Why so expensive?

proofreading vs copyediting

"Why so expensive?"

Yup, a common question thrown at us by some clients. And we must admit we also do get thrown off balance by such questions.

Through this post, we hope to dispel the myth among our prospects and clients that the job of a proofreader is easy peasy just because we are freelancers. They've just got to realise that the word 'free' in freelance does not mean that our time is always free.

No doubt, our working time is not constraint within the normal working hours and that we have no boss breathing down our neck to tell us what to do or not to do. But the downside is, we are not always assured of a fixed income at end of every month. There's the ups and downs and sometimes, a period of dry spell.

In a job like ours, time is our most important resource and contrary to popular belief, we don't have an abundant supply of time. Because time is limited, we don’t always have it at our disposal. 

Thus, it is no rocket science that we tend to attach a value to every second spent, either for work or for play.  And when our time is used to polish a client's manuscript, of course we will charge a fee. To a freelancer, each second we clocked in to accomplish a task is of value. So, is it too much to ask that we are paid accordingly?

Besides, our rates still more or less follow the norm. We can't charge too low and we can't charge too high either. Charge too high, we'll lose clients as there are other fish in the sea - our clients can always turn to other proofreaders and editors available on the market. Charge too low, and we're deemed a sell-out by others in the same profession, undermining the pride we have in our line of work and short changing the value attached to our job.

Just because we're doing something we like while earning an income does not mean that we have to come in cheap, either. We're not treating this as a hobby just to pass the time. All we ask for is to be paid the right amount that matches the time and effort we devote to our work. It's not like we're charging an arm and a leg for our services.

Whether freelancing or employed, we still need to put food on the table, pay the bills, as well as cover related costs and expenses. There are internet and utility bills to pay, petrol and stationery expense to consider, courses to attend, reference books to buy,  I think you get the picture.

Thus, it is an insult when some people expect us to offer dirt cheap service with the excuse that we're just checking for grammar mistakes, thus it shouldn't cost so much.

Some clients really have no idea what entails when we proofread their paper. When a client says, “it’s just grammar” it’s an insult to our profession and a downplay of the pride and commitment we have in our work. 

Arriving at a price that is fair is not like haggling at the fish market where we can determine right away how much we should charge. Most times we need to have a test run in checking your document before we can determine how much to charge because the amount of time spent on a task is pretty much defined by the difficulty level of a client's manuscript (which in turn depends on the text technical content as well as the client's English proficiency level) and also on how much and how long research is required.

Plus, to determine the rate more accurately, most freelance editors have to split the charges for proofreading and editing tasks to reflect the amount of work and time involved in each type. It also helps clear up any confusion our clients have on the different types of editing involved.

Clients need to understand that some types of editing task consumes more time and requires more work.

For example, copyediting consumes more time and focus than proofreading does. Thus, the rate is also higher than that of proofreading. And when editing, at times we need to refer to some reference materials to polish our client’s manuscript. We can't skip on research because no matter how much we want to we can't simply pluck facts and data right off the top of our head. If we could, we wouldn't be hunching over our desk working on a manuscript but we'll be relaxing on the beach, enjoying the view and sipping pineapple juice insteadđŸ˜‰

Related post: Proofreading or editing? What’s the difference?