Working remotely can be difficult. People feel as if they can be either ruder or less responsive to you if they don’t have to talk to your face. But sometimes people rise to the challenge.
Working with private clients is scary. You don’t know them. You don’t know if they can pay. You don’t know if they are screaming bitches in their spare time. It’s hard to tell if they understand the editing process. Do they know that editing involves what may seem like a lot of red ink, or “bloody pages” as my former boss used to call them, but that usually the changes are little or automatic? Do they know that copyeditors seem pedantic, but are usually striving for consistency? Do they know that we sound stiff and boring, but that that is our version of professional distance?
When you work with publishing houses, everyone involves understands the process of editing. They also know how much editors cost. I’ve given people quotes for my services and then never heard from them again (and that was someone who I knew personally). Where does that leave us? Underpricing our services? I do that and have done that and sometimes it is OK, because I’m working on something I haven’t before and so I consider it training, and other times it leaves me pissed off and resentful.
So I took on a new personal client recently. He balked at the price I quoted. I tore my hair a little, but then took time to write a measured email explaining my rates and how I calculated the time it took to finish the edit. And instead of disappearing, he explained what he thought he could afford and made sure to tell me that he respected my work and experience as well as his own work and experience, but couldn’t spend quite as much as I quoted. He was direct, polite, and respectful, assuming that I was making a living and not out to screw him over. And so we negotiated a lighter edit that would take less time and thus cost less money. That, my friends, is professionalism.