As part of my usual weekday morning prospecting, I came across this RFP:

(1) proofread and editing work for my 52200 words document. (2) write synopsis and chapter outline (3) Improve the sentence quality and standard with no grammatical and other mistake. (4) a good and effective English as per a novel standard (5)A brief critique is required (5) NOTE:- no any software edited work is accepted. only manual editing is acceptable. (6). my budget is fixed $10.

So, once again, I return to the topic of reasonable expectations, which encompasses an understanding of the terms of contract and market valuation of the scope of service.

First let’s go with standard industry rates. The standard industry rate for editing ranges from $0.02 to $0.03 per word. Editing and a final round of proofreading (avg. $0.01 per word) commands an expected fee of $1,566 to $2,088, depending upon the difficulty of the edit.  Hard edits command higher rates because they require multiple passes through the document and require a lot more time and work.

Writing a synopsis and chapter outline. A synopsis generally covers three to five pages for every 100  manuscript pages of content. A standard manuscript page averages around 250 words. That works out to 6-1/4 to 10-1/2 pages which further translates to around 1,575 to 2,625 words.  At a rate of, say, $0.25 per word, that works out to $393.75 to $656.25 for the synopsis. (Bear in mind that I am acquainted with a freelancer who won’t touch a project for less than $0.50 per word.) An outline’s length depends upon the detail required; but, let’s be conservative and say the outline for this book would run 2,000 words. That’s another $500.

Next we have the “brief critique.” I don’t exactly know a standard length for “brief,” but let’s go with 500 words just for kicks and giggles. That’s $125 at the same rate of $0.025 per word.

Thus far we have an accumulated project fee that ranges from $2,564.75 to $3,369.25. This clown wants to pay a maximum of $10.

In addition to understanding the discrepancy between the service requested and the proposed fee, clients of freelance writers and editors should also understand the terms of the contract. The first caveat in any ghostwriting project is a mutual acknowledgement that nobody is perfect. We do not aim for perfection; we aim for pretty damned good.

Case in point: I wrote a book for client. He reviewed the draft and left feedback. I revised. He reviewed. I revised. Lather, rinse, repeat until he wrote back with is approval. Per our contract, I invoiced him for the approved content. Upon payment, I delivered the content. Upon delivery, my responsibility for that content ended. Finis. Done. The End.

I advise clients to have their ghostwritten manuscripts edited by a professional third party. No one ever suggests self-editing as the superior option. It’s the most expedient or least expensive option, not the best. That client did not have the approved content edited; he formatted the book and uploaded it. Thus far, reader reviews are positive, but the two professional reviews for which he paid brought to light some errors in the manuscript.

Mea culpa. Through multiple rounds of editing and revision, I failed to catch those errors. So did he. I took what was, frankly, a execrable draft and turned it into a pretty damned good story. He took me to task. Because I’m a nice person and my professional reputation was at stake, I quickly skimmed through the document to correct identified errors and found a few more that even the professional reviewers didn’t catch. I corrected those, too, and delivered the corrected manuscript. I did this despite my contractual obligation to the project having ended upon delivery of the content.

I let him know that I would be happy–on future projects–to have content edited by a third party professional prior to delivery; however, the anticipated cost of that would be added to my fee.

This tirade isn’t about how cheap clients (prospective and actual) can be, but about respecting the scope of work, understanding the contractual obligations, and valuing the service being hired. It shouldn’t be that difficult.