Thursday, July 12, 2007

Outsourcing English Language

There's a hilarious scene in the irreverent show Lil Bush where small George W. Bush complains about his chores (doing chores is un-American) and wonders, "Who can I get to do all the stuff I don't wanna do?" The answer, he decides, is a Mexican. "Raul Zapatapa" to be specific. And in the upcoming Dysfunctional Family Handbook, authors Richard Smith and Carol Boswell say that you have automatic entry into dysfunction if you have at least one relative who flew to India to beat a tech-support guy (named "Murray") senseless with an ax handle.

It's well known that certain publishing functions are done overseas. There are Australian book packagers, and Chinese printers. But a friend recently told me she just lost her biggest publishing client because the house is outsourcing their editorial work to India.

Say what?

Unfortunately, she wasn't joking like Lil Bush. She informed me that a number of nonfiction houses were--and are--paying folks on the other side of the world to edit English-language books. The language can be learned, she reported, and the subcontinental Indian freelancers are apparently turning in flawless work at far reduced rates than American editors charge.

This news may be a bitter pill for us editorial freelancers, particularly since you don't find us listed among America's wealthy. And it further explains why so many people leave the business to pursue something--anything--that will keep them gainfully employed.

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