25 August 2006

Well, that's my weekend ruined

I just received an email from the financial publisher regarding the manuscript I'm supposed to receive next Tuesday. I am totally pissed off. Firstly, the book will be sent to me later than expected - that's ok, authors are notoriously bad at submitting their MSS late to the commissioning ed. And I'm flexible enough to accommodate such things.

What has angered me is the money issue. I specialise in substantive editing - that's more than just a standard cleaning up of spelling, grammar and punctuation because it usually involves a lot of rewriting. I also specialise in editing English written by non-native speakers. Again, that entails masses of rewriting - untangling bizarre metaphors, weird grammatical constructions and just generally making sense of what is often a mess. And I specialise in investment banking as a subject. I'm a rare breed in that respect - there are very few editors out there who have the knowledge to handle these kind of texts, as I'm frequently told by commissioning eds in search of someone who knows what they are doing.

My fees reflect these specialisms and are not excessive - they fall in line with the minimum recommended rates set by the NUJ and the SfEP for this kind of work. For the two previous books I worked on for this publisher, I agreed to work at a lower rate than I normally charge. When I was offered this latest job, I asked the commissioning ed to confirm I would be paid the same rate as before - today she said the company normally pays just £18 an hour for copy-editing and they had already paid me above that for the earlier jobs. Worse, she said that because of the current cost estimates for this particular project, it would not be feasible to pay me the same as before!

This is a company that charges at least £200 cover price for its books...

I emailed back, politely pointing out that they are paying for my three specialisms and I had already agreed to a lower rate than I normally charge. Expecting me to accept an even lower fee for an even bigger project than the last one is completely unacceptable. I could have pointed out that this company's upper freelance rate of £18 an hour is less even than the recommended minimum for bog-standard copy-editing but I refrained. But she is asking me to take a pay cut for a major job and I'm just not willing. I invited her to call me on Tuesday to discuss it.

I suspect I've just talked myself out of a job and that they'll end up hiring someone cheaper just to save a few quid, but they won't get anything like as good a job done, if they choose that option.

Grah! I'm totally pissed off. Sorry for saying it twice, but I'm totally pissed off. Ooops, that's three times... But I'm sure you can understand why.

No comments: