apologize for the fee you charge. The need for good editors is not going to disappear–credibility in many fields depends on good writing, and that means editors will continue to be needed.

    Like

    Comment by Donna Royston — July 28, 2012 @ 11:25 pm | Reply

    • Continue to charge a fair price and do good work, and don’t apologize for the fee you charge.

      This is excellent advice.

      Like

      Comment by Camilla Brokking — July 30, 2012 @ 4:03 pm | Reply

  60. I still think good writers and editors will win in the long run. When anything is poorly written it has no staying power. I think we are going through a fad right now and eloquent writing will make a comeback. I’ve heard people are reading more than ever but I think people are gulping/skimming rather than chewing thoroughly. I think they will return to the vintage art form of slowly digesting good writing. All of us thrive on inspiration and there is no substitute for a good book. Without the hope and inspiration they bring, the human spirit withers to anorexia.
    Some market adjustments may be needed but it really depends on what type editing. For grammar/punctuation, that could be done in seconds. For re-writing phrases, verbs, etc–that’s another story that is reserved for a few slivers of the truly talented.
    Hang in there. Maybe cut prices a little but when the writing isn’t selling they will be crawling softly back to you.
    Peace,
    Alexandria Sage

    Like

    Comment by SimplySage — July 28, 2012 @ 11:46 pm | Reply

  61. Out of curiosity… What do professional editors charge for their services? Clearly, $1.00 per page is injurious and $4000 is fantastic. What is the going rate for this valuable undervalued service?

    Like

    Comment by Kelly — July 29, 2012 @ 12:30 am | Reply

    • The answer is “it varies.” It depends on what type of editing is wanted and the skills needed to do the job. For example, to do quality editing of medical texts requires a familiarity with medical terms and specialized software to help in such editing. In contrast, a different set of skills is required for fiction editing. There are several types of editing with the most in-depth being developmental editing, which isn’t concerned with grammar and spelling but is concerned with organization and flow, and copyediting being the least in-depth, primarily concerned with grammar, spelling, and flow.

      Like

      Comment by americaneditor — July 29, 2012 @ 6:58 am | Reply

  62. Wow, bleak news! I had no idea but that is so sad that it’s gone that way.

    Like

    Comment by Sarah Harris — July 29, 2012 @ 1:22 am | Reply

  63. […] on to blog about it, and was dismayed to see a worker’s-eye-view post of the same kind of situation, except for editing jobs, and it’s in the US. Basically, in the […]

    Like

    Pingback by Square pegs everywhere, only round holes to be found | Outside by Choice — July 29, 2012 @ 1:41 am | Reply

  64. no solutions… but i feel bad… a virtual hug to all such editors whose work is being killed softly

    Like

    Comment by mirrormon — July 29, 2012 @ 2:34 am | Reply

  65. Unfortunately, this is the story of other professions too. Infiltration, I think you call it in English (“intrusiveness” in mine). And then you also have those who are happy to work for free. It scares me where the labour market is heading…

    Like

    Comment by lapuertaentornada — July 29, 2012 @ 3:18 am | Reply

  66. But hasn’t the net made it easier for quality to find it’s audience? Or do the Grumblies still rule?

    Like

    Comment by shovonc — July 29, 2012 @ 6:45 am | Reply

  67. I paid $1200 recently to have a 70,000 word book edited. I thought that was a fair price. The editing was excellent and he liked the book so much he made some margin comments.

    Like

    Comment by jumeirajames — July 29, 2012 @ 6:51 am | Reply

  68. I find newspapers particularly cringe-worthy. The number of (very) basic errors I find each day is astounding. Is it a function of tightening deadlines or do they just not care any more?

    I must admit to being one of the “work at home” set. Unfortunately, the “earn big bucks” part has, to date, been elusive. Copy editing is only one small part of what I offer and I would be interested in gaining accreditation, if only to prove to myself that I do have the requisite skills.

    The solutions you seek, I believe, lie in improving educational standards (making spelling and grammar important again) and maintaining standards at the publishing end of the process until consumers once again become more discerning. If the publishers no longer think that good editing is important then all is lost.

    Like

    Comment by bambusasolutions — July 29, 2012 @ 7:57 am | Reply

    • I don’t find too many mistakes in newspapers, and I think they do a pretty good job considering that the papers are on a very tight deadline every single day. Books, on the other hand, are often prepared months in advance of publishing. Even self-published and e-books have enough time to be properly edited.

      Like

      Comment by Cecilia E. Thurlow — July 29, 2012 @ 10:28 am | Reply

  69. […] Editors are killing their own profession by accepting work at suboptimal pay. Clients are fooling themselves by looking solely at price and not at quality.  […]

    Like

    Pingback by The Business of Editing: Killing Me Softly | Metaglossia: The Translation World | Scoop.it — July 29, 2012 @ 7:58 am | Reply

  70. Editing is the hardest part of my writing. I recently published an e-book and revised it by editing six times, and was still not satisfied that it was perfect. I should try buying the service on my next venture. Great insight.

    Like

    Comment by Grumpa Joe — July 29, 2012 @ 10:35 am | Reply

  71. I like the theme: killing me softly. And you’re right, we need to look at our own values, AS A SOCIETY, to wonder why we accept the norm of more for less and think we can take care of the quality by just ‘expecting’ or by relying on competition-forces to do it for us. We are allowing quality, principle, professionalism to wither through neglect (softly) … happening everywhere

    Like

    Comment by m lewis redford — July 29, 2012 @ 11:13 am | Reply

  72. Kelly inquired: “Out of curiosity… What do professional editors charge for their services? Clearly, $1.00 per page is injurious and $4000 is fantastic. What is the going rate for this valuable undervalued service?”

    The usual ballpark is $3-10 per page, depending on all the variables, including scope of work: Is it a copyedit, a substantive or line edit, or a developmental edit? Fiction or nonfiction? If nonfiction, general or technical?

    Some editors charge per-word, per hour, or a flat fee for the job. A 100,000-word book thus costs several thousand dollars for a professional-level edit — instead of the few hundred that you see more and more often now.

    Rachel commented: “This is why we should look over our work carefully and turn it over to college English professors and our dear writing pals (like my best friend who was an English major) to edit and critique our works for free.”

    I’m wondering what makes people think that college English professors and friends who are English majors are any more qualified than professional editors. Haven’t we been discussing the general downward trend in education and language skills? College English programs are not heavy on the technical aspects of writing craft but are more about literary concept. Sure, skilled English majors and teachers are out there, but their expertise is and demands for performance by their employers are dropping, too.

    Most of the literary people I know personally, who are not in the publishing business, are lousy spellers and don’t know the vocabulary of writing craft and publishing industry.

    Like

    Comment by Carolyn — July 29, 2012 @ 12:06 pm | Reply

    • I remember returning freelance proofreading work to a prominent publishing company in Boston several years ago. While I was conversing with the production editor, a young whippersnapper entered her office and made the following remark: “We should use journalism and English majors as our freelancers.” Her sharp putdown was “We don’t want English majors and journalism majors for proofreaders–we want experienced proofreaders.” He slunk off to the outer offices. English majors, journalism majors, and professors have NO qualifications to be proofreaders or editors. These are trades, and they require mentoring and instruction–years of it.

      Like

      Comment by Cecilia E. Thurlow — July 29, 2012 @ 12:57 pm | Reply

    • And I wonder what makes that poster think that college English professors have the time or inclination to fix up manuscripts written by poor writers. Sometimes when I faced a thorny grammatical issue I’d ask a friend with an MA in English. She wouldn’t have a clue. English majors don’t study grammar and style. They study the content of works.

      Like

      Comment by Gretchen — July 29, 2012 @ 1:47 pm | Reply

  73. Reblogged this on The Heart of Literature and commented:
    VV is an angel to do this for free for me. Seriously, I would be nothing without her. Another complex issue in the publishing world that I don’t really have any answers for (and wasn’t much aware of the problems until reading this post).

    Like

    Comment by Mike Bahl — July 29, 2012 @ 12:36 pm | Reply

  74. By the way, that should be “per word” instead of “per-word” and “their expertise in” instead of “their expertise is.” : )

    Like

    Comment by Carolyn — July 29, 2012 @ 12:37 pm | Reply

  75. Reblogged this on I WIN.

    Like

    Comment by win — July 29, 2012 @ 12:40 pm | Reply

  76. I agree. I am a retired teacher and think I could do a pretty good job editing spelling and grammar but would never pretend to be a professional editor. About once a month someone in my small hometown writes a children’s book or novel and gets it published. It is increasingly easy to publish a book. All of the skills that go into writing and producing a novel, book, or article have been compromised. All one has to do is look at the bestseller list and see how far we have strayed from good literature. It saddens me.

    Like

    Comment by Life in the 50's and beyond...Ruth — July 29, 2012 @ 1:10 pm | Reply

  77. As a society, the quality of our writing is also diminishing. We have become a product of auto-correct and text-speak. So it’s really little wonder that so few people notice bad editing anymore. It’s sad. =(

    Like

    Comment by jenniferviola82 — July 29, 2012 @ 1:29 pm | Reply

  78. Reblogged this on Commerce & Arts and commented:
    How true.

    Like

    Comment by liturgical — July 29, 2012 @ 2:52 pm | Reply

  79. I taught English in the public schools in California (1975 – 2005) and English teachers were discouraged from focusing too much on grammar and spelling. Rote learning went out the door long ago in most US public schools because it was considered boring and a waste of time.

    The most useful tool to learn how to spell is through rote learning.

    In fact, one principal required the entire English department to turn in their plan books each Friday so he could see how much time we were spending on grammar/mechanics/spelling. We were to spend all of our time teaching our students how to write essays and stay on topic in addition to reading poetry, short stories and novels then focusing on literary analysis to boost critical thinking and problem solving skills.

    In addition, we were forced to throw out all the Warriner’s English Grammar and Composition texts we had used for years to teach grammar and mechanics. Instead of recycling these books, our librarian hid them in her storeroom and I kept one set hidden in my classroom, but I was caught using them one Friday when the principal walked in unannounced and he reprimanded me in front of my class and then wrote a note that went into my personnel file that I was wasting time teaching grammar and mechanics.

    To make sure future English teachers wouldn’t do this, many colleges were encouraged by the state education department to do away with grammar and mechanics lessons in college and this started in the early 1980s.

    I did not proof this. I only ran it through a spell check. Who has time to proof and edit every comment and e-mail? I saw someone else leave a comment correcting another comment. Let’s not have any of that here, please.

    Writing rough drafts comes from the right side of the brain and editing from the left side of the brain. Even when individuals know the rules, it may take more than a moment to shift gears. It may take days and even weeks. Hemingway could do it. I haven’t heard of many others that can. Even then, it is very easy for even the most skilled editor to miss something. After all, we are only human and perfection belongs to the gods. This may explain why my wife’s publisher (Bloomsbury) has several editors go over her rough drafts instead of one.

    Like

    Comment by Lloyd Lofthouse — July 29, 2012 @ 3:14 pm | Reply

  80. This is a shocking story but it substantiates what many of us have long suspected.

    BTW, the person correcting the other person’s posting was me correcting myself. I feel obliged, especially in this context, to not demonstrate bloopers when presenting myself as a professional editor! : )

    Like

    Comment by Carolyn — July 29, 2012 @ 3:22 pm | Reply

    • I understand. We all have the right to correct ourselves. :o)

      It was 1986 when the principal of the middle school I was teaching at told the English department (at a meeting) to throw out all of our grammar books and stop teaching grammar, mechanics and spelling.

      After “Hitler” (that wasn’t his name) left, I was so angry, the rising blood pressure to my head caused a nose bleed. The other English teachers had to calm me down. Back in my room, I resolved to defy him, hide the grammar books and scheme to teach stealth grammar and mechanics by focusing on short fifteen minute lessons before class ended on Fridays and assign the work as homework to be turned in on Mondays. Didn’t work. I got caught and called on the carpet. After that, I had to get very sneaky but I refused to stop teaching some grammar and mechanics skills. However, the amount of time spent on these lessons was a fraction of what it once was.

      Like

      Comment by Lloyd Lofthouse — July 29, 2012 @ 3:34 pm | Reply

      • Good for you. Defying a principal who was had bought into the latest fad sent down from some Teacher Union boss instead of using what was proven to work was wrong. I wish more teachers showed you guts (and principles)!

        Like

        Comment by waterfallofgrace — July 29, 2012 @ 5:47 pm | Reply

  81. For an interesting and informative analysis of how colleges don’t prepare writers for the business of writing, read this blog by Kristine Kathryn Rusch (a very successful, very prolific writer):
    http://kriswrites.com/2012/07/11/the-business-rusch-writers-and-business/

    Like

    Comment by Carolyn — July 29, 2012 @ 3:48 pm | Reply

    • Carolyn,

      Ive read Rusch’s work and I read the piece you recommended. Great piece. Thank you.

      Like

      Comment by Lloyd Lofthouse — July 29, 2012 @ 7:20 pm | Reply

  82. I understand a little more about the editing side of the writing/publishing business because of reading this post–thank you! And I’m sorry for the difficulties this adjustment in economics is having on you and other editors.

    Like

    Comment by At Home With God — July 29, 2012 @ 6:13 pm | Reply

  83. Water Fall of Grace,

    How did the teachers’ unions get blamed for watering down or doing away with grammar, mechanics and spelling in some of (but for sure not all of) America’s public schools?

    It is obvious that I did not explain properly. Here goes:

    There are two major teachers’ unions in America (NEA and AFT) and they are democratic institutions run by teachers. All of the union officers are elected by teachers. For example, NEA is the National Education Association. Under that national umbrella is a branch for each state (in California it is called CTA or California Teachers Association) with an elected union president for each of the fifty states, and then in each state there are hundreds and sometimes thousands of school districts and each school district has a smaller branch of the state union that is affiliated with the national union and the district level also has its own president that is usually an active, working classroom teacher. The primary job of the teachers’ unions is to protect teachers from being fired or harassed without cause and to negotiate wages and benefits. I belonged to NEA,CTA, RTA and at one time was a teacher representative for one of the schools where I taught. The other teachers elected me to that position. Never, never did the union have anything to do with what or how teachers taught or the curriculum.

    The teachers’ unions in the US are often blamed for things they have no power over. Popular political correctness and politics decide curriculum. The teachers unions have NO say in how or what teachers teach. I repeat, teachers’ unions are there to protect teachers from being harassed by parents/administrators forcing teachers to follow the latest fad, and often the teachers fought back against stupid things such as doing away with grammar and spelling but in the end we either do as we are told or get fired for insubordination and the unions cannot protect us then.

    In the long run even with unions, teachers are helpless when it comes to popular fads filtering down from the state’s department of education.

    As for that principal, he was only following orders that came down from the elected school board that told the district administration what they wanted. District administration told the principal what to do and he carried out his orders. Teachers are not allowed to run for election to the school board of the district they work in. A teacher would have to quit his or her job to run in a school-board election in addition to living in that district.

    There isn’t much difference between how the US military operates and the public schools in the way policy is decided, commands given and actions carried out. In the US, the President of the United States is the commander and chief of the military and he is an elected official. In more than 14,000 US school districts, the school boards are elected officials that ran for office and campaigned for one of the several political positions available. No major changes in curriculum are allowed without approval from the elected school board and then it is up to administration (that belongs to no union and has no union legal protection) to order teachers what to do.

    Curriculum decisions usually flow from the state capital to the school districts of that state and then elected school boards decide how each district will implement those changes. Once that decision is made, district administration tells school administrators what they have to accomplish and then it is up to each principal how he or she implements these changes in curriculum. Many times a school district’s elected school board will decide to implement curriculum changes the state did not mandate. Most school board members in America are parents of students in the schools they rule over as elected officials.

    Bottom line: parents elected to school boards are telling trained teachers what not to teach. In one example, for several years, the president of the school board in the district where I worked earned his income as a bread-truck driver meaning he delivered bread and cupcakes to super markets. Most elected school board members in the US do not get paid a salary so they are maybe a housewife with only a high school education or sell real estate or drive bread trucks for a job or maybe they are retired and have nothing better to do.

    Teachers seldom have any say and are basically told what to teach but allowed to teach according to each individual teacher’s style.

    When I taught stealth grammar, I was risking my job. If the principal wanted to, he could have gathered more evidence to show I was not following orders and fired me and the teacher union might have been powerless to protect me from losing that job. All the principal has to do is prove the teacher refused to follow orders that come down from the elected school board.

    Like

    Comment by Lloyd Lofthouse — July 29, 2012 @ 7:16 pm | Reply

    • “Most elected school board members in the US do not get paid a salary so they are maybe a housewife with only a high school education or sell real estate or drive bread trucks for a job or maybe they are retired and have nothing better to do.”

      The implication being that housewives and real estate agents and people who drive bread trucks and retirees are all stupid? I once had a handyman with a PhD from Yale. Maybe the retirees have more education than the teachers, and there are stupid teachers as well as stupid real estate agents.

      Judge people on their own merits, not on labels.

      Like

      Comment by Gretchen — July 30, 2012 @ 9:07 am | Reply

  84. Reblogged this on Pen, Paper & Prose and commented:
    The importance of quality editors and a need to pay for quality work. The dilemma continues.

    Like

    Comment by penpaperandprose — July 29, 2012 @ 8:40 pm | Reply

  85. Thank you for this interesting post. The comments / discussions are likewise worthy of an hour for reading and contemplating. I have never seen a single thread as intelligent as this for quite some time. That is why you’re freshly pressed and frequently visited.

    Like

    Comment by a solemn punch — July 29, 2012 @ 11:08 pm | Reply

  86. […] Twitterverse was abuzz last week following the posting on the An American Editor blog of the post: The Business of Editing: Killing Me Softly. The basic premise of American Editor’s lament was the proliferation of editors offering […]

    Like

    Pingback by Editor of hard sums and geek speak | Kate Blackham » Ask Katie! — July 30, 2012 @ 7:11 am | Reply

  87. Reblogged this on Anything Interesting on WordPress and commented:
    Work from Home culture is threatening the value of quality work with low price mechanism. Need to think about Quality as internet is full of low quality and commercialized content.

    Like

    Comment by seohunter — July 30, 2012 @ 9:14 am | Reply

  88. I’m an aspiring novelist, so I know all about these so-called editing services. Personally, I don’t trust them; I prefer SpellCheck for proofreading and a friend I know who’s good at critiquing my writing for the story quality.
    By the way, you said you’re an editor. What do you edit? And do you work for a publishing company?

    Like

    Comment by ramiungarthewriter — July 30, 2012 @ 12:31 pm | Reply

    • Spellcheck is all well and good to tell you that “cheerjs” is likely misspelled, but it won’t tell you whether the correct word is “there” or “their”. I’d also be interested in knowing how the fact that you are “an aspiring novelist” equates with your knowing “all about these editing services” and that they aren’t trustworthy.

      Like

      Comment by americaneditor — July 30, 2012 @ 1:35 pm | Reply

    • “Spell Check” is two words. Good luck with those novels!

      Like

      Comment by mickspillane — July 30, 2012 @ 1:55 pm | Reply

      • thanks! and spell check’s 2 words? i thought the product was one word! I’ve been lied to!

        Like

        Comment by ramiungarthewriter — July 30, 2012 @ 5:58 pm | Reply

  89. I looked it up at the Microsoft Office site.

    Like

    Comment by mickspillane — July 30, 2012 @ 6:00 pm | Reply

  90. I agree! In fact, I actually commented on this same topic on another blog earlier as it frustrates me immensely that I find so many errors in the books I purchase, when as we are all aware (or should be anyway), that there are printed and digital dictionaries available to help us.

    The issue of so-called qualified professionals providing less than quality work for payment is not surprising as I am amazed by the number of young and old people who cannot read or write well. Unfortunately I speak from personal experience as I have been associated with two universities in terms of lecturing and mentoring students, as well as at a few to undertake my own tertiary studies. What I can see is that the universities are churning students out regardless of their quality of work. And, what gets students their degree is the bell-curve and their upfront payment of university fees.

    Moreover, the total disregard for providing a fair exchange of payment for services is what seems to be acceptable in today’s business world. I do not agree with it, and as a business and marketing consultant, I do not encourage my clients to discount their prices, or haggle for others to cut theirs either… the exchange must be of value to both parties, as well as fair!

    Great blog! Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

    Like

    Comment by Sandra Hollows — August 2, 2012 @ 4:52 am | Reply

  91. Great post—and you’re not alone. It’s happening in the graphic design world, too.

    Like

    Comment by cindydyer — August 3, 2012 @ 1:18 am | Reply

  92. I was naive enough to believe that it happened only in Brazil… I edit texts in Portuguese and feel the same. Great post, interesting comments, worthy discussion.

    Like

    Comment by Marcelly Ferrari — August 6, 2012 @ 1:48 pm | Reply

  93. […] Adin, the editor, wrote The Business of Editing: Killing Me Softly, and he said, “I recently reviewed the various groups I am a member of on LinkedIn and was […]

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    Pingback by The Need to Edit – (Viewed as Single Page) | Lloyd Lofthouse — August 6, 2012 @ 5:31 pm | Reply

  94. […] Adin, the editor, wrote The Business of Editing: Killing Me Softly, and he said, “I recently reviewed the various groups I am a member of on LinkedIn and was […]

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    Pingback by The NEED to Edit – Part 2/6 | Lloyd Lofthouse — August 7, 2012 @ 9:03 am | Reply

  95. […] I saved thousands of dollars because I did not hire a freelance editor. In fact, if you read The Business of Editing: Killing Me Softly by Rich Adin, you would have discovered that hiring a freelance editor is not a guarantee that your […]

    Like

    Pingback by The NEED to Edit – Part 5/6 | Lloyd Lofthouse — August 10, 2012 @ 9:01 am | Reply

  96. Great post! As an editor, I relate, and definitely feel the blow!

    Like

    Comment by BloodworkOrangeFiction — August 16, 2012 @ 1:33 pm | Reply

  97. Why would you ever let an English teacher or author ever edit your book? Editing is a skill that requires years of training, usually in a publishing house, sitting with a person with years of experience in that skill. Just ask one of these skilled editors what they think of English majors as editors.

    Like

    Comment by Cecilia E. Thurlow — August 16, 2012 @ 2:22 pm | Reply

  98. Hi all,
    Here’s a useful resource via @Copyediting on Twitter: http://www.the-efa.org/res/rates.php/
    It’s the Editorial Freelancers Association page on editorial rates. Quite the eye-opener!
    Camilla

    Like

    Comment by Camilla Brokking — August 17, 2012 @ 4:53 pm | Reply

  99. I share your frustation in how much people undermine editing and editorial process nowadays. I think your opinions are very well-written and I am eager to learn from you.

    Personally, I myself have written a similar concern on how ignorant many people these days to the importance of proper editorial stages. (See this page: http://starsfromheavens.wordpress.com/2012/08/15/my-editor-teachers/)

    Like

    Comment by starsfromheavens — September 10, 2012 @ 2:29 am | Reply

  100. This has been a very interesting read and sometimes quite depressing (especially since I’m doing this instead of working on my editing or ghostwriting projects). I try not to get too bogged down in the current state of the world. I’ve been very fortunate to work with some authors who, like me, understand that a fresh set of eyes is *always* a good thing. Spellcheck and self-editing just don’t work, and I could drone for ages on the reasons why, including biologically based ones (our brains fill in the blanks we expect, for instance). When I worked ages and ages ago in a word processing department of a law firm we were stricly forbidden to proofread our own work–for good reason.

    Alas, this technologically-driven world has hit editors in two ways: 1) the proliferation of people willing to do work for peanuts–but I do believe that in those cases the author gets what they paid for: peanuts, not literary work; and 2) the lack of concern about literacy.

    In my own case I deal with #1 by just sticking to my guns of charging a fair price and reminding clients they will get what they pay for.

    As for #2, I’ve been re-reading “Eats, Shoots & Leaves” (an absolutely wonderful book) lately and am paraphrasing from memory here, but the author writes about how improper punctuation once actually started a war. So, is grammar necessary in the real world? You bet it is!

    Like

    Comment by Mulegirl TX — September 17, 2012 @ 3:02 pm | Reply

  101. I find it ironic that you are touting your editing skills because you have an awkwardly dangling participle in the sentence below.
    “The result is that there are fewer individuals who can recognize good editing from bad/no editing, and even fewer who care, being more concerned with cost.”

    Like

    Comment by JM — January 29, 2013 @ 4:41 pm | Reply

    • Dear Troll: Every editor knows that every writer needs a good editor, including good editors. Besides, it’s beyond petty to judge an editor by a blog comment. As my grandmother used to say, “Good grief.”

      Like

      Comment by Sean — January 29, 2013 @ 6:02 pm | Reply

  102. […] professionalism (and business savvy). I discussed the matter of cheap pricing previously in The Business of Editing: Killing Me Softly. Now it’s time to discuss pricing in the face of […]

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    Pingback by Business of Editing: “I Can Get It Cheaper!” | An American Editor — June 5, 2013 @ 4:01 am | Reply

  103. […] the issue of “I can get it cheaper” (see The Business of Editing: Killing Me Softly and Business of Editing: “I Can Get It Cheaper!”) keeps raising its ugly head. In the past […]

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    Pingback by How Much Is That Editor in the Window? | An American Editor — August 6, 2014 @ 4:01 am | Reply

  104. I have been in and out of the copyediting and proofreading business as a freelancer for the last 15 years, but it has been only about a year and a half ago that I became serious about it and started my own company. http://www.writtenperfect.com So, I have really learned to appreciate a well paying client who values the craft of proofreading. I see offers daily come across my datafeeds offering proofreading and editing jobs of 50K words for $50-60. When I started out and really needed operating capital badly, I even accepted a few jobs like that. But, now that I am established and have a clientel that I work with, I only accept jobs that befit my level of expertise. I have found that charging 10-15 percent more than I had been a few months ago has helped me to get a higher quality of client. Sure, I have lost some sales, but who enjoys working for pennies anyway. I would rather make more on fewer jobs.

    Like

    Comment by teachercloud — July 18, 2015 @ 10:31 pm | Reply


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