Freelance or bust

Writers and editors debate the pros and cons of going solo.

When 60-some freelance writers and editors put on business suits, leave their home offices, and get together to network, it’s only a matter of time before someone lays bare the truth about self-employment.

“It’s not all sunshine and flowers,” declared Kelli Christiansen, founder of bibliobibuli professional editorial services. The first of four speakers at last Friday’s Graham School Freelance Summit, she was joined by networking expert Lillian Bjorseth, managing editor of the American Journal of Sociology Susan Allan, and University of Chicago Press managing editor Anita Samen. All offered bits of wisdom on going freelance:

On Work

“You have to have a literary bent. Be a reader. A good copyeditor is someone who reads everything.”—Susan Allan

For online grammar resources, “use institutionally connected websites like the Purdue Online Writing Lab and the Library of Congress. … ‘Frank’s Grammar Site’ might not do as well.”—Susan Allan

As you work on a project, “keep the publisher informed, for good or for ill.”—Anita Samen

On Building Relationships

“It’s important to see the whites of someone’s eyes.”—Lillian Bjorseth

“Know what your clothing represents. … Black is the most powerful color, sometimes too powerful. … Navy blue means responsible.”—Lillian Bjorseth

“If you send an e-mail and don’t get a response back, keep trying.”—Anita Samen

On Uncle Sam

“Don’t forget about paying your quarterly taxes, or April is going to be a sorry month.”—Kelli Christiansen

On Working Solo

“Your friends and significant other need to know that by the end of the day you’re going to be a Chatty Cathy because you haven’t talked to anyone all day.”—Kelli Christiansen

Brooke E. O’Neill, AM’04

Photo courtesy Graham Holliday (CC-BY-NC-SA 2.0)

October 25, 2010