I’m always getting people asking me to edit their stories or manuscripts but I’m not an editor, I’m a writer. I was so relieved to get the news that no one needs to send me these requests anymore— now we have our very own, Botswana-based, editing service! Mafoko Manuscript Services which opened shop in August 2017. The business is the brainchild of Dr Mary Lederer and Dr Leloba Molema, who I interviewed below.
What made you think a service like yours was required?
We have worked on editorial boards for various journals and anthologies, and we have always noted the fact that a lot of people don’t seem to take care with their work—revising it, editing it for content consistency, presentation, grammar, etc. We were also struck by the fact that often the creative voice is edited out in favour of homogeneity in some types of publications. In addition, young writers often need guidance in finding their narrative voices and in letting small alterations to their English enhance the overall voice and quality of their work. We decided that we would form an editing service in order to address some of these problems. We would like to help people become more familiar with what is required to really edit something properly and with the process of preparing something for submission, but we also want to support local writing, most especially creative writing.
Finally, we were somewhat tired of people handing us huge reams of paper and asking us to “just have a look”. Editing and evaluating are detailed, time-consuming jobs, and we decided it was time for us to start assigning our work a value.
What does the company do?
Depending on the subject matter, we can help with content editing and evaluation, which involves, obviously, the content of a manuscript. We have experience working with writers on creative projects such as stories and poems, and of course we do copyediting (for grammar, style, etc.) and proofreading (the last stage before something is submitted). We can also do ghost writing, translations, and small administrative things.
We are planning to hold editing workshops for a small fee …The first workshop won’t happen until the spring, but once we have scheduled it, we will post details on our Facebook page and on our website. If anyone has any suggestions about what would be useful—for editing, not for writing—they can email us those suggestions.
So far how has the response been?
We have had a lot of enquiries, including from overseas, but many people here in Botswana seem to be a bit surprised by our rates. Because we are based in Botswana, we can charge half of what editors and copyeditors in other places, including in South Africa, charge, so we think we are a bargain. Overseas enquiries often come to us because the writer is intrigued by the prospect of having an English-language editor working from Botswana; others are attracted by our rates.
What have the main sorts of projects been so far?
We have had a variety. Some people have sent us their academic papers. We have edited a novel, a collection of short stories, and chapters from or entire theses and dissertations. We have had one translating job. Mary is currently proofreading a 400-page hagiography, and we have a book manuscript that we are copyediting. So we have had a variety of manuscripts on a variety of subjects.
Are your clients primarily individuals or have you started working with local (or even international) publishers?
So far, all of our clients except for one have been individuals. We haven’t been approached by any publishers, but we expect that to take a bit more time. Local publishers have told us that they are looking forward to not having to send things to South Africa for editing, but so few books are being published locally that we are not entirely surprised that our work comes from individuals.
How much do you charge?
We adhere to the international standard of 250 words/page and of charging by the hour. So copyediting runs about 3-5 pages/hour; proofreading, about 10+ pages/hour (depending on whether the document has been properly copyedited). Copyediting costs about P200–250/hour, and proofreading P150/hour. We ask for a 50% deposit before we begin work. We also offer a 20% discount to students. We can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; our web address is www.mafoko.com or www.mafokomanuscriptservices.com.