What is your specialism within book publishing?
My specialisms are (ghost) writing, editing and/or proofreading fiction and nonfiction books for independent authors.
My English degree, post graduate English teaching qualification, more than a decade teaching English and English literature, and marking English Literature exam scripts for an exam board for 5 years, has allowed me to indulge my passion for words and sharpen my skills in editing and proofreading.
Since starting my writing, editing and proofreading business – Penning and Planning – in 2018, I have completed both the Society for Editors and Proofreaders’ (SfEP) Proofreading and the Publishing Training Centre’s (PTC) Editing Fiction courses whilst working my way through the PTC’s Successful Editorial Freelancing course, equipping me with updated knowledge as well as industry recognised qualifications to ultimately benefit the authors (as well as the students and businesses) I work with. A big believer in always learning, I have plenty more training courses lined up for 2019 too! Personal and professional development is extremely important for me, my clients and the ongoing success of my business.
Can you describe what you do in 10 words or fewer?
What led you to go freelance?
Following my dad’s death in June 2017, I felt terribly lost. I began supply teaching whilst helping to care for my dad and will be forever grateful for the flexibility that gave me during such a surreal time. After he died, the thought of returning to full time teaching filled me with dread and anxiety and I realised that although the six months between my dad’s cancer diagnosis and death were extremely difficult, they were also joyous because of the time I gained with him and my extended family – time I gained due to flexible working. Having struggled with social anxiety since my mum’s death in 2009, being in a school environment had gradually become more and more difficult for me so I set about recreating the flexibility of supply teaching but on my own terms whilst I worked through my grief. A few months later I decided to leave teaching completely and created my own business doing the three things I love most – writing, editing and proofreading! Without a doubt, it was the right decision for me and I have never been happier in my work.
Do you work primarily for publishing companies or independent authors or a mix?
Primarily I work with independent authors. Currently I am working with two non-fiction authors who are writing their debut books and one fiction author who has completed two manuscripts so far.
My nonfiction authors submit chapters as they are written and I edit and proofread them and make suggestions for changes/improvements as we go. We will then go through the books as a whole when they are complete to prepare them for publication. I also help them with their synopses and query letters. This way of working has created such positive and productive working relationships between myself and the authors as we see their books develop over time.
My fiction author requires a thorough proofread of his finished books - one is a children's adventure book and one is an adult's mystery book. As an established writer (although new to the publishing process), this author just needs help polishing his spelling, punctuation and grammar usage before either querying his books with his chosen publishers or opting to go for the self-publishing route.
I am enjoying the projects immensely and hope to build my portfolio of independent author books alongside working with publishing companies as my business develops further, whilst continuing to work with businesses and individuals on various writing projects too.
What’s the best part of doing what you do?
Definitely reading – I cannot get enough! I have always been obsessive about reading and writing and spelling and grammar and to now run a business combining all these elements is an absolute dream for me. Reading is the best part though, especially reading a new author’s manuscript for the first time and immediately feeling their passion and creativity within the pages. It is an honour to be involved in their process and progress. Being in the midst of writing my own first novel as well as a nonfiction book, I am always mindful of ensuring feedback is positive and constructive – I will be in their vulnerable position myself soon enough!
What do you know now that you wish you had known when you started your freelance journey?
I wish I had known that imposter syndrome pervades every job, even when it is your dream job. Naively, I imagined that once I started my business, doing what I love (and what I am extremely good at), I would be happiness personified. Unfortunately that is not always the case! It is difficult not to fall into the comparison trap but it is easily done if you’re not vigilant about it. I have now learnt to minimise my time on social media in order to avoid comparing myself to others and feeling too overwhelmed and panicky about not doing whatever I see other people doing. They are not me and I am not them so I have learned that I am happiest when focussing on my work, doing a great job for my clients, and nothing else. I keep the main thing the main thing!
How many books are in your TBR (to be read) pile/list? And do you plan to read them all eventually?
Currently there are about 30 books in my TBR pile on Goodreads as well as many paperbacks dotted around my house! My local supermarket has a charity book table that I often donate to, but I usually end up buying one that has been donated by someone else at the same time as donating one myself, so my TBR pile never seems to decrease! I hope to read them all eventually but there are so many good books in the world that it might be an impossible task!
Do you prefer physical books or ebooks?
Although there is nothing better than a brand new hardback book by my favourite author(s), I currently prefer eBooks as I can stay up reading long after my husband has fallen asleep without disturbing him. Geekily, I also enjoy seeing what percentage of a book I have read and how many hours and minutes I have left!
Do you have any advice for anyone considering a career in publishing?
This is the hardest question to answer because I do not feel qualified to give anyone advice about their careers – people must do what they want to do to make themselves happy. If that is pursuing a career in publishing, then pursue away! I created my own dream job in the publishing sector and I thank my lucky stars* every day that I work from home doing something I adore. Someone may dream of running a publishing house, another person might be clattering away on their keyboard right now trying to sculpt the ideas in their brain into a bestselling story, yet another could be a fledging designer hoping to create book covers one day – whatever it is anyone wants to do, they must try to do, whatever it takes.
* Lucky stars = determined, blinkered approach to starting my own business!
What is your favourite children’s book and your favourite adult’s book?
My favourite children’s book was actually a dictionary! It was the first book I remember my dad giving me and I was fascinated with words and their meanings – I still am! I am convinced that dictionary ignited my love of the English language.
My favourite adult’s book is Anyone Out There by my favourite author Marian Keyes. It is not high-brow or a classic or a typical literary answer but I have read it twice now and I absolutely love the characters and the story. Marian has a way of telling even tragic stories with realism and humour and I devour her writing. I buy all her books in hardback as soon as they are published and take great pleasure in displaying them and rereading them.