Category Archives: Editing

4 Little Freelancing Tips

Here’s the thing about freelancing: If you’re considering it, you already know that you’re pretty darn good at something that a lot of people want. But being good at something is only part of being in business for yourself. How do you make money? How much should you expect to make? How do find clients—and what happens when they don’t pay you?

All these questions came up in a recent e-mail exchange in which I was recently involved. But these questions are helpful for anyone, so let’s talk about them. Continue reading

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How Do I Become a Freelancer? A Grossly Incomplete Overview

In a few hours, I will be a guest in an editing and publishing class at Western Washington University, where I earned both my undergrad and graduate degrees and more or less got my writing and editing career started. Somehow, I am now considered some kind of authority and get to talk about how I’ve managed to fumble my way through a career as a wordsmith. Trust me, I like the feeling. But I’m just confused as to when people started asking for my advice on things.

I think the biggest part of getting started down the freelancer’s path is knowing where to start—and what things to consider. So, in preparation for my presentation, I figured I might as well give a brief scattershot of how I began, and how I sustain, this little career I’ve carved out.

These are my thoughts. They’re far from comprehensive, but hopefully somebody happening upon this site might learn a thing or two in the process. So let’s get to it. Continue reading

Submission Season Bonus Round: Handling an Editor’s Decision

This is a fantastic overview of some basic submissions etiquette. When I managed the Bellingham Review, I’m happy to say that I rarely got any snarky or otherwise rude replies from writers that we rejected. One does stand out in my mind though: “Dear Editor Type: Those who can’t edit. Consider killing yourself.” Luckily I’m the type to find these things more humorous than anything else, but still, that kind of stuff does indeed stick with you.

Oyez Review

You’ve written, you’ve examined the marketplace, you’ve formatted your manuscript, and you’ve submitted with a great cover letter. Time goes by. Months, perhaps even close to a year. Suddenly an email shows up in your inbox or a self-addressed, stamped envelope (SASE) shows up. The moment of truth! What does it mean?

Getting a piece accepted usually becomes the high point of a day, a week,  a month, and usually editors are as excited to be taking a piece as a writer is to have it taken. In that envelope is a publication contract to read and a questionnaire to answer. What are First North American Serial Rights? What about contributors’ copies? Are you getting paid?

And what if that envelope or email is just a rejection? How do you handle it? Is the editor breaking up with you?

Rejection and acceptance are the two outcomes of a cycle of…

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The Business of Editing: The Demand for Perfection

I love this article. The debate around error-free manuscripts is an interesting one, and not unlike a game of Pitfall. What this editor wisely points to, in the quest for perfection, is managing expectations. The ages-old adage, “You get what you pay for” rings especially true for editors working for budget- or timeline-conscious clients.

An American Editor

In a LinkedIn group, there has been a discussion about errors that are missed by editors. The discussion is a great illustration of the disconnect between reasonable and unreasonable expectations in editing.

On the one hand, you have an author who admits his manuscript is far from perfect and who expects the editor to make it error-free or keep working on it at the editor’s expense until the manuscript is error-free. On the other hand, you have editors who offer a broad range for what constitutes an acceptable number of errors. The discussion began with the question, “How many errors is it acceptable for an editor to miss in a 200-page manuscript?” The answers ranged from zero to (you pick a number).

Needless to say, there was a gap that could not be bridged. Authors (and some editors — usually editors who were also authors) remained steadfast in the belief that…

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Does My Book Need an Acknowledgments Section?

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Most clients I’ve worked with, whether they were involved in self-publishing projects or producing content for a large publisher, had a pretty good understanding of the basic process of putting out clean, professional work. By and large, they knew all the different components readers expected out of a book, and what they needed to do to put that together. There’s a good amount to keep track of, of course, and if you’re new to the process, it’s not uncommon that some of those things will be overlooked.

One such element I’ve noticed that authors forget or omit is the acknowledgments section. While technically optional, the acknowledgments section should be considered common courtesy, a way of recognizing the fact that no one makes a book entirely in a vacuum, and that a whole host of people helped you with your project along the way. Continue reading