Increasingly ill-defined roles translate to lower rates for freelance editors

“When hired to ‘edit,’ are you hired to be a developmental editor? A copyeditor? A proofreader? A compositor? Is what you are being paid commensurate with what you are being asked to do?”

Freelance editors are hurting themselves and their peers by not distinguishing between different editing roles when negotiating with clients, says a post on An American Editor. Younger, less experienced editors are accepting jobs without clarifying which stage(s) of the editing process they are handling, and, the post’s writer says, clients are paying “proofreading” rates but expecting editors to employ top-level editing skills or “whatever is needed” to get a piece of writing into shape.

The post suggests that changes in the industry—less money to go around, fewer in-house editors, competition on a global scale—have caused this problem, thereby producing two “classes” of freelance editors: “older, more-experienced editors and younger, less-experienced editors, with the former trying to unblur the roles and distinguish via price the different skills required for the different roles, and the latter accepting the blurring of roles and the accompanying lower price in exchange for work.”

The writer suggests the solution is collective action: “Unfortunately, this is not a war that an individual editor can fight and win; it requires a group effort, and an organized group that speaks for freelance editors regarding work issues doesn’t exist.” In Canada, numerous groups have emerged to organize and advocate for freelance writers, including the Canadian Writers Group, the Professional Writers Association of Canada, the Canadian Media Guild and its Freelance Branch, and the Canadian Freelance Union. The last two on that list also offer representation to freelance editors, but based on the argument presented by An American Writer, the young editors who are comfortable with the increasingly blurred lines between editing roles aren’t likely to possess the awareness of their industry and its depressed rates that would spur them to join a union.

So, freelance editors out there, do you agree with the analysis presented in An American Editor’s post? If so, what can freelance editors do to reverse this trend? Do you think they can?

Hat tip to the Editors’ Association of Canada for tweeting An American Editor’s post.

Posted on September 16, 2011 at 10:32 am by editor · · Tagged with: , ,

Leave a Reply