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

Friday, March 08, 2013

How to Ask for Advice

My friend and colleague Amy Schneider posted this to her Facebook profile and gave me permission to share it here. Her criterion is one I use in deciding whether I'll mentor a fellow editorial pro:

I'll never understand the posts I see online that go something like this: "I've just started my editorial services business. Does anyone have any advice on [how to run it]? Any tips greatly appreciated!" Cart before the horse, and in the age of Google especially flummoxing. Sure, we all ask for advice. But to start there? I wish I had had access to the wealth of information that's available now back when I started my business. I did most of my information gathering the old-fashioned way. I was barely using e-mail at the time. If you're going to be a self-employed editor (or, for that matter, self-employed in any field), your number one skill needs to be ... finding information on your own.

After you've done your research, there's a way to ask and get the information you want: Ask very specific questions, not the general "Any advice?" But when you give the impression that you haven't done any research yourself and want to learn, in a half hour, what it has taken a veteran years to learn (hat tip to my colleague Enid Rosenstiel for that description), that doesn't sit well. When I mentor people, I want them to be go-getters and show plenty of initiative. I don't want to spoon-feed them. If you don't develop the skill of doing your own legwork, you likely won't survive as a solopreneur.



Ashley Brooks said...

This in itself is actually great advice for beginners. I've been freelancing for less than a year, but before I started, I looked through EFA resources, read books, investigated established blogs, you name it. Up until a few months ago, I was constantly answering these generic questions in a couple of different LinkedIn groups, but now they just annoy me. This is a great way to succinctly and nicely tell newcomers to put forth their own effort first.

Katharine O'Moore-Klopf said...

Ashley, I'm so glad you like my advice. I mean it kindly, because I do enjoy mentoring new freelancers very much. But for such relationships to be worthwhile for both parties, mentees must do some research first.

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