With summer upon us I’m downshifting a little—highlighting my archives with updates that add a little something to the conversation. This week, let’s talk the editor-ing business, shall we?
✱ I get asked all the time how I managed to put together this sweet deal. You know, the one in which I work from home in my pajamas. How could I get that job? they say. Well …
I’ve freelanced for ten years now; three years ago I was chatting with a managing editor (trying to drum up business—something freelance editors have to do a lot of) and when I mentioned how long I’d been freelancing she looked surprised. “That’s a long time,” she said. “You should tell that first.”
It seems not everyone is cut out to freelance for the long haul. There are ups (I’ve got more vacation time than anyone I know) and downs (which I’ve written about in “You Win Some, You Lose Some”); you need some discipline and an ability to buck yourself up, as Katherine O’Moore-Klopf does regularly—for example, in her post “Dear Newly Self-Employed Editors.” She loves her job, as I do mine, and yet I’ve experienced hard days like the ones she’s mentioned.
Still, it’s the business you want to be in! I wrote “Breaking Into the Biz” as a first-steps post but O’Moore-Klopf really breaks it down in this article: “How to Transition to Copyediting From Another Career.” (I mostly do developmental editing, which comes before copyediting, but just as proofing is the gateway to copyediting, so copyediting can be a gateway to content editing.)
I particularly love this—
Above all, being a copyeditor requires being willing to constantly learn: Both language and grammar practices change over time, as does the technology used to edit.
—but if you’re serious about getting into this business, this would be a good place to start. (However, $40 for a sixteen-page booklet is more than I’d be willing to pay.)
✱ I really do like my freelance life. I’ve seen what editors who work inside the publishing house have to do, and it’s not for me. I like hands-on editing, not all that corporate-meeting-wear-real-clothes stuff that in-house editors have to do. :) I wrote about it in this post: “The Dream Job.”
And Marjorie Braman writes about it in this post: “What Ever Happened to Book Editors?”
A publisher once said to me, almost in passing, “We don’t pay you to edit.” The real message was: “Editing is not crucial. If you’re an editor, what matters is acquiring.” After I’d left in-house editing and was being courted by an agency, the owner/agent said to me, “Remember, you can’t sit in your office and edit.” In other words, “If you’re an agent, what matters is selling.” One thing these comments imply is that editing is no longer the editor’s main function; editing is done on your own time.
It’s the truth, kids. I think it boils down to personality type. If you’re the sort who likes to meet a lot of people, who likes the thrill of a chase, who likes to juggle several projects at once (never bored that way!), who wants to see the book progress from soup to nuts, you should work for a publishing company. If you’re the sort who likes to dig deep into a project, who likes the quiet and the relatively slow pace of just two or three projects at a time, freelancing might be for you.
✱ As someone who works from home, I’ve noticed a perception that I have plenty of free time to chat. Because, you know, this job is so laid-back. (The truth is the reason you see me in my pajamas at three o’clock in the afternoon is I’ve got a very pressing deadline and I just came up here to the office when I got out of bed nine hours ago—and haven’t left.) I am particularly irked by strangers who get ahold of my phone number and call me up to pick my brain about the book they’ve written. You know: next steps.
I titled my post about this phenomenon “May I Pick Your Brain?” and when I tweeted about it, Michael Hyatt picked it up. Turns out he’s written a post called “Pick My Brain,” and he’s got a great answer for folks who want to chat. “Here are seven ways you can get access to me,” he says. They’re arranged from least expensive to most expensive:
1. Search my site.
2. Subscribe to my updates.
3. Buy one of my products.
4. Join Platform University.
5. Come to one of my conferences.
6. Book me as a speaker.
7. Hire me as a coach or consultant.
There’s more here, so check it out. Like me, Mike offers a lot of what he knows absolutely free—in his blog. I do the same. I’m not holding anything back. And I’ve made it easy for writers by collecting these specific posts here.
* Because it’s almost summer and because I am still positively slammed with work (not a bad thing) and because slammed with work means less time to write the kind of thoughtful blog posts I want to write, I’m writing a series of updates to reconnect you with my archives. Let me know what you think.
Tweet: This week, let’s talk the editor-ing business, shall we?
Tweet: I offer a lot gratis—in my blog. To pick my brain, you must get on my production schedule.
Tweet: I’m frequently asked how I got this sweet deal—the one in which I work from home in my PJs.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”