Blog

Freelancer of the Month October 2013 – Laura Donkersley

0

Can you tell us a bit about the nature of your business? 

I set up Editorial Stand in early 2011 as a full service proofreading and copy-editing company working with all types of writers, from businesses to self-publishing authors. I specialise in fantasy and science fiction novels, but I have a wide range of experience including fiction, non-fiction, press releases, autobiographies, poetry and academic papers. Editorial Stand also offers its services to publishing houses and my company is successfully making a name for itself slowly but surely as a high quality provider of editorial services.

Tell us about your journey to becoming a freelance proofreader and copy-editor.

My journey into the publishing world has been rather unconventional compared with many colleagues of mine. Having always had a passion for language, I studied French literature and language at university, which gave me a great grounding in linguistics and insights into highly acclaimed literature. When I was approaching graduation I sat myself down and examined what I wanted to do as a career. I have always loved reading and have collected books, mostly fantasy fiction, my entire life, so coupled with my passion for linguistics it felt natural that my first thought would be the publishing industry and the idea of bringing books to print. There is nothing more fulfilling than seeing a book in a shop, knowing I directly helped bring it to publication.

I thought about going down the traditional route of applying for unpaid internship after internship after internship and going to countless interviews with the thousands of other recent graduates who were applying for the same temporary position, but the newspapers were plastered with headlines declaring the number of unemployed graduates was at an all time high. As I knew my long-term ambition was to have my own editing business I thought to myself why not skip straight to the part I want and so after graduating I set about getting qualified as a proofreader and copy-editor and I haven’t looked back since.

What do you enjoy most about running your own business?

The freedom and control it provides me, first and foremost. I am my own boss and it is a wonderful feeling knowing that the success of the company is a direct result of my determination and will to succeed and to promote high-quality literature and reading experiences. I get to choose which work I really believe in and want to help promote, and I thoroughly enjoy getting to know an author personally and helping them to improve their manuscript and get it to their audience. Working from home each day has also enabled me to have two beautiful dogs who both bring me lots of joy.

What are the downsides to working for yourself, if any, and how do you overcome them?

I think the hardest side of being a freelancer is the unreliability of work. Sometimes I can be working flat out every minute of every day and other times I have gone several days without a single word to edit. This has become less and less of an issue as the company has built up, but that worry that it could all go away one day is definitely ever present and provides me with the drive to provide only ever the highest quality results with each individual client. I also find that it is very hard to switch off and completely forget about work. Every minute I have free could be a minute that I am promoting Editorial Stand and finding new clients. Weekends aren’t really weekends anymore as I may be working flat out on a pressing client deadline and even when not working I am still marketing myself on Twitter or replying to emails at ten o’clock on a Saturday night. Sometimes you do just need to take a step back and recognise that you need some down time completely away from anything even remotely work-related.

The other thing that is challenging is making sure I get out of the house sometimes as it is so easy to get absorbed in your work and realise that actually you haven’t left the house all day. Again my two dogs are great for nagging me to get out into the fresh air and take them for a walk.

How do you go about promoting your business/finding clients? 

I use a fair amount of social media to promote Editorial Stand, so I have a Twitter account (@EditorialStand), I have a Facebook business page and I am on LinkedIn. Obviously I have the website, but the other key way of promoting myself and finding new clients is the Editorial Stand blog; I do enjoy writing articles on a range of topics from language discussions to new book releases, so the blog is not entirely for promotional purposes, although that is, of course, a bonus. I am also in directories such as Find a Proofreader and, having just qualified as a full member, I have just taken out an entry in the directory for the Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP); although it’s not online just yet, it will soon be. It’s also extremely satisfying that I get many repeat clients who are publishing their next novel as well as referrals from previously satisfied clients.

Have any particular developments occurred within your business sector that have affected the way you work or the way in which you are taking your business forward?

Originally I started out with the idea of working with traditional publishing houses in mind; however, over the years, it has become more and more evident that the self-publishing market is developing itself rapidly and becoming more and more prevalent within the publishing and book industry. I enjoy working on an individual basis with self-publishing authors and I think it is a fantastic development that more first-time authors are making it to print and do not have to pray that their book will be approved by an agent or publishing house first. It is becoming easier for people to get their writing out there, although the pitfalls are still there and it is with the help of professionals like myself that self-publishing authors can get their book to print without making these devastating mistakes.

What is your most treasured work-related possession?

Perhaps not strictly used for work, however, I absolutely adore the bookshelf that sits above my desk. The only books on it are books that I have edited. It is really inspiring to look up and see in front of you the books that you directly helped to get published. I love flicking through them occasionally and it is also very satisfying to see the number of books on it increase as time goes by.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working with words?

I often find myself absorbed in language, even when I’m not working – whether absorbing myself reading or writing my own novel. It has been interesting to get to grips with separating me the editor from me the writer. They really are two very different talents and it is with a very different mindset from editing that I write in. I have found more and more that having that separate writer side of me has also helped me to connect better with my editing clients, as I can truly see their manuscript through their eyes. Their manuscript is precious to them and whenever I am going through and editing their writing, I try to keep in mind how I will feel when I send my manuscript off to an editor and it comes back covered in Track Changes. I do hope to be a published author myself one day and will of course send it to an editor, instead of editing it myself, as we all know that you are always too close to your own writing to be able to effectively and objectively edit it.

When I am completely away from words, I thoroughly enjoy baking and playing the piano; two hobbies that require absolute concentration and focus and so are two of the few activities in the world that actually manage to take my mind off my work.

What’s your favourite book?

My favourite book, ever since I was ten, has always been The Lord of the Rings. I have a beautiful, leather-bound edition with gold-coloured ink decoration on the cover that got handed down to me by my father many years ago. It truly is my pride and joy and takes prime position on one of my bookshelves. I also adore Robin Hobb’s writing, in particular The Farseer Trilogy.

Of all the books I have edited, my favourite to date has to be Phil Dickinson’s New Fire and the sequel to that book should be coming out early 2014.

Have you got any advice for aspiring freelancers?

Don’t give up; it will take a long time to get a steady client base. Be prepared to spend countless hours marketing yourself and networking, and countless other hours doubting every decision you make. Perseverance really is the key to freelancing in the publishing industry.

Laura Donkersley of Editorial StandLaura Donkersley is a London-based freelance proofreader and copy-editor. Her company is called Editorial Stand. For more information on Laura’s services, please visit her website or click here to view her Find a Proofreader listing.

 

30/10/2013 | Admin

Freelancer of the Month September 2013 – Kelly Owen

0

Can you tell us a bit about the nature of your business?

I set up Ultimate Proof Publishing Services in 2004, to provide proofreading, copy-editing and copywriting services, primarily via our website (www.ultimateproof.co.uk), throughout the UK and Europe.

At first I picked up any job that came my way… my first ever paid job was creating a CV of all things, but it got the business off the ground. Today, I’m in a position to focus my company’s services on two core client bases: businesses and independent authors, both areas complementing my expertise and experience. With a strong client base and regular work, I now employ a small network of professional freelancers to support the workload.

Tell us about your journey to becoming a freelancer.

My first job was as a proofreader for a computer training company – which in hindsight was a perfect start, as not only did I hone my proofreading skills but I had in-depth, free computer training in all the common Office applications of the time.

I went on to work for a design and advertising agency – starting out in production control and working my way to account management for some exciting accounts such as KP and Coca-Cola Schweppes (as it was), and then Publications Manager for the company’s in-house tourism and corporate titles. It was full on and fun, and helped me further develop my skills and experience in all aspects of business: being organised and self-motivated, project and client management, understanding how to run a business (working to a profit, generating new business, dealing with suppliers and clients, etc). Proofreading, editing and writing were key parts of each role I held.

I then became a Publications Officer in a public sector organisation, which involved producing around 100 titles a year. I’d always like the idea of being my own boss and had often looked into working for myself, so with the organisation I was working for undergoing major staff changes, I decided to use the opportunity to set up on my own in 2004. The business grew year on year and Ultimate Proof went Limited in 2010, and we’ve not looked back since!

What do you enjoy most about running your own business?

There are many practical things I enjoy about running my own business, but the very fact that it is my own business, that it’s successful and that I’ve so many clients who come back to me time and again is what really motivates me. There’s nothing like the feeling of having helped a client with getting their copy up to a professional standard and then becoming their ‘go-to editor’ for future jobs.

What are the downsides to working for yourself, if any, and how do you overcome them?

I’ve listed quite a few areas here classed as downsides, but each one has an upside to it! I don’t believe I have ever regretted becoming self-employed, and only wish I had the confidence to do it sooner!

No sick or holiday pay – once you become self-employed you’ll find you’re rarely too ill to work, working for yourself kicks all those duvet days into touch! Mind you, now I’m not in public work spaces so often, I catch far fewer bugs anyway. Similarly, the days you’re not working, you’re not earning, so when you pay for a holiday you have to factor in the cost of xx days’ unpaid leave too. But, because you’re ‘the boss’, you can take holidays when it suits you and your schedule.

Long, long hours – in the early days, I worked all hours to get the business off the ground; now that it’s more established, it’s not quite so crazy and I have most of my evenings and weekends back. But if an urgent job comes in then it’s got to be done, regardless. I often get a rush of emails around 4pm on a Friday, all with Monday morning deadlines. Having said that, I am far more productive than I was when employed (no cake-related office distractions I expect), and I’m able to work much more efficiently than I did when I first started out.

Being supplier side – I’ve been on both sides of the account – client and supplier – and it is certainly easier to be in the client’s seat. Now, as a supplier, I have to ensure my clients are happy and deal with any issues promptly – that’s everything from queries with a job to chasing late payments. I am solely responsible for making things happen!

Irregular income – this isn’t so much a concern these days, as I have a good number of regular jobs coming through, but I can’t take any regular job for granted. I have sometimes missed the regular pay packet at the end of the month, but, on the plus side, I love the fact that my earning potential is much higher and that I’ve earned every penny of it, for me.

Working alone – proofreading is an isolating job. To work efficiently, you need peace and quiet. There’s also no one to chat to about work, so it’s important to network with like-minded people and make time to get away from the desk and the house regularly.

How do you go about promoting your business/finding clients?

I’ve pretty much tried everything over the years, but I’ve settled on listing on relevant online directories like Find a proofreader and FreeIndex, and using my website and social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to attract new business and keep in touch with clients. The key is to be where your potential clients will be looking for help, and that means being visible online.

What is your most treasured work-related possession?

It’s got to be my smartphone – what a brilliant invention! When I started out, I had a basic Nokia and an ancient PC. I was able to get work in and deal with clients, but the smartphone means I can respond to enquiries if I’m away from my desk.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working with words?

I joined a running club a few years ago as I found sitting at my desk all day was making me sluggish (and a little podgy!). It’s something I book in the diary at least twice a week and have run a few 10ks and a half marathon since I started. It’s a great way to de-stress and, in fact, sharpens my mind as I can think through things while I run or have a chat with my running buddies. It also balances out my love of baking (and testing!) novelty cookies and cakes. I’m also quite crafty when I want to be and enjoy cross-stitching and knitting, but I know work is really quiet if I have much time for either of those hobbies!

What’s your favourite book?

I think, as an editor, that’s a difficult question to answer quickly, as I read so much and enjoy different books for different reasons.

I don’t have a favourite book as such, but I enjoy reading historical fiction. I love books that have been researched and written to give a believable account of a story from the past; pulling the character out of historical figures and events is an admirable skill. My interest started when I was in my teens with Jean Plaidy’s novels and I’ve always enjoyed anything to do with the monarchy or key historical figures. A book I recall putting down and thinking ‘that was wonderful’ was ‘Katherine’ by Anya Seton, it got me hooked on her novels. Michelle Moran, Margaret Atwood, Phillippa Gregory, and Deborah Swift are all authors whose books I’ve held on to. A book’s got to have substance and depth for me to want to read it (during my precious, free reading time!). In saying that, I like to follow a heavy book with a lighter read, like an autobiography or comedy.

Have you got any advice for aspiring freelancers?

If you’re going into this without previous experience, I’d say don’t give up your day job! Regardless what qualifications you have, being a professional proofreader is something that comes with time and experience. If you have some other money coming in, it means you can relax a bit and spend your proofreading time really honing your skills and service. It’s not as flexible a job as some people might think and if you want to be seen as professional you have to act that way. You can’t miss deadlines and you can’t let people down at the last minute.

I’m often asked about how to get into proofreading and it seems most people literally think they get paid to read books. Running a proofreading business is so much more than that – the proofreading is the fun bit! Most of my clients are businesses which expect a certain standard and level of service. Be sure everything you do is as professional as possible – from the layout of your invoice and email signature to how you respond to clients and being clear about what service you offer – and you won’t go far wrong.

Kelly OwenKelly Owen is a freelance copy-editor and proofreader based in Cheltenham. She is also the Managing Director of Ultimate Proof Ltd. For more information, please visit her website or click here to view her Find a Proofreader listing.

26/09/2013 | Admin

New feature – dynamic customer review widgets for your website!

0

We are excited to announce that we now have a range of dynamic review widgets for advertisers to add to their website!

These widgets display the number of reviews you have received via Find a Proofreader and your average rating – and because they are dynamic, they update automatically every time you receive a new review! Here are three of the sizes you can pick from (there are six altogether):

Find a Proofreader reviews

To access your own range of personalised review widgets, just go to your listing and scroll to the bottom of the sidebar on the right-hand side of the website.

Review badges link

 

Click on the purple text that says ‘Get your badge now!’ and you will be taken to another page where you can select from six different widgets:

Review widget selection

When you’ve decided on a widget that will best suit your website, just copy and paste the code into the relevant space in your website’s html. You may need to ask your web designer to do this for you, if you have one – if not, please get in touch with us at Find a Proofreader and we will be happy to help you.

By displaying a dynamic review badge on your website, you will be able to proudly show off the quality of service you provide!

And for those of you who don’t currently have any reviews on Find a Proofreader, don’t forget that we also have a range of non-dynamic badges too. Click here to see them – and, again, please contact us if you need assistance adding one of these to your website.

05/09/2013 | Admin
Skip to toolbar