Here are four resources that anyone starting out in proofreading or editing might like to consider for their bookshelf. Each has its own particular angle and therefore complements the other three. One of the biggest struggles for the new entrant to the editorial freelancing field is dealing with the disconnect between having the skills to do a job and having the knowledge to run a business. These four books aim to help the newbie bridge that gap.
Starting Out: Setting Up a Small Business, 3rd ed.
Val Rice, in association with the SfEP
From the blurb: 'If you're thinking of becoming an editorial freelance, or have recently taken the plunge, here's invaluable help from someone who has done it successfully.
There's information on making the decision to go freelance ● what you'll need to set yourself up ● managing your finances ● advice on how to get work and how much to charge ● and a section of useful websites and books.'
Paperback; approx. 23 pages; more details and information here.
Business Planning for Editorial Freelancers: A Guide for New Starters
Louise Harnby, in association with the PTC
Written by an established freelance proofreader, this practical, step-by-step guide helps those with no prior publishing or editorial experience get their editorial business up and running.
Chapters focus on why a business plan is necessary ● the different aspects of editorial freelancing ● training ● client focus ● getting experience ● financial assessment ● marketing ● networking, tools for the job ● and real-world case studies featuring new starters and successful practitioners.
Paperback and ebook; approx. 125 pages; more details and ordering information here.
Going it Alone at 40: How I Survived My First Year of Full-Time Self-Employment
From the blurb: 'This book is a mixture of diary entries and useful articles that will help you to find out:
Whether self-employment is for you ● how to establish a business while maintaining your employment ● how to set goals ● how to network ● how to measure your social media and website success ● how to manage your days so you stay healthy ● how to achieve a good work/life balance ● and how to dress to work at home.'
Ebook; approx. 134 pages; more details and information here.
How to succeed as a Freelancer in Publishing: The Complete Guide
Emma Murray and Charlie Wilson
From the blurb: 'This book tells you how to build a successful freelance business around supplying publishing services ...
It includes top tips; insider knowledge and case studies ●
information on how to market yourself ● how to deal with finance ● how to find out what your clients are looking for ● plus invaluable insights from other successful freelancers and industry experts.'
Paperback; approx 240 pages; more details and information here.
Louise Harnby is a professional proofreader and copyeditor. She curates The Proofreader's Parlour and is the author of several books on business planning and marketing for editors and proofreaders.
Visit her business website at Louise Harnby | Proofreader, say hello on Twitter at @LouiseHarnby, or connect via Facebook and LinkedIn.
20 tips to help you set up a freelance proofreading business
Are you considering setting up a proofreading business? Or perhaps you're already on the journey. Here are 10 things you need to know and 10 more you need to do to ensure you get off to a good start and develop good-sense habits that will benefit you well into the future.
10 things you need to know ...
10 things you need to do ...
If you'd like more comprehensive guidance about starting a proofreading business, my books might be just the ticket. Written for those with no prior publishing or editorial experience, these practical guides take the new starter, step by step, through the basics of planning an editorial career and marketing their services.
Louise Harnby is a line editor, copyeditor and proofreader who specializes in working with independent authors of commercial fiction, particularly crime, thriller and mystery writers.
She is an Advanced Professional Member of the Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP), a member of ACES, a Partner Member of The Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi), and co-hosts The Editing Podcast.
Visit her business website at Louise Harnby | Fiction Editor & Proofreader, say hello on Twitter at @LouiseHarnby, connect via Facebook and LinkedIn, and check out her books and courses.
In the past 18 months, a number of people have asked me how I went about getting those images of book stacks on my website. Did I hire a graphic artist? Did I take the photos myself and upload them? Or did I fork out for some horrendously expensive piece of software? None of these, actually. I did use software but it wasn't expensive: Box Shot 3D costs $49 and is available for Windows or Mac.
The following is a sample of some of the projects styles I've set up, but there you can tweak to suit your own needs. Book jackets aren't the only option - there are also presets for business cards; software boxes; reports and binders; phones, tablets, and other devices; brochures; and even cans and bottles. As well as choosing which types of image you want to include, you can tinker with the perspective, and with shadow, lighting and reflection.
I've used the images I've created not only on my website but also on brochures and other marketing material.
As with any new piece of kit, it does take a little time to get used to making the software work for you, and I did find it a little fiddly to use at first. My perseverance paid off, though, and the images are very high quality. All in all, this is an inexpensive tool that delivers excellent results.
Once again, I've been thinking back to my in-house publishing days, this time in relation to the advertising we did on behalf of our books and journals. Selling anything, editorial skills or otherwise, in a limited space can be quite a challenge.
Advertising in specialist directories is something most of us do in addition to having a website. Even if you struggle to promote yourself succinctly, you can use the limited space wisely by following three basic steps.
These steps can be applied to any promotional profile you’re building but they’re particularly appropriate when dealing with searchable databases. Most national professional editorial societies have searchable membership databases; the SfEP, EAC, EFA, the regional chapters of IPEd, BELS, and SENSE are just a few examples. Then there are freelancing and business directories like Find a Proofreader, FreeIndex, Yell and People Per Hour.
Whether you've paid for your listing or it's free, it makes sense to maximize your chances of being found and selected. Otherwise, what's the point in having it?
Back in my publishing days, our marketing director would always encourage us to approach our promotion plans with joined-up thinking: first comes the hook, then the pitch, and finally the call to action. All three are connected, and by thinking about them as joined it becomes easier to see what needs to be included and why. In relation to how we manage our directory listings, the hook, pitch and call to action could work as follows:
Step 1. The hook: This is what enables clients to find your listing in the first instance. You may be one of hundreds, or even thousands, of colleagues who are listed in the directory. The types of clients you want to attract need to be able to find you. Using the most appropriate key words is the first thing you need to crack. These could refer to the service(s) you provide and the subject areas or genres you specialize in: “proofreader”, “crime”, “erotica”, “sociology”, “law”, “politics”, “speculative fiction”, “race/ethnicity”, "theses" and “science fiction” are some of mine. Yours will be specific to you.
Niche key words can be effective because they can narrow down client searches; broad key words are important because they make sure you’re in the mix for the searcher who isn't too specific. I would advise a mixture of the two, as long as each key word reflects your skill set.
And in discussion about this blog post on Facebook, one of my colleagues, editor Adrienne Montgomerie, reminded me how important it is to use key words that make sense to your client. Says Adrienne:
... In educational publishing, what I do is called developmental editing. But in the corporate world, it is called knowledge transfer, educational design, and even technical writing. The clients I want can't find me if I'm not speaking their language.
Step 2. The pitch: If the hook leads the client to your listing, then the pitch keeps them on your page. Since you have limited space it’s worth focusing on what your biggest selling points are. In addition to one or two sentences summarizing your business (e.g. “I specialize in proofreading academic and professional books in the social sciences and humanities.”), you could add a short list outlining the things that you think will most impress the client:
Your list might look different; the point is to make sure that you highlight the things about yourself that will make you look fabulous. And do shout your specialisms from the rooftop. There's too much competition to go down the "I do everything" route. It's not a compelling message. Nor is it believable.
Step 3. The call to action: Having led the client to your page and impressed them with your pitch, you should now make it as easy as possible for them to take the next step. If you think your directory listing is so impressive that you can nail the job there and then, add in a call to action under your pitch inviting the client to contact you. If you want to drive them to your website because you think the information there will close the deal, add in a few words inviting them to do just that (e.g. “Visit my website for more testimonials and a full portfolio of works.”).
Even if your website link and contact details are listed elsewhere on your page, writing a few words that encourages a particular step is still an example of best practice; it invites the client to engage with you. In the world of sales and marketing, this is nuts-and-bolts stuff, so why not apply it in the world of editorial freelancing, too?
Thinking about presentation
Another good piece of advice that professional marketeers like to reinforce is that of testing. If your directory entries aren't driving in the quantity or type of client you'd hoped for, try playing around with different hooks, pitches and calls to action. Different sets of key words might be more effective; perhaps your call to action could be more prominent; or you could reconsider your pitch to make it more salesy, more academic, more publisher-focused, or more self-publisher-centric.
Thinking about this has made me realise that I have some tweaking of my own to do in order to perfect the message I communicate in my preferred advertising channels.
If you have any tips about effective advertising, please do leave a comment. It's one of the most difficult nuts to crack, so the more knowledge the better.
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