• Sometimes you need a break…

    It’s been ages since I last blogged. There are a number of reasons. The first one is simply that I had back-to-back edits to the point where I didn’t have time to shift mental gears and think about blog topics. But then in March my cat, who is the reason this site is called IndieCat Editorial, suddenly became lethargic. We got her from a shelter a few years ago and from the moment she arrived here she settled in and was an absolute sweetheart.

    But the shelter told me she was around two years old, so what happened in March was a shock. When I took her to the vet, the first thing I was asked by the examining nurse was if she might be older. They also warned me that it looked like chronic kidney disease, which would likely not be a good outcome.

    After they kept her in for a few days on a drip, I was told she was likely around nine when I got her and that she was now well into her teens. Older cats are more prone to kidney disease, but thinking she was younger, I was completely unprepared. She came home and we had her for another couple of weeks before she finally passed away. It was shocking and upsetting. Especially having to take her for her last trip to the vet, knowing she wouldn’t be coming home.

    Losing a pet can be devastating. I was fortunate enough to have some understanding clients. They were okay with me being a bit behind on deadlines – I warned them and explained the reasons why.

    Meanwhile, I swore I wouldn’t get another cat for the time being. Maybe the autumn. I carried on working only to be called up for jury service with only about four weeks or so notice. This made it impossible for me to be fully open for bookings in June. I didn’t know if I was coming or going with the jury thing. I had to phone every day to see if I was going to get called. As it happens, our jury group didn’t get called. But it hit me work-wise. Obviously, I couldn’t commit to edits not knowing if I was going to be out all day at jury service.

    Meanwhile, I was missing having a cat around too much. I had the food, the beds, the bowls, the litter, and the litter tray. And there were cats on shelter websites looking for homes.

    Obviously, you can’t replace the one that’s gone. But after putting in a few applications, I got approved for a cute little black and white cat. She also made herself at home the day she arrived here. Like my previous cat, she’d been stuck in the shelter for a few months. So she must have been glad not to be on her own anymore. She loves attention and sits in front of me when I’m on the computer. She’s also taken to sleeping on top of me.

    When I finished a manuscript critique and an outline critique recently, I decided to take some days off. Because sometimes you need a break. It was the first real break I’d had in ages. I’m getting back to work now. An opening chapters edit and a beta plus critique – somewhere between a beta read and a manuscript critique. The previous two clients have already asked me to pencil them in for their next round of edits. But I have openings if anyone is looking for feedback on plot, characterisation, structure, etc.

    I’m also hoping to get back to blogging.

  • A quick overview of 2020

    A quick overview of 2020

    I decided to write a quick overview of 2020, work-wise. I have yet to fully assess 2020’s editing work, except that it’s been hectic owing to the fact I decided to sign up at Fiverr. There, I started with one gig that drew in a lot of work: an opening 10,000 words chapter edit. It wasn’t something that others were offering. After waiting for someone to bite and getting the first five-star review, I hit the ground running.

    I believe that I’ve edited or given feedback on well over a million words. That is not an exaggeration when I factor in full novel edits, plus a lot of 10K+ opening chapters edits.

    From the first gig, it was one editing job after another. Writers would try out the opening chapters edit, and then they would branch off as follows:

    • Request a developmental edit of the rest of their book
    • Come back for a developmental edit of a bigger chunk of their opening
    • Return for a revision of their 10,000 words
    • Opt to edit their book in 10,000-word stages, to spread cost
    • Seem happy with the edit but didn’t request another or waited months to rework their manuscript before they did

    Beta+ Reads

    Sometimes a client decided to opt for a beta+ read – this was more or less a beta read with some editorial feedback. Not as much feedback as you would expect with a manuscript critique. This is because they specifically requested a beta read with some editorial feedback thrown in. They had a list of concerns they had. I would respond to those and add any observations of my own, focusing only on the most important issues. Definitely shorter than a manuscript critique.

    Editing Memoir

    One client group I didn’t plan to work with was memoirists. One of the developmental editing courses I did years ago included memoir, so I had the class notes. But all my other courses, except one, focused on fiction. While there are many disadvantages to pricing your services far too low, one advantage is you and the client are willing to try something out because the risk is low in terms of money. I really enjoyed working with these clients. It was a privilege to read and give them feedback on stories that were very personal to them.

    There was one particular client whose true story has really stayed with me. I can’t even hear particular music from the 1960s or think of particular places, without recalling scenes from their books. Their memories have in many ways become my own. People and places from over fifty years ago and the very definite sense of the fleeting nature of youth and time. I found myself wondering what happened to those young people. There was a mood that hung over me afterwards. I think it can be best described by the Portuguese word saudade. Dionne Warwick’s song, Say A Little Prayer, which played on one of the streets, will be one of the tunes that I forever connect to that story.

    One client had published their memoir already and had noticed, thanks to Amazon, that readers were bailing out by a certain page count. They asked me to take a look and I could see that they effectively had three introductory chapters that created a circular opening where the same points were made over and over, delaying the main story. I really liked the main story, so it was a matter of removing unnecessary repetition, condensing some other information, and letting the themes of the memoir unfold through the book. Now, the reader will be plunged into the story sooner.

    Overbooked and overworked

    I frequently had to pause my gigs or switch to out-of-office mode just to control the workflow. Putting prices up also meant fewer people placing orders. I will need to put prices up again soon. I did however have a lot of returning clients. Some with more than one book for me to work on.

    Joined the wrong editorial society

    I made a mistake in January when I joined the wrong editing society. Not much there on developmental editing. Some people specialised in developmental editing, but to get upgraded in this organization they had to come from proofreading and/or copyediting first.

    So, I pretty much paid to put a glass ceiling over my head. Three months in and I just wanted out. I have not applied for an upgrade since it costs money and there’s no way for me to proceed. At the end of the day, it was just not the right place for me.

    Happily, later in the year, I upgraded my EFA membership to full member status. Since it’s the primary teaching organisation for developmental editing, it’s just a better fit for me.

    Continuing Professional Development

    On continuing professional development, I’ve been delayed finishing some courses because of the sheer amount of client work I had. But I finished my copywriting course from the Publishing Training Centre. According to my tutor, I hold joint top position in the history of the course. Or I did at the time I completed it. The course is in publishing-related copy.

    I also did almost all the free webinars provided by the Editorial Freelancers Association to full members.

    2020 heroes – all in copywriting or marketing!

    I’m also getting to the end of a copywriting course in direct marketing with the San Francisco School of Copywriting. In the coming year, I’ll be offering copywriting services for authors. I did a small amount of copywriting work in 2020.

    Otherwise, I started a great course by Ash Ambirge in how to be an fuckwithable freelancer (I should be so lucky). It’s amazingly comprehensive in terms of giving practical advice and listing apps and must-dos for your business.

    I’d already enjoyed her book The Middle Finger Project (which I totally recommend). It also contains a link at the end to another exclusive pdf book called something like, You Don’t Need a Job, You Need Guts. Not a freebie, but it IS one of those things that gives you a kick up the backside when you need it. It’s also about 200 pages long. I’m hoping to do another course with her in 2021.

    I think Ash Ambirge is one of my heroes of the year, in terms of inspiration. Funnily enough, all my 2020 heroes are in copywriting or marketing, not developmental editing. Maybe because my developmental editing tutors were heroes in previous years. But, the marketing/copywriting folks who inspired me include Janet Murray, Jo Watson, Graham Cochrane, and Gill Andrews.

    I shall continue to consume their content in 2021. I’ll also overhaul this website on the basis of what I’ve learned from them. I’m already doing so.

    In the meantime you can check out the following blog posts on the differences between a manuscript critique and a developmental edit, and what you get if you hire me.