When I created this blog I entitled it, What I’ve Learned, and thought I’d be sharing tips on use of language, grammar issues, innovative marketing techniques and things of the like. Instead it seems to have taken itself over and truly wants me to examine what I am learning on this journey as I begin to traverse this new business endeavor.
I started DRE&MS as a way of taking my skill set to an area I’m passionate about and hopefully make a living doing something I love. I’ve edited for years within writers groups, for friends and authors I know, and even at the most basic level for my children and in several other jobs I’ve had. I did my research, studied other similar businesses, figured out what I liked and what I didn’t, and thought I knew what my business would be.
Then, an author contacted me last week about work. What she was asking for was most like what I had in my brain and yet nothing like what I had on paper (or the mysterious web-world-like equivalent of paper). She explained to me that she was looking for a critique partner, but truth be told, had no time in her very busy world to reciprocate. She needed someone who could read her work, chapter by chapter, and do a really tough edit; let her know what works and what doesn’t, offer suggestions to make things better and fact check, as necessary.
I read her email and it was like the clouds had parted, the band played, the angels sang and the gates of Heaven opened. This was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
Add to this the changing world of publishing. Like all businesses, cuts have had an affect on the world of publishing, as there are less people there to catch errors or work closely with authors. And as more and more authors are self-publishing online a lot of little details are falling between the cracks. Now – more than ever – authors need to have someone they can trust going through their work and catching things they miss and cleaning up the little things that escape notice.
I spent last weekend going back and forth with this author about what she wanted, what I could do, what it would cost, and what the working relationship would really look like. I realized that what she wanted could be cost prohibitive unless we came up with an innovative way of defining this service.
Writers tend to write in bursts. If I charged by the chapter in a way that is fair to both myself and the author, there would be some months where the cost would be very high and then months when there would be little or nothing. As we talked more and more about this, a germ of an idea began to grow. What if I worked on a retainer system? What if I had an annual contract with an author that they would pay me a monthly fee and I would critique everything they wrote in that year? We would figure out how much they typically write in a year and base the monthly fee on that.
So, What I’ve Learned is to be adaptable. All of a sudden, I’m excited again. I was thrilled when I started the DRE&MS website, but this author has lit a fire inside of me as I realize that what is most needed and what I love and do well can all come together in a new and exciting way.
I know there are more of you out there who need a critique partner on a regular basis, but simply do not have the time to be one in return. And that’s OK. Your job is to grow your business. My job is to try and make that easier. Get in touch with me and see what I can do.