Saturday, May 15, 2010

Budding Opportunities

So, at the beginning of April, a gal I graduated college with posted to her Facebook status that she desperately needed an editor and she was willing to pay. This gal and I haven’t remained close by any means, but we shared the same major and a lot of the same classes, and we co-chaired the annual pow wow together.

I didn’t comment on her status right away and she was getting a lot of responses from friends willing to read over her paper, but I kept coming back to it. She’s currently a nursing grad student and since I see her posts on Facebook I knew she needed the editor for an academic paper she’s been working on. And because we had several classes together in college, I already know what some of her challenges are when it comes to writing.

Scoob and I talked about it and even though I was willing to help her out for nothing because she’s a friend, Scoob convinced me that editing is a valuable skill and something I’m trained to do and I should charge for my services. Not to mention that I’d be giving up my free time to do it.

So I commented on my friend’s status reminding her that I work as a book and web editor, and from there things just sort of took off. She sent me her chapter at the end of April and is getting ready to send me the next chapter of her paper. She also liked what I did with her first chapter and has referred me to a few of her classmates.

I recently finished my first referral job, chapter 3 of a paper, and that person now wants to send me her chapters 1 and 2 to re-edit because the editor she hired wasn’t as thorough, I guess.

I few things I’ve learned so far:

* Academic editing goes much more slowly than book editing.
* Academic editing is typically more expensive than book editing.
* Different levels of editing should be billed at different rates.
* I need to build time for administrative, correspondence, and revisions into my rates.
* I need to charge more to make it worth my time.
* The definition of contraindication.
* American Psychological Association (APA) style is not so very different from the Chicago Manual of Style (CMS), which I use at work
* The latest edition of the APA style guide is woefully flawed and the publisher and editors should be forever shamed that they allowed such an inferior piece of work to make it to publication. It’s a sad, sad thing when the style manual that so many professionals and students depend on is riddled with style errors, as well as, basic grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors.

Anyhow, I’m trying not to get too excited about all this. It’s not like I’m looking to quit my job because I still enjoy what I do. But this has given me a boost in confidence that I really can do what I supposedly do, as odd as that may sound.

What I mean is, at work, I don’t usually start my editing until after a book has completed the print process, and at that point there’s really very little of what would traditionally be called editing left to do. As a result I don’t think my fellow editors at work see me as an editor; to them I’m a strange editor/marketing/web hybrid.

But I am working on several books in addition to my web duties this season—7 or 8 actually. And I’m doing a lot of developmental work with these books beginning at the outline stage. It’s interesting being on the other side of things for a change, but it’s also intimidating since I’ve never done this before. Not on this scale. My boss is very supportive and is providing lots of guidance. But doing this work on the side is also giving me some confidence.

Anyhow, back to this freelancing thing. The more I think about it, the more I think it’s a good thing to keep doing. Not only is it going to bring in extra revenue, adding a proficiency in academic editing to my resume will definitely make me more marketable should I ever need to look for work.

After all, every city Scoob and I have considered moving to so far is a college town, which means there will be a demand for this specific skill wherever we end up moving to, and if I cut my teeth and get my references in place now, all the better. I just need to make sure I know when to say no to new jobs and not allow freelancing to suck up all my free time. I don’t know that I’ll ever want to live the freelance lifestyle as my primary source of income, but it’s nice to know that I could if I needed to.

Oh, but guess what the very best part of working on my friend’s paper was? The topic of her paper involves teaching contraception to Native teens in a culturally appropriate way and I was actually able to put my Native American Studies degree to work! Although, by the time I’m finished with both their papers, I’ll know more about teaching about contraception and breastfeeding (the topic of the other paper) than I ever thought possible.

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