Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Dissertation Season

It's dissertation season again, and the panicked e-mails demanding and/or begging for editorial help are in full swing. If you are a graduate student looking for editorial help, or if you are a thesis or dissertation advisor recommending that a student get editorial help, keep the following information in mind.

1. I do this for a living (in other words, momma's gotta pay the bills), so:
a. To ensure I have a steady flow of income, I keep my schedule full for 4 to 6 weeks ahead of time. You may get lucky and catch me at a slow time when I can start work on your project immediately, but that's rare. Please contact me at least two weeks before I should begin work and at least six weeks before you want the project finished. Unfortunately, if you're supposed to submit at the end of this month (April 2013), it's too late for me to help you. 
Advisors: Don't wait until the last minute to inform your student that you won't accept the thesis or dissertation without a professional edit. Presumably you've seen multiple samples of your student's writing before the later drafts and have known for a while that he or she will need help. Waiting until 2 weeks before the submission date to tell the student that he or she needs editorial help is unfair. Ideally, all students should be made aware of the potential need for an editor very early in the dissertation process so they can both schedule and budget appropriately. 
b. If we've agreed on a schedule and a price, and then I don't hear from you again for several days or weeks, I will take other projects in the meantime and may no longer be available. If you have a delay, please keep me in the loop so I can keep a spot for you in my schedule. I have to keep working and can't sit idly while I wait for a project that may or may not show up.  
c. My services are dirt cheap in the context of what other professional editors charge, but cheap is a relative term. Right now, spring 2013, I'm charging between $4 and $4.50 a page depending on the level of edit. If your thesis is 100 pages (determined by word count), you can expect to pay at least $400. A budget of $50 will get you a slap-dash proofread from one of your friends. It will not buy a full edit from a professional copyeditor.
d. A slap-dash proofread is better than nothing, though, so if $50 is all you have, enlist your English major friend. (Everyone should have an English major friend.)
2. I am a professional, so:
a. This is not McDonald's, and you cannot simply order up an instant copyedit. Sending an e-mail with manuscript attached informing me of how much you'll pay and that you need it back by the end of the week is a waste of your time and mine. 
b. Please address me in a professional manner. Don't demand that I do your bidding; ask if I'm available for a new project. Remember that I am not your employee or an employee of your university.
c. When you e-mail me, tell me (1) when the project must be completed, allowing time for you to review my copyedit to accept or reject changes before your submission date; and (2) the expected word count for the full project. It's also helpful to attach a sample, a minimum of five pages. With this information, I can determine immediately if I can fit you into my schedule, and I can complete a sample edit for you to review so you can decide if you want to hire me. 
3. I love my job. If I can take your project, I will. If I turn you down, it's because my schedule is already full, not because I take your needs lightly. Know that I've done grad school myself. I do understand the poverty and the frustrations and the poverty. And did I mention the poverty? (I just now had to stop writing to take a call from the student loan people. They never call just to chat.) Even if I can't take your project, I wish you the very best of luck. 

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