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My career change: Taking the leap into freelance editing

train-tracks

By Valerie Borden

A few years ago, I realized that I was losing interest in my work as a holistic nutritional consultant and decided that I needed to go back to the world of words. This was the main catalyst for my career change in 2011 from the field of natural health to the world of freelance editing.

I was, and still am, an avid reader, the kid who spent her summers with her nose in a book. In high school I excelled in languages, so I decided to become a translator and obtained my bachelor of science in languages from Laurentian University. However, certain events caused me to change direction, and my dream of working with words was put on hold.

Nevertheless, life also has a way of bringing you back to where you belong no matter how many years have passed.  So, when I was ready, I took the following actions to transition from helping people improve their health to helping them improve their written text.

1) I made the decision to have a home-based editing service.

2) I went to the experts on career change at the Sudbury Vocational Resource Centre and took part in the Power of Experience Program, which focuses on older workers.

3) From there I was accepted into the Self-employment Development Program offered by Learning Initiative, a human resource development company and business school located in downtown Sudbury. The program included writing a 50-page business plan and attending classes in market research, business procedures and policies, strategies, promotions, social media, websites, bookkeeping, and much more. This solid training in business practices was a valuable experience and increased my credibility as a business owner.

4) I had a website created, freshsetofeyes.ca, which is my modern-day, all-in-one business card, resumé, and portfolio.

5) I joined the Distributed Proofreaders of Canada and became part of Project Gutenberg, a volunteer effort to digitize and archive thousands of works from various countries. Their ebooks are available to the public for free.

6) I joined the Editors’ Association of Canada. Even though I am a long-distance member, I still enjoy the following benefits:

  • being part of a professional community;
  • use of the EAC logo on my website;
  • access to editorial advice and information through EAC’s blogs, newsletters, emails, and website;
  • opportunities to volunteer and network; and
  • access to professional development tools, such as EAC certification.

7) I took advantage of the EAC Toronto branch mentorship program. The knowledge, guidance, and support I received from my mentors made it well worth the time, and it’s a great way to stay connected to those who understand the challenges of being a freelance editor. In fact, one of my most recent editing projects was passed on to me by my mentor—proofreading a non-fiction book! I learned so much from this opportunity; it was like a course in itself, and it strengthened my editing skills.

8) In addition to the skills I learned through my degree in languages, I also completed an intensive online course called Grammar for Writing Professionals offered by Cambrian College. This is an excellent course for potential writers, editors, and proofreaders.

9) Concerning reference books, I have acquired the following:

  • Bedford Basics: A Workbook for Writers by Diana Hacker and Wanda Van Goor;
  • The Copyeditor’s Handbook by Amy Einsohn;
  • The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th edition;
  • The Canadian Press Stylebook, 17th edition;
  • Caps and Spelling, 20th edition, The Canadian Press; and
  • Copyediting & Proofreading for Dummies by Suzanne Gilad.

These steps have helped me develop my skills, grow my editing business, and find satisfying work.

Valerie Borden is a Sudbury-based freelance editor and a member of EAC Toronto branch.


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