This needs an editor

Men & women of letters are by definition paupers. Who after all cares for decent language when all it takes to achieve a particular end is an occasional nod or some burbling sound of discontent? I have before me right now a list of copy editing rates Lovecraft fixed for himself in the early 1930s (Joshi notes it on page 514 of his Lovecraft biography).

What did the man charge? Anywhere between 0.25 $ (for “Copying on typewriter – double space, 1 carbon. No revision except spelling, punctuation, & grammar”) and 2,25 $ (for “Rewriting from old MS., synopsis, plot-notes, idea-germ, or mere suggestion – i.e., “ghost-writing”. Text in full by reviser – both language & development. Rough draught, longhand.”) – all for a page of 330 words, that is. An additional 25 cents would have gotten you a typed version of the ghost-written text, which, given Lovecraft’s idiosyncratic (=illegible) handwriting, was probably an investment worth its money.

75 years later, prices haven’t changed a bit it seems. Robert M. Price, one of the more original Lovecraft scholars (his academic pedigree contains way more than Lovecraft, of course – it contains everything, it seems: judged by his bibliography, the man must be in the writing process around 20 hours each day), charges for his editing servicesfrom 1 to 5 cents per word depending on length”, which, inflation and all numbered out, cannot possibly be much higher than Lovecraft’s rate. Unlike Lovecraft, of course, he has an academic reputation to keep up with, so his editing rates may be an implicit tribute to Lovecraft (and Lovecraft’s pauperism).


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