A sample edit is an indicator of many things; the professionalism and ability of the editor is only one factor. The sample indicates the level of the work to be undertaken and it allows the editor to asses pricing but did you realise it also shows the editor the level of respect they hold for the skills of the editor?
These did not develop overnight and it is not something that just everyone can do. In the last fourteen months, I have lost count of the number of sample edits I have completed. Some of them took me a whole morning and others took me the best part of a day, depending on the amount of work that needed to be done.
‘But why should authors pay for what they can get for nothing?‘
The reason to pay for samples is two-fold.
First. Refusal to pay for sample edits signal, at least in part, an expectation that editors are automatically obligated to give up their time, and should be grateful for every scrap of attention an author puts their way. Given that this is an attitude that many of us in the creative industries have to explain when companies and individuals want to pay us in ‘exposure’ and think that the satisfaction of completing the work should be its own reward, it saddens me when we have to deal with this from other creatives. The willingness of an author to pay for a sample edit is a clear indication that they acknowledge that your time is as valuable as the skills they want to employ. It says ‘I understand there is a person at the other end of this email who is working hard to make a living, and they deserve to be paid fairly for the work they put in‘. It tells the editor a great deal about the author: remember they are assessing the author every bit as much as the author is evaluating them. Simply put, it’s a matter showing respect between author and editor.
Second. Many service industries charge a call out fee to cover the time it takes them to assess the work in question, and a sample edit is no different. You would not expect a plumber, cleaner, gardener or electrician to come to your home or to give up a morning of their time for nothing. In my view, creative services are no different. The sample fee implies the level of commitment of that potential client. Even web developers charge a consultation fee, This is not to say that editors should not offer free samples if they so wish, only that you should not be put off when editors do charge for their sample edits. By ignoring the editors who don’t offer free samples you could be depriving yourself of an opportunity. What you have found is not a ‘greedy editor‘, but a confident and skilled professional who knows the value of both their skills and their time.
Two more days left of 2016, and it has been quite an eventful year. In the latter half of this year, I not only finished my degree but have taken a somewhat, though not wholly, unexpected turn in my plans, career wise. It’s also about this time of year where I give myself a self-audit regarding where I am, where I want to be and how I plan to get there. Don’t worry I am not going to drop everything and start backpacking around Asia or something. Travelling is simply not feasible…yet. The other reason is that I would rather spend the money on my kit for Viking re-enactment.
I knew from the age of around 15 that I wanted to do something involving writing. Sadly, I allowed my parents and teachers discourage me. To cut a long boring story short, I am getting another crack at the whip. When I began my studies in February of 2011, I had my heart set on teaching History in a classroom setting. I got keener as I progressed but in the last year or so I have been considering my Plan B options: Open University grading policy has meant that my results were not what I needed them to be to get on to any of the training courses. I had certainly not seen myself as a self-employed Freelancer I cannot say that it wasn’t a disappointment because the same results from a ‘brick’ university would have got me a 2:1 or even a first, but what’s done is done. I still managed it while looking after 3 kids, so yay me. I am sure my sleep patterns will recover soon, and this (theoretically) lets me off taking my maths GCSE. Again (shudder). That said, I am thinking of taking it anyway just so I have that apparently necessary C that I have managed quite happily without for the last 16 years. I am yet to find a practical use, in my field, for knowing how to calculate the area of a circle.
A suggestion from a fellow editor made me give editing and proofreading a go and I am glad I took him up on his advice. I love it and have since set myself up as a freelancer. This means I have the freedom to set my own hours. It has also taught me that I not only need to learn when to stop working and think about something else for a while but actually do it. Looks like I have a New Year’s resolution to keep for next year. I am feeling extremely positive about this new direction. It’s a teaching role (of sorts), just the one I was expecting and I will get to use all my skills.
NaNoWriMo was an eye-opener, to say the least. I gave it a good shot, but I then ended up with a beta-read that I couldn’t turn down. Next year I’m going to make sure I schedule enough time to do my own writing. I have an idea lined up but I have a strict ‘no spoilers’ rule. It will give me plenty of time to finish the first draft of this month’s, edit and get it ready for publishing. I’m really excited about this too. NaNoWriMo gave me the boot up the bum to make a real start on it. The Densewords ‘Readworthy Fiction’ course (available via Udemy) is also proving to be a massive help where printed writers’ guides were not. I would recommend it to any author.
Finally, 2017 will be the year I get my driving license. I have procrastinated for long enough. I will be 36 in April and have decided that now it’s time to stop being a massive wussy and do it.
To-do-List for 2017.
- Finish first-draft of my first novel, (for publishing in December 2017)
- Learn to drive
- Retake maths (yuck)
- Learn when to stop.
Call to action!
What are your top four priorities for 2017?
I have a favour to ask. Would you be able to help me or willing to share my gofundme page?
Since graduating from the Open University earlier this year I have been endeavouring to become self-employed in order to maintain control of my own time and be there when my children need me. I decided upon starting up as a freelance proofreader and editor in order to make the most of my existing skills and experience,
I am currently in a difficult position as I lack startup capital, so am asking for assistance to raise the entry level membership and admin fee. This will help to elevate my business from the kitchen table, to being a respected and recognised enterprise. Membership of this society will help me to get my business off the ground or at least to the point where I can afford advertising because many customers look for this membership when deciding whether to use a service.
The money I raise from this campaign will be used to fund my first year’s membership of the Society for Editors and Proofreaders. Any funds raised over the requested amount will be invested in sfep training courses which will make me better at what I do, because I am of the view that there is always something more to learn.
Being self employed and not reliant on the benevolence of an employer means the difference between my being a slave to childcare expenses and running to the beat of someone else’s drum, and being in control of my own time and my children not having to go without me being there for them. I want to teach my children by example as well as instruction, that they can be independent if they are willing to put the work in.
The timing is flexible but ideally I would like to have raised this amount by the end of the month. To any who can help, I would be truly thankful, and you can be assured that the opportunity this will offer me will not be wasted.
Details of sfep membership can be found here.