How much do you pay for getting your manuscript proofread?

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Down the well
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Re: How much do you pay for getting your manuscript proofread?

Post by Down the well » November 3rd, 2010, 2:55 pm

Margo wrote: The 'astounding fees' cover more than proofreading, and I can tell you that the good ones are worth more than they charge by far, even at $2000+ a ms.
Yeah, I know it's more than proofreading. But I still don't think it is worth it. I did a workshop with Lisa Rector, and though she is very intuitive and very good at what she does, her agency is also very selective about who it will take on as a client. They only take on manuscripts that are already in pretty good shape. So I always wonder, well, if the manuscript is good enough to get her attention then it ought to be good enough to get the attention of an agent. JMO, but I still don't think shelling out thousands of dollars for that kind of work is worth it. Although, I have to laugh because I've probably spent that much or more on conferences where only one chapter gets critiqued. It's a personal choice, and I choose no.

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Re: How much do you pay for getting your manuscript proofread?

Post by Margo » November 3rd, 2010, 3:08 pm

Down the well wrote:I did a workshop with Lisa Rector, and though she is very intuitive and very good at what she does, her agency is also very selective about who it will take on as a client.
Funny you mention Lisa, because I've got an editor girl crush on her. And I've seen the before and after on one she worked on. Very impressive. The writer ended up with multiple offers for representation after that. Of course, she's also just damn nice.
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polymath
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Re: How much do you pay for getting your manuscript proofread?

Post by polymath » November 3rd, 2010, 3:28 pm

According to a survey conducted by the Brenner Information Group in 1998, small publishers spend roughly sixty hours editing an acquired project for publication. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean annual income for full-time, in-house editors regardless of business is roughly $45,000. One and a half standard work weeks is equivalent to sixty hours. Out of fifty standard work weeks per annum, editing a book comes out to $1,350 in labor costs. I'm sure that's mostly light to medium copyediting of already mechanically fair to good projects, even after the writer has run the project through a critique mill. Two grand plus for a talented editor enhancing a project's creative vision and therefore sales potential doesn't strike me as inconceivable and potentially is worth every penny.

I won't touch a project of that magnitude unless I'm convinced it has legs on it long enough to justify the effort and expense.
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Quill
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Re: How much do you pay for getting your manuscript proofread?

Post by Quill » November 3rd, 2010, 3:45 pm

Interesting, polymath. Wonder how many hours per week the average, no doubt salaried editor works. Up to sixty?

I don't have anything against spending the big bucks for professional editing. I also don't have the big bucks, at the moment. For me it will depend on whether or not I find the right critique partner fit when the time comes, and also on the response I get from my first round of queries. I do think I have a home run book idea, and I'm not willing to go down swinging on this one, so I will definitely considering investing actual dollars in batting instruction, if that's what it will take to hit it out of the park.

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polymath
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Re: How much do you pay for getting your manuscript proofread?

Post by polymath » November 3rd, 2010, 3:52 pm

Self-employed editor/publishers according to the Brenner survey do average sixty hours a week. Salaried editors working for firms are governed by overtime labor laws. time and a half pay past forty, etc., which many firms frown on. How much work they do on their own time, I couldn't say.

Bigger publishers either engage in-house editors, hire stringers or freelancers, or don't engage in much developmental editing. Some houses charge off editing expenses against a writer's earnings for bookkeeping purposes, not their advances, some houses take it on their ledger, some do a combination, depending on how in-depth it is and how cooperative a writer is.
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Re: How much do you pay for getting your manuscript proofread?

Post by rose » November 4th, 2010, 1:02 pm

Polymath,judging by your posts on the forum, no one could be any better at what you do than you are! I would give you anything to edit, in a New York heartbeat.

I really prefer doing developmental editing work, so I see rough manuscripts by novice writers that you probably wouldn't take on. If an author wants an editor who can take all of that first draft mish-mosh and make it into a book, I'm not the right person, either. My response is usually that they have a lot of work, a lot of pain, and many drafts ahead of them. I encourage them to read On Writing by Stephen King, to follow Nathan's blog, to get involved in online community, and start a critique group.

But sometimes what they really want is a personalized crash course in writing and they are willing to pay for a thorough critique of a few chapters. Those are my favorite kind of clients, because they REALLY want to learn to write, as opposed to the wannabe writers who like the idea of it more than the process. I find I like the "coaching" work best of all. It's the teacher in me, I suppose.

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polymath
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Re: How much do you pay for getting your manuscript proofread?

Post by polymath » November 4th, 2010, 1:38 pm

Thank you, rose.

It's good to receive positive validation, almost as rewarding as giving it. Much of my editing work is thankless, unpleasant by nature, and all too often takes a long time to bear fruit, except for the pay. Some of the ongoing legal sagas I've been copyediting have been a decade in the making with no final outcome in sight. Makes for job security at least.
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