What do you think a professional editor’s pay scale should be? Assume that a proofreader would be at the bottom of the scale and a developmental/line editor would be at the top. An examination of the work editors perform sheds some light on the matter.
An accurate proofreader—not a full-blown editor but a reader capable of ferreting out problems with spelling, grammar, and style—has spent years learning the details of language and even typography (knowing when and how to use hyphens, endashes, and emdashes, small caps, and other typographical conventions is part of the job description). Clearly, we’re talking about a skilled, educated and experienced professional here, even if the editing is done only at a technical level. Isn’t that person worth $50,000/year—at least?
Next add to these skills the ability to read a narrative deeply, find inconsistencies, recognize overused patterns, understand the fine points of language and storytelling, and convey these to an author as useful, sometimes hard-hitting but never insulting critique. This kind of professional is difficult to come by—this editor understands both the left-brained, technical points of fine writing and the right-brained art of communicating stories, ideas, emotions, experiences, and streams of consciousness and perspective for which there are no names. We’d sell this talented person short by offering $100,000/year but let’s use that number for the sake of discussion. Read More About the Value of Professional Editors →
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