These days the reality for writers seems to be that their time isn’t valued.
That intrudes in all sorts of ways. Zero return on time is the reality for bloggers amid an expectation that everything on the internet is free. What’s more, attempts to monetise usually annoy – I unfollowed a blog myself, recently, whose author spent most of his time telling readers how desperate his financial situation was, variously asking for cash and offering reblogs for quite large sums of money.
I can’t help thinking that a lot of the ‘free’ comes about because a large percentage of people who write do so for the love of writing. It’s their passion, their pastime, and they churn away for hours on their book, for which the return is the fact that they’ve done it.
But the fact is that while writing is a great hobby, bringing a good deal of pleasure, it’s also a profession – one that, ultimately, includes a broad skill-set including experience of how the publishing and selling industry works, what constitutes good writing, how to control writing style and apply it to any form, how to write essay-style reviews, how to edit effectively, and so on. And at that professional level both writing and all the associated activities, such as publishing, require skill, expertise and knowledge that are easily as complex, deep and demanding as those of any doctor or lawyer.
Add the experience of long years in the business into the mix and you add further value – just like a well-known medical professional can command higher fees.
Which bring me to the issue of those fees. I’ve seen people advertising their editorial/reading services on the web for $5 per item or 0.002 cents a word, or some similar token. To me that sort of pricing comes from (a) the fact that the people offering it are hobbyists themselves and have no experience in what the industry charges, or much professional experience in what constitutes good writing; and (b) it’s a response to the likely price expectations of those who’ll buy the service in a world of ‘free’
So what is this sort of service actually worth? You’d be surprised. A professional writer who’s had much the same professional experience in the field as I have told me recently she charges $225/hr casual rate and is looking to increase it to $250.
I agree. I think that’s reasonable. Remember, what looks like a swingeing hourly rate doesn’t net anything like that much – an hour’s chargeable might require five hours prep, for instance, quite apart from costs.
But what you’re also paying for is genuine expertise and experience – the wisdom of somebody who knows their stuff, who’s been working in the field professionally. You’d be charged the same sort of level by a career coach. Or when buying expertise to that level from any profession.
Copyright © Matthew Wright 2015