What It Is (posts below left; rate sheet, client list, other stuff below right)

My name is Bob Land. I am a full-time freelance editor and proofreader, and occasional indexer. This blog is my website.

You'll find my rate sheet and client list here, as well as musings on the life of a freelancer; editing, proofreading, and indexing concerns and issues; my ongoing battles with books and production; and the occasional personal revelation.

Feel free to contact me directly with additional questions: landondemand@gmail.com.

Thanks for visiting. Leave me a comment. Come back often.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Becoming a freelance editor; becoming a freelance proofreader; becoming a freelance indexer, Part 1 -- getting into freelancing


I’ve spent almost all of my blogging energy talking about what it’s like to be a freelance editor/proofreader/indexer. Now’s the time to talk about the journey into freelancing. All I can give you is my perspective. I can’t speak for anyone else’s experience.

What’s prompted this first of a number of posts are two emails I’ve received in the last few days:

Hi Bob.
My name is xxx and I am a freelance copyeditor/proofreader.
I am having a very hard time finding employment. I have a Bachelor's degree in education and have worked (freelance) with an educational publishing company for three years. I have also worked with two book publishers for 2 additional years. I have excellent references, a proven work ethic, etc. I have been turned down by Demand Studios and others I seldom get a response from. I have been accepted by many others but rarely receive a project. What's the catch? It seems like I spend a tremendous amount of time searching for jobs but to no avail.
Do you have any suggestions?
Thank you,

Hello Bob,
First, I would like to thank you for your blog. I stumbled across it while searching for information on Demand Studios and found your comments helpful.
I recently graduated with a B.A. in English and have been working in the “real world” for a little over two years now. In order to get a job in my field, I was forced to move five hours away from my family and fiancé. Now I work as an editor for a PR company, but my goal is to become freelance.
Can you offer me any advice on how to start out as a freelance editor? Am I being naïve to even consider going freelance with so little work experience?
I appreciate your time!
Thank you,

Both of these correspondents possess actual work experience, which is a plus. As I think I mentioned early in my blogging, I finally grew so tired of Tere (my wife) telling me that so-and-so heard about what I do, and they want to get into my line of work. What were their qualifications? Well, they were always catching errors in menus or in church bulletins or in the newspaper, so they figured they’d make good proofreaders.

Any maybe they would. And maybe, to delve into the vernacular, if my aunt had testicles, she’d be my uncle.

Being an armchair editor/proofreader is easy. (As far as I know, there are no armchair indexers. If there are, it’s time to get back on your medication.) Especially these days, when every sap with a keyboard fancies perself as a graphic designer and a typesetter, it’s easy to find mistakes in menus and bulletins and such because you have amateurs setting the copy.

(I’m realizing I'm going to go on like this for hours, but it’s what the times demand. I'll break this up into a number of different posts.)

A very dear friend of mine is an editor and writer who always seemed baffled when I tried to help a newcomer. What amazed him was that the first question out of my mouth wasn’t, “What experience do you have?” My first reaction to the newcomer was always more along the lines of “Go to this book, write this kind of letter, look for these kinds of companies.” But he was absolutely right. I don’t think I’d mind being a long-haul truck driver. At least one thing is keeping me from doing so. I can only drive an automatic transmission car. I have no illusions that a trucking company would have any use for me. I have no experience.

But these two people do have experience -- some, anyway. And that’s a good start. Where to go from there?

Coming up next: what is a realistic expectation for being a full-time freelancer?


moi said...

Moi's advice on how to find work as a freelance editor?

Answer: Become a plumber.

czar said...

Now, Moi, don't scare off the young'uns. We were young once, too. Although I wish I did know something about plumbing . . . or about anything else.

moi said...

Right O. The only other skill I can shill is my ability to type 90wpm. And tell you if your ass looks fat in those pants.