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By Denyse O’Leary
Things have changed a lot from the days when a computer took up a large room, instead of a zipper case in a backpack. But fortunately, good business practice has not changed. Here are some concepts that have helped many of us stay solvent over the years:
We don’t get face time with clients just by saying we need work; we get it by building confidence over time that we can solve the specific problems they identify. For example, one area I specialized in early was indexing. Indexes add greatly to the value of non-fiction works, but most authors can’t write them, and most editors are too busy to do it when it must be done—in the last stages of publication.
Other old-timers have made editing for science journals or checking a foreign language translation their specialty. Over the years, an editor’s reputation grows among clients who need the specialty—because, no surprise, those people tend to all know each other. (more…)
By Denyse O’Leary
If you Google “editing for self-published authors,” you will see immediately that it is a growing business area. Forbes noted in 2012 that, in the United States, the number of self-published books with ISBNs had increased 287 per cent since 2006 (and had increased from 148,424 books to 235,000 in 2011). The Toronto Star Books page informally deemed 2013 the year of self-publishing. Some self-published books in Canada and the United States make bestseller lists, especially Kindle’s.
At one time, in order to get a contract with a royalty publisher, the author needed to demonstrate that a certain number of copies would be sold at a profit. But most authors do not write a book simply to make a profit, or at any rate not in the immediate term.
Other reasons for writing a book include boosting one’s career (think Fifty Ways to Raise Your Condo’s Resale Value, written by a top real estate agent) and writing one’s memoirs (think Nay!: My Years in Opposition at Queen’s Park). Such authors usually have a clear idea why they are writing and who might want to read their books. They can probably reach their target markets without a royalty publisher’s help. The agent’s book might be a freebie for his or her potential clients, or the retired politician might sell only 500 copies but still meet identified goals.
By Denyse O’Leary
University of Toronto demographer David Foot argues, “Demographics can explain two-thirds of everything.” Exaggerated? Maybe, but demographics can shed light on growth or decline areas for editorial services.
The key demographic fact is that a certain number of children are born each year and no one can go back and change that number. Most of them will probably grow up in Canada. Some new Canadians will arrive with children and some families will leave, but these changes won’t greatly alter the picture.
In general, the declining birth rate has reduced the number of children entering school. Over 5.11 million students were enrolled in public schools in the academic year 2007–08, a 4.5 per cent decrease from 2001–02. This continued a downward trend which has seen declines every year since 2002–03. The trend should be kept in mind if you find children’s media a sluggish market. Maybe you are not making a mistake in marketing, but rather experiencing the results of a trend. On the other hand, the total number of educators (full-time equivalent) steadily increased. Statistics Canada says that in 2007–08, there were just under 333,000 educators, up 1.1 per cent from 2006–07 and up 5.2 per cent from 2001–02. So more teacher training materials may be needed anyway.
One outcome is that the Canadian population is aging. In 2011, the median age in Canada was 39.9 years, meaning that half of the population was older than that and half was younger. In 1971, the median age was only 26.2 years. Thus—just for example—if you edit for sports media, you may see a shift in client focus from downhill skiing to cross-country skiing. Again, it’s not you, it’s the market.