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Freelance Editing: A Lifeboat for Those Living with Chronic Illness or Disability: Part 2

by Natalia Iwanek

Stethoscope next to a laptop on a white surface.

Photo by Negative Space from Pexels

On Tuesday, November 26, we published the first part of a feature on freelance editing as an option for people living with chronic illness or disability. This is the second and last part of that feature. To read Part 1, click here.

The editing community is incredibly diverse. I hope that by highlighting our varied experiences through the following two interviews, I will inspire editors to see how life-changing this career can be.

Jane (not her real name) is a freelance editor with a PhD in a highly specialized field. She describes living with a chronic illness, while freelance editing part-time and working part-time at a research job that sometimes involves writing and editing.

What made you get into editing? Was this a career goal or was it something you naturally gravitated toward over the years?

Editing is something I’ve done on the side since high school. I formalized my editing career as a business after I got laid off from a different job in 2013. Part of the reason why I continue to edit is that I enjoy it, but another reason is that, with my niche skills, it pays well per hour and with minimal effort compared to some other work that I could be doing.

In what ways, if at all, has your illness impacted your editing career? Have you had to overcome any barriers?

I have Crohn’s disease. Crohn’s is an autoimmune condition in which the body attacks the digestive system and sometimes other organ systems as well. The medications I’ve been on for the past 15 years have kept most of the worst symptoms under control most of the time, but I still get sick frequently and unpredictably and also suffer from debilitating bouts of fatigue lasting from days to weeks, again at unpredictable intervals.

Crohn’s is a complete career killer. I was unable to pursue a career in academia because of the restrictions it put on my ability to do certain kinds of research (because of the immune-suppressing medications I’m on), to travel easily (because of my inflexible treatment schedule), and to obtain affordable health insurance anywhere other than Canada. (Health insurance for anyone other than full-time, tenure-track faculty often has a yearly cap at around what my medications cost per month.) I worked outside of academia for several years but had a succession of bad bosses who did not abide by the accommodations my doctors outlined. I was pressed to work more than I could handle, ended up on sick leave, and then was punished for it.

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Freelance Editing: A Lifeboat for Those Living with Chronic Illness or Disability: Part 1

by Natalia Iwanek

Call it a sixth sense or intuition but sometimes the human body is capable of warning us of impending danger. Although strange symptoms had plagued me for years, I simply attributed them to overwork or stress and continued with my regular routine. Unfortunately, January 25, 2017, was the start of my life-altering journey.

I woke up experiencing an unusually severe stiffness in my lower back. As the day progressed, I felt a sharp snap in my spine. The pain took my breath away. Subconsciously, I knew that something had changed deep within my body and that this was no ordinary injury. Thus began years of physiotherapy, acupuncture, hospital visits, and perplexed doctors who could not understand why my spine refused to heal.

I developed increasingly concerning symptoms, such as debilitating exhaustion, memory problems, and severe allergic reactions, but doctors assured me that this was normal for those with chronic pain.  Meanwhile, I rapidly lost weight and grew weaker daily.

The time had come to revaluate my future plans. I needed to finish my education and choose a flexible career path. What better career than editing for someone who reads voraciously and has a strong grasp of grammar?

Between appointments, work, and excruciating pain, I enrolled in Simon Fraser University’s Editing Certificate program, and returned to Athabasca University to finish the remaining credits of my degree. Both programs are highly recommended for those who require a flexible, non-traditional route for their education.

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A Discussion on the Business of Editing

Stock photo of people in a group (faces not in frame), gesturing with their hands, having a conversation

Date: Tuesday, November 26, 7:00 – 9:00 pm
Location: Viola Desmond Room (3rd floor) at the Centre for Social Innovation (CSI), 192 Spadina Ave.
Map: goo.gl/maps/VRvEPVLumjmuHWbz8

We are thrilled to have received amazing feedback from our members through our recent programming survey. As it turns out, many of you want more of a community feel to our programs and are looking for opportunities to get to know your fellow editors. So, this month, we are hosting an evening of connecting and chatting about the business of editing.

The evening will begin with a short Editors Toronto business meeting. We’ll follow that with introductions and a moderated discussion on the business of editing. You will have a chance to present your questions to the group and share your own expertise with others. The floor will be open to talk to peers about anything related to working as an editor.

Potential discussion points include:

  • finding and keeping clients
  • pricing your services
  • training opportunities
  • dealing with challenging situations
  • managing your time and prioritizing jobs
  • working from home vs. working in-house
  • marketing yourself (e.g., website, social media)
  • leveraging Editors Canada to achieve your goals

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How to Find Freelance Editing Work: A recap

by Celina Fazio

Greg Ioannou giving presentation on "How to find freelance editing work" for the Editors Toronto April program

The April program meeting featured Editors Canada co-founder Greg Ioannou. The topic of the evening was finding freelance work, and, in addition to listening to Ioannou’s talk, attendees had the pleasure of viewing a series of short video presentations by four freelance editors: Jahleen Turnbull-Sousa, Susannah Noel, Adrienne Montgomerie, and Carolyn Camilleri.

These guests shared some tips and strategies on how to generate freelance editing work and illuminated the variety of sectors that editors work in—everywhere from trade publishing to government branches. The question addressed was, how do we connect editors with people who need work edited?

Jahleen Turnbull-Sousa spoke about the importance of not being shy and reaching out to online networks: social media platforms are great places to meet people and connect with other professionals in the industry. Maintaining a presence online makes you easily discoverable by people looking for editorial services. She also discussed cold emailing ideal clients—in addition to the possibility of getting work, cold calling gets your name out and recognized. Turnbull-Sousa also suggested trying mentorship programs, such as the one that Editors Canada offers, to work closely with someone in the industry who can share their experiences and expertise. Finally, Turnbull-Sousa shared her number one tip: volunteering! By offering your skills and services for the greater good, you not only gain valuable experience, but also express your interest in becoming more involved in the editorial field.

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So you want to be a travel writer?

by Tasneem Bhavnagarwala

Journal with world map on cover and camera to the side

This world is big, and it offers us more destinations than one can explore in a lifetime. This is where travel writers step in. Whether it’s gazing into the sunset at a beach in Indonesia, enjoying a conversation with the rickshaw driver on the streets of India, or admiring a graffiti artist’s work in Barcelona, there is something in each experience that is inspiring. Travel writers bring these moments and stories to readers who want to experience travel adventures vicariously or need assistance in developing their travel itineraries.

The key challenge for travel writers is how to bring these moments to life through words. Magazines and newspapers are always covering stories about exotic and offbeat destinations. To stand out from the crowd is not an easy task, but if you, like me, love travel writing, then the guidelines below will definitely help you break in to the business.

While travelling is something I have always loved, travel writing as a career was not something I had considered. In 2015, after I made a trip to Ladakh, India, and seeing my offbeat itinerary, a friend encouraged me to document my experience, and that’s when my journey began with travel writing. After much reading, researching, and exploring, I managed to get an opportunity to work with a small travel start-up in Mumbai as a writer. Though I consider myself still in the learning phase of my career, I would like to share some points that have helped me break in to the world of travel writing.

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How to Find Freelance Editing Work

When: Tuesday, April 23, 7:30–9:30 pm

Where: Centre for Social Innovation (CSI) Spadina, 192 Spadina Ave., Third Floor, Room F

For the penultimate program meeting of 2018–19, we are pleased to feature publisher and Editors Canada co-founder Greg Ioannou, who will speak about how freelancers can generate work, and what Editors Canada plans to do to help freelancers find jobs in today’s evolving marketplace. We’re also treating members to a specially curated collection of short video presentations, by a diverse group of editors adept at generating freelance work. Please join us for what will surely be an informative program devoted to the practical and business side of the editing profession.

More about our speaker:

Greg IoannouGreg Ioannou has a long history in publishing. He’s worked on well over 3,000 books, on topics ranging from cannibalism to vegetarian cuisine, and from science fiction to how to design a helicopter. He’s taught publishing at Ryerson University, George Brown College, and elsewhere, and served four terms as president of Editors Canada. He is the CEO of Colborne Communications, a writing and editing company, and president of the Toronto hybrid publisher Iguana Books. Through Colborne, Greg and his team have worked on everything from websites and self-published books to board games and government reports. As a hybrid publisher, Greg has helped more than 100 authors publish top-quality books in genres ranging from mysteries to political thrillers to humour, and in 2018, Iguana Books co-published with Canadian Authors Association the first in a series of planned anthologies of new Canadian writing.

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Let’s Talk Rates! How to Ask for What You’re Worth and Get Paid on Time

Learn about setting rates (and raising them) from long-time freelancers at the PWAC Toronto February seminar. Note, Editors Toronto members are eligible to receive the PWAC Partners discount.

PWAC Feb 25 seminar Let's Talk Rates

Date: Monday, February 25, 2019
Time: 7:15 p.m. to 8:45 p.m. (doors open at 7 p.m.)
Location: Miles Nadal JCC, Room 318 (third floor)

Why is talking about freelance pay rates and money in general so challenging? In this seminar, we ask long-time freelancers to share advice on how they’ve set their rates and how they’ve raised them over the years.

Speakers:

  • Carol J. Anderson, an editor, proofreader, researcher, and writer for the private sector, non-profits, and government
  • Allan Britnell, freelance writer and editor and past-president of the Canadian Society of Magazine Editors
  • Diane Peters, a writer and editor who has covered a variety of topics for national publications and also teaches writing at Ryerson University
  • Suzanne (Sue) Bowness (seminar moderator), a long-time freelance writer/editor and writing teacher

To learn more about the seminar and the speakers, visit pwactoronto.org.

As always, PWAC Toronto evening seminars are FREE for PWAC members, and while non-members who register online in advance receive a discount.

The organizers ask that you please register in advance so they know how many people to expect.

REGISTER FOR THE SEMINAR

Recommended reading: Sue Bowness shares a preview of our seminar topic in her latest Networds Blog post.

Prize-winner learns value of mentors

by Deborah Joy Innes

I was the very lucky winner of two (yes, two!) raffle prizes at the Editors Toronto meeting in September.

The first was the book The New Vine by author Robert Marrone. There were two authors present that night (Robert Marrone and Trevor Cole), along with their editors, speaking about the author-editor relationship.

The second was the last prize of the evening: a one-hour mentoring session with Jennifer D. Foster—editor, writer, mentor, co-chair of Editors Toronto, and administrative director of Rowers Reading Series.

Embarrassed as I was to have won two prizes, the timing of the mentoring session was perfect. (The book set in Italy was also very good.) I’d recently lost my job after 10 years as an in-house copy editor, proofreader, and writer in a legal marketing and communications department. I was now in the process of setting up my freelance copy-editing business. I had many questions.

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