21 May 2009

A fair fee for the job

Sometime last week, a publishing company not a million miles from Wordsmith Towers got in touch to offer me some on-site copy-editing work. I'm not averse to working on-site - it can make a welcome change from being home-based, with the opportunity to meet new people and make new contacts.

And so it was that yesterday I got suited and booted and headed into the darkest depths of south Manchester to go and shake hands and talk terms. The job was straightforward enough in terms of what was required and all the work was on-screen (I gave up working on paper proofs 20 years ago). So far, so good.

Inevitably, the discussion turned to money. I was completely gobsmacked to be told the budget was £10 to £15 per hour - for this, they want a skilled and experienced copy-editor who can correct, rewrite, re-order material, fact-check, flag up queries, deal with authors and all the rest. (Plus I was facing an hour's commute each way, by two buses.)

I pointed out, as politely as possible but through somewhat gritted teeth, that the suggested minimum rate my professional body, the Society for Editors and Proofreaders, recommends for such work is £26 per hour. My own minimum rate is even higher, and that doesn't include rewriting and re-ordering. His face was a picture when I told him how much I charge.

Somehow, I don't think I'll be accepting the work if it's offered to me, although I doubt it will be. I'm simply too expensive, dahlinks. Besides, it looks as though I've enough work right until at least July (and yes, the holiday has been postponed, but I will take one soon).
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Mrs Woffington said...

Yes, looking at full-time jobs advertised in our industry these days, they want you to edit, write, commission, proof and lay out pages for wages that wouldn't even pay a modest mortgage. But as they say, it's an employer's market. I must say I'm tired of people treating our skills as if anyone can do them. They can't!!

Unknown said...

I agree, completely. I'm not applying for jobs, though, I'm being approached - either by word of mouth or through my listings in a handful of selected professional directories. And still, when they've looked at my CV and profile there and can clearly see how experienced I am and my skill levels, they still dare to offer me a pay rate barely above that of a supermarket shelf-stacker. It's really depressing. I'm just glad I don't need the work, although I'm very aware my situation might be different in 6 months' time.

Mrs Woffington said...

Apart from it being an insult, you're so right to refuse, since accepting low wages just drives the prices down for everybody else. I turned down the offer of a full-time editing job because they wouldn't pay the going rate. They ended up hiring someone who designed video games for a living.

Unknown said...

I know of at least one other editor locally who was offered the work and refused it, and one who declined the offer to come in for a chat. I don't mind working on-site for a fixed-term contract but I do expect to be properly remunerated.

I got the call back yesterday evening to say they'd offer me the work but price was a sticking point. I pointed out it was the same issue for me. They want to keep me on file though - I wonder how long it might be before they offer me decent money?