contract editing (response summary)

Subject: contract editing (response summary)
From: John Gough <john -at- ATRIUM -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 21 Jun 1994 14:14:02 CDT

It's a few days later than 6/17, but here is the summary of responses I
got to the query about contract editing. The challenge: justify contract
editing w/in a company too small to have a specialist. Additional: what's
a good price? I had been quoted $25-$40/hr (Austin, TX).

A big 'thank-you' to all who responded. I expect to deploy a proposal
this week, using the additional strategy of showing total book cost
per page (my labor only) to put the cost of editing in perspective.

Total responses: 7

* Rates (4 responses):
$18-35 (Pacific NW)
$35-50/hr (Midwest and CO)
"as high as $65" (CA)

* Use a different quoting method (1 response by professional editor):
$4-$6 per *page* (working out to $800 to $1200 for a 200-pp book)
Technical work commanded higher rates than general nonfiction,
which drew $2.50 to $3.50 per page.

The same person also said:

"Of course, many of my clients (...) essentially get copyediting
comments at no extra charge when they contract me to develop indexes
for them. [...] And I've never said "no" to indexing clients who
call to ask an editing question; I chalk it up to good PR."

* Try using in-house talent (1 response)
"At the first co. I worked for, I had the same problem (but with no second
writer). Fortunately, I found out that there were some very good editors
already in house, albeit doing other things. I was able to simply include
them on the routing I did for all my manuals. These people were not
formally and officially professional editors, but they knew their stuff."

* Selling techniques (2 responses):
Summary: "know thine audience and sell accordingly"

"The only suggestion I can make is to try to find a way to explain
the need for an outside editor in some terms your engineer/nerd
can understand. This is harder with some people than others! But
if the guy is a software engineer who knows that developers
testing their own code just doesn't work, that would be a good
analogy for writing and editing your own work -- "Not spending
money for an outside editor is like not spending money for testers!"

Of course it's always worthwhile to express your desire to turn out
the best possible work for the company, and your concern that that's
not possible under the conditions. Expect to explain your issues
several times over before they see the light..."

"Plan your approach. What benefit of editing would be the most
to your boss? What would benefit the group? Would it save money in the
long run? Go for it!"

* Best Anecdote Award:

"I once edited a proposal after I was told not to. When I was done, I
the writer "Are you really going to do all this work for $1.80?" You
guessed it - it should have been $1.8 million."

John Gough john -at- atrium -dot- com
Principal Technical Writer voice (512) 328-6977
Atrium Technologies fax (512) 328-2789
5000 Plaza On The Lake, Suite 275 Austin, TX 78746

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