We had a fantastic time at “Be a Better Freelancer – Resources for a Successful Editorial Business,” the 2012 Communication Central “Build Your Business Conference,” covering everything from launching a freelance business to various ways of making that business profitable and productive. Here are highlights of some of the sessions and topics that were offered at the October 12-13, 2012, event in Baltimore, MD. Several conference-goers also attended an October 14 offering of the Editorial Bootcamp at the same location, led by Laura Poole. Between practical, insightful sessions; plentiful networking opportunities; outings to interesting restaurants; and a plethora of giveaways, it was a great learning experience for all, despite several local attendees and presenters having to fight traffic rerouting to accommodate the Baltimore Marathon!
• Both the English language and the world of editing are constantly changing. In addition to practicing the craft, some of our colleagues teach the skills; others observe and analyze the trends; still others write about craft and/or trends. The 2012 Communication Central conference brought together some of the best and brightest minds of our business for their perspectives on what we have to know and do to keep up with the editorial profession now and in the immediate future.
The Editing Summit featured Erin Brenner, editor of Copyediting newsletter; Janice Campbell, executive director of the National Association of Independent Writers and Editors; Laura Poole, owner of the Editorial Bootcamp; John McIntyre of the Baltimore Sun and American Copy Editors Society; Carol Fisher Saller of the University of Chicago Press and Chicago Manual of Style Online Q&A, and author of The Subversive Copy Editor; Barbara Hart, owner of Publications Professionals LLC; and April Michelle Davis, owner of Editorial Inspirations.
• In “Launching Your Freelance Business,” Communication Central owner and long-time successful freelance writer/editor Ruth E. Thaler-Carter, who has had a successful freelance editorial business for more than 25 years, provided tips on how to put a new business on a strong footing — or help an established one improve and grow.
• In “Word: The Writer’s Friend,” author Maggie Secara shared a number of ways that make Word work for her that are of value to other writers, as well to editors, proofreaders and other freelancers who use Word. Many colleagues already know about Secara’s renowned “maggie-ing” technique for fixing uncooperative files. She had yet more to offer in this rare conference appearance. And, yes – that topic comes with a wink!
• Bevi Chagnon provided invaluable tips on “InDesign for Editing and Proofreading,” reflecting an aspect of the changing world of expectations for editors, proofreaders and even writers where employers and clients are now asking us to work in InDesign as well as Word and Acrobat. InDesign may be intended as a publication design and layout program, but it’s becoming a program that freelance (and in-house) writers, editors and proofreaders increasingly have to know something about.
• Every business today needs a website that presents its best face to the world and brings in new customers and business. That includes freelance writers, editors, proofreaders, indexers and others. Communication Central owner Ruth E. Thaler-Carter shared lively insights on and examples of “Websites that Benefit Your Business” – what does and doesn’t work to make sure that the website for your business is as effective as possible.
• It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by document disorganization and e-mail overload. Paul Lagasse of Active Voice Writing & Editorial Services (www.avwrites.com), a former records manager who knows how to manage files, even though he admits that he hates doing it, addressed “Don’t Let Your Electronic Files Manage You,” providing tips on how to organize electronic documents and e-mail, set up a simple purge schedule to prevent file overload, and other aspects of effective file management for freelancers.
• The Portable Document Format (PDF) was created to make it easy for colleagues to review almost-final projects when designers and clients had different computer systems, programs and document elements – artwork, fonts, etc. – and was intended to function as the digital equivalent of a blueline: for last-ditch proofreading. However, more and more clients are asking freelancers (and employees) to edit and proofread PDFs in Adobe Acrobat. In this hands-on session on “Adapting to Acrobat,” Bevi Chagnon of PubCom walked participants through what it takes to get the hang of this increasingly important way of doing editorial work.
• Editorial freelancers are always looking for ways to make the most out of every hour by working more efficiently and effectively. In “Go Wild with Wildcards for Greater Productivity,” April Michelle Davis, owner of Editorial Inspirations, stepped in for Jack Lyon of the Editorium – the master of macros and other time-saving, productivity-enhancing resources for editors, proofreaders and writers – to demonstrate how wildcards can help freelancers do just that.
• There comes a point in almost every editorial professional’s life when it seems appealing to hand off the hands-on writing, editing, proofreading, indexing and related work to someone else and manage the process instead. In “Profiting from Project Management,” Elaine Smith of EWS Associates discussed how to set up on the management side of the editorial desk – skills, processes, people, projects and more – from who has moved successfully into finding, organizing and managing projects involving skills of colleagues and subcontractors. Barbara Hart of Publications Professionals LLP and Communication Central owner Ruth E. Thaler-Carter added their perspectives on this business model as well.
• Editing fiction seems like the most fun work there could be in our editorial world. The core differences between editing fiction and nonfiction were the focus of a session on “A Dual Look at Editing Fiction,” as well as the particular types of clients and tasks a fiction editor encounters, form a long-time copyeditor for traditional print houses and a “mixed-type” editor for independents and small presses. Carolyn Haley and Amy Schneider discussed tools, techniques and philosophy; charted the paths each traveled to find their niches; and showed what colleagues need to know to determine whether fiction editing is for them.
• Many of us prefer to focus on what we do and finding clients to let us do it at great rates, but social media in a variety of forms and technology beyond Word, e-mail, Acrobat, etc., are more and more important to the world of editorial work, especially for freelancers. The options – and their demands on your time – can be confusing and intimidating. In “Social Media, Blogs, Teleseminars and Webinars – Tech to Promote Your Business,” Janice Campbell, founder of the National Association of Independent Writers and Editors (NAIWE) provided practical, detailed insights into how current social media options and technology can work to your advantage and help you build your business.