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End-of-year summary: this editing life

It’s time to take stock of the year and plan for 2020, and this is particularly important for me as I only moved into freelancing ten days ago. What went well for me this year and what are my plans for next year?

It’s easy to scramble along from one day to the next thinking you’re doing ‘okay’ but not feeling as if you’re achieving anything noteworthy. That’s typical of me – if I don’t have my head down working like a demon, I’m panicking that I’ll never work again! Whether I’m looking for work or actually doing the work, I’m always motivated, but analysing what I’ve done isn’t something that I carve out a lot of time for. So when I did this a few days ago, I was pleasantly surprised.

How did the year go?

Over the last year (2019) I’ve done thirty-nine projects for eight new clients and ten repeat ones. (I count publishers, agencies, packagers and ‘middlepeople’ as single clients rather than counting every author I worked with through those channels.) I’m pretty happy with that! Next year I’d like to find more new clients than I did this year, but of course repeat clients are always good – a testament to the fact that they were pleased with my work!

Twenty-six of my projects were books, six were essays, four were ‘other’ (websites, emails, blurbs, instruction manuals, newsletters, interviews and biographies), two were short stories and one was a writing project – my first piece of work of that nature. Bite-size corporate projects like proofreading emails or web pages slot in nicely around other work, but books are still my first love. Out of those, fifteen were fiction and eleven were non-fiction.

Apart from my activity on social media and various forums, the only real promotion I did was a full-page advert in Writers’ Forum magazine and an article that I was kindly invited to write for the July/August edition of Editing Matters, the SfEP’s trade publication. (I was surprised to find out that I’ve actually published six blog posts myself, not including this one, but five of them were posted within the first four months of the year!)

One great way to round off the year was with a lovely testimonial that was volunteered by one of the non-fiction authors I worked with. She mentioned my ‘versatility, keen eye, outstanding professional communication, efficiency and verve’. I usually have to ask clients for testimonials – with my usual British reticence, and not nearly as often as I should – but they serve as a fantastic pick-me-up when they land in my inbox.

Plans for next year

I’m excited about the prospect of spreading my wings, especially when it comes to promotion, CPD and networking.

All too often, time spent on marketing or networking can feel like time wasted if you don’t see an immediate return, but now that I’m only accountable to myself, I hope to look into various other options for spreading the word about who I am and what I do. Corporate clients are a notoriously hard nut to crack, and I still find myself drawn to books by self-publishing authors, but I’m not going to close my mind or eyes to any potential openings in the world of business.

I’m particularly looking forward to doing more face-to-face networking with my fellow editors, who are always amazingly supportive and helpful online.

I’m also keen to set some of my budget aside for training courses and CPD in 2020. I’m very close to meeting the requirements to upgrade to Advanced Professional Member of the SfEP – which I’d be over the moon to achieve – but I do need a little more training to get there, and I have my eye on a couple of courses that would help me hone my skills and benefit my clients.

One major avenue I want to pursue in 2020 is developmental editing. I’ve already started some informal development in this area, and ideally I’d like to complete some formal training in this area too. I also have a reading list of dev editing books that are highly recommended by my colleagues!

This might also be the year when I finally get some printed materials done. I’m in the process of having a logo designed, and it can’t hurt to get a few business cards and flyers. I’ve felt the lack of them a few times over the last year, and they are particularly useful for corporate clients, who are best reached via face-to-face networking rather than online.

As for blogging, I deprioritised it in the latter half of 2019 and I don’t think my bottom line suffered as a result – it freed up my time to do other things – so I’m not sure yet whether I’ll simply continue to be bad at it, whether I’ll make more of an effort, or whether I’ll feel more naturally inclined to blog now that I’m a free agent, so to speak.

In sum

I’m excited about 2020. My successes this year have given me confidence that I can continue to do well, and I can’t wait to improve my skills and pass those improvements on to my existing clients and, hopefully, a whole swath of new ones! I’m sure I have what it takes to be a good dev editor, and I’m looking forward to crystallising that with some training and a few juicy projects for my portfolio.

I feel like I may have been on the edge of burnout for a while, but now, writing this, I don’t feel as though the cure is going to consist of working less. There is no working less on my horizon, only working more, but for me it’s working differently that is the key. I feel energised, not dismayed, by the prospect of all the extra things I want to fit in next year! Despite the variety of work in my portfolio, I’ve never had a project I disliked or was reluctant to get stuck into. I’ve enjoyed every piece of work I’ve had – no exaggeration – and spent every day glad that I get to do this for a living. But I also feel that working on other things – CPD, marketing and networking – will freshen up my brain and help me to work faster and more efficiently across the board. Let’s get started!

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