$/Word coming to TWing?

Subject: $/Word coming to TWing?
From: Geoff Hart <geoff-h -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
Date: Wed, 10 Jan 1996 09:47:33 LCL

Some time back, I offered to act as an anonymous reposter
for anyone who had questions they wanted to send to the
list anonymously... for example, if you're having a
techwhirling problem with your boss and need advice, but
you're worried that the boss may be lurking on the list.

Be discreet, polite, and on-topic, and I'll happily forward
the post for you. If you really need to have private
replies, I can also collect mail and forward it back to
you, but I'd rather make that the exception than the rule.

With that introduction, here's the first example:


I have to post this anonymously, for in my Day Job, this
List has many lurkers. Geoff has graciously agreed to
re-post this.

Tech Writing paid by the word. Yeeeehaaaa!

I have been working part time for a client for several
years, and we have a very good relationship. I have been
billing by the hour, and they have been paying on time.
Smooth as snoose.

After all this time, they made me more official, and gave
me a genuine Boss to report to, and a real position on the
org. chart. Well, it is nice to have things defined.

The new Boss likes measurable, quantifiable production.
First he asked me to come up with a price per final page.
I beat that one back on the basis of puffery and wide
margins. Then he thought about establishing a price per

Heh, Heh.

We use Word 6 or 7, which has the nifty word count and
revisions feature. Theoretically, I can record the word
count when I begin writing, record it again and again
during the process, and come up with the number of added
and even deleted words.

Late in a manual, after the learning curve and the false
screens, I tested out the plan. Writing was easy enough to
quantify, and when I had to stop and write bug notes to the
programmer, I left the clock running. During the
next-to-last phase of the book, I average 160 words/hour.
That's added text plus deleted text.

The final rush to printing was just too complex to bother
recording the stats. Spell checking, page breaks, TOC,
headers & footers, drawing touch-up, all that stuff would
not have been worth the time to record the tiny word count

The Boss is a reasonable dude, and we are running this
$/word experiment in parallel with my normal hourly
billing. At some time when I feel confident in my $ per
word figure, we will switch to that method. If I feel I'm
getting shortchanged, I squawk, and he the same. There IS
full trust both ways. This is a great client.

I know the research phase will be dry time. I know the
changing phase will be rich time. I won't charge for big
cut&pastes, because that counts both the deletion AND the

FWIW, in this test so far, I come up with $0.23/word. I
humorously correct my Boss when he speaks of cents a word,
for I am fairly certain the long term cost is above a
dollar a word.

I myself have the most complete confidence in my TW art.


Have any of y'all EVER come across such a billing method in
tech writing?


OK, those of you still not ROTFLing, you answer, please.

What pitfalls lie ahead?

I think I just lost my last non-ROTFLer.

I look at it like this: * I * have the guts, the courage
to try this.

I would appreciate any input you people can give.

sig'ed, so to speak:

The Second Tech Writer who really IS worth $2/word, if
not maybe $3. Do I hear $10? These are GOOD words, folks!
Technical words! Long words!


There you go! Please reply to the list, not to me to
forward to the original poster... the subject is of general

--Geoff Hart @8^{)}
geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca

Disclaimer: If I didn't commit it in print in one of our
reports, it don't represent FERIC's opinion.

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