Three questions for you:
If the answer to all three is yes, you’re in marketing heaven!
I’m not kidding you. If you love learning about how to do your job better, and are prepared to make time in your business schedule for this continued professional development (CPD), you have at your fingertips all the marketing tools you need.
Here’s another question:
Do you think there comes a point when you’ve learned all there is to learn about being a better editor?
If you answered no to that, you’re in even better shape from a marketing point of view because you will never run out of ideas to connect with your target client.
And here’s another question:
Do you think you have no time in your schedule to learn how to become a better editor?
If you answered yes, you need to make time. Every editor needs to continue learning. Our business isn’t static. New tools, resources and methods of working are a feature of our business landscape. Language use changes as society’s values shift. Markets expand and retract, which requires a response from us in terms of how we make ourselves visible.
If you answered no, that’s great news because it means you have time for marketing. I know – you don’t like marketing. But that’s fine because we’re not calling it marketing. We’re calling it CPD, which you do like!
Making time for business
Everyone who knows me knows I love marketing my editing business. Lucky me – it’s much easier to do something necessary when you enjoy it.
What a lot of people don’t get is how I make time for it and how I get myself in the mindset to devote that time to it.
I don’t have a problem with calling it marketing. But the truth is that so much of the marketing I do is not about marketing; it’s about communicating what I’ve researched and learned.
I love line and copyediting crime fiction. I think I’m really good at it. But I don’t think I’ve learned everything there is to learn. Not for a single minute.
That leaves me with stuff to do. I have to learn.
So off I go to various national editorial societies’ websites. I head for their training pages. I look for courses that will teach me how to be a better crime-fiction editor.
There aren’t any.
I turn to Google. Plenty of help for writers, but not specifically for editors. That’s fine.
And so here’s what I’ve done: read books about crime writing, and attended workshops, author readings, and crime-writing festivals (I live a stone’s throw away from the National Centre for Writing and the annual Noirwich festival). And I’ve continued to read a ton of crime fiction.
And to help me digest what I’ve learned, I’ve taken notes along the way. It’s what I’ve done all my life when I’m learning – O levels (as they were called in my day), A levels, my degree … notes, notes and more notes.
How much time has it taken? Honestly, I don’t know. I’ve been having too much fun. I love reading; I don’t count the hours I spend doing it. How long did the author event last? I’ve no clue. My husband and I had dinner afterwards though, so it was like a date. And it would have been rude to look at my watch.
Is it a blog post?
I wrote a blog post recently about planning when writing crime. I couldn’t churn out 2,000 words just like that; I’m not the world’s authority on the subject.
So I referred to my notes from the event with a famous crime writer (the one where I had a dinner date with hubby). Turns out the guy talked about planning, and told us about his and a fellow crime writer’s approach to the matter. I reread a chapter from a book on how to write crime and found additional insights there. More notes. I read 14 online articles about plotting and pantsing too. Yet more notes.
And then I put all those notes together, which really helped me to order my thoughts. I created a draft. Redrafted. Edited it. And sent it to my proofreader. Soon I'll publish it and share it in various online spaces.
It’ll be on my blog and on the dedicated crime writing page of my website. Some people might call it content marketing. And it is, sort of, because it helps beginner self-publishers work out when they will attend to the structure of their crime fiction – either before they start writing, or after.
From that point of view, it is useful, shareable, problem-solving content, which is a perfectly reasonable definition of content marketing.
Or is it CPD?
But look at it another way. I learned a lot of things I didn’t know before. I can use that knowledge to make me a better editor.
I took notes and drafted those notes into an article. This is no different to what I did at least once a week at university. I wasn’t marketing then; I was learning.
What is different is that no one but my professor was interested in my article. That’s not the case for my planning piece. That article will help some self-publishers on their writing journey. A few might just decide to hire me to line or copyedit for them.
It’s happened before. Maybe it will happen again tomorrow, or next month, or next year. I don’t know. It doesn’t matter – the article will stay on my site for as long as it’s relevant.
Change your language
If the idea of marketing your business leaves you feeling overwhelmed, rethink the language you use to describe what’s required.
You probably don’t consider attending an editorial conference a marketing activity, even though it might lead to referrals. It’s more likely you think of it as a business development and networking opportunity.
You probably don’t consider a training course to be marketing. It’s more likely you think of it as editorial education.
You probably don’t consider reading a book about the craft of writing to be marketing. It’s more likely you consider it knowledge acquisition.
So how about this?
Training, embedding knowledge, writing essays, publishing research, sharing subject knowledge. Smashing stuff. Nicely done.
And between you and me, it’s great content marketing too. But, shh, let’s keep that quiet. I know you don’t like marketing.
Make your marketing about your editing
If you don’t like marketing, maybe that’s because the kind of marketing you’re doing isn’t likeable. In that case, think about what you do like about running your business, and make those things the pivot for your marketing. [Click to tweet]
In other words, it doesn’t need to be about choosing between marketing your editing business and learning to be a better editor, but about the former being a consequence of the latter. Two birds. One stone.
Me? I’m off to read the latest Poirot. Just for fun, mind you!
Louise Harnby is a line editor, copyeditor and proofreader who specializes in working with crime, mystery, suspense and thriller writers.
She is an Advanced Professional Member of the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (CIEP), 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.
'Louise uses her expertise to hone a story until it's razor sharp, while still allowing the author’s voice to remain dominant.'
'I wholeheartedly recommend her services ... Just don’t hire her when I need her.'
J B Turner
'Sincere thanks for a beautiful and elegant piece of work. First class.'
'What makes her stand out and shine is her ability to immerse herself in your story.'
'A million thanks – your mark-up is perfect, as always.'