What It Is (posts below left; rate sheet, client list, other stuff below right)

My name is Bob Land. I am a full-time freelance editor, indexer, and proofreader. This blog is my website.

You'll find my rate sheet and client list here, as well as musings on the life of a freelancer; editing, proofreading, and indexing concerns and issues; my ongoing battles with books and production; and the occasional personal revelation.

Feel free to contact me directly with additional questions: landondemand@gmail.com.

Thanks for visiting. Leave me a comment. Come back often.

Monday, November 24, 2008

On Demand? Not Land. Copyediting for Demand Studios; Proofreading for Demand Studios

Well, I've had it. If any circumstances emerge to change the nature of this post, I'll take it down. But in the meantime, there might actually be someone interested in what's happened here. And far be it from me to provide a teaser and then disappoint my vast public.

I've already relayed this information in an email to bloggoddess extraordinaire Moi, so what mostly follows is the text of my email to her. I have a few things to add afterward, but here goes. This is the story of my interaction with Demand Studios, an internet film and publishing website that advertises for copyeditors and proofreaders, among others.

======================================

This goes on for a while. You might grab a few fingers of your local poison and sit back.

Through the feedjit widget on my blog, I saw that someone found boblandedits by searching for proofreading for Demand Studios. I looked them up, and they claim to have all kinds of copyediting and proofreading (and writing) assignments for websites and film titles. You pull up the jobs you want, work on them, post them back to the website. You can take as much or as little work as you want, and it might pay from 8 cents up into many more dollars (I guess the 8 cents would be like for a title page or a simple screen credit). They pay by PayPal every Friday. So I'm thinking, I waste enough time in front of the computer; I might as well get paid for it.



So I send 'em my resume, which is barebones because I never use it and want it to fit on one page, and a link to my blog, which should establish my cred pretty quickly. I'm thinking that since they are a Web-based organization, a look at my blog should do the trick.

In response, I get your basic, "We have no assignments for you at this time."

I write them back saying, "Your website shows you have thousands of proofreading and copyediting assignments available. If there's something in my resume or on my blog that turned you off, it would be helpful for me to know."

This is what I get back:

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Hi Bob,

Thanks for the inquiry. Your resume did not reflect the extent of the editing experience that you seem to have. It did not provide enough details as to the type of editing you have performed nor the breadth of your experience in editing. In addition, aside from your freelance work, your job title does not imply that editing is your main duty in your current company.

However, if you do indeed have 30 years of copy editing experience, then I can pass your resume along (with that footnote) to the lead copy editor for further consideration.

Thanks,
The Demand Studios Team

Please reply back to this email without changing the subject line if you need further assistance.

Sincerely,

* * *

No shrinking wallflower me, here's my response [I'm thinking of posting it to the blog, so you'd be reading it anyway :) ]

Dear Demand Studios Team:

Thanks for the second look.

From 1984 to 1988 and then 1990 to 1994, I was a full-time writer and editor of university-level business and insurance textbooks for what was at the time the world’s largest self-study insurance education program. I wore many hats while there: developmental editing, substantive editing, and copyediting, in addition to working with permissions, review panels of industry experts, and printing and other types of vendors. (Before 1984, I was a full-time proofreader.)

In the interim years of 1988 to 1990, I was the lead editor for the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, where my main task was substantive editing and copyediting of the Economic Review—four research articles on a bimonthly basis written by the Ph.D. staff economists at the Atlanta Fed. In addition, I was responsible for editorial oversight of two monthly newsletters and various smaller publications. We also published a book-length history of the Atlanta Fed while I was there, and I served as the main editor for that volume.

Since 1994, I have been a full-time freelancer—proofreading, copyediting, and indexing. Since 2000 in particular, my copyediting tasks have focused mainly on university presses—University of Georgia and Tennessee, and Baylor University Press—and for denominational and religious/spiritual presses: Westminster John Knox, Crossroad, Orbis Books, Templeton Foundation, among many others. I work steadily for all of them and am more than happy to provide references.

On the not-so-scholarly side, I also work for trade presses, such as Health Communications, which handles the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, and I have served as editor and copyeditor for many of those books over the last 10 years, in addition to others that they publish. Because they had no one on staff who knew anything about golf, they basically turned over primary editorial duties for Chicken Soup for the Golfer’s Soul to me, including story selection. When HCI sends me a book that I think is beyond copyediting, they give me a free hand to rewrite as necessary. I have rewritten a number of books for HCI over the years.

I also edit three columns each week for two syndicated newspaper columnists in Georgia, whose names I’d just as soon not provide. I edit for a local columnist here in SW Va/NE Tenn, as well as for a Korean American businessman of some prominence in Atlanta whose written English needs some help.

At one point when I was living in Atlanta in the 1990s, I was copyediting for four competing business publications. That was fun.

I presently serve as the managing editor for the America’s Greatest Brands series, now preparing its seventh volume—editing text, working with designers, and handling traffic with many of the nation’s largest brands and ad agencies.

I am a one-man operation. I am an editor, proofreader, and indexer. I know of no fancy job title to put on that. My dozens of repeating clients don’t seem to require one.

Please refer to my blog for a complete client list: boblandedits.blogspot.com. You can read the posts relative to editing and proofreading and indexing if you have any lingering concerns that, indeed, working as a freelancer in publishing consumes my life and I am up to my neck in it seven days a week. Actually, to save you a minute, here’s a list of my clients, all of which I’ve worked for during the last couple of years:

America’s Greatest Brands
American Human Development Project
Barter Theatre
Baylor University Press
BlueBridge Books
Bookhouse Group
Brotherhood-SisterSol
Chapel Hill Press
Continuum Publishing
Crossroad Publishing
Dogwood Institute
Executive Books
Health Communications
Indigo Custom Publishing
John Wiley and Sons
Johns Hopkins University Press
Lexington Seminar
LOMA
Mercer University Press
Oakhill Press
Orbis Books
Paulist Press
Pilgrim Press
Publications Development Company
Riverbend Books
Shambhala Publications
Sweet Earth Flying Press
T&T Clark
Templeton Foundation Press
Texas Tech University Press
University of Georgia Press
University of Tennessee Press
Vineyard Stories
Westminster John Knox Press
Wipf and Stock Publishers
Yale University Press

Here is a sample of books I’ve copyedited just over the last three months, in addition to my proofreading and indexing work:

Why Did This Happen? Content, Perspective, Dialogue: A Workshop Model for Developing Young People’s Reflective Writing (Wilcox, for Brotherhood/Sister Sol)

Spiritual Leadership for Church Officers (Gray, for Westminster John Knox Press)

American Cancer Society Tobacco Atlas, 3rd edition (American Cancer Society, for Bookhouse Group)

The Historiographical Jesus: Memory, Typology, and the Son of David (Le Donne, for Baylor University Press)

A Century of Quality Refreshment: The Story of Absopure Water Company (Distasio, for Bookhouse Group)

Philippians and Philemon, New Testament Library Series (Cousar, for Westminster John Knox Press)

A Memoir of the New Left: The Political Autobiography of Charles A. Haynie (Haynie and Miller, eds., for University of Tennessee)

Insights: Reflections on the Life of Faith (Barth, for Westminster John Knox Press)

Translating the Message: The Missionary Impact on Culture, 2nd ed., rev and exp. (Sanneh, for Orbis Books)

Prairie Miracles: The Story of the Valley Hope Association (Pogue, for Bookhouse Group)

My work mostly involves use of the Chicago Manual of Style, but I am also well versed in AP style, APA style, and the Style Manual for the Society of Biblical Literature.

As I say, without a second thought I can provide you with a dozen references at publishing houses around the country who can vouch for my work, my reliability, and my attention to detail. I really don’t know what else I can offer you, but if this isn’t enough, well, I can’t say I didn’t try. And, frankly, if you have a stable of editors who match or exceed this level of experience, my congratulations to you for assembling a hell of a team.

Bob Land

=====================================

So, as of November 24, about seven days after sending this response to Demand Studios, I have heard nothing.

Let's take a look at the people whom Demand Studios shows on their website as copyeditors and proofreaders, shall we?

"Working for Demand Media as a title proofer has been a great opportunity for me. As a teacher, the flexibility has been the best aspect. This job allows me to work from home around my school schedule. In addition, I am able to take on more work during the summer months when I have extra time. Another perk about this job is once an assignment is complete, the paycheck soon follows."

"Working for Demand Studios as a copyeditor has allowed me to find success in navigating the often uncertain waters of freelancing. Demand Studios gives me as much work as I can handle and allows me flexibility in scheduling so I can work around other projects. I count myself very fortunate to be a part of the DS team."

--------------

Now, I have nothing against teachers or people who are just finding success in navigating the often uncertain waters of freelancing. But, damn, judging from their pictures, I was working 70 hours a week in a proofreading sweatshop before these folks were born. And if they are teachers or are finding the freelancing waters uncertain, they damn sure aren't copyediting or proofreading anywhere near full-time.

Maybe they think I'm kidding about who I work for. Maybe I'm overqualified for the gig, but I also figure that I should be the one to make that determination. And when you consider that I spent many years working a full-time job and multiple part-time gigs simultaneously, and when you factor in that I've put in 80- to 100-hour weeks for most of the last few years, when I say I've got almost 30 years of experience, that's just on the calendar, and based on what most folks would judge by: a 40-hour week. My mileage exceeds my age by a long shot.

Sour grapes? Perhaps. Am I bitter? Maybe so. If anyone has any experience or knows someone who has worked with Demand Studios, I'd love to hear their story. Because at this point, I'm just baffled.

10 comments:

moi said...

Hear ya. File this one under The Great WTF? of 2008. I never sent them my resume because I hear they only pay about $20 per assignment, which may account in part for why they haven't gotten back to you. You scared them.

czar said...

Moi:

I think I also read references in subsequent searches to $15 per assignment for writers. Hell, I don't see how writers can work for that kind of rate. It takes me $15 worth of time just to get my eyes focused.

Don said...

You're in the TN/VA border country? Beautiful around there. I grew up in Knoxville.

czar said...

Don:

Yep. Bristol.

Amy said...

Thanks for your post. I found it while searching online to find out what Demand Studios pays copyeditors. I also have an impressive resume (not as impressive as yours, but I'm a lot younger) and got the same one-line response saying that they didn't have any work that met my qualifications. I felt as miffed as you did when I read that. Of course, to get a response at all from a job application these days is rare, but I really would have appreciated some detail as to why I'm not qualified. I have also thought, like you, that perhaps they decided I was overqualified. I'd love to know if you ever hear back from them. I would like to know if it's worth my time to follow up. And I agree with you that it should be up to you to decide whether the pay is high enough. Sometimes all of us have slow days or weeks when working for a lower rate is better than nothing. They should be happy to have some overqualified professionals in their ranks.

From looking at the Demand Studios homepage, though, it looks as if they may only pay $2.50 per copyediting assignment (about 400 words, I believe), which is absurd. Maybe if I were 16 and living in India that pay rate would be okay, but I'm not willing to sell out to these online companies that mass-produce content and pay pennies. That just perpetuates the problem, as I see it. Also, these companies seem to have low quality standards, and I don't want to be associated with writers and editors who produce poor work or a company who lets them get away with it.

czar said...

Amy:

Thanks for your comment. For someone "a lot younger" than I am, you sound like you have a pretty good head on your shoulders for this business. People selling their services for way below what full-time professionals know to be market rates only lowers the standard for everybody. About the only good thing I can see about Demand Studios at this point is at least they recognize the need for proofreaders and copyeditors, whether or not they pay enough or hire top-quality people. When you have presses like Princeton University trying to do away with proofreading (see a more recent post of mine), you really have to wonder what's going on.

I hope you'll hunt around a little on my blog and check back every so often and give me feedback from your perspective. I enjoy hearing from other folks laboring in the trenches.

Anonymous said...

If you want to proof titles, send an e-mail with your resume to: TitlingTeam@demandstudios.com

They will send you a link to take a test. If you pass the test, and are immediately hired. They pay .08 per title. You proof 20 titles per page, and some proofers can edit the titles in 5 minutes. So, you can make up to $20 per hour doing. Not bad for flexible online work. They have hired many title proofers that don't have near your experience. If you pass the test, you are hired. Simple as that.

czar said...

Anon:

Thanks for the information. Watch this space for further developments.

Gigi said...

Thanks for your story about your experience with Demand Studios. Also appreciate others' comments. I've been a freelance writer and editor for about 30 years myself, and like you, thought Demand Studio might be a quick, relatively simple way to make a little extra cash.

From what I gather from this site and others, DS pays very low and seems to be kind of a "sweat shop" operation for web site content. Seems to be a few of these around.

My advice to writers starting out is to avoid this type of thing. They seriously devalue and even trivialize what serious professionals do -- and lower the pay scale!

Thanks again. I will avoid DS.

Emily said...

Bob,

Demand Studios did you a favor. They know you're way out of their league. If you had written for them, you would be posting here about how you wasted your time and your talent on them. Think about it: the people that submit their writing to Demand Studios are not 30-year veterans, not even close. They're just happy for the scraps that DS throws them whenever they feel like it. You would just end up frustrated with the way these people do business. They're not worth your time. Your talent would be wasted on them.