Business Planning for Editorial Freelancers: A Guide for New Starters

L Harnby, Publishing Training Centre, 126pp, 2013, £7.18 (pbk), ISBN 978 1 4841 0621 1

Reviewed by Michèle Clarke

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I have been looking at this book by Louise Harnby – an advanced member of the SfEP – since I reviewed the new SfEP Guide Starting Out in the previous issue of Editing Matters. I think both are worth buying – the SfEP Guide is a really good starter in this field, but this is a much heftier tome and includes a great deal of personal experience as well as that of editors new to the job.

The author is of the firm belief that you must make a business plan long before you decide to become a freelancer. Your thoughts will be more focused and the risk most of us undertake to 'lose' our employee status less of a gamble. She divides the book into:  

  • what a business plan is and reasons behind forming one  
  • the types of editorial freelancing  
  • training needs  
  • clients  
  • getting experience  
  • financial assessment  
  • promotion and marketing  
  • networking  
  • practicalities  
  • case studies.

There are 12 pages alone on resources, which makes this a good book in itself. Throughout the book there are inserts regarding the experience of six other editorial practitioners – valuable advice from experienced people. Starting out can be difficult, so having more tools at your fingertips, eg training and reference books such as the SfEP's and this one, can help you decide on the many paths that are open to you.

Do you want to offer 'just' proofreading, have you a subject that is out of the main stream, do you want to consider only digital work (50 per cent of Louise's work is still in paper format)? Ask yourself the many questions that will arise during perusal of this book, and the path may become less weedy.

Marketing and self-promotion worry many 'newbies'. It was interesting to see that the author still likes to send a 'cold' letter with a CV. She makes use of all the modern methods – social media, websites, blogs, etc – but the cold letter can be 'stored' (hopefully not in the wastepaper basket), and is useful in a really busy office where editors have no time to search the directories for themselves.

I think this book is really focused and could be very useful – training and having the right tools to work with are key.

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