Category Archives: Freelancing Business

The Perfect Client

The perfect client reads as well as writes.  The perfect client has done his or her research on editing and writing, is a good listener, and is willing to pay a professional rate for the professional services requested.  The perfect client is diligent about deadlines and schedules and follow through.  The perfect client asks thoughtful questions, receives feedback gracefully even when deciding not to listen to it.

And every once in a while, a perfect client will give the editor a recommendation, or write some nice things about the editor in a blog post.

I am very fortunate to have a wonderful list of clients right now.  Thank you for your business; it makes work fun.

Sacramento editor, Robin Martin, Rob Mahan, writer
My client, Rob Mahan Books

Editing, writing, digital publishing, from textbooks to fiction, meetings and events…

This has been a wonderfully busy first quarter, with a cornucopia of activities to keep me sharp.

The Nor Cal EFA hosted speaker Judith Horstman in January, and she provided the participants with insider information about writing for magazines and talked a bit about her new book.

I attended the California Writers Club and met Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords, who confirmed for me the importance of digital publishing and presented a convincing argument regarding the obsolescence of the old publishing model and its gatekeepers. While there, I ran into an author whose debut novel I had just downloaded to my Kindle, at the suggestion of a mutual friend, but had not yet started reading.

Uploading a correctly formatted document into Smashwords was actually more difficult than the founder purported it to be, but getting it to work was a technological learning experience that didn’t kill me and therefore made me stronger.

Completing a substantive edit on a statistics textbook for a non-native English speaker contracted to Wiley allowed me to breathe a sigh of relief, and confidently say that my comprehension of statistics increased tremendously!  It also allowed me to use my APA knowledge, neglected in the fiction world.

San Francisco Writers Conference orientation was held in January and the event is next weekend, February 17-19.  I’ll be there. Will you? Come visit me at the Cafe Ferlinghetti, where I’ll be hanging out early Saturday morning and throughout the afternoon on Friday.

I’ve got fiction manuscripts lined up all quarter; working with a 630 page suspense novel currently, and this will be followed right away by a suspenseful love story, then a contemporary fiction/social justice novel, then Brad’s sequel comes in to me, then a mystery.  Phew!  Gotta love it. Thanks to Mark Coker and others like him, there are a lot of people out there taking the bull by the horns and going for it.  Thankfully, they are embracing the need for an editor before they put it out to the world.

Two recent articles talk about the importance of an editor in the self-publishing process.  This one, in Huff Post, and this, in the San Francisco Book Review.

You keep on writing and I’ll keep on reading. And writing.

Hackers are the antagonists of this story

Glenn is the hero.

You probably didn’t notice that my site was down again last week.  I don’t understand why anyone would want to hack little old me, but whatever. (Hey, while I’m under, you might as well…) Now I have a little facelift!  This is one aspect of freelancing that I really enjoy– no, not the hacking part– but the fact that I get to hire other creative freelancers and work with them.  Thanks again, Glenn Weatherson, freelance web designer, for being my web-guy and dealing with all the rigamarole at Word Press.

Sacramento editor, publishing



Self Publishing Boot Campers- Help me plan my presentation.

Starting to think about my presentation at Carla King’s Self Publishing Boot Camp, Nov 12, 2011.

A full Saturday in Palo Alto at Stanford University’s Tresidder Memorial Union.  I have 30 minutes to speak on the role of the developmental editor. That’s not a lot of time. What do you think:  Should I talk about the business side of editing or the craft side of editing?

If you’re going to be there, please take a moment here and tell me what you’d like my focus to be. I’m looking forward to your comments and questions.

Nor Cal Editorial Freelancers Association

It is nearly always beneficial to join a professional organization for support and information when one embarks on a career.  I am a member of the Popular Culture Association, the Association of Writers and Writing Programs, and the Editorial Freelancers Association. I have enjoyed participating in conferences and reading the resources of each. The EFA, however, has been the most helpful to me as a freelancer.

It was so helpful to me, in fact, that I organized a chapter in Sacramento. Our members and guests have a wide range of backgrounds and specialties, and we have interest from EFA members as far away as Santa Cruz to the south and Reno to the north.

The organization meets on the last Monday of each month (holidays excepted– the website has the most current info) at Sacramento’s premier downtown co-working space, Thinkhouse Collective, 7 pm.

The topics of our meetings do occasionally engage writers of all kinds, not just freelance editors. September’s meeting, for instance, will feature an independent publisher talking about How to Start Your Own Press. October’s meeting will be about Generative Writing.

July NorCal EFA meeting will be on Marketing Oneself Monday, July 25, 2011 (7:00 pm) at our regular meeting space, the beautiful Thinkhouse Collective in downtown Sacramento. Kristin Singhasemanon, owner of Satin Web Solutions, and Chris Wilson, owner of Word Design and Get Healthy Copy, will be presenting on the topic of professional marketing strategies to solicit clients for our editorial freelancing businesses.

Join our Yahoo Group to be on the mailing list:

Defining Moments still accruing

I’d like to pick up where I left off in my February 14 post, as my client, Bradley V. DeHaven has been able to use his print-on-demand book, Defining Moments. A Suburban Father’s Journey Into His Son’s Oxycontin Addiction, to work towards his goal in amazing ways.

His efforts at marketing are not only right on target to sell books, but right on target to meet his primary goal of raising awareness of, and helping people who are struggling with, prescription drug addiction.

He has clearly defined his goals, and he is going for it.  This is exactly the type of writer who should go the route of a Create Space or Kindle platform.

Right up front, he created a website to help sell his book. It has. But, already, it has done so much more than that.  He is affecting people; they are touched by the story of his youth as well as his son’s. They are making comments like, “Couldn’t put this down. I cried through half of it.” Or, my favorite:

“Alternating story lines merge this father’s past with his family’s heartbreaking present. A detailed and page-turning experience of a father’s determination to save his son. Incredible writing and inspirational conclusion.”  🙂

He reached out to charitable organizations that assist people who deal with drug addiction and offered them a portion of his proceeds, something he can do with a lot less red tape than if he had been given an advance by a major traditional publisher.  He has five programs on his drop down menu now.

He contacted local media outlets. After the Sacramento News and Review piece, he was included in a much smaller Granite Bay newspaper, and then appeared, with his son, on Insight, a Capital Public Radio program that is heard in quite a few markets around the US.

He contacted the people on his Christmas card list.  He sent many of them a copy. In return, he received an outpouring of similar stories and support for his decision to publish the book.   He also received more free marketing advice. Which, as you might imagine, might be worth every penny. But, some of it might be worth a lot more.

The moral of this story is this: If you have a good story to tell, and hire a good editor to help you tell it; if you have clear goals, and get good advice regarding your publishing options, you can dive in and go for it.

Brad went for it face first.

So far, no lost teeth.

Big Day, full of Defining Moments

Well, a big day around here, as we managed to time the release of the Kindle edition of the book Defining Moments, A Father’s Journey into his Son’s Oxy Addiction with the pub date of a feature story on the author. Our original plan was to have a complete draft ready by Feb. 1 for final read-throughs and revision, then to get it up on Kindle sometime after that.

Illustration by Jason Crosby

After my client, Brad, secured a feature-story with Sacramento News and Review writer Cosmo Garvin, we realized we would have to boogie through that final draft in order to have availability coincide with the great free publicity we’d get from a front page feature story.

Brad and I have been together from the start: Spring 2009, Brad was referred to me by a literary agent he had contacted with basic questions, like:

“Everyone tells me I have this great story. So I wrote it down. Now what do I do with it? How do I start?”

We developed this project together, starting with an evaluation and critique of his initial 37,000 word manuscript (that opened with his conception, actually his older brother’s conception, then his, and moved chronologically through his entire life until the day he wrote the story— not a lot of scene, as you can imagine). From the E & C we had some consultations and coaching, moving into querying magazines with a 2,000 word article (with no takers), then getting down to business working determining the meat of his goal: To let other parents know about the very real presence of hard core addiction even in the suburbs.  To make others aware of what is in their medicine cabinets, unused, maybe waiting for the babysitter to steal. That prescription you got for a $10 co-pay when you had your wisdom teeth out? Each pill sells on the street for up to $60. Each pill.

It was such an interesting story and such a noble cause that we couldn’t give up after realizing that he had no platform and really very little chance at achieving mainstream publication because of this.

So what about alternative strategies to publication?  Next…

Indie Professionals/Freelancers Soiree

The Editorial Freelancers Association Northern California Chapter is hosting a holiday soiree for independent professionals both inside and outside of editorial/journalism/publishing on Monday, December 13, from 7 pm until 8:30pm at Sacramento’s ThinkHouse Collective.

This will be an opportunity for, yes, the consumption of wine and brownies, but also for mingling and chatting in an informal setting with other independents who might be able to help each other out, send work in each other’s directions, barter for skills, and connect.

If this is you, bookkeepers, web designers, graphic artists, caterers, & & &, come join us Monday night.

A diversity of projects=fun

Ah, well, the long gap in posts is in this case an indicator of GOOD THINGS! I’ve been working very hard on all kinds of your projects.  Today I finished a document for my eighth client since October 1.

I have two appointments in person on Friday, a phone consultation this afternoon and another on Monday, and then I hope to get a week of vacation in before I start engaging full time with a long-time client who is ready to move onto the next stage… publication! This will take me through January, when I will add teaching a publications elective to middle-schoolers to my agenda. Whoosh. I LOVE it!

Anyway, that was way too many exclamation marks. I hate them. If you have them in your writing, take them out. Now.

I thought you might be interested in a rundown of what I’ve been working on lately:

  • Three children’s book authors are looking for a home for their picture book texts, and I am helping them do this, either by providing feedback regarding the marketability of their particular pieces (Hi Jim), researching and creating targeted pitch lists of editors at publishing houses that accept submissions from authors (Howdy Dave), creating targeted pitch lists for agents who will then sell their work to the large mainstream publishers, or providing insight into options that don’t involve finding a publisher or an agent.
  • Two fiction writers (Shout out- Elizabeth and Ed) turned to me to evaluate their manuscripts and let them know the strengths and weaknesses of their characters, conflict and resolution, and writing craft. Both, I am proud to say, returned to me post-E & C asking for my continuing service.
  • One inspirational writer/poet at the start of her new path as a writer came to me for an E & C of two hybrid manuscripts, one of which she had self-published and sold ten copies. I helped steer her in the right direction towards finding support and a critique group, and how to find other work like hers that she can read and from which she may learn some specifics about the craft. (woo hoo Sharon, you go girl)
  • A foreign-born scientist at the university sent me a research paper-based article for a complete grammar edit based on a referral by one of his engineering department colleagues. (many thanks, Yong)
  • A graduate student sent me her Masters thesis for a grammar and copy edit. (congrats Tara)
  • A physician with a non-fiction nutrition book sent his book proposal to me for an evaluation and critique, and I provided him a five-page evaluation, complete with assistance on how to build his platform, what numbers he has to include in his proposal for it to get attention, and suggestions for rewritten copy that will make it sing. (Sell it Homaydun)

If I do say so myself…


“Act ‘entrepreneurially’ when it comes to your career”~ Money Magazine

Sacramento Freelance Camp 2009
Sacramento Freelance Camp 2009

I’m going to try out this Freelance Camp on Saturday. Registration is still open if you’d like to join me. Breakfast and lunch served up with networking opportunities and perhaps new friends. The more people who are there, the better it will be, as there will be more experience to share.

In business for yourself, but do not want to be by-yourself?

Where do you get experienced-based answers to your questions?

Where can you network and meet people who run successful freelance businesses?

How do you form partnerships and collaborations?

How do you find clients?