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> Dear Sir,
> I read your piece on TECHWR-L, and it is more than timely. I am an
> American-born technical writer who has lived abroad for many years and
> is now looking to return to North America. However, I find negotiating
> for salaried jobs frustrating beyond all description, and I'm about to
> do what I did abroad: work as a contractor.
It's the worst part about freelancing! We find both the employer and
the "shop" to be extremely tough, always asking for a salary history,
but revealing little.
My response is usually (sometimes?) "What is the range offered?" This
will often get them to admit what their plan is.
> THE question: what IS considered a respectable hourly rate?
The shops sometimes ask "What is the lowest you will accept?" My answer
at the present is "$30." If they reply that the client won't pay that
much, depending on my need for a job, I may answer that I might accept
lower, depending on location (drive time) perks, etc.
>Do U.S. companies prefer hourly rates or per page rates?
In my experience, it's always hourly for "their location" and "piece
work" or "total project" for at-home work.
A guaranteed "project price" is really dangerous, however, because of
scope changes that are not provided for in the contract.
That's until you go from temp to perm, then usually they want you to
work on salary with no pay for overtime.
>I was in Israel, where the writer must be constantly on guard against customers who will drag
> out a project indefinitely, claiming that they aren't satisfied when
> what they're really trying to do is to avoid payment. I was a success,
> but I didn't have much pleasure from my success. In fact, I felt that
> it was more effort than it was worth. The per page pricing issue was,
> in my opinion, a perfect way to cheat the writer, because often during
> work, projects were put on hold, and then the customer would start
> trying to "unwrite" the documents to come out with a lower price. In
> the past year, I had three projects that were like parasitic worms; I
> couldn't get rid of them without dying first.