Tag Archives: publishers

Why should I train?

SfEP logoGood-quality training is an investment, and whether you’re just starting out and trying to figure out how to spend a limited budget, or you’ve been working for a while, it can be hard to know what you need. You might even question whether you need it at all.

Here are some reasons why editorial training is essential, though – whatever stage you are at in your career.

I learnt on the job, and my clients are happy. Why should I bother?

Perhaps you worked in-house before going freelance, or you built your freelance business from scratch with a natural aptitude and a handful of reference books. You may reach a point where you’re producing work that is consistently good enough for a few repeat clients. Everyone’s happy.

But ask yourself honestly – would you have the confidence and the skills to move outside your comfort zone? The chances are there’s plenty you don’t know. (You might not even realise you don’t know it!) Good-quality editorial training will cover a range of material, giving you the knowledge you need to tackle more diverse work.

Even on more familiar ground, sooner or later you will come across a really intractable problem. (If you have not yet done so, you’ve been lucky.) Extra skills will help you define more accurately what the problem is, and that’s a crucial step towards solving it.

I’m not interested in working in academic publishing, so will the training be relevant?

These days, plenty of editors don’t work for traditional publishers. They may work for businesses, charities, government departments, self-publishers, students … and the list goes on. They probably work exclusively on screen. Yet quite a lot of editorial training starts with the skills required to work for publishers – sometimes even on paper. So is this kind of training more widely applicable?

The answer is that it is. You never know when a client will ask you to work on hard copy (so those proofreading marks needn’t be wasted). Another point to consider is that academic publishing probably encompasses more of the conventions of editorial work than any other genre. Even if you don’t use all the principles all the time in your everyday work, you’ll have the tools at your disposal when you do need them.

I’ve got plenty of clients without needing to demonstrate any professional affiliation; will training be a waste of money?

One argument for basic training, or continued professional development (CPD) later on, is that it can help you upgrade your membership of professional associations. For example, to become an Intermediate, Professional or Advanced Professional Member of the Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP), you will need to show evidence of experience and training.

If you’ve got enough work already, you might question the need to go down this route. Your clients know what you can do already, after all. The first rule of freelancing, though, is not to depend on one client for all your work – or even two or three. This is because companies are taken over or go out of business, move their editorial work offshore or change their business model or way of working. The way to build a sustainable business is to have a range of clients – and one way to appeal to them is to show, through your professional credentials, that you are committed to training and CPD. Training may mean a financial outlay now, but look on it as insuring yourself against dry spells in future.

If I need to know something I look it up online, or ask a colleague. Do I still need extra training?

These ways of finding things out are extremely useful (the SfEP forums are considered by many to be one of the main benefits of membership). However, they are best for fixing specific problems. Training gives you a broader grounding, and you’ll know better what questions to ask to improve your practice further.

Remember that technology changes rapidly, too. If the first you hear about this is when your main client sends a form email about ‘improved workflow processes’, you’ll have to scramble to catch up; all of a sudden your hourly rate will plummet. Training can help you see the big picture and stay ahead of the game.

I’m too busy to train. Why should I take time out of paid work to do it?

You’re established, you’re getting plenty of work most of the time, and you can get through it quickly enough to earn what you need. However, you may be surprised at how much efficiency you can introduce to your practice simply by picking up new skills. It could make quite a difference to your hourly rate, for example (or simply save you having to do lots of very repetitive and boring things). You could find you very quickly make up for any time you felt you ‘lost’ to training.

I can keep my skills up to date through my work, so training is unnecessary, isn’t it?

It’s true that learning on the job is a vital part of successful editorial freelancing, and the SfEP believes that this is as important as training, which is why you will also need experience to upgrade your membership.

However, training can fill in the gaps in your knowledge, however long you have been working. Just because one client wants something done a particular way, it doesn’t mean it’s the right way, or the only way. And just because you have your own trusted approaches to various tasks, it doesn’t mean they can’t be improved. Editorial training should be something you return to throughout your career.

You can find out more about the training offered by the SfEP in the training section of our website.

Liz Jones SfEP marketing and PR directorLiz Jones is the SfEP marketing and PR director.

 

Proofread by SfEP entry-level member Karen Pickavance.

Six reasons to go to the London Book Fair

London Book Fair logoYou could argue that the London Book Fair (like other international book fairs) is not aimed at freelance editors or proofreaders, and therefore it might seem a waste to take valuable time out of a busy schedule to attend. But here are some really good reasons to give it a go.

  1. If you’re interested in books (and of course not all editorial professionals these days are), it is one of the events on the global publishing calendar. OK, so perhaps you won’t personally be brokering any six-figure deals, but there’s something to be said for at least being in the building while it all goes on. And if you want to be really meta about the whole thing, you can follow it on Twitter while you’re there.
  2. It’s a good opportunity to get in touch with your publishing contacts, see if they’re going to the fair, and arrange to meet. Although most of our business tends to be conducted electronically, there’s nothing like putting a face to a name for cementing a working relationship – and having a few appointments lined up will help to give structure to your day.
  3. As well as potential clients, the book fair can be an opportunity to get together with friends and colleagues. Find some other freelancers to travel with, or meet for coffee. The fair can also seem less daunting if you have someone to walk round with.
  4. Don’t be put off by the fact that much of the business of the fair is about selling rights. It’s also a fantastic opportunity to see the direction different publishers are taking, by looking at their stands. As a freelance, you will be fairly free to nose around, though some areas of the stands will be reserved for meetings. (However, if your badge makes it clear you are affiliated with a particular company, you may get a frosty reception at competitors’ stands)
  5. There are lots of seminars and other scheduled events at the fair, details of which you can find in advance on the website. You won’t be able to see everything, but it’s worth finding a few things to attend that particularly interest you. They’re included in the entry price – and who knows what you’ll find out?
  6. If you are brave, you may be able to make new contacts, which could lead to new work streams. This approach isn’t for everyone, but if you feel up to trying it, go for it! Don’t feel bad if you’re not comfortable doing this, though. There’s plenty more to the book fair.

If you do decide to take the plunge and go this year, here are some tips to help you get the most out of the day:

  • Don’t try to see everything – there’s simply too much, especially if you’re only going for a day, and some stands and seminars will be more interesting to you than others. It’s worth spending time identifying what you’d most like to see before you dive in.
  • Wear comfortable shoes. The book fair covers a huge area, and you’ll be doing a lot of walking. For the same reason, try to carry as little as possible. Do you really need that laptop? If not, leave it behind.
  • If you’re planning to meet someone, make sure you take their mobile number with you, as it’s easy to miss people or get waylaid (or lost) once inside. Also, try to make sure you have some idea what they look like.
  • Don’t forget that professional and advanced professional SfEP members can get a discounted ticket to the London Book Fair.
  • Finally, make sure you have plenty of business cards … and enjoy the experience!

The 2015 London Book Fair takes place at Olympia London, April 14–16.

If you enjoy going to book fairs, what do you get out of the experience?

Liz Jones SfEP marketing and PR directorLiz Jones is the Society for Editors and Proofreaders’ marketing and PR director.

 

Proofread by SfEP entry-level member Susan Walton.