KOK Edit: Your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM)
KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) Katharine O'Moore Klopf

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

How to Go from Employee to Freelancer

Looking to go freelance after being downsized? Here's my advice:

  1. Revamp your résumé so that it's skills based rather than employment based. Mine's kind of a hybrid; you can see it here. (Have to finish redoing it!) But because it's not the best example of what I mean, I'm going to steer you to a booklet sold through the Editorial Freelancers Association: Résumés for Freelancers. You need this kind of résumé so that you begin to think like and present yourself as a consultant to be contracted with, not an employee seeking an employer.

  2. Peruse publishers' web sites. You can also go to the local public library and peruse the listings in Literary Market Place. Decide which publishers produce the kinds of books you'd enjoy working on.

  3. Contact the managing editor of each organization by snail mail or e-mail and sell your services. If you use e-mail, include your résumé as a text document (don't use HTML) within the body of the message, and ask the person (a) if he/she would like to see a PDF or Word version of your resume and (b) to send you a copyediting test. Even if you have lots of experience in publishing, you'll likely be required to take and pass publishers' tests until you become an established freelancer.

  4. Once you've taken a test, wait a couple of weeks. If you haven't heard back by then about your results, contact the person again. Once you do hear back, contact the person periodically—maybe every couple of weeks—with a friendly reminder that you're available to handle projects for him/her. Always approach the person from the angle of what you can do for him/her, not what he/she can do for you. Find a way to make yourself memorable. A little bit of humor works for me.

  5. Build yourself a web site ASAP, and include its URL (along with other contact info) in all your correspondence, whether by snail mail or e-mail. You won't attract new clients solely with your site until it's been up for 6 months to a year. But meanwhile, it gives the potential clients whom you're contacting a place to "see" you—something to remember you by. Look at my site; look at other copyeditors'. Take notes on the site features that you think work and on the ones that you think don't work.

  6. Get business cards made ASAP, and give them out to everyone everywhere. You never know which friend's friend's friend's aunt might have a gig for you. Make sure that the look and content of your business cards integrate with the look and content of your web site.

  7. Create letterhead on your computer or get it designed and printed professionally. I had a professional create my logo, and I've plopped it into my web site and into my letterhead on my computer.

  8. Subscribe to Freelance, an e-mail list. You'll learn about the nitty-gritty of self-employment.

  9. Find a mentor. A mentor will advise you, give you reality checks, and encourage you. Make sure that in return, you mentor someone someday. We have to make the world safe for readers! :-)

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Earmarks of an Editor

There's a discussion going on now on an offshoot of one of my favorite e-mail discussion lists, Copyediting-L, about how you really know when you're an editor. My entries:

  1. You review your fifth-grade son's essay and use proofreader's/copyeditor's marks and then have to explain what they mean to your bewildered child.

  2. You order a chime that is to hang on your home's front door and it carries a small area that can be personalized. You want to have inscribed on it the three surnames of the people in your intergenerational household. The chime arrives, and you see that the wording in the personalized area does not use the serial comma. You talk your spouse into getting out the Dremel engraving tool, and you supervise him closely so that he base-aligns the comma and gets the letterspacing just right.

Why, yes, I'm extremely detail oriented. Why do you ask? ;-)

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Running Behind . . . and the Value of Apologies

Got a late start this morning, but I did get in 10 minutes of stair-stepping. Feel those calves ache! At least I now want to get up from my desk several times a day to stretch out the kinks.

One of the reasons I'm running behind was updating my church's web site. I love working on it, so I can end up playing with it all day if I don't watch out. Two of my favorite pages are here, and here.

Another of the reasons was sharing a recipe for incredibly delicious cranberry pie. It's a huge fave around my house.

And the last reason was reading an article about SorryEverybody.com, which now has more than 500 pages and is beginning to attract attention in the worldwide press. Please take the time to visit the site and see the thousands of photos of Americans apologizing to the world because Bush was put in office again. They're very touching, angry, beautiful, and amazing. I want to post a pic there ASAP. I'm frightened about the possibility of Bush's starting World War III. The man may very well bring democracy in the United States to an end.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Climbing Up the Evening

Just finished—puff, puff—another 10 minutes—pant, pant—of stair-stepping! Geez, am I ever out of shape. But I love that exercise high afterward. Nope, I'm not exaggerating. I think my body remembers that high from the last time I was race-walking regularly . . . 4 years ago! And exercising for even a few minutes sure clears out a minutia-clogged brain. It's so much easier to justify to my boss (me) working out for just a few minutes than for a whole hour. And it's easier to get back into the exercise groove a tiny bit at a time.

Soon, the kid witching hour starts. I'll bet you know just what I mean. It's that time of evening before the spousal unit who works away from home gets in, when the kids are anticipating his arrival and are getting hungry, enough to whine, shriek, fight with each other, or bug Mom. Joy! Being responsible for both working and child care, I have to stretch my workday over a span of 12 or more hours, just to get in anywhere from 5 to 7 hours of billable work done. So when the spousal unit comes home and takes over child care and making dinner, I'm still working. I won't be finished till 7. "That's horrid!" you say. No, just tiring. But my kids get an available mom and my clients get work done by their favorite copyeditor, and I don't have to pay for child care. It'll get much easier when the 3-year-old eventually goes to school. I know from experience; that's just what happened when his older brother went off to school.

And now I have to call the almost-10-year-old in from reading his book-report book in the backyard. He has to write a thank-you note to his great-aunt for an early birthday present.

Afternoon Stretch

Working away on the supplements for a college psych textbook, a long project that's gone on since August. In the background, I can hear the music and dialogue for The Jungle Book, that ancient movie I first saw as a child. My 3-year-old likes it; we like to sing along to "The Bare Necessities"—or is that "The Bear Necessities"?

My 10-year-old's school bus will be here in about an hour, and then we'll begin the homework dance:

"Time to do your homework!"

"Not now-ow! I'm in the middle of a [computer] game."

"Five more minutes, then—when the timer rings."


Later: "Are you done yet?"

"Not yet, Mommy! I still have to do my spelling sentences!" [said in a tone that indicates that I'm an idiot if I can't figure that out from a room away]

Getting Started

So this is my first foray into blogging. I don't expect it to be amazing. I'll mostly tell you about daily life as a freelance copyeditor, mom, and person.

Had a doctor's visit yesterday. The news about my cholesterol was truly bad—enough to make me get off my behind and exercise. I managed to do 12 minutes of stair-stepping . . . yes, on the actual stairs in my house. It actually felt good! And my friend Martha cheered me on by e-mail, so I'm feeling like trying another 10 minutes or so this aftenoon.

Ya see, I got into such bad shape by sitting for a living. I edit books and articles for medical journals, and to edit, one has to sit. Before the birth of my youngest in 2001, I used to race-walk each weekday morning. If I pushed, I could do a 13-minute mile. But with a baby and then a toddler at home, I found it really hard to get in enough hours of work each day, so exercise dropped off my to-do list. I'm hoping that if I continue the stair-stepping until spring and warm weather, I'll be fit enough to get back to race-walking. Gotta be around for my kidlets and spousal unit.

Back to paying work now!
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