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march 2018

23 March

As a fairly new entrant into the publishing industry, the London Book Fair is an essential. It is a perfect place to network, get yourself noticed and also to get a real feel for the publishing industry. I’m planning to get the most out of it.

I attended LBF 2017, but due to personal circumstances and bereavement, I wasn’t properly planned and I wasn’t in the right frame of mind. I probably shouldn’t have gone as it was very overwhelming. However, this time I’ve had a year to get through the troubles of last year and I’m in the process of setting up my very own business. Therefore, I’m going armed with a lot more to be able to really exploit my time there.

Today, in between productions of the local play I’m in, I’m spending time planning what I am going to do, and who I want to see. Here’s a little checklist that I’ve made myself:

  1. Ensure your professional website and Facebook page are both looking good.
  2. Get some business cards printed.
  3. Research who is going to be exhibiting. The LBF exhibitors page is a mine of information.
  4. Remember that a lot of the exhibitors will be looking to do deals, sell books and promote their material.
  5. Email the exhibitors that you are really interested in. Let them know what you are about and that you are attending LBF.
  6. Suggest popping by their stand if they have time for a brief chat and to hand over business card.

This is my plan. It might not work or have the desired effect, but there’s no harm in trying.

I’ve also noticed that Byte the Book has an event on 10th April. This is a facilitated networking session, so I’ll be sure to try and get along. There is a full list of events happening right here. Be sure to find out whether booking is needed.

I would love to know if you’re going to LBF 2018. If you are, please comment on here or on my website/Facebook page and you never know, we could meet up for a coffee and a chat!

21 March – World poetry day

Come to the edge.

We might fall.

Come to the edge.

It’s too high!

COME TO THE EDGE!

And they came,

And he pushed,

And they flew.

Christopher Logue, 1926-2011

I only heard this poem yesterday, but it certainly describes something that many of us feel, especially those of us who are starting a new career or are considering something brand new to us. It definitely speaks to me.

Starting something new is scary and daunting. However, this should not put you off. If you want it enough and are determined enough, things will happen.

Posted in honour of World Poetry Day 2018.

19 March

A little while ago, a friend of mine who currently works for one of the big ELT publishers got in contact, as she had seen that I was trying to start up as a freelance editor and proofreader. She suggested that I contact someone in her company, which I did, and ask to be added to their database. I received a reply with an editing test, which I duly completed, and then I forgot about it for weeks. Then today, I get an email from the company saying they are happy to add me to their database. Now, I realise this isn’t a job (yet), but to complete an editing test and still be added to their database is huge for me. Who knows what that might bring in the future. I also got an email from a job post which was advertised on the ELT Freelancers page on FB. Again, it might not come to anything, but the fact that I got an email asking for a discussion on details is certainly very encouraging, even if I don’t get asked to help.

Therefore, the confidence is growing, hence the title.

I’m really enjoying the beginnings of revisions for the Virginia Woolf book, to be published with Aurora Metro. Reading through Woolf’s ‘Sketch of the Past’ as well as reading about her time at Burley in Twickenham (the rest home where she stayed a few times) is definitely enlightening. In my meeting with Aurora Metro, we discussed the possibility of holding an event at the Richmond Literature Festival in November 2018. I think this will happen, but it’s very scary and exciting at the same time. At some point soon, I’ll also be researchng Aphra Behn for a possible new and exciting project with the same publisher.

Talking of projects, the Virginia Woolf Statue Project is still continuing, and this is something I am involved with. Well, the book I’m working on is connected. We even appeared in the local newspaper. I’m credited in the article as an author. Never in a million years would I have expected to be described as that, but it’s very, very pleasing. Another project that has been brought to my attention is one that is very similar to the Virginia statue. Mary Wollstonecraft was hugely influential in the 18th Century, as a writer and advocate of women’s rights, among others. There is a project to erect a statue of her on Newington Green, and this has been gaining some great momentum. I would urge you to support both of these wonderful statue projects. You could probably count on one hand the number of statues of female writers in London, and as this is a special year since women were rightly given the vote, it seems apt that we should have representations of women in statue form, other than Royalty.

My further training with the College of Media and Publishing is going very well, and with the good results I am getting, my confidence is boosted even more. I’m hoping to finish that course in the next few weeks, and then look at more training. Considering some SfEP courses, or the development editing course offered by Liminal Pages. Everything looks so good, and I want to be able to offer my future clients the very best that I can.

It’s a shame I can’t go to the Byte the Book event tonight. Tonight’s event is about building a successful independent publishing house, and not only is the actual event interesting and beneficial for anyone involved with books, it provides a wonderful opportunity for networking. If you’re in London, or near to London, join up, sign up and go along! I can’t recommend it highly enough.

This week promises to be very busy, with the local production that I’m involved in being staged from Wednesday night for 4 nights. Hope all those rehearsals will be worth it!

To top it all off, while writing this post, I’ve been listening to Etta James. Bliss!

16 March

This is the state of my kitchen table, and it’s been like it all day. I am thrusting myself into further Woolf revisions for the book which is due out later this year from Aurora Metro. I’m really hoping that the revisions I’m going to make will ensure that this book is the best I could have done it. I have some excellent guidance from Cheryl at Aurora Metro, and it’s great to be able to go into more detail concerning Woolf and the decade she lived in Richmond. I can’t see that there is another book in the market that focuses on this time in Woolf’s life, so I think it’s going to be a great book to add to the huge collection of Woolf work out there.

One sneaky anecdote that I’ll share is the times that Virginia spent in Burley, Cambridge Park in Twickenham. This was, in essence, a rest home for female lunatics and Virginia was sent there on more than one occasion. However, the proprietor, a Miss Thomas, appears to become more involved with Woolf’s life than being a resident at the home. I’m not too sure that this would have happened in today’s society, but it shows, to an extent, how Virginia could charm the people that she met. This will, of course, be discussed more in the book.

You can check out Aurora Metro at the London Book Fair, and Cheryl will be on a panel discussing YA fiction and translation, right here. As well as that, the Virginia Woolf Statue project is also getting underway, and I’m a full supporter. Please see this and also donate here.

Another thing that I have been working on is the audiobook for The Phantom of Barker Mill which is now for sale. Check out the author’s website here. I’m thrilled that the books and audio are gathering pace, and I would certainly recommend them for anyone who likes a laugh, accompanied by paranormal goings on. I have been honoured to be able to narrate these books, and am pleased to hear that there are more on the way. Tempest Michaels is certainly a character not to forget, as well as the lovely Debbie. But to know them, you’ll have to read them, or give them a listen and hear my dulcet tones.

15 March

Short post today in response to this article. You’ll notice I have stolen the image too, but it’s in the public domain and I think it’s an excellent image for the topic.

The article talks about the use of the singular ‘they’, as in ‘Sam makes themself a cup of tea every morning’. Although the article makes some excellent comments, I have to say that I’m disappointed with the final paragraph of the text, which states that the author will wince when she hears this type of grammar, albeit for not very long. She is a self-confessed grammar nerd, but then so are a lot of people. The singular ‘they’ is something that will come to be (or is already) natural, so why should she wince at the usage? I welcome the change in how we use language to reflect the monumental, and overdue, change in society.

Surely we have been using the singular they to refer to somone for years, but now the focus is more on gender-neutral language, and I just don’t see the problem with it. It would be interesting to know other thoughts on this.

Update

Still no work through Upwork, and a friend of mine has had no luck either. Maybe it should be called Nowork instead? The Virginia Woolf book is going ahead with revisions that I’m looking forward to making. This will mean that the publication date will be pushed back. Rehearsals are going well for the local play I’m in – it’s next week! Argh!

13 March

No matter how patient one might be, no matter how many setbacks one gets and no matter how many non-responses you get, determination is extremely important to get that important freelance career going.

I often wonder how long it took experienced professionals to get what they would classify as their ‘first’ freelancing job. Was it a month? Two months? Less? More? On one post that I’m following in a group on FB (Freelance Heroes. If you don’t know it, check it out) about imposter syndrome. The post asked whether any freelancers in the group believed they suffered from this. I, as a newbie, felt that I do, but it was encouraging to see that other, more experienced freelancers also felt the same. However, there were some really encouraging posts about self-belief, and I suppose from that comes self-worth. It’s really important to have that belief, especially as a newbie, but also as an experienced professional in the freelancing world. Sometimes, we need to look at ourselves and believe that we can do it.

Recently, I’ve been getting some good encouragement from my continuing training course with the College of Media and Publishing. This was a course I started a year and a half ago, but with my annus horribilis in 2017, I’ve restarted and I’m finding it easier since I did some other training courses. Grade A in the last two assignments is something I’m very proud of. Hopefully, 2018 will turn out to be an annus mirabilis.

Through Louise Harnby’s group on FB, I’ve found a wonderful blog and website that also does courses (of which I’m looking to join. Especially the developmental editing). The name of this is Liminal Pages, and seems full of advice and fantastic learning opportunities. The one blog post that sticks out for me is the goals for 2018, and I think that this is something which can prove to be extremely useful, especially if one is starting, or continuing, a freelance journey. I will have a think about my goals for 2018, and then in 2019, I can look back, review and revise for the following year.

11 March

I always knew that the road would be hard, and I’ve read about many experienced freelancers having their own troubles at the start, even commenting on my own posts. Most of their comments mirror my own experiences.

It is so hard to get going.

In a previous post, I mentioned an ELT publisher had responded to my speculative email, and I was full of hope. Since the second email, I’ve heard nothing. It’s very hard not to be discouraged by this and I’m trying not to be disheartened. I’ve also heard nothing from a prospect on Upwork, which looked very promising. Again, it’s tough to get going.

I’m learning one of the key elements of marketing myself, and that is to follow up, which I will do tomorrow from my laptop. Where I am currently, I’ve only got my iPad. The weeks keep on adding up with no work, and yet still I remain busy with no income.

The Virginia Woolf book is getting back into gear with intense revisions to start imminently. The play I’m in is also intensifying, with the production looming in a week and a half. The process of buying our first flat is nearing the end, and soon we will have a completion date, so really it’s all happening, and I’m not getting any money. Well, that’s a lie. I have the Jobseeker’s Allowance, which is small, but welcome. Going to their office every two weeks is a nightmare. They don’t seem to understand my position, and yet don’t seem to offer any real help. Maybe I’m not asking the right questions.

Everything at the moment is very frustrating.

I’m sure others who have started this journey often felt like this: a state of inertia. I’ve been told I’m doing all the right things, but at the moment, it’s yielding precious little. However, this will not deter me. I will endeavour to continue and redouble my efforts, even with everything that’s going on. At the moment, the vigour has taken a beating, but this is just a little blip. Others have overcome this, and I know I will.

I just wish it wasn’t so frustrating.

9 March

Not an editing or proofreading post today, because today is the first anniversary of my father’s death. That’s him in the photo above, with me on his shoulders in my nan’s back garden. I don’t quite know how old I am in the photo, but I’m sure I knew at the time.

Since the anniversary was approaching, I looked up ‘grief after one year’ on the internet. There were a few that popped up. But of course, everybody is different. I’m sure there are books on how to grieve as well as the famous stages of grief, but this isn’t the same for everyone. Naturally, I still expect him to walk through the door, or fall asleep on the sofa and then deny he was asleep.

Life is never the same after such a close person dies. But life does continue. I don’t stop because he’s not there. I’ve been inspired to do more things because he’s not here. While I’m jogging and I find it hard, I think of him to help push me along.

It took a while to get back to doing things. I hid away for a little bit, but then for some reason, I decided to get out and do stuff. Going back to the drama group, for one. And now I’ll be featuring in their (our) latest production in a couple of weeks. Dad loved doing drama, acting on stage professionally a couple of times. He just won’t be there to watch this time. Not in the Hall, anyway.

So, this post is really just for me. And for anyone else who is grieving, or who has an anniversary coming up.

Grieve in your own way.

Take your own time.

Do what feels right.

Gordon J Fullagar: 18.05.1942 – 09.03.2017

8 March

There are so many inspirational women that have touched my life, I can hardly list them all. Obviously my family – all of the women in my family are truly amazing.

In my editing and proofreading freelance journey, I’m constantly meeting women that inspire; Cheryl at Aurora Metro, Justine at Byte the Book, Louise Harnby, Abbie Headon and so many others that I cannot name. Then when I think of writers, there’s Maya Angelou, Virginia Woolf, Charlotte Mew, Muriel Spark, the Brontës, Jane Austen… goodness, so many.

Music has also been a huge part of my life, and artists like Clare Teal and Karine Polwart are high up there on my list, as well as Imogen Heap, Ingrid Michaelson and Imelda May.

Most recently, the amazing Ann Baer, aged 103, has made an appearance. A truly remarkable lady who has seen and experienced more than most.

There really are too many to mention, but the above women are just a handful that I admire and am inspired by.

7 March

Maya Angelou has to be one of my heroes. I was reminded of her when I saw a new, and quite frankly exciting, press: Bindi Books. Their mission is to publish and represent diverse writers and I can’t wait to see what they come up with. For International Women’s Day (tomorrow, 8th March), they posted a picture of Angelou’s poem Still I Rise. A wondrous piece of writing that speaks to me, along with her autobiographies which I focused on for my BA dissertation. Seeing as I’m reaching a big birthday milestone late in 2018, I was drawn to this one:

On Reaching Forty
Other acquainted years
sidle
with modest
decorum
across the scrim of toughened
tears and to a stage
planked with laughter boards
and waxed with rueful loss.
But forty
with the authorized
brazenness of a uniformed
cop stomps
no-knocking
into the script
bumps a funky grind on the
shabby curtain of youth
and delays the action.
Unless you have the inborn
wisdom
and grace
and are clever enough
to die at
thirty-nine.

I’ll just leave it above here. It’s beautiful.

In previous posts I’ve mentioned the SfEP and Byte the Book, but today I want to write about Bookmachine. It seems that the publishing industry is blessed with so many networking groups and support networks. I joined Bookmachine last year, but didn’t do much with my membership, but that’s going to change as I increase in confidence. I’ve just booked a place for their event, ‘Talking Editorial‘. I think this is going to be a wonderful event, thinking about inclusion and diversity. This is something that is increasingly becoming more prominent and it’s so important. Bookmachine’s website has numerous helpful and insightful pages, and I’ve just found this great article about wanting to be a freelance editor. See it here.

I’m very excited to be attending the London Book Fair in April. Going to this huge book fair will require some planning before the freelancer attends. By this, I mean I am going to go through the directory of exhibitors, picking out the ones that interest me and then possibly contacting them to see if I can have a quick word with them on the day. I’m not sure whether this is the right thing to do, but I can’t just go there without any direction or idea what I’m actually doing. I really want to exploit this opportunity to get my name even further out there, so especially with ELT publishers, I will be coming for you! Got to get those business cards ready!

6 March

So, in my vigour for marketing myself, I sent out a host of speculative emails to ELT publishers in the Far East in the hope that my experience in Japan as a teacher would lead to some interest.

Since I sent the emails, I’ve had two emails in response, and one was very positive. An ELT publishing company in Japan is interested in me. This is pretty amazing, and fills me with confidence that I’m going in the right direction. We’ve talked rates and have come to an agreement, and the first project I’ll be involved in is writing, not editing. Not something that I thought I could do, or would want to do, but it’s still rather exciting and something to add to the client list once the project is complete. Finer details still need to be decided, but it looks like it’s going to happen.

This good news is still not going to stop me from continually marketing myself in the hope of finding further work, but considering this could well be the first of many freelancing jobs, I’m very excited.

Update on freelancing websites

I keep proposing jobs on Upwork, and there have been a couple of bites. One that sounded really interesting inferred they would hire me as an editor, but since then I haven’t heard back. However, maybe there has been some delay in getting the manuscript ready, so seeing as I am new, I won’t refuse the project if they come back to me at a later date. Besides, it sounded a really interesting project, so I would be a fool not to take it, if the opportunity arose.

Freelancer continues to be annoying. I’ve received a couple of messages, but mainly these are from companies that want to promote me (but where’s the catch?) and one, that I’m sure was sent to multiple users, talking about promoting a country. Not interested.

As well as that, my continuing training is going very well with the College of Media and Publishing, and I’m really enjoying trying to perfect my skills that I learned with the other training providers. I realise that this training won’t be enough for me. If I’m going to do a job, I want to do it right, and training is the way forward. With this in mind, once I have a little more money, I’ll be looking to do some SfEP training courses.

Onwards and upwards!

4 March

I’ve only recently started writing about my career transition from ELT teacher to self-employed editor and proofreader, but the responses I have got from the few posts I’ve shared have been positive. Encouragement in all forms is extremely welcome, and one person I’d like to thank Louise Harnby. She has a wonderful Facebook page which is more like an editor and proofreader community. It’s very welcoming and there is lots of advice for the experienced and newbies among us.

I thought the other day about my own marketing campaign, thanks in part to Louise and the SfEP. I knew I was missing a trick somewhere. I taught EFL in Japan for a couple of years, like so many people travelling the world, but I wasn’t really using that in my search for freelance work. There are ELT publishers in Japan, so why don’t I contact them for possible work? So that’s what I did. As well as Korea and China. I feel like I might have turned a corner in my marketing. It was right there in front of me.

It was after this that I began thinking about my experiences and what I can offer. As a newbie, we all need to think about our past experiences and what makes us stand out from the other possible candidates. What is our angle? Why should somebody hire me instead of another freelancer?

This is what I’ve come up with (not exhaustive):

  1. Two and a half years of ELT teaching in Japan. Children, teenagers and adults taught.
  2. Ten months of business teaching in Russia.
  3. IELTS tutor and examiner.
  4. English for Academic Purposes specialist.
  5. Head of department experience.
  6. Three reviews and an article published in English Teaching Professional magazine.
  7. Diploma in English Language Teaching to Adults completed.
  8. Post Graduate Certificate in Education completed, with a focus on ELT.
  9. BA and MA in English completed.
  10. Two audiobooks recorded and produced for a paranormal mystery writer.
  11. An author’s third manuscript analysed, suggestions given and amendments made.

This is not even the half of it. It seems that even with very little publishing experience, the experiences that one does have will be valuable to publishers in an editing, proofreading or writing capacity. As a newbie, we need to think about our strengths and what we can offer to prospective clients, and then to market ourselves, emphasising those strengths.

2 March

Following on from my previous post about patience, I think somebody trying to get into the crowded world of editing and proofreading needs to be persistent. All the training that one can do is all very good (and essential), but if you lack persistence, then it could all be for nothing.

As a newbie into the industry, I’m still learning as I try to get my foot (or at least my little toe) on the first rung of the editing and proofreading ladder. I assume there is still a ladder, isn’t there? Maybe I didn’t get the memo…

Part of this learning is really using all of the facilities and resources that are there in front of you. I’m still learning things about the SfEP website. For one, the forums are an unbelievable source of advice and recommendations. I’ve only recently just joined the forums, but have already found that it’s a welcoming place with lots of very experienced professionals willing to give advice.

Another point I’ve noticed about the SfEP website is that they produce short guides for freelancers like us. I’ve just purchased ‘Marketing Yourself’, ‘Going Solo’ and ‘Editor and Client relationships’, and having just a brief look through them, they are going to be invaluable and a great investment at a cheap price.

In the ‘Marketing Yourself’ guide, I’ve already found advice that I’d never even thought of. Advertising myself on sites such as yell.com, hotfrog.co.uk and thomsonlocal.com. This has now been rectified, and I’ll see if I get any hits from that.

Update on freelance work sites

I’m still on Upwork and Freelancer. At the moment, I seem to be getting more suitable jobs and most connections through Upwork. The tablet app is fairly user-friendly, but the desktop page is much easier to use. It’s a very easy process, however, I have found that occasionally in the ‘job feed’, I see jobs that aren’t connected to my skill set. On this site, I also want to avoid seeing jobs posted by students, wanting people to write their essays or reports for them. For one thing, it’s cheating, and second, I don’t want to be involved in that sort of business.

Freelancer is a bit of a gamble, or so I’m finding. The layout isn’t so friendly, and I don’t think it’s used as much as Upwork, and therefore I’m not getting anything from it. However, I keep looking but continue feeling a little down while doing it on this site. Don’t get me started on People Per Hour.

Although I will. I’m not very impressed with it. I don’t think I’ve had anything useful come from it, and so I wonder why I’m on there. I suppose it had been suggested that I should try it, but for me, it doesn’t seem to be working. There are a few things I don’t really get about the site. Hourlies, for one. I understand the concept, but I don’t think it works. Well, it’s not working for me.

Considering the Indies

As well as these websites, of course, I have contacted the kinds of publishers who produce the sort of work I’m interested in. This being major ELT publishers in the main. The one thing that I’m considering is contacting the indie publishers. I follow a lot of them on Twitter, but again, similar to the publishers I’ve already contacted, how well would they respond to a freelancer contacting them, asking to be put on their freelancer database? But then, you never know. It could be worth it. There are so many out there, and it will be a long slog; trying to personalise each email to every individual indie publisher. However, if you want the work, this is something that you have to be prepared to do.

That’s all for now. I think I need to go and create some individual emails to send out to particular indie publishers.

1 March

Books have been a major part of my life; I started reading when very young, like most people. I remember Jennifer Yellow-hat, Roger Red-hat and Billy Blue-hat among others in my primary school to titles such as The Turbulent Term of Tyke Tiler, which ended up being one of my favourite childhood books.

At school we obviously studied Shakespeare, as well as others such as Lord of the Flies (which I never want to read again – don’t get me wrong, it’s great, but not my cup of tea.)

In college, I studied the amazing Maya Angelou and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, and this lead me on to reading the rest of her stunning autobiography. For my BA dissertation, I used her autobiographies to study conceptions of the self, and this research resulted in my supervisor asking me to help her with her forthcoming book on Sylvia Plath; unfortunately, I wasn’t mentioned in the book as helping, which still irks me to this day. University introduced me to Virginia Woolf and Mrs Dalloway and To the Lighthouse, and I was immediately struck by how they resonated with me. The writing, the imagery, goodness, I was hooked. It was here that I staged a dramatic reading of The Changeling by Charlotte Mew for an assignment. I remember collecting leaves and a candle to put on the floor of the seminar room, as well as dyeing my hair black. I don’t know why, it just felt right.

After university, I relocated to Tokyo, where I discovered Haruki Murakami, Banana Yoshimoto and Kazuo Ishiguro, all remarkable writers in their own right, but it was Murakami and The Wind Up Bird Chronicle that caught my attention. From here, I read the rest of his work. Moving forward a few more years, and I ended up in Moscow, and I started to devour books from the English language section of the Московский дом книги (Dom Knigi – House of the Book) on Novy Arbat Street. I can’t remember the majority of the authors I read, but it was here that I reintroduced myself to George Orwell; 1984, Animal Farm and his other, lesser-read works.

Fast forward a few more years, and I’m in London, about to start my MA in English at the University of Westminster. Introductions to Beowulf and other ancient works. And of course Virginia Woolf. Again. I suppose this is where the obsession really started. My dissertation focused on her diaries and letters, looked through the lens of Text World Theory.

Books and authors will always remind me of places I have been and situations I have been in. Then we come to now. My new career direction as a freelance editor and proofreader (and I suppose writer). Woolf features heavily again with my book coming out in June. I’ve been introduced to paranormal mystery comedy through my audiobook narration. I’ve been presented with the woman who attempted to assassinate Mussolini. Who knows what else I will be editing and what other writers I will discover.

That is the real pleasure of my new direction. Helping writers, whether they be established, new, non-native English, LGBTQ+, fiction, non-fiction. There’s a whole host of writing out there, and I’m determined to be at the forefront.

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