In this series, experienced editors reflect on their Top 3 tools, rules and suggestions for clients and colleagues.
Jake Poinier is a freelance editor in Phoenix, Ariz., with 31 years’ experience in the publishing industry. He specializes in business copywriting, ghostwriting and non-fiction book editing, and blogs about freelancing business topics at DoctorFreelance.com. Jake is a guest contributor, and a member of the Editorial Freelancers Association and the Independent Book Publishers Association. In May 2019, he taught an Editors Canada webinar on “Strategic Pricing and Persuasive Estimating,” which is available here as a recording. Jake was also a contributor to From Contact to Contract: How Editors Get Clients to Work With Them, published by Editors Canada in March 2020.
Top 3 professional tools you can’t work without
- Beyond essentials like computer, phone and The Chicago Manual of Style, I’d say my Olympus digital recorder is my most valuable tool. Paired with the TP-8 — their wired earbud that records both sides of a conversation — the digital recorder can capture a client’s exact language on a call without my having to write or type notes.
- Automated transcription. Huge timesaver for working on those recorded conversations. I recently switched to otter.ai, which I highly recommend.
- Herman Miller Aeron chair, which I bought used 20 years ago and still love. The mesh is comfortable and ideal for the Phoenix climate.
Top 3 marketing channels you enjoy using
- Since most of my business is word of mouth, my website is the easiest and best way to reinforce what warm contacts have been told by referring clients. I’m a terrible designer, so I invested in professional graphic designers to do my sites. (Side note: In my opinion, too many editors and writers underestimate how important visuals are to prospective clients.)
- LinkedIn. Like websites, it’s less about attracting unknown clients than it is about putting a professional foot forward for referrals.
- Networking. I participate in a monthly mastermind group with about 10 to 12 other businesspeople. I’m the only writer/editor; plus it’s a good education on a wide range of industries.
Top 3 life-work balance rules
- It’s OK to work on weekends as long as it’s not every weekend.
- Exercise helps with creativity as well as health.
- Get the hard stuff done when you’re most efficient and focused. (For me, that’s mornings.)
Top 3 suggestions for authors/clients you work with
- I always tell clients that I work best with direct, thorough feedback. Don’t worry about hurting my feelings — I’ve been critiqued by people way meaner than you.
- For clients: The earlier in the process you can include me, the more I can help.
- For authors: No matter how amazing your book is, your marketing/sales approach is the most important aspect.
Top 3 suggestions for new editors/freelancers
- Diversify your business as much as possible, including the industries you work in, the number of clients you have and the services that you provide.
- There’s a lot of advice out there, including plenty that’s contradictory or useless. Don’t waste time on anything that doesn’t work for you.
- Position yourself professionally as a businessperson, not just a person who’s skilled with words.
One book you wish you wrote/edited: Anything by Michael Crichton. Hard to pick a favorite, but maybe The Andromeda Strain, since that’s what hooked me on his books as a kid.
One recent industry trend that inspires you: Improvements in print-on-demand publishing, both in the ease of the interface as well as in the quality of the printed books.
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