Math for Editors

Math? What the fuck? I thought we were editors and writers so we would never have to look a number in the eye again.

Wrong.

But don’t panic. I have spent more time than I really care to confess to calculating hourly rates. I have a base rate that I do not go below except for my very best friends or when I fuck something up. So I’m adept at dividing by word count and by hour. etc.

I know my average editing pace (however many pages per hour) and am constantly dividing total page count by my average editing pace. That gets me the number of hours it will take for me to do the job. Then I divide the flat fee by the number of hours and figure out what the hourly rate would be. If it’s too low, I try to gain the strength of character to refuse the job.

I’ve been hustling recently (editorially speaking), trying to find a new gig that will fill in one of the spaces on my dance card. And the numbers are depressing as fuck. I do not want to work for $16/hour. In fact, I’m thinking of pasting that to my forehead. I got excited about a job a few months ago only to do my creaky editor’s math and realize that the job essentially paid $10/hour, although the job description required the editor to have 6 years of copyediting experience.

Fuck you, crappy publishing companies who can’t get their heads out of their asses and actually pay for some goddamn quality.

What do the numbers tell you?

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7 responses to “Math for Editors

  1. I spent a year of my life writing two books that have netted me a grand total of less than $300. I don’t want to talk about an hourly wage until we can figure it in terms of a penny, divided.

  2. I once wrote a best seller. Really! My book was on the best-seller list in NZ for about a month. But, the way the numbers work, in a country one half the size of the state of Virginia, that netted me about two thousand dollars (NZ) total over the course of about three years. The book generated some interest from abroad, and we sold the overseas rights. Amazing! And to a big (at the time) UK press. Unfortunately, they were only big long enough to make one print run, sell on the rights to Korea, then go belly up. So, I have ONE (that’s a number, right? so that counts as math, right?) copy of the book in Korean. Royalties?? ZERO.

    I can do math!

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