In case you are a visual person, here are the notes from NAIWE’s The Freelance Life, from January 30, when April Michelle Davis of Editorial Inspirations was the guest speaker.
- What is your business?
Editorial Inspirations provides independent editing, indexing, and proofreading for projects from newsletters and publications to manuscripts, both fiction and nonfiction. Through experience and training, I have developed my working style: Get to know the needs of the author or publisher and help develop the best writing to suit publication by being professional and pleasant.
- What are your professional credentials?
I am currently the chapter coordinator for the Virginia chapter of the Editorial Freelancers Association and the chair-elect for the Mid- & South-Atlantic chapter for the American Society for Indexing.
Prior to starting Editorial Inspirations in 2001, I worked as an assistant editor at the National Society of Professional Engineers and a program assistant for the American Prosecutors Research Institute. I have a master of professional studies degree in publishing from the George Washington University and a bachelor of arts degree in English from Messiah College. In addition, I hold certificates in editing from the University of Virginia, book publishing from the University of Virginia, and professional editing from EEI Communications.
I frequently attend workshops, conferences, book festivals, and writers’ retreats—including the Communication Central Conference, University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Sewanee Writers’ Conference, Duke University Writers’ Workshop, James River Writers Conference—and I have been a member of the Editorial Freelancers Association since 2005, a member of the American Society for Indexing since 2009, a member of the National Association of Independent Writers and Editors since 2010, and a member of the American Copy Editors Society since 2012.
- Is your freelance business a full-time job?
When I began Editorial Inspirations in 2001, I had a full-time job. In 2007, I completed my master’s degree, and I felt I now had enough experience and clients to freelance full time. Since then, I have been freelancing full time. Of course, there have been busy times and slow times, but I have always been able to keep myself busy enough to pay my bills.
- What does it take to start a business?
A freelance editorial business has lower start-up costs than many other businesses. However, that also makes the competition more fierce because low barriers to entry makes for easy industry access. Therefore, even though most anyone can start this type of business since all a person needs is a computer, to succeed in this business, you have to be determined and hard working.
- What do you think is more important in running a business: your talent or your business know-how?
Both talent and business know-how are very important, and it is difficult to say that one is more important than the other. A person can have a lot of talent and skills, but if that person does not know how to run a business and market those services, then there will be no business. The reverse is true. A person can be a great business person, bringing in a lot of work, but if that work is done poorly because the person has no talent, the person will not be in business for very long.
- How did you start your business?
I took classes at the University of Virginia to get two certificates, and the professors of those classes were not traditional professors; they were people in the publishing field. One class had a guest speaker, and I remained in touch with this person. I remained in touch with this gentleman for three years, and after three years of contact and bothering him for a project, he gave me my first freelance editing job—I was to edit an entire book! It was a bit nerve wracking, but I worked hard and did the best that I could, and apparently it was good enough because he became my client for the next ten years.
- What is the name of your book?
A Guide for the Freelance Indexer
- How does your book relate to your business, and why did you write your book?
In my book, I use my expert knowledge to tackle some of the tougher issues, such as dealing with names, numerals, and footnotes/endnotes as well as going into the step-by-step process of setting up an index entry.
The flow of the book brings together a complete work on the subject matter. Or each chapter may be treated as a stand-alone for the indexer who just needs a refresher on a topic such as main headings, cross-references, or invoicing. Included in the book is a chapter on software where I supply the reader with a basic understanding of each and a basis for comparison before buying.
- What were your research techniques to obtain the information for your book?
A Guide for the Freelance Indexer has been many years in the making when you take into account that I, prior to teaching the Introduction to Indexing course through the Editorial Freelancers Association, earned a master’s of professional studies degree in publishing from George Washington University as well as certificates in editing, book publishing, and professional editing. I also completed the Basic Indexing course at the USDA Graduate School and Indexing: Theory and Application at the University of California, Berkeley. A member of the American Society for Indexing, I am chair-elect for the Mid-South Atlantic chapter. This is an important book for anyone embarking on an indexing career, or considering such a move. But editors and writers should not pass by this opportunity to discover a wealth of valuable information pertinent to their own work.
- How will you promote your book?
The book is being promoted through the publisher, the Editorial Freelancers Association. The association advertises the book through its website, social media avenues, newsletter, and other resources. I have advertised the book through my website, blog, newsletter, social media sites, and word of mouth. And last month, in December, I was 1 of 20 authors at a book fair where I showcased my book.
- Please share with us one social media marketing tip that has worked well for you and that you may use to promote your book.
When using social media to advertise, you have to realize that people are on social media all of the time, and that all of the people you hope to reach are not necessarily on at the same time you are. Therefore, when advertising, I try to post updates about my book at various times of the day, including non-work hours and in the middle of the night. For example, I know that I often work nontraditional hours, so I must also be aware that my audience does too. Just because it is the middle of the night where I am does not mean it is the middle of the night for someone interested in my product. My audience is online 24/7.
- Who would be interested in reading your book?
Anyone who entertains the idea of learning to become a successful freelance indexer, my new book. A Guide for the Freelance Indexer is a must-have read—and it also makes a welcomed gift to a reference collection. My approach to presenting the information is logical and easy to follow. Beginning with the obvious question, “what is an index?” through to the conclusion, where I discuss the necessary steps to become a professional. I detail the nuances of indexing in a way that even a novice can understand.
- How often does the information change?
The indexing standards in this book will rarely change, making this book a great reference to keep on your desk. The section that discusses ways to format specific content, such as numbers, symbols, personal names, foreign names, geographic names, footnotes and endnotes, cumulative indexes, and tables and figures, is based on the 16th edition of the Chicago Manual of Style, so when the 17th edition comes out there may be some changes, but they should be minor.
- Where can interested parties get a copy of your book?
People can order a copy of A Guide for the Freelance Indexer through Editorial Freelancers Association, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.
- Have you already started your next book?
While not working on another book, I do teach two editing courses, and I recently wrote 32 pages of new text for the correspondence binder for Editing 101: The Fundamentals of Copyediting. These new pages go into more detail on what clients are looking for in an editor; various levels of editing, such as critiquing, developmental editing, copyediting, and proofreading; how to determine which level of edit to do when the client doesn’t give clear directions; how to shift from different levels of edit for various projects within a given day; editorial processes; editing rules; and how to handle tight deadlines. Though the content of this binder is much more extensive, the price of the course remains the same.
In addition to being offered as a correspondence course, this course is also offered in person, and the next session is May 18.
Registrants can sign up for the course at EditorialInspirations.com.
In addition, I am teaching two classes through the Editorial Freelancers Association. The online course set to begin in February is Indexing Basics, and the in-person class in Richmond, Virginia, is Editing Basics. Registrants can sign up for these classes at the EFA website.
- As the social media expert, please share how you became aware of the potential values that social media has for your business and how it’s affecting your business.
I am not a first adopter of anything, and so I waited awhile to see what all this fuss was about social media. As the hype continued, and the big three really became prominent, I joined them, along with a few other social media sites. Originally, I even hired someone to help me create a professional look for my profiles on these sites, including a business page on Facebook. I use my social media site only for business-related items, and I use my Facebook business page for only items directly relating to my business. In addition, I comment on other people’s Facebook postings when the posts relate to the publishing industry, and I try to be active on the social media sites almost every business day.
- Is there any final piece of advice that you would like to offer our audience?
Like it, love it, live it. Like your genres, love what you do, live your profession 24/7.