Blog appreciation: January

Here are some posts by other editors that I’ve enjoyed reading recently.*

A Quick Guide to Discovery Calls by Erin Brenner

This post particularly resonated with me this month, although I wasn’t familiar with the term ‘discovery call’. Quite often I will have a chat with a prospective client prior to agreeing a work contract. However, there are limits. I’m happy to take ten to fifteen minutes out of my schedule to talk things over for a small job, to give the client a better feel for who I am and what I do, with a view to securing the work. However, I’m unlikely to submit to a longer ‘interview’, or what is effectively a free consultation, for a small job such as a one-off proofread. For a much larger project, or a more formal ongoing working relationship, this is something I’m more prepared to put my time and energy into. Erin’s post explains the pros and cons of discovery calls, how to approach them in a thoughtful and discriminating way, and the way to get the most out of them if you decide to proceed.

Scammy editors, cautious editors, and the clients in between by Kia Thomas

This is not a new post, but I read it again recently after it was shared by the CIEP (which published an amended version of the post on its own blog). Kia makes the excellent point that just as editors are sometimes wary of unknown and possibly unscrupulous clients, so clients have just as much reason to be nervous about hiring editors. We work in a profession that is essentially unregulated (although membership of an editorial society such as the CIEP should offer reassurance; members have proved their experience and training and are bound by its Code of Practice), and editing can cost a lot for something many people are not trained to evaluate. As editors we need to remember that clients have something to lose just as much as we do, and conduct our business accordingly.

How to become a book editor by Rachel Rowlands

How to get started as a freelance editor is a common question, and it’s one that most experienced editors will attempt to answer on a fairly regular basis. This post by Rachel is one of the best I’ve read recently on the subject. She starts with training, which I agree is essential (unless you’ve trained on the job as an in-house editor, and even then it’s worth paying for more). She also covers the importance of reading, especially in the genres in which you want to specialise, and amassing experience. To gain this experience, it’s crucial to market yourself, and she offers plenty of advice in this area. The post ends with tips, but these are not quick fixes – they emphasise that building a freelance editorial career can be a slow burn, and that doing good work and projecting kindness and professionalism at all times are essential.

Working well at home: Wellbeing tips for writers, creatives and freelancers by Helena Fairfax

It’s been a difficult time, and as Helena writes, ‘Most people are coping, but that’s just about the level of it’. There are many things about the current situation that we can’t hope to change for ourselves, but this post focuses on those areas where we can make things a little better – from getting enough sleep, to keeping active, finding ways to relax, and finally being kind to ourselves. It’s full of practical tips from a range of sources. One of my favourites is the advice simply to breathe (‘Take a quick breath in, hold it, and breathe out slowly’) to alleviate acute stress. I’ve tried this in the past few months, and it really does work.

How to stay sane and be productive in 2021 by Lisa Cordaro

I often turn to Lisa’s Serialist blog for wise and calming advice. This post definitely puts the emphasis on sanity over productivity, and continues the theme of being kind to ourselves as well as others. As Lisa says, ‘There is nothing normal about what’s happening right now’. To get through it we need to identify what is most important, and what can wait – not try to do everything at once, because it will be too much. Take things one task at a time, and one day at a time, and ‘We will get there’. I’m all for that.

A wee word about Burns – with a musical accompaniment by Barbara Wilson

I really enjoyed this seasonal post by Barbara on her lovely new website. It turns out that Burns Night is not just an opportunity to celebrate the life of Robert Burns, or indulge in haggis and whisky. It’s also a good excuse to ponder correct apostrophe use! And there’s some beautiful music, too.

*In case you’re interested, I’ve named this series of blog-post roundups ‘Blog appreciation’ after a line in one of my favourite films, School of Rock (yes, really).

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