“Why do you charge so much? It’s just writing?”
“Why is your editing fee so high? Isn’t that the easy part?”
I see an endless variety of this kind of question in response to bids and contract negotiations. The background for these questions is mired in the low value American culture places on art, and the assumption that since we’ve all been to school, anyone can write. While most people aren’t consciously considering this subtext, this is the cultural context of the question.
It’s a simple truth that we aren’t all equally good at putting words on the page. Writing and editing are highly skilled tasks that require time and effort to acquire and maintain. The rules for grammar aren’t universal, there are all sorts of exceptions to every rule. A living language is perpetually evolving, with new words coming into use and archaic ones fading out. Names, abbreviations, and style rules are all subject to change. There are multiple standards for style (Chicago, AP, MLA, and APA being the most common), and any freelancer you hire needs to provide an output that matches both your content and style needs.
I have a four-year degree in journalism, with a focus on reporting, news writing, and editing. I’ve edited multiple novels and short stories for other writers every year starting in 1998. This has given me significant experience on both the technical and creative side of what’s necessary for a story to work. I attend workshops and webinars to ensure my skills are keeping pace with the changes in language and media (hard copy print, digital print, e-mail, website, etc). I familiarize myself with the various style manuals as they are updated (I’m eagerly awaiting the annual spiral edition of the AP Stylebook right now). My work history has given me an extra edge on personal statement, CV, medical, academic admission, and manual writing and editing. Other freelancers may have a focus on business, finance, law, pop culture, or real estate.
When you hire me, you’re getting the benefit of skills I’ve honed and maintained over years. If you’re looking at hiring a freelancer, and the prices are making you balk, I suggest re-framing the issue. If you’re paying someone to do this work for you, it must be important. Isn’t it worth paying a skilled freelancer to get exactly what you need?