Sunday, March 5, 2017

Freelance Wordsmith: Who am I? Who do you want me to be?

I've had two occasions, lately, to try to figure out exactly what I do - and what I'm willing to do - in my freelancing.

(Don't let your mind go too far. We're only talking about various kinds of editing, when we really get down to the basics.)

My website says that I'm a writing coach, an editor, and a proofreader. And that's pretty much how I see what I do. When someone comes to me with a manuscript (partial or complete), I can coach to the points that are working (and coach away from the points that aren't); I can edit what has been written to make it better present ideas; and I can proofread what has been written to make sure that it all comes out looking good.

Those are the things I do. They're what my website says I do. But they're not what I've had people asking me about, lately. So I've had to step back a bit and reconsider the intersections between what I am comfortable with and what I'm being asked to do.

One of the two contacts I've had asked if I would work on information gathering for a memoir. I started my college career with an eye on journalism, but soon decided that I didn't have it in me to really go out and hunt down a story. So I worked out a meet-and-chat with this author and we discussed what we might each be able to do.

In the end, we decided that he'd be in charge of gathering all of the info and putting it together. Then I'd be doing a deep edit on it - and would follow-up with any questions where I thought material was missing. This, in essence, is what I do on every edit that goes beyond a surface copyedit or proofread, so it feels like a natural progression.

The second contact I had is just at the start of his work on a new book. It's still "in the idea stages," to use his words. And he's looking for someone to help him along from that zero marker. While I completely understand why he thought that my "writing coach" credential might be what he needs, I had to explain that - at least as it was being described to me - he is looking for more of a co-author (or even a ghostwriter). My skills, on the other hand, would be helpful to him after he translates a certain number of his ideas onto paper (or into pixels), so that I could help him work through where he's going so that he can get to the eventual finish line.

I've been thinking about both of those situations and tumbling them over in my brain for the past week or so. I have to admit that I might have felt differently about each of them if they had been different topics. (The former will be a family memoir; the latter will be a business book.) And, while there's definitely a chance that changes in genres may have resulted in different responses, I feel pretty solid in my decisions.

At my core as a freelancer, I definitely consider myself an editor - someone who works with words already on the page.

If I'm what you're looking for - whether that's someone who can coach you when you hit a rough patch, edit your writing, or proofread your layout - let's talk about what I might be able to do for you.

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