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A good opportunity to broaden my horizons. Should I take it?

(8 Posts)
PavlovtheCat Mon 29-Apr-13 21:28:26

Ok, so it's not a million pound earner. It's not even enough to make a living off yet. But...

I have been doing a little work here and there, earning 'pocket money' as a proofreader/copy editor. It started really as I am highly critical of errors in articles and books, along with being a bit bored at home in the evenings. I work 25 hours a week in a mentally demanding role, have two young children and disability that means sometimes I am in a hell of a lot of pain and fit for nothing.

As a result of my commitments and disability, I only really proof up to 10,000 word projects at a time. I've done a few larger projects, including editing websites (my favourite job!) but mostly short and sweet proofing that can be done in an evening and enjoy jobs that get done within the hour.

I have passed up an opportunity to edit a 120,000 word military manuscript in the last two weeks, because of the subject title, huge word count and it needing a 3 week turnaround. I could probably have asked for more time, but felt it was a huge project to take on. DH felt the same.

But, I am kicking myself. I would love to be in a position to reduce my day job hours, maybe even one day be self-employed and keep my own hours. My job is not 100% secure and I could do with increasing my skills. But that opportunity was not right. And, right now, it's not really about the money money money but more about me feeling a bit more successful. It feels good to have people think I can do something. as PAYE I feel there are others that can do my job, I am not really 'sought after' so it's good to be asked for. I need to build my reputation before I can earn good money and sustain it.

Since then I have taken on a couple of smaller projects of 15,000 words max, which I have managed fine.

I have just been offered the chance to work on an 80,000 word project, which involves editing some work that is old published work that needs freshening up so won't be too heavily in need of editing. It could lead to more work of a similar level.

Should I take it? Dh will say no, I shouldn't take on too much more commitment as I cannot guarantee I can fulfil my obligations. I feel that if I am realistic with my deadline ability and it is still offered to me then I should take it. I also look at people who work so much harder than me and achieve so much and think that if I am ever going to make it for myself I have to push myself. If I don't take these opportunities now, I am worried they will start to dry up and they have, in the last few weeks, increased in volume from being pennies to pounds. But, I also don't want to overload myself while I am not 100% well and get any bad rep.

(don't comment on errors in my work. I am not a writer! I am terrible at spotting my own errors, and I don't proofread my own work lazy as I'm bored with my own words once I have written them!)

PavlovtheCat Mon 29-Apr-13 21:40:50

Oh, and also, this project is an actual book. I have copy edited some e-books and short stories, but this offer seems to suggest I actually know what I'm doing. And of course I must, as I have done lots of this work now and my feedback and recommendations have been fab. I am treated like a professional and I guess this is where my own confidence is a problem. I am not formally trained, so am to some extent winging it. But, I have become good at much of what I have done in life by winging it, and become an expert in my field by 'doing' rather than 'formal learning'.

If I get lots more work I will look at doing some formal training just to get some credentials behind me, and to ensure that 'rules' are being followed. But, google is fab for learning copy editing etiquette and it's free - if I'm unsure about the correct 'rules' I check it out, have joined some copy editing forums to learn so not just making it up!

HeathRobinson Mon 29-Apr-13 22:21:59

Well if it's 80,000 words, then it's only 8 normal projects for you. If you have a deadline within your current ability, then why not try it?

Especially if you can make the deadline have a few days' slack in it, for times when you're not feeling well enough.

Presumably they wouldn't have offered you the work if they didn't think you could do it?

Sheshelob Mon 29-Apr-13 22:26:18

Take it. You are an expert juggler. You'll make it work. And it could lead to bigger things.

Just be realistic about the timescale. I recently took a project that I had to push THREE times because I am still working on the toddler plus project equation. Might have messed up my chances of a recall, so best to be realistic. You can always get it in early...

Sounds exciting! Good luck.

WilsonFrickett Tue 30-Apr-13 18:58:48

If you ever want this skill to become more than the odd hour for the odd tenner here and there, you are going to have to take the plunge and push yourself. Most people who are successful freelancers have come down two routes - got made redundant so had a little bit of money behind them = time to build up their business (like me). Or route 2 - worked bloody hard at the day job during the day, while taking on projects at night/weekends/holidays to build up enough of a client base to then take the plunge.

So if you want to make more of this, and you're not loaded or about to be made redundant, the only way forward is to take a hit of short-term stress.

So take the job. Make sure you negotiate a decent timeline. For the love of all of us, make sure you're not undercutting trained proofreaders <hard stare> with your rates, because that is not fair to them and not sustainable for you, and if you're googling proof techniques make sure it's British rather than American.

PavlovtheCat Tue 30-Apr-13 22:58:35

Thank you for the encouragement everyone. DH has, as predicted panned the notion but, I really enjoy the work and as wilson said, got to push to get somewhere. I am going to talk to the publisher this evening, well, email him, with a proposal and a good time frame for completing.

wilson I have done both English and US proofing, so have joined some fab forums/groups for both languages! Thanks for your advice. I have been honest about my experience and ability, not claimed to have formal training whenever I am offered work. I think my rate is reasonable for my level of experience and lack of training, I have ensured my rate is too low though wink

PavlovtheCat Tue 30-Apr-13 23:01:01

and I am definitely in the second category now wilson grin but, who knows, my job is not entirely secure and redundancies are likely to be discussed in a year or so, it happens every few years and it's now been like 5, so we are due! Not to mention that I work for a government organisation which is being 'privatised'. So I might find myself in the first one soon enough!

HeathRobinson Wed 01-May-13 09:40:06

Good luck Pavlov!

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