They say time is money. And running my own one-woman-show, my time is exactly that – income.

I am certain all artisans and master crafters will agree that so much love, effort and expertise go into doing what we do, that it’s [almost] offensive when people expect us to do it for less than what our time is worth. Yes, I absolutely do it for the love of it, but unfortunately, in this world, love doesn’t pay the bills.

Copy editing is so much more than merely running the spellcheck. It involves paying meticulous attention to detail, massaging words firmly so that they relax into a comfortable, easy-going flow; it’s re-writing, fact checking, plot analysis and ensuring that the tone and look-and-feel of the body of work aligns with the client’s brand and personality. And then, right at the very end, we check spelling (not via spellcheck because it doesn’t identify the incorrect use of homophones for example), grammatical errors and syntax. The process takes hours of patience and frustration and often results in my staring blankly at the screen having to walk away only to come back an hour or so later to complete it.

So, knowing this, why would anyone expect us to just “have a read through an article/ thesis” to make sure it’s ok, and not pay us full price for it? In my experience, it’s never really ok; and I will never be ok with just ok work. Everyone fancies themselves a writer and I can assure you that not everyone is – and that is all right. I am allergic to maths and am more than happy to admit my weaknesses.

I was recently contacted by an author who’d written a novel. He asked me to language edit, plot- and fact-check and analyse the characters in the novel. The novel was 86 745 words. I happily quoted and even gave him a marked discount as he stated he was a pensioner. He responded promptly to my quote saying that he can afford R1 500 and is able to pay me off over six months and that he doesn’t expect me to return the manuscript before he’s paid me in full. While I am sure his heart was in the right place, my bank account and business were not – and never will be. I politely declined his “offer”.

We all know the saying: Pay peanuts and you’ll get monkeys. If you’d like excellent, quality work done, it’s only fair that you pay for it. Not everyone is an editor and having a professional edit of your written work will only benefit you in the long run. In so saying, behind every brilliant writer, there is an even more brilliant editor.