It was almost a year ago when Louise contacted me and asked if I'd write a guest blog post for her about my editing career. It was also almost a year ago that a blog post about author India Drummond's quest to find her new editor—who turned out to be me—went viral over at The Passive Voice. Is it a coincidence that the blog post went viral and I have been utterly swamped with editing work ever since?
A year and a half ago, I realized that I'd have to come out of retirement and help other authors make their work shine. I was up for it; I may have called myself retired, but the truth was that I was editing books in my head all along. I just wasn't getting paid for it—and that frustrated me. I wanted to be editing. I would read something that I knew would be better with my touch, and I'd ache inside. I wanted to reach out to the author and offer to help. Except ... I was retired. I couldn't.
I'm so glad to be back. And I'll forever be grateful to India for writing that post, and to Passive Guy for linking to it. That was truly my lucky break; before that happened, I was struggling, hoping I could pull off this new career. I'd retired so long ago that the West of Mars name meant a lot of things, all publishing related, but it didn't translate so smoothly to being an editor. Most of my writer friends had no clue I had once paid my post-graduate-school bills this way.
I'm not one for revisiting old haunts, so I hooked up with my own editor and sought her advice. With everyone self-publishing these days, could I hang out my own shingle and make it? She assured me I am good enough that I could. And, okay, it took that viral post to make it actually happen, but by gosh, I'm doing it. In 2012, I came a mere $35 shy of my year-end income goal. This year, until my unexpected slowdown in late March, I was on target to exceed a higher income goal.
But there's more success. My authors like working with me so much—and me with them!—that they've asked me to expand into other author services. I'm already offering my clients help writing back cover copy and/or query letters, along with a pitch they can use when people ask what their book is about. Formatting services, cover art, and promotions are all on my radar. I've even enrolled in a business course to teach me how to build in the infrastructure for this expansion.
As I write this, I've still got open dates in April and May of this year, and my calendar is open for booking beyond June, as well. June is, quite excitedly, pretty full, and I expect to be working the weekends around my yearly visit to Boy Scout camp, in order to ensure all my clients' works are shiny and ready to go meet their readers.
It's been a long, exciting, at times strange trip, but mostly it's been encouraging and full of amazing writers. The imaginations my clients possess blow me away on a daily basis, and I find I'm excited to get the kids off to school, squeeze a workout in, and sit down and get to work, helping the best writers out there be that much better.
About Susan: Susan Helene Gottfried, known to many as Susan at West of Mars, is the author of the Trevolution books featuring bad boy bass player Trevor Wolff. She's also a darn good editor who'd love to work with you. West of Mars is a real place, but please don't try to find it on a map. One stalker per lifetime is more than enough! Visit the online fun at http://westofmars.com. Maybe you'll even get to meet a foster kitty or two.
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I am an Advanced Professional Member of the UK's national editorial society. Visit the SfEP website for more information.
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