Thursday, October 08, 2009
Q & A 174
For the past three years I have been composing a book based on my years as a police officer. I have been working closely with a friend whom offered to be my editor. She (Nancy) is an attorney who is also a published author but not a professional editor. The final draft is suitable for presentation in the hope of finding a publishing agent. Now it comes time to pay the editor who will also be taking on the task of sending it to agencies. Being unfamiliar with the ins and outs of this entire process I am ignorant as to what an editor is paid. Moreover, because Nancy is not a professional editor she is anxiously awaiting my proposal. I am totally in the dark regarding this issue. Please advise me as to what the normal procedure is and what is a fair proposal of payment that I can feel comfortable bringing to the table.
If I understand the question, a lawyer friend of yours offered to read your book and provide feedback. Now that she's done so, she wants to charge you at her law firm's standard rate, $200 an hour, while you were hoping to just take her out to dinner, possibly with a little action later on. You seek a compromise position.
If you went online and looked for an editing service, you'd find prices in the range of 7 to 15+ dollars a page. And that's for editors who have no credentials and no idea what they're doing. On the other end of the scale, if you hired Evil Editor . . . well, let's just say if you have to ask, you can't afford me.
The fact that you're ignorant about what an editor is paid is irrelevant, as Nancy isn't an editor. How much would she pay you to represent her in a divorce trial?
Okay, did Nancy basically proofread the book, pointing out your spelling errors and explaining when to use "who" versus "whom," or did she point out plot holes, areas where your writing was disorganized, scenes that were unnecessary or needed, etc.? What was discussed financially when this deal first began? How much can you afford? Does she know you can afford that much? How many billable hours is she claiming? Is she serious? Is she a good enough friend that she would have wanted to read it even if she weren't doing you a favor? Has she turned weeds into flowers or has she turned your unique voice into something as interesting as a legal brief? Have you considered offering her 10% of everything you make off the book?
After considering the answers I believe you would have given to the above questions, I suggest an opening offer of $600, and if the expression on her face indicates that that's the end of your friendship, let her haggle as high as $900 plus dinner at Chef Ramsay's New York restaurant. Of course if she takes into account the fact that you're a cop, and not even a corrupt cop, she'll just ask you to let her hold your gun.
Posted by Evil Editor at 6:35 AM