An American Editor

May 25, 2018

Special AAE conference discount extended!

The special discount for AAE subscribers for this year’s “Make Your Own Luck,” Communication Central’s 13th annual Be a Better Freelancer® conference, has been extended to June 25. The discount offers substantial savings (even better than the colleague’s discount for past participants and members of professional associations) on this invaluable event.

Who says 13 is an unlucky number? The 13th annual Be a Better Freelancer® conference, September 21-22 in scenic Rochester, NY, with an extra session on the morning of September 23, is a great way to improve your luck in launching or enhancing your editorial business.

Go to https://www.communication-central.com/aae-registration to download a PDF and register today. The AAE password is Register2018.

There’s only a very narrow window for this rate, so be sure to take advantage of it soon!

Familiar presenter names include Victoria Brzustowicz, April Michelle Davis, Ally Machate, Dick Margulis, Chris Morton and Pamela Hilliard Owens, with new insights and topics to share. Adrienne Montgomerie will be back with a lively session on marketing your business. New to the conference are Ann Kellett and Brenda Siler, along with Susannah Noel and Nancy Marriott of the Editorial Arts Academy.

Sessions will be of value to aspiring and established freelancers, as well as in-house professionals in editorial work.

Speaker bios and session info will be added to the Communication Central website over the next week or so. Owner and conference hostess Ruth E. Thaler-Carter has only one functional hand and arm for the moment, so site updates will take awhile.

February 21, 2018

On the Basics: Developing and Posting Business Practices

Ruth E. Thaler-Carter 

Several things came together recently to make me think about aspects of my freelance business that I usually “just do” without conscious thought or planning.

It isn’t that I fell unthinkingly into being a freelance writer/editor. I did freelance writing for several years while working full-time, and one newsletter writing and editing project saved my bacon when I lost one of those jobs. That taught me to have at least one substantial freelance project in hand at all times, even with a satisfying full-time job. But I did reach a point in one of those jobs when I felt burned out and decided I was ready to freelance full-time.

Although I didn’t take what is common advice (including my own nowadays) to save several months’ worth of expenses beforehand, I did consciously plan the launch of my business: I negotiated turning that full-time, in-house communications manager job with a trade association into a freelance contract, along with finding two onsite editing projects. That meant I could start out with a known income and didn’t have to panic about finances, unlike unfortunate colleagues who experienced “involuntary freelancing” by being laid off unexpectedly, RIFFed (a government worker who was part of a Reduction in Force), or fired.

My approach was more reactive than proactive. I didn’t have a formal business plan, marketing strategy, set of policies, contracts, work process, or any of the other elements of what some people would say are important to a successful business. And I launched Communication Central with nothing but a list of conference topics and speakers jotted on a napkin! I would query potential clients — mostly publications and organizations I wanted to write for — and respond to unsolicited offers of projects, but none of it was especially organized, even though it was successful.

I did make a point of joining and being visible in professional associations even before going out on my own as a freelancer. Using the job bank of a regional writers’ group resulted in those two onsite projects that constituted two-thirds of my business when I officially launched my business, and helped me garner a variety of writing assignments as well.

I’ve done quite well over many years without a formal business structure for either my freelance business or Communication Central. Income went up and down over the years, but never down enough to be frightening. New work sometimes seemed to appear almost magically when needed. However, these recent developments made me think:

  • A friend and colleague posted about developing a mission statement for her coaching and presentation business. (She works primarily in the not-for-profit sector, where mission and vision statements are standard.)
  • A prospective client asked me about my process for handling editing projects.
  • Another prospective client asked how I handle deadlines.

I decided that it couldn’t hurt, and could help, to develop some formal guidelines for my business this year. Clients — whether current, prospective, or even past — might be reassured by knowing something about how I work and what my principles are.

My Business Principles

In thinking consciously about what I do and how I do it, I realized that I do have both a process and a set of principles or ethics to guide my editorial business. They may need some further fine-tuning — with each item I thought of, another one came to mind — but the essence is there.

Clients (and colleagues) can expect that I will do the following for the core services I provide.

Writing

Do research as needed for each assignment.

Write in a clear, active, direct voice.

Produce original material.

Quote or paraphrase sources accurately.

Include diverse voices as sources whenever possible.

Check facts.

Editing

Confirm and maintain client’s preferred style.

Maintain (and learn from) a library of current style manuals and grammar guides.

Retain/Respect the author’s or client’s voice and style.

Maintain consistency and accuracy throughout each document.

Check everything twice.

Proofreading

Stick to the proofreading perspective — maintain the distinction between proofreading and editing.

Any and all projects

Be reliable.

Meet or beat deadlines.

Provide quality and consistency.

Be accessible and responsive.

Provide new insights and resources.

Respond to clients promptly, pleasantly, and tactfully.

Track and respond to new trends and tools as they arise.

Continually learn new techniques and adapt to new technology.

Give clients more than they ask for.

Develop a network of colleagues for support in case of an emergency.

Respect and learn from colleagues.

Share resources and opportunities with colleagues.

Process

Provide prospective clients with background information.

Discuss project in detail.

Confirm client style preferences, project scope, rate/fee, deadline(s), revision policy, kill fee, cancellation policy, payment process, etc., before beginning project.

Request information about client — website, past issue(s)/previous edition, annual report, previous publications, CV or résumé, etc.

Obtain full contact information for interviewees and details of other research sources.

Alert client to any problems or concerns immediately.

Ask client before going beyond original hours or budget.

Complete project on schedule.

Invoice as agreed with client (advance and interim payments or on completion).

Do not accept projects involving unfamiliar technology or tools.

Wrapping Up

Now that I’ve clarified what I provide and how I work, maybe I should add something about what I expect from clients! In initial conversations about any new project, I do make a point of confirming as much of the project elements as possible and asking pertinent questions about how the client and I will work together (as noted in those process points). It might be worth posting the other side of the equation to my website. Something to think about.

Do AAE subscribers have written business practices, policies, or processes? If so, do these include any elements not discussed here? How do you relay them to prospective and active clients? Do you state any requirements for how you expect clients to work with you?

Ruth E. Thaler-Carter (www.writerruth.com) is the editor-in-chief of An American Editor; an award-winning provider of editorial and publishing services for publications, independent authors, publishers, and companies worldwide; and the owner of Communication Central, which hosts an annual conference for current and aspiring freelancers. Ruth can be contacted at Ruth.Thaler-Carter@AnAmericanEditor.com.

May 18, 2017

Worth Noting: Be a Better Freelancer 2017 Conference

Special AAE Registration Discount for the 2017 “Be a Better Freelancer®” Conference

Registration is open and AAE subscribers benefit from a special discount for “Better by the Dozen,” Communication Central’s 12th annual “Be a Better Freelancer®” conference, September 15–16, 2017, at the Hilton Garden Inn/College Town in Rochester, NY, with a separate special session on the morning of September 17. Hosted by AAE’s “On the Basics” columnist Ruth Thaler-Carter, this event brings together an outstanding array of presenters and a delightful group of colleagues at various stages of their freelance businesses. The deadline for the special AAE discount is July 1 and hotel rooms are going fast, so be sure to take advantage of this opportunity soon!

Confirmed speakers include Karin Cather, Bevi Chagnon, April Michelle Davis, Melissa Hellman, Ally Machate, Dick Margulis, Chris Morton, and myself. The focus of the 2017 conference includes increasing earnings by increasing efficiency; adding in-demand, skilled services to your repertoire; and enhancing your visibility to potential clients, whether you’re an editor, proofreader, writer, indexer, or other editorial freelancer — and whether you are thinking about, new to, or established as a freelancer. Sessions will be skill-centered and concept-oriented. As always, the program will offer great opportunities to network with and get to know colleagues in person.

The Communication Central event has often been the only U.S. conference specifically for freelancers in publishing and editorial work and is consistently the best conference for editors.

Further details are available at Communication Central. To register, go to the Communication Central  Special AAE Offer and use the password C-C2017AAE for session and speaker information, and your special discount on registration. Here’s to seeing many of you there!

September 17, 2010

A Reminder: The Finding Your Niche Conference

Just a reminder for those interested in attending the “Finding Your Niche/Expanding Your Horizons” conference October 1 and 2, 2010, in Rochester, NY (see A Gathering of Freelance Editorial Professionals) that time is running out to register — the conference is 2 weeks from today!

Lots of knowledgable people will be attending — both speakers and conference goers — so it will be a great opportunity to learn what you can do to enhance your freelance career. It will also be an opportunity to speak — one-on-one — to some of the people from whom you have sought advice in other forums. This conference will give you an opportunity to discuss some of your concerns about the future with some of the most successful freelancers around and people who are experts in using the tools of editorial freelancing to get the most bang for the buck.

For example, 3 gurus of Word macros for editors will be available to answer your macro questions. Plus there will be giveaways that are worth coming for in their own right.

Registration information for the conference, which includes a complete schedule, is available here.

If you are on the fence about attending, don’t be — this conference could be the event that opens new opportunities and worlds for you. I look forward to meeting readers of An American Editor at the conference.

(Note: Although I am a speaker at the conference, I have no financial interest in the conference or in the sponsor of the conference, Communication Central, other than that, as a speaker, I will be reimbursed for my expenses.)

August 6, 2010

A Gathering of Freelance Editorial Professionals

Today’s guest article is by Ruth Thaler-Carter. In her article she discusses the forthcoming “Finding Your Niche/Expanding Your Horizons” conference. If after reading her article you are interested in learning more, you can visit Communication Central’s website. Registration information for the conference, which includes a complete schedule,  is available here. Worth noting is that attendees will have an opportunity to discuss some of their concerns about the future, especially about competing and working more efficiently, with some of the most successful freelancers around and who are experts in using the tools of editorial freelancing.

_______________ 

Freelance editors (and writers, proofreaders, graphic artists,
desktop publishers, indexers, designers, etc.) unite! Or at least congregate … 

by Ruth E. Thaler-Carter, co-owner of Communication Central 

It’s an increasingly competitive world for editorial professionals these days, as publishing contracts, e-publishing expands, and outsourcing continues to drive down prices in some areas. One reality is that we all need to get ready to cope with the changing face of publishing. Regardless of the kind of editorial work we do, we need to become more familiar with e-books and how to compete globally, rather than locally — even if that globe might only encompass a state or a nation. Not everyone has to function internationally, but we all need to expand our perception of where to market our skills.

 

What’s a hardworking, skilled, experienced editor supposed to do? 

One thing to consider is getting together with colleagues (and maybe even competitors) to brainstorm ways of fine-tuning, and perhaps enhancing, an editorial career or business. One way of doing so is, if you’ll pardon the self-serving mention, attending a conference like “Finding Your Niche/Expanding Your Horizons,” the fifth annual Build Your Communications Business conference of Communication Central, a business I co-own. 

Freelance editorial professionals tend to be solitary types. There are professional associations we can join, but a lot of editors, writers, and other freelancers use their memberships only to get access to job opportunities or participate in online conversations. If someone joins a national association that doesn’t have a local chapter, the likelihood of meeting other members in person is slim. At an event like “Finding Your Niche/Expanding Your Horizons,” editors (and other colleagues) from all over the country can get together in person, put faces to all those electronic names, and share ideas about how to manage their business lives more effectively. 

In putting together this conference every year, we look at the tools being used by editorial professionals these days and the trends in how we work — and how we can work better and more profitably. Then we find people who can speak to those topics. Sometimes we go the other way around — we know of someone we respect and find a way to include that person in the conference. We aim to combine theory and practice, in a sense, by offering sessions both on ways of doing business and on making the best use of important tools in editorial freelancing. 

I am confident that this year’s program has something for everyone — those thinking about freelancing, just starting out, and/or with substantial experience in the field and their businesses. Here’s an overview of what we will explore at this year’s Communication Central conference: 

Rich Adin (of this blog) on getting the rates you deserve; Michael Brady on building a brand through effective design; Bevi Chagnon on using Word to go to InDesign; Katharine O’Moore-Klopf on profiting from being online; Karl Heinz Kremer on using Acrobat in editing; and Jack Lyon, Hilary Powers and Dan Wilson in an unprecedented “Word Summit.” I’ll present a session on what it takes to start and manage a communications business, and Communication Central co-owner Kat Nagel will offer tips for effective websites. 

And that’s just the formal sessions. Before, during, and after, the networking and friend-making elements of a gathering like this are immeasurably valuable — not to mention a lot of fun! 

If you’re serious about your editorial business, I think you’ll find this conference to be eminently worth attending. 

Full details are at: www.communication-central.com

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