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Do you get what you pay for?

A friend is trying to mail a parcel from the US to the UK. It's not an overly large or overly heavy parcel. And the cheapest postage she can get is $94 !

I gave up mailing parcels to the UK when they wanted $56 to send a slim paperback book. And I still don't understand how it can cost so much. But what results from the high cost?

  1. People stop sending parcels. (That's me.)
  2. People still send them and complain a lot.
  3. People make very, very sure that the address label, customs declaration, contents list, and even choice of contents are absolutely right and perfect and exactly what they want before sending the parcel. (That's probably my friend.)
So... what's that got to do with the price of editing?

Reading, fact-checking, commenting on, and editing a document takes a lot of time. Editors need to be paid for the time they give, of course. And... well, it could always take more time, and we could always charge more... and more... But at some point:
  1. People stop hiring editors. (A lot of self-published authors take this route.)
  2. People hire editors and complain a lot (and expect perfection for the money they pay).
  3. People make very, very sure that the work is written as well as they can possibly make it, before hiring the editor.
Unlike with mailing parcels, option 3 really does keep the author's costs down, while also creating a better relationship between author and editor. Meanwhile if you want to create good books without hiring an editor, why not consider sharing the job with another writing friend - "I'll beta-read your book if you'll beta-read mine"? Just remember option 2, and don't expect perfection from a beta-reader, best friend, parent or editor. You'll get what you pay for, whether you pay in time, cups of coffee, or in money.

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