An Open Letter to @Joe_Eastwood

I saw the call via your Twitter account for proofreaders and followed the link to find out more. I found that you are looking for people to proofread 50,000 words in a week, in exchange for an advance copy of the book.

I can also see, with a quick amazon search that you are not giving away your other books for free, so if you are earning from them, it is only reasonable that you pay others for any work they do for you.

My usual proofreading rate is £8 per 1,000 words. If you wanted 50,000 words in a week I would also have to add a rush fee, but even ignoring that, the fee I would request for 50,000 words is £400. Now, unless a copy of your upcoming (unedited) book is worth £400, then you can see that carrying out this work for you is a really unfair deal. Even if it was worth that, I have bills and rent and can’t pay those with other people’s ebooks.

In the A Little Bird Told Me podcast, my co-host and I dedicated an episode to being asked to work for free, in which we discussed how being asked to work for free is not only disrespectful to our time and energy, but it also really devalues the skills we have built up over years.

I suspect you would find it insulting to be asked to write 50,000 words for free in a week. To give over all your work time, and more, to a large project for somebody else for which your renumeration would be an unedited eBook.

I don’t doubt that someone or other will come forward and offer to do this for you. However, please do consider the impact it has on professional writers and proofreaders. Is what you are doing really fair? Are you going to share the profits with the proofreaders that come forward? If you can’t pay them upfront, it seems the least you can do, yet you do not seem to be offering this.

£400 is a lot of money, and 50,000 words is a lot of proofreading. I can’t afford to do this as a favour to you, and nor should anybody else. If you want a quality proofreader, you have to actually pay for them. If, instead, you want the work of someone who is happy to do a rushed, half-hearted job just so they can see your precious words ahead of time, then don’t expect perfection, or even accuracy.

It is time to seriously consider paying people to carry out work for you. It will benefit your work considerably, and value the work of the professionals around you. You’re not a non-profit organisation – if you are happy to receive money for your work, you should be happy to pay those who contribute to your success.

 

About Philippa Willitts

British freelance writer and proofreader.

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