Am I Off the Wall?????

Subject: Am I Off the Wall?????
From: Geoff Hart <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>
To: TECHWR-L Writing <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>, dvora -at- tech-challenged -dot- com
Date: Sat, 11 Jul 2009 09:05:47 -0400

Deborah Hemstreet wondered: <<... I bid on a project (details listed
below). Based on the fact that I would be responsible for research as
well as writing, I told the bidder I could do this in probably 4 hours
per page of work, possibly less. I gave a top bid based on 280 hours
of work. It seems they want 70 pages of writing done, and do not want
to pay more than $250. Even if, by some miracle I could get 70 pages
written in 100 hours, I don't think I could do the project for $250.>>

Well, let's consider a few inconvenient data points. First, you'll
often see meaningless statistics such as "2 pages in final form per
day" bandied about in the techwhirler community. These are meaningless
statistics because every project is different (not to mention every
client) -- and my productivity varies by as much as 300% among
clients, just in case you think I'm blowing smoke with that
generalization -- but your estimate of 4 hours per page is at least
within the right sports league, even if not in the right ballpark.

Second, they're expecting you to complete the work in (let's say) less
than 5 hours based on a fair hourly rate for an experienced writer,
which means you'd have to write a page roughly every 4 minutes,
including research and revision. Do I need to make it clear why this
is impossible? Possibly for your client: for a standard 250-word
manuscript page, that's typing at 50 words per minute. Easy enough for
a skilled typist to achieve, but it doesn't leave much time for
researching or thinking about what you've found.

<<He wrote back and asked why my bid was so high? Of 5 people bidding
for the project, 4 gave a bid for less than $250.>>

If he thought you weren't worthy of further consideration, he would
have written back and said "thanks, but no thanks -- don't call us,
we'll call you (when Hell freezes over)". The fact that he's still
communicating with you means that you have some leverage -- and it may
mean that he's lying about the other bidders. I can't imagine anyone
who would work for this rate -- you could earn more money working at
McDonald's, and you'd get better benefits, with less hassle.

If anyone really does want to work at this rate, my advice to the
client would be as follows:
- Accept their offer and see what kind of crap they produce.
- Hope that what they produce doesn't wind up with you in court as the
subject of a class-action lawsuit by readers, copyright holders who
have been plagiarized, and others damaged by this work.
- Call me again when you want the work done right. You have my
estimate, so budget for it and let me know when you're ready to be
serious about this.

Of course, I'd express this all a tad more diplomatically. <g>

Geoff Hart (
ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca / geoffhart -at- mac -dot- com
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Am I Off the Wall?????: From: Deborah Hemstreet

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