I had considered one of those blogs along the lines of ‘Things I wish I knew when I started’, but this is a blog, not a thesis. So instead of staring at my horrible naivety and ineptitude stone cold in the face (nobody wants advice from someone with a blog title of ‘3000 things I wish I knew when I started’), I will tiptoe round that and make this an introductory blog. It is a subject I wish to return to as I make new discoveries. However, today I will get the ball rolling with my starter blog theme of basic resources every proofreader or editor (and the hybrid of both) should feel proud to have to hand when working on a text.
I think most of us would think it quite acceptable for a proofreader or editor to have a decent dictionary and thesaurus. I started out thinking this would be good enough. I currently have a working list of physical reference books and online dictionaries and thesaurus’ to collect. There is more than just British-English to proofread! I also have a comprehensive list of books in my Amazon basket at the moment covering grammar, spelling, punctuation, editing, proofreading, business, marketing, economics and anything else that can make sure my business will become a well-oiled proofreading and editing machine that will afford me a living. Yes, you will need more than your brain!
Thanks to technology, there are a multitude of amazing tools and resources for the proofreader and editor. I will be honest, most of my work to date has been work sent to me online with me correcting using Microsoft’s Track Changes program. However, you may receive work in physical printed form, and from a specific field. This will mean you will have to have Style Manual resources. You could receive work from the scientific/medical community, engineering in American-English or Australian-English. The correction symbols will change accordingly, and it’s tough to know them all by rote! Alternatively, you may be requested to proofread a PDF and will need a PDF reader. When it comes to resources and tools, I have yet to find anything that can compare to the generous advice and links offered by Louise Harnby. http://www.louiseharnbyproofreader.com/ If you are starting out in the profession, or have a little experience under your belt, this is without doubt one of the best places you can start.
These will provide a lifeline over the course of your editorial career. I am planning to join the SFEP (Society For Editors and Proofreaders) as soon as I am able. This society provides training and courses to get you started on your professional career as a proofreader. In addition to training the SFEP offers resources, support and help with legal issues. Being a member of the SFEP is simply a stamp of quality and a comprehensive support to all in the editorial world. Have a look at their home page and tell me this is a comprehensive and practical support you can afford to miss! http://www.sfep.org.uk/
There is a membership I am keen to join very soon called Payontime. They help to support you getting paid as agreed, a problem for every freelancer! As a member you are able to display their Payontime logo on your website and stationery, making it quite clear how you conduct your business to potential clients. Follow this link and have a peek! http://payontime.co.uk/
Training and Testing
I made the mistake of thinking I had a good English degree and some experience in proofreading during and after university, the rest I could learn along the way! Why would I even think of limiting myself like this? Yes, you can set up a proofreading business working from home on the skills you have, as long as you make it clear the qualifications you possess. However, I would recommend compiling a list of training opportunities to save for and take advantage of.
The SFEP is clearly the best choice for me, and I am currently saving to build on my existing skills through their training programme. http://www.sfep.org.uk/training/about-sfep-training-courses/ There is also the Publishing Training Centre as a training resource, with funding support available too! http://www.publishingtrainingcentre.co.uk/courses/self-study/more-information Whatever stage you are at, language is such a living, breathing and changing thing that you will always be learning and training. It will keep your skills sharp and your confidence where it should be. These resources also have quick skills testing sessions to take as often as you like to keep your hand in. Don’t assume you know your skillset, know your skillset!
Social Media Groups
When my mentoring training fell through due to the parent company going into administration, I was left with a registered business and little clue what to do with it. It was through professional groups and support networks on LinkedIn and Twitter that I managed to find my feet and construct a plan. I simply would not have got this far without them. LinkedIn is particularly effective in finding groups of similar professionals, skills and training opportunities, job offers and practical support. It is also a great source of articles, polls, surveys and promotions to take advantage of. Contrary to popular belief, people love helping others succeed. Online support and advice has been infinitely more powerful and useful to me as opposed to real life organisations, I will be honest. The ‘can do’ attitude is infectious, and you will find yourself helping others before you know it! Spread the love and support people!
I find it is best to try and flow all of my social media through my website, or redirect it through my website where I can. Your followers and supporters will be more effective on the ‘shop floor’. I have Twitter for short announcements and links, Facebook for keeping up with my business events and events in the field and Pinterest to visually pull in the crowds to my blog. The most important thing I can suggest is to constantly interact with your peers, colleagues and clients in your social media groups. Comment, review, leave testimonials and visually be present. To receive support you must give support. Put aside some time each day or each week to dedicate to this. Make your content professional, friendly and relevant. This is how you will eventually see followers turn into loyal clients to your brand. To progress in life you must accept help when it is offered along the way!