April Michelle Davis led her workshop at the Virginia Press Women spring conference held in Farmville, Virginia, on Working with a Freelance Editor: The Editorial Process. The workshop was inspired and designed by April Michelle from real-world experiences throughout her career. April Michelle captured the essence of the spirit of the conference and attendees in the way that she presented the material and how she relayed it to each story. April Michelle was available throughout the two-day event, getting to know the attendees, familiarizing herself with their type of work, and making helpful suggestions on how to increase productivity and creativity.
April Michelle Davis participated in her third Celebrate with a Book author book fair, which was held Saturday, December 14, 2013, at Regency Square Mall, in Richmond, Virginia.
What was different about this group of local authors was that each one had written and published one or two books. From this experience, these authors realized the value of working with a professional editor such as April Michelle Davis. Many of these authors gravitated toward April Michelle and expressed concerns of embarrassment and dissatisfaction with their publishers. Their books had been published with spelling mistakes, inconsistencies in the sentence structure, and even errors in the overall flow of the plot. These errors affected the integrity of their books and more importantly the integrity of the authors. These errors should have been found and corrected.
April Michelle personally reads every word of every manuscript her company is hired to work on.
April Michelle Davis, a highly regarded editor in the industry, presented her workshop Working with an Editor: The Editing Process to the Agile Writers group on December 2, 2013. The group comprised new and experienced writers who desired to write a better first draft for a novel.
The eager writers were excited to hear April Michelle’s words of wisdom, which brought forth an interactive exchange of information tailored to the writers’ needs, but geared to draw out other questions and topics that the others would relate to their own writing experiences. As the audience participation increased, the dimensions of the topic encompassed everyone and the power of the educated and experienced speaker, April Michelle, produced a time of new and renewed resolutions, a truly motivational experience.
April Michelle Davis was the featured editor on the floor at the James River Writers Conference held on October 19 and 20, 2013. April Michelle was available for in-person editing and publishing consultations.
At the conference, an author approached April Michelle looking for an editor that would personally take the time to get to know his style before taking on the project. This author had already written several books and was unhappy with the editors he had worked with because to him they were neither personable nor flexible enough to allow the time to familiarize themselves with his style before making recommendations for his manuscript. April Michelle introduced herself to him by saying, “The intent of the author is always kept in mind—from the first word to well beyond the end,” which she proudly states on the Editorial Inspirations website. April Michelle listened intently to his explanation of his needs for his manuscript, then she injected her philosophy into the conversation, and before the author left, they had made an appointment to talk again.
After another author shared the difficulties he had experienced self-publishing his first book, April Michelle gave him some tips on how self-publishing would work well for his second book. This in-person one-on-one meeting allowed April Michelle to delve into the author’s situation and show him how he could overcome the problems that had left him feeling that his options were limited for his second book. The author told April Michelle that he appreciated her knowledge of the subject and would re-think self-publishing.
The value of in-person editing and publishing consultations was realized by these two authors as they left feeling that their needs were understood and that April Michelle could provide them with the professional services that they had been seeking.
April Michelle’s presence was warmly received at an event that offered so many opportunities for writers and authors.
April Michelle Davis of Editorial Inspirations led the workshop “Working with an Editor: The Editing Process” at the Hanover Book Festival on August 10, 2013. April Michelle designed the workshop with authors in mind, but professional editors also found it valuable. The workshop highlighted the editorial process, how to select an editor, and what can be expected from working with an experienced editor. The process of finding an editor can be intimidating, and finding an editor with the appropriate level of skill set can present an even bigger challenge. Stay tuned for future audio availability of an excerpt from the workshop.
In addition to holding the workshop, April Michelle offered mini-conferences, where she critiqued the first 1,000 words of manuscripts and provided 10-minute consultations for authors.
While at the book festival, April Michelle met over 40 authors who had booths at the event, plus many more people who stopped by her table.
April Michelle Davis was interviewed and quoted in the book When Talent Isn’t Enough: Business Basics for the Creatively Inclined: For Creative Professionals, Including . . . Artists, Writers, Designers, Bloggers . . . to Freelance or Run Their Own Business.
The author, Kristen Fischer, recognized April Michelle as a prime example of a freelancer who is building a business around her talents. As the old adage says, timing is everything. April Michelle was busy with freelance work so she and her husband determined how much money was needed to make it into a full-time profession. Together, they came up with a minimum and April Michelle has successfully obtained or exceeded it since.
In addition to willingly provide candid insight into launching and managing her own business, April Michelle is sincerely interested in helping other freelancers succeed by sharing both what has worked for her and what has not worked for her. You may contact April Michelle with questions or comments.
Karen A. Chase, has won three independent book publishing awards in two competitions for her first book, Bonjour 40: A Paris Travel Log (40 years. 40 days. 40 seconds.). In both competitions, her self-published book competed against small- to mid-sized independent publishers, university and museum presses, and corporations that publish fewer than 50 titles a year.
Bonjour 40 won an IPPY Silver Medal for best Travel Essay in the Independent Book Publishers Award, and in the 2013 Next Generation Indie Book Awards it won a Winners Medal for Best Design Non-fiction, and a Finalist Medal for Best Travel/Travel Guide.
Chase said, “To see self-published books winning alongside books produced by traditional independent publishing houses, is a wonderful statement that the stigma of self-publishing is changing. Self-published authors are striving to create books with a professional level of writing, editing, design, and production. These awards help provide industry recognition for our efforts.”
Entirely self-published, Bonjour 40 was written, designed, and published by Chase and includes 132 full-color pages with over 100 of her own professional photographs. She worked with April Michelle Davis of Editorial Inspirations to professionally edit the manuscript.
Social Media Marketing Expert April Michelle Davis took part in a Facebook discussion in January on the importance of branding. As a follow up to this discussion, Karen S. Elliot wrote an article about it for the Word Shark and quoted April Michelle on February 3 in a blog entry titled “What Is Branding?”
Branding is the recognizable characteristics that represent you and your business. April Michelle expresses it as, “My website, business card, print materials, and everything about my company has the same colors, fonts, look, and feel.” April Michelle’s brand provides a consistent message through the colors, fonts, look, and feel that flows to her newsletter, Facebook pages, and blog.
But branding is not just about what you can see, it also represents what you value. Yes, branding is tangible yet also intangible. Branding is your word, as in the promise you make to your clients to provide them with a superior product—and the clients’ expectations. It is your public image, your reputation, that follows you in all you do. Your branding is out there for all to see and make judgments.
All publishing professionals, freelancers, authors, and publishers, should guard their brands, because the effect of a brand can make or break your business. And freelancers should take into consideration the scope of the project before taking it on, because once a brand has been tarnished it may be difficult to rebuild.
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.
April Michelle was recently a guest on the National Association for Independent Writers and Editors’ The Freelance Life for a book chat. Where she spoke about her new book, A Guide for the Freelance Indexer. April Michelle’s book reads like an instruction guide to indexing. Do not be mislead, it is not just for indexers, but for writers and publishers to use as a reference when judging a good index. During the book chat, April Michelle also spoke about the business of freelance indexing, the process of becoming a successful freelance editor and indexer, professional development, and social media marketing.
April Michelle, named NAIWE’s Social Media Marketing Expert, initially promoted her book solely online. She uses Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other forms of social media as promotional avenues for her editorial services, as well as her classes and speaking engagements, and as touch points with potential clients. April Michelle draws on social media to successfully reach the social media market. Through the use of social media, her website, and blog, April Michelle has optimized her web presence. For example, Google “april michelle davis” and you will find that nearly every result on the first page is about her or Google “editor indexer” and the first result is about April Michelle.
As April Michelle has experienced, becoming a successful freelancer takes hard work, but it also takes business know-how such as how to use social media beneficially. April Michelle shares some of these techniques in her course Editing 101: The Fundamentals of Copyediting. To hear April Michelle’s Book Chat on The Freelance Life, the live audio conference was recorded for your convenience.