Sometimes, one change is all it takes to release a logjam and then things start flowing better. Maybe your logjam is going over budget, so making coffee at home instead of going to a coffee shop cuts your spending by $80 a month and fixes that problem. Perhaps your logjam involves the needle on the bathroom scale, so you start walking with friends, and that leads to other changes.
Another type of logjam is one that freelancers everywhere are familiar with: charging prices that are low enough that they have to work every day to meet financial goals.
How much to charge
To earn $12,000 in a given time period, someone could edit six books at $2,000 each and work every day, or edit four books at $3,000 each and take some time off. That is, of course, oversimplifying for the sake of illustrating the point. Obviously, the amount of time needed to edit a book varies from one book to another.
Let’s look at an example with you in it.
Dragon scales and quilts
Suppose you live in a medieval village where you make and sell something—like quilts. If you sell your quilts for 200 dragon scales each, and you need 1,000 dragon scales a week to make ends meet, then you have to make five quilts a week (if that’s even possible).
You’d be sewing night and day, every day, and most likely you’d be spoon-fed by your family members, because you would only be getting up from your work to use the toilet and to sleep for a few hours each night. You are excellent at what you do, and you’re in demand: when you finish one quilt, another order is waiting for you. The problem is that you can’t afford to take time off at the rate you’re charging, because what you’re earning is just enough to keep the thatch roof repaired and the horse shod.
If you could charge more for making the same number of quilts, it would allow you to take time off. That one change could lead to other good changes. But for the moment, until you make a change, you’re stuck.
That is a logjam.
You might be superhuman, and you might be able to keep working that much for years—if your family would put up with that. But would you want to do that for years, even though you absolutely love sewing? It’s true that you must earn those dragon scales, but you might want to do something else sometimes. You might want to take time to stretch that kink out of your back. Perhaps you’d like to have time to go for a walk and let sunlight touch your skin for the first time in months, or go watch a joust. It’s possible you’d enjoy sitting around the house with your family once in a while.
How can you make any of that happen? You know you have to make 1,000 dragon scales a week to pay the dung merchant and the miller and the blacksmith. You can’t pay for eye of newt or blaze powder with your good looks, you know (even though you are stunning).
Break the logjam
You know you have to increase your rates. You’ll need to charge more for each quilt, so that instead of working 100 hours a week to get those 1,000 dragon scales, you can work 75 (or even 50) hours a week to get those 1,000 dragon scales. Your customers still get the same beautiful quilts, and it’s possible they will receive better value than before, because if you’re rested, you might be even more creative with those quilts. Everyone benefits.
Do you see the wisdom in increasing what you charge for your quilts? I hope so.
I absolutely adore editing, and, at the same time, I’m ready to have some days off. I’m in that logjam of being in demand and charging low enough prices that I have to work every day to meet goals. Colleagues who have seen my work have encouraged me to raise my rates again, citing my skills and the results I produce, along with how well I take care of my clients.
Freelance editing rates
Starting January 1, 2017, I’ll be charging 6¢ per word for copy editing (with proofreading still included) and 12¢ per word for developmental editing (with copy editing and proofreading still included), both with a 20,000-word minimum (that minimum does not apply to blog posts and other short pieces). With the extra services I include, it’s still a very good deal for authors, and it’s still less than my colleagues charge. Anyone who books me before then, however, will receive the current (lower) rates, of course.
Authors will have all of my attention and expertise applied to their books, as always. It won’t necessarily give me more dragon scales overall, but it will allow me to take off a day each week to rest up so I can come back to my clients’ books rejuvenated.
If you enjoyed this tale of dragon scales and why you may need to charge more to “buy” yourself some time off, please share this post on social media.