Looking back: the first year!

I did it! I survived my first year as a freelancer! I’ve been editing and proofreading for longer than that, but always as an employee, so the venture into self-employment was new to me. And I have to say that it … didn’t go as I expected. Out of all the challenges I expected to face, a global pandemic was not on my radar. I have been lucky to work from home and – so far – stay healthy. And in honour of the occasion, I’ve treated myself to some number-crunching …

In the past year, I have edited and proofread 2,794,378 words. I’ve undertaken 65 jobs across 24 different clients, 14 of whom have come back for repeat work. My clients were …

bar graph showing individuals (19), agencies (3), publishers (1) and businesses (1)

… 19 individuals, 3 agencies, 1 publisher and 1 business.

My jobs were …

Pie chart showing copyediting (52%), proofreading (43%) and dev editing (5%)

… 52% copyediting, 43% proofreading and 5% developmental editing …

… but my income came from …

Pie chart showing copyediting (72%), proofreading (23%), dev editing (4%) and critique (1%)

… 72% copyediting, 23% proofreading, 4% dev editing and 1% critique.

And out of the time I spent working …

Pie chart showing editing and proofreading (73%) and other (27%)

… 73% was spent actually editing and proofreading. The other 27% was spent on non-billable work, which included looking for work, marketing and promotion, networking with authors and fellow editors, research and fact-checking, updating my website, accounting, IT-related admin, formatting, training and other professional development, correspondence with clients and potential clients, and producing quotes and samples. I’m sure there’s more that I’ve forgotten!

So what has this year brought for me? I managed to keep one of my resolutions, which was to undertake some developmental editing training and secure some clients in that area. I took Sophie Playle’s/Liminal Pages’ celebrated course in Developmental Editing: Fiction Theory, which was incredibly useful and a lot of fun! I’m looking forward to expanding this area of my practice in 2021, especially in the areas of fantasy, urban fantasy, sci fi, horror, and romance.

Things also took an unexpected turn when a client asked me whether I’d consider doing an illustration and cover design for their book. I originally trained in art and have continued to dabble as a hobby over the last twenty years – as you can see here – but illustration is a different skill! I was open about my lack of experience, but they decided to hire me anyway, and I had great fun working on an illustrated family tree to add to their book. I’m now working on the cover, which I’m incredibly excited about and very grateful to my lovely client for giving me this opportunity!

I’m ending this year feeling both very lucky and very sad on behalf of those who have been hit harder by Covid-19 than I have. I’m grateful to be able to continue working and providing for myself and my family. Considering how many people aren’t in such a fortunate position this year through no fault of their own, though, it doesn’t feel right to be too celebratory. I hope 2021 brings better luck to everyone.


SfEP becomes the CIEP!

Today the Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP) becomes the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (CIEP)!

I’m excited about this change. The SfEP was already highly regarded, but as the CIEP it should wield even more clout as the national professional body for editors and proofreaders. Since I joined in October 2015, I’ve been impressed by the resources and support available. The team behind the change has worked really hard to make this happen, so congratulations to them!

I am proud to be a professional member, and I hope to upgrade to Advanced Professional Member later this year – fingers crossed!

CIEP logo
Copyediting Uncategorized

A dispatch from the editing coalface

a breakwater stretching out into the sea at sunset
I went away to the Norfolk coast for a few days. I set a tea-towel on fire and my mum got bitten by a dog. A good time was had by all.


I admit, I struggle to find a balance between working and blogging about work. The more work I do, the less time I have to blog! It’s time for me to redress that balance.

I haven’t posted news about myself for a while. You’ve had advice on getting your ebook ready for self-publishing, choosing an editor, working with an editor … you’ve even heard about what searches I’ve been doing. I’m currently working on a mammoth post, complete with screenshots, on how to use Word’s ‘styles’ function. But in the meantime, I’ve been up to a lot of other things …

Editing and proofreading, of course! Over the last few months I’ve been busy working on some history and sociology non-fiction titles, a dissertation, and a couple of charming novels – a comedy and a children’s fantasy book.

Training and continuing professional development. The Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP) ‘Introduction to Fiction Editing’ course is incredibly wide-ranging and useful. I’m seriously considering branching out into developmental editing. As this would be a new venture for me, I’d offer a good discount for my first couple of clients, so if you’re interested in ‘big picture’ structural/developmental editing for your novel, now would be a great time to get in touch with me! 

Feeling like a schoolgirl again. I took the SfEP’s Basic Editorial Test, and the pressure was on, because despite the ‘Basic’ designation it was reputed to be pretty stringent, not to mention the fact that it was timed and you can make a maximum of two attempts to pass. If you fail on the second try, you’re doomed! After a couple of weeks of intense revision, I was relieved and delighted to get a mark of 95%.

Attending writerly things. Events, groups, call them what you will. The Leicester Writers Meet-Up is always friendly and welcoming, and on Tuesday I was at the Leicester Book Prize announcement where Rod Duncan’s The Queen of All Crows was revealed as the winner. I’ve also been to the SfEP East Midlands meet-up for the first time, connecting with editorial colleagues from all over the region.

Doing other writerly-worky stuff. Updating the Help For Writers website and blog. Delivering ebooks to online stores. Entering book metadata here, there and everywhere. Updating my directory entries. Creating a new Facebook page. Blowing my own trumpet.

Having a personal life. I moved house. My car passed its MOT. My child learned to jump. I went to the coast for a few days. I dusted off my bike after six years and attached a sprog-trailer to it. I had a good long sleep … no, wait. That didn’t happen. I have, however, eaten cake and drunk coffee. Sometimes even while working.

Because it’s not said often enough – and for many people it’s not true, anyway – I feel the need to shout from the rooftops … I love my job! I get to read lots of interesting things, both fact and fiction; I get to liaise with nice people who appreciate what I do; I learn a lot from the books I work on and the courses I take; even the aspects of the job I enjoy less, like marketing and promotion, provide variety and challenges which encourage me to develop in new and unexpected ways. I can’t wait to find out what the future will bring!