The Renegade Writer: A Totally Unconventional Guide to Freelance Success by Linda Formichelli and Diana Burrell
Query Letters That Rock: The Freelance Writer’s Guide to Selling More Work Faster by Linda Formichelli and Diana Burrell
How to Write Irresistible Query Letters by Lisa Collier Cool
Secrets of a Freelance Writer by Robert Bly
How to Make Money Writing Corporate Communications by Maryclaire Collins
The Copywriter’s Handbook by Robert Bly
The Subversive Copy Editor by Carol Fisher Saller
And for those of you interested in writing fiction (and anyone looking for inspiration and motivation), I recommend anything by Natalie Goldberg; Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott; If You Want to Write by Brenda Ueland; and On Writing by Stephen King.
What are some of your favourite books about editing, writing or freelancing?
Have you seen this National Post article about the demise of “lowly” copy editors? When I read it, the Monty Python refrain “Not dead yet!” popped into my brain…followed by “but deeply undervalued.” This was, of course, after I gagged on the characterization of copy editors as second-rate editors and social misfits, among other stereotypes – seriously?!
Copy editors are far from the only people who think copy editing is important — and our jobs go way beyond spellchecking and enforcing style guides, as countless grateful writers and “real editors” will attest.
Magazine editors: The nice thing about bringing someone on-site is that you can discuss copy problems immediately and in person, and perhaps save yourself time by having him or her enter changes (or sit down with your designer, if that’s your process) – but first you need a workspace for your freelancer, preferably a quiet one. Having a freelancer on-site means you’ll have his or her services all to yourself; however, if pages are delayed for some reason, you’ll also pay for idle time. To ensure you have help when you need it, book your freelancer a few weeks or months in advance. Good ones are in high demand!
If you’re asking a freelancer to read copy before production – pre-layout, as Word documents – having him or her on-site probably isn’t necessary, as there is less urgency and the work is likely more spread out, time-wise. As long as you’re both comfortable using Word’s “track changes” feature, it’s a reliable, straightforward tool for providing detailed feedback from a distance.
Freelancers: You might find that you look forward to working on-site – I like how it offers variety to my routine, interaction with colleagues, and a chance to briefly feel like part of a magazine staff again. If you’re a real creature of habit, though, it could take some getting used to; you’ll be on someone else’s schedule, and you won’t have much control over your working environment (noise, distractions, interruptions). Other factors for freelancers to consider: travel time and expenses (not billable) and having to dig out your office attire!
For me, the main disadvantage is that I have to put other projects on hold or do them at night and on weekends. On a typical day at my home office, I’m shepherding multiple writing or editing projects to completion, and that’s not feasible when working on-site, even if there’s down time. Aside from replying to a few emails or making a quick call, it’s simply awkward to do one client’s work at another client’s office.
Is it challenging to juggle multiple projects? Sometimes, although I’m careful not to overbook myself. It would be nice to devote one to two weeks out of each month exclusively to a magazine, but I can’t afford to turn down all other projects, especially if the publication’s schedule is a moving target or the articles come to me in a sporadic fashion. Magazine copy editing offers steady work, but pay rates tend to top out at about $35 per hour plus HST. It’s not minimum wage, but it also hasn’t increased in the 10 years I’ve been copy editing – the only thing that’s gone up is the sales tax. Meanwhile, the cost of running a freelance business has crept upwards. I love magazines, but I have to limit the number of publications I copy edit for.
Having off-site freelancers has its pros and cons too — we’ll look at that next time!
From time to time, I’ll post links to articles and blog posts that I think are worth sharing.
Tammy Burns, associate editor, web, at Benefits Canada, on why writers should learn editing skills.
Freelance Folder’s Lexi Rodrigo lists the pros and cons of partnering up with other freelancers.
“Ten Mindful Ways to Use Social Media” from Lori Deschene (@tinybuddha).
Copyediting.com rounds up its nine favourite tips of 2011.
Carol Saller’s guide to quoting people – it’s about more than just accuracy.
Krystal Yee, writer for the Toronto Star’s Moneyville, points out credit card fees you could incur while travelling.