LFMF: 20 Truths from 20 Years of Editing

LFMF: 20 Truths from 20 Years of Editing

You learn a lot over your career. I had a mentor save me from some of these fails. You can “learn from my fail” too:drawing of one person "watering" the other, helping them grow. The peoples' joined hands form the letter M with their bodies

  1. Look it up. Especially if you “just know” you’re right.
  2. The words “it only needs a light proofread” should strike fear into your heart.
  3. 2. b) And: “this pays in royalties.”
  4. Everyone has different expectations for “editing,” sometimes even within the same client’s business.
  5. It’s a style choice, not a rule.
  6. You are almost certainly worth double your rate.
  7. Never open a finished book. Your eye will fall on the One. Lingering. Typo.
  8. Perfection is impossible, and subjective. Don’t promise it and don’t beat yourself up over not achieving it.
  9. Correcting people — unasked — is not ingratiating. Your editing eye is best coin-operated.
  10. Offering to correct people is insulting. It’s like a designer coming into your house and saying “we could really fix this place!” It only works on What Not to Wear because they give the subject $5000! And the allure of being on TV.
  11. Insisting that wayyyy more work is needed can be even more rude and disrespectful of the client’s needs than #10.
  12. Your hourly rate is not your wage: from that, deduct income taxes, computer & software as well as maintenance on those, internet access, bookkeeping, professional fees, ongoing training, reference texts, phone, website, etc.
  13. You have to invoice. Money doesn’t just roll in because you finished the work.
  14. You need education specifically in editing. That training can be on the job, self-study, or schooling, but being good in English class is inadequate preparation.
  15. Some of the most prolific publishers are found outside the publishing industry.
  16. It commonly takes at least 30 days to get paid. You need savings to cover this as well as slow times.
  17. Open the file right away. You don’t want to have to say “the attachment was incomplete” 10 days after the client thought you started working on it.
  18. Reread the brief after you finish the work. Make sure you did what was asked.
  19. Freelancing is running a business. It’s ok to hate that, but if you’re not up for it, do everyone a favour and find an employer. You deserve to be happy.
  20. Setting aside regular time to work on your business, not just in it, is essential. Like the Red Queen, you have to run just to stay in place.

For more hard-won lessons — and more about these 20 lessons — join a mentoring group via Copyediting.com.

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