I’ve been freelancing for more than six years. When I first started, my goal was to have projects on the calendar ahead of schedule. I knew it would take time to achieve this goal, but I didn’t think it would take six years. It has!
For the first time in six years, I’ve met my goal! I’m booked through June. This year I‘ve been busy with editing projects since the beginning of January. I’m thrilled! I’m taking a minute here to appreciate that and let it sink in before worrying about what the next six months might bring.
It hasn’t been easy getting to this stage. It’s taken hard work, determination, and believing. It’s also taken sending countless e-mails, cover letters, and résumés. I’ve spent long hours in the library researching potential clients, and I’ve also spent long hours researching potential clients on the Internet. The research never ends.
Research Never Ends
When I go to a bookstore, the first thing I do is open the book to the publisher’s page. If I’m interested in the subject matter, I write down the name of the publisher.
Before going to the library, I use the computer and look for the managing editor contact information. If I can’t find it, I take all the information to the library where I use The Writer’s Market and the Literary Market Place to continue my search. After I find the correct information, I e-mail or write a letter.
Sometimes it takes more than once to find out who the managing editor is or who to send the information to. I’ve even used LinkedIn to help me with my research.
Make the Call
If I’m really brave, I make a phone call. I’ve always done my homework beforehand. Sometimes that isn’t enough. People move or I may not have a specific person to talk to. If that happens, I ask the operator at the specific publisher to speak to someone in the editing department. Sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn’t.
I need to add something here. The person on the other end is just doing their job. Don’t become offended or annoyed at the hostility or attitude that may come from the other end of the line. Consider the fact that he/she may be over worked or might be having a bad day.
It took me a while to reach this conclusion. Now when I talk to someone, I don’t let the attitude or hostility bother me. Instead, I respond with some kindness and always remember to thank them, even if I’m shut down.
So far my diligence has paid off, but there’s no time to sit on my laurels. I recently decided to refine my focus area, so the research process has to start all over again.
Because I decided to change my focus, my first stop was John Kremer’s Book Market website at www.bookmarket.com/. I’ve used this site before as a beginning point, and it continues to be a good resource. After scanning Kremer’s listings, I decide which publishers to target and make a list and begin the research process. I’ve been doing research this way for more than four years.
There’s one thing to note about Kremer’s site. His contact information is not up-to-date. He does ask those who are visiting to send him an e-mail with up-to-date information, but I don’t know how many visitors actually do that. I sent him an e-mail recently about a cookbook editor. It would be nice if more visitors would do that when they know the contact is no longer working at the specific publisher.
I also make sure I have a pad of paper with me every time I go to the bookstore, and I always look at the publisher’s information in every book that comes into the house or in every book that my husband or I read. I even do that with e-books. That information is a gold mine.
Expand Your Horizons
My success so far has been okay, but I’m smart enough to know that one resource is not enough. I also network. I’ve made some great contacts on LinkedIn, the Editorial Freelancers Association, Twitter, the Professional Editors Network (PEN), The Rocky Mountain Publishing Professionals, and the Bay Area Editors Forum. As you can see, I like to cover my bases and expand my horizons. I’ve made it a point to make contacts regionally across the U.S.
My contacts are not just in the States but are also international. I have an ad on the Find A Proofreader website at http://www.findaproofreader.com/.This has worked for me. I’ve been contacted by potential clients from the website and have applied for projects listed on the site. At the end of the year, I’ll evaluate and decide whether advertising on the site is working.
Not Just Local
My client base has also changed. My clients now live in Britain, Belgium, Canada, and the United States. I like working with an international client base. They’ve taught me to respect time changes, and I’ve learned a lot about commissioning forms and PayPal.
Classes and improving my skills are important. I’ve taken quite a few online classes in the past few years. I love learning and the classes help me keep up with the changes that are taking place in the industry. Right now I’m taking a cookbook copyediting class. It’s really come in handy since three of my projects this year have been cookbooks and since editing cookbooks is definitely an area I want to expand.
Right now I do most of my editing on computer. I think only one client still sends a paper manuscript. In this area, too, postings on the Editorial Freelancers Association newsgroup and Copyediting Listserv (CEL) have been invaluable. So have tweets, posts, and links from the people I follow on Twitter and LinkedIn.
I’ve learned about editing PDFs and using proofreading stamps by reading posts and watching online tutorials. I also expanded my knowledge about editing in Word and can hardly wait for Hilary Power’s new booklet on Word to come out. I still need to learn about using macros effectively. That’s on this year’s calendar.
Read, Read, Read
I subscribe to a lot of publishing newsletters, such as Louise Harnby’s Proofreader’s Parlour blog http://www.louiseharnbyproofreader.com/blog.html/. I also read Dr. Freelance’s blog at http://deardrfreelance.com/. These are just two examples of the many blogs that talk about freelancing, proofreading, and editing. I could do a blog post on this area alone, and I’m collecting data with the intention of writing that post in mind.
No Time to Rest
While I’m pleased with my success, I still have a long way to go. Every day is a learning experience for me. I love what I do, and it’s fun to take a walk down memory lane every once in a while to evaluate your successes and failures. If you haven’t done that, do it at least once a year. Thanks for allowing me to do that here.
Who knows what tomorrow will bring. I hope at the end of the year I can say that this was my best year ever. I know that will happen if I believe, do the research, continue to work hard, accept the projects that are interesting, learn from my mistakes, and continue to keep all lines of communication open.
Copyright 2013 Cassie Armstrong