time to write question

Subject: time to write question
From: Sharon Burton-Hardin <sharonburton -at- EMAIL -dot- MSN -dot- COM>
Date: Sat, 27 Feb 1999 15:18:44 -0800

I have a new client who may be unhappy with my rate of writing and, while I
know I am writing at a remarkable rate, I am looking for rules of thumb. I
know about the 2.5 hours per page rule but I am also looking for real world
software writing. And an opinion or 2... (like this group never has
opinions...) I have always been able to write faster than the average but
suddenly I am not sure...

Situation: The client came to me with a contacts management software. A
general features doc existed. Not manual existed. Over 30 hours, I installed
the software, used it to write about it, created the template (god, I love
Frame), wrote 70 pages of text, complete with conceptual info, examples,
edited screen captures (he provided many of them but some had to be edited
or customized - maybe 15 total), and detailed step by step procedures. I
also sent him e-mail about typos in his product.

As I finished a chapter, I sent it to him for review. He made edits -
generally small edits where I got the concept wrong but sometimes I didn't
understand the function - about 45 edits total so far. And generally, I
really mean small edits - about 10 total related to where I misunderstood a
feature or something at that level. A few where I guessed wrong. Other edits
were him providing logo, customer support info, changing the wording to meet
his company words (File Management rather than Data Management, which is
what the interface currently says), that sort of thing. 1 or 2 where there
was a feature that I missed and needed to write about it. But he didn't tell
me more, other than it was there and needed to be covered. I had to create
the text. And I created the examples.

Now he is shocked to discover that I am charging him for the 5 hours I spent
making his edits. I know that this is a reasonable number of hours but he
wonders why the text needed editing at all, it seems. I sent him a long
e-mail explaining that the amount of work I have created in 30 hours is
extraordinary and that editing the copy is expected. And that since I am
working on his project making his corrections, I have to charge him for the
time. As he would pay a programmer for fixing the (many) spelling errors I
found. When I am working on his project, I cannot work on another client

So what I am wondering is:
* Is this rate of work extraordinary? I am pretty sure that it is, but...
* Is 45 generally small edits for 75 pages of text reasonable for a product
I never saw before I started writing about it? Especially at this rate?
(Yes, I run spell check so there are not spelling error but there have been
a few wrong words, spelled correctly)
* Do you charge clients to make edits?


Sharon Burton-Hardin
President of the Inland Empire chapter of the STC
Anthrobytes Consulting
Home of RoboNEWS(tm), the unofficial RoboHELP newsletter
Check out www.WinHelp.net!
See www.sharonburton.com!

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