Mate’s rates are offered, not asked for. To ask for them is to say, I don’t think your services are worth what you say they are. That’s two insults in one: first, you’re calling them greedy; secondly, if they are your mate, you’re shortchanging them. Your gain is their loss. That’s not being a mate!

Mate’s rates are a favour given; a gift. A gift is free: there is to be no expectation of any return or reward. If we expect something back when we give a gift, it’s little different from earning a wage.People don’t consider the effort that goes into editing. The hours spent studying and the knowledge brought to the subject from previous work; the mental effort of checking and double-checking facts and points of grammar; wading through the Style Manual, weighing up various points: full stop or colon? colon or semi-colon? semi-colon or comma? Making sure you’ve not missed anything; that your edits hang together, so the message is the same, just better expressed.

Mate’s rates may be okay if we don’t normally charge the minimum award rate. But if we do — when we’re just starting in the business, perhaps — we can’t do mate’s rates without hurting ourselves and our fellow editors. Award wages are to protect the interests of workers; if we offer below-award rates, we’re undermining our profession. People will choose us instead of others, because we’re cheaper. Then we’ll be busier: we’ll have to work more hours to make the same money. We’ll probably have to hire others to help us, and raise our rates to cover those costs. From here, we’ll either end up back at square one, or we’ll continue to grow and end up (at worst) monopolizing the whole business.

copyright Troy Grisgonelle 2006.