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  • SJ Paquette

You're gonna charge me how much?

When I finished writing my first book, I was so excited I couldn't think straight. I was practically jumping out of my skin to get feedback and get published. I wasn't thinking straight, AND I was operating in a world I did not understand.

I had a friend who was once an editor at a newspaper, so I gave that person a call. They were the only person I knew who was knowledgeable about the publishing world. And given their experience, and their work ethic, I trusted them.

During our first Zoom call, I told them that I had been looking around at editors and most wanted 10 cents per word, which felt high for me. Especially since I'm a virtual unknown and the odds of recouping my money on my first book are slim. It’s a big risk that will likely never pay off.

During our call they offered to look at my manuscript. I agreed but insisted on paying them, since I know how time-consuming editing can be. Not to mention I was asking them to read a Christmas story just 3 months after having gone through one of the hardest winters ever. Nobody wanted to think about Christmas or the winter and I couldn't blame them.

The moment my manuscript was ready, I sent it to them. At this point, we had not even spoken about what they would charge me, nor had we agreed on timing. (Yeah, I know...stupid of me!)

They edited my book (and did an awesome job!) but when they came back to me with their edits, they gave me a price of 9.5 cents per word. At first, I felt angry, but only at myself because I knew right away it was my own fault; I never should have sent it without an agreed upon price in writing up front. But the price honestly felt like a punch to the gut, especially since I had mentioned that 10 cents per word was too high.

I'm happy to say this person and I were able to negotiate a better price point that made us both feel better. (Phew!) But it was a stupid mistake on my part.

So, here's a tip from #AWritersJourney; if money is exchanging hands, even if its minimal, and you are using friends, family or anybody with a pulse to help you; get a price in writing on what you agreed to before any work is started. Even if it’s in an email, as long as you have it in writing. Print it and keep a copy for your records. :)

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