Now that GDU has rendered the teaching gig so outrageous, so underpaid, and so grossly immoral that even I, Queen of Creative Malingering and Dark Angel of Cynicism, will not take on another online course, I cast about for another way to generate the extra money needed to pay off the Renovation Loan during my lifetime.
One of my research assistants has been working for a small publisher of mystery novels. The proprietors are paying her $12 an hour to read page proofs. This works out to about 10 pages an hour or around $360 per book. She says they’ve given her four books to read since the first of the year.
By the month, that would come to about half of what I’m earning per class. But even if course enrollments were limited to the caps the university has had, reading page proofs of a mystery novel would amount to about a tenth of the work entailed in a month of teaching an online university writing course. And now that the caps are gone-well, the publisher’s pay would easily work out to far more, per hour, than an adjunct professor would earn pretending to teach “writing” to 100, 200, maybe 300 on-line students.
I called the publisher’s shop and was greeted with what sounded like sincere interest.
Given a Ph.D. in English, a job directing an editorial shop, several books of my own in print, and 20 years’ experience writing for and editing commercial publications, I suspect I’m a shoo-in.
If I could find one other publisher looking for someone to do similar work, it would replace the teaching pay.
Actually…. If they can keep me busy twelve months a year, just this one gig would come fairly close to replacing the teaching pay. As a practical matter, because GDU has a six-week-long winter break, the spring and fall semesters occupy only about 7 ½ months of your time.
$360/month over 12 months = gross $4,320 = net $3,110
Pay for one $3,500 course = gross $3,500 = net $2,110
Pay for two $3,500 courses = gross $7,000 = net $4,200
Of course, I’d have to pay taxes on the freelance editing pay, and I would forego the matching contribution of 7% of that $4,320 to my 403b plan (in fact, if I were teaching, the match would be 7% of $7,000 gross pay). However, because I deduct my entire life, I always end up with a couple thousand dollars of state and federal income tax refunds. Since I’m putting all the freelance money into savings anyway, I doubt the loss will matter. Moonlighting for GDU, because all sorts of deductions are ripped out of my paycheck, I only bring home about 60% of gross pay. I’ll cheerfully forego the $490 match to the retirement fund for the privilege of not teaching in the new madhouse regime, thank you very much. I mean…we’re talking about being paid to read mystery novels.
A second client paying comparably and giving me a comparable amount of work would bring the annual freelance pay to $8,640 (gross) or about $6,220 net. The amount of work-in terms of hours and of onorousness-would be significantly less than teaching two sections of undergraduate writing courses, and the pay, significantly more.
Let’s see how this works out. Pray for the best!