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.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Extension Course Correspondence

Just received the following email:

Sent: Tuesday, May 12, 2009 2:27 PM
Subject: Question

I was pleased to stumble upon your blog. After earning an M.A. in English in 1999 and being a stay-at-home mother for the last 10 years, I am contemplating taking courses through Berkeley Extension in order to become an editor. I have no prior editing experience. Do you think I'll be wasting my money ($2000 for a four-course certificate) given how difficult it seems to be to get employment in this field?


My response:

Thanks for reading the blog. I hope you found something in there worthwhile.

I'm not sure that it's impossible to get employment in this field, although times are tough all over. But with improvements in self-publishing and the huge amount of website content that companies must have written, I'd say a lot more is being written and published these days than 10 years ago. It's a matter of finding people and companies that recognize the value of editing.

With an M.A. in English, you presumably have pretty good editorial skills already (which I can also see from your email). I'd be curious about the course content. Would they be reviewing style manuals, editing for different types of publications, marketing . . . or just reinforcing what you already know about where the commas go and when you should use semicolons?

Here's a question to ask yourself: Do you think potential employers would be any more likely to hire you seeing that you've taken an extension course in editing? There are a lot of laid-off editors out there with experience. And $2000 is a lot of money.

Not knowing any more about your background than what you've told me here, and not knowing what part of the country you're in -- particularly whether you're near a big city, where the need for editors is always greater -- my guess would be that if you spent the time you'd take in completing the course in trying to develop contacts for whom you could apply your editing skills, you'd probably end up with clients quicker just by putting your thinking cap on and being really creative in considering who you can hawk your skills to than by taking the course.

Because even after you've spent that $2000, you still have to find the clients. It's Step One in either case. The course would be a prelim.

Have I answered your question? And remember this is just one person's opinion. I'm sure you're not going to make the decision based on my input. Check around. Ideally you can find some people who have been through the course and see if it helped them.

Best of luck. Let me know how things turn out.


Agree or disagree? Talk amongst yourselves.


moi said...

Agree with you. She's already got an M.A. in English, and potential employers can assess her chops with a copy editing test and a simple assignment or two. Two thou is a LOT to make up when you're just starting out. Save it.

czar said...

Moi: She's also got exactly one more M.A. than I do, which means she can teach -- an alternative I'd like to have for when the eyesight fails. That'd be me up there at the chalkboard, ranting at the poor students, waving my white cane with my trusty German shepherd by my feet. . . .

moi said...

I'm hoping for teaching as my last option, as well. Only with a whip and a rottweiler.