Revisions Aren’t Just for Writing: How I’m Adjusting My Freelance Editing Business Goals

Photo by Seema Miah on Unsplash

During our monthly check-in, I spent over a half-hour with an editing colleague and friend detailing how my first quarter of 2024 went. I was pulling fifty- to seventy-hour weeks. And in three months of posting twice a day every workday across four platforms, weekly networking meetings, and expanding my online presence through regular use of my website, I landed a whopping five clients, only one of which was a new client.

On top of that, my total net earnings at the end of March? USD $2,306.68.

I also covered what I wanted to do for the second quarter.

  • Prioritizing the type of content I wanted to post and where it was most effective to post it
  • Creating workshops on personal branding for both neurodivergent and queer editors
  • Creating two self-paced courses focusing on building characters and the best versions of their character arcs throughout the drafting stage
  • Outlining two business books on how story coaching works and the developmental editing process for self-publishing authors in the queer romance and queer romantic suspense subgenres
  • Booking podcast interviews and speaking engagements
  • Guest blogging for editing and writing websites

When I was done, this colleague and friend—with a straight face—told me, “Shannon, I gotta say. I just don’t get the impression that you’re doing enough to get your business off the ground.”

Of course, they were being their usual sarcastic selves, and I appreciated their attempt at levity. And don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love what I do. I chose the freelance editor route specifically for the freedom it gives me to continually try new approaches.

Thanks to the joys of capitalism, though, we all must earn “legal tender” to support ourselves. Entrepreneurs more so than other traditional jobs since our operating expenses add up quickly, never mind the additional costs of living to cover our physiological needs. The feast-or-famine roller coaster of freelancing is particularly rough, even when you love what you do.

At the end of March, I did my quarterly assessment. I mean, surely I’d hit some of the goals I set back on the first of the year. Those fifty- to seventy-hour workweeks paid off in one way or another, yes?

I checked off one quarterly objective. Of the eleven I had listed on January 1.

Cue my mom’s voice: Get a day job or fight for what you want. Guess I’m fighting for what I want, because my goals for the rest of Q2 have adjusted themselves accordingly.

Photo by Jukan Tateisi on Unsplash

Updating My Fiction Editing Services

I’ve been a teacher at heart since I was an adolescent. Spending my formative years in the local library, with cultural PBS legends like Reading Rainbow and Sesame Street and Ghost Writer, I understood the importance of how language was and is being used to shape whole societies.

When I opened my doors in July 2021, I knew I wanted to eventually get into developmental editing. I still love that aspect of the editing process. But developmental editing is about helping clients revise what’s already on the page. It’s about shoring up and strengthening the core of your story, addressing your protagonist’s goals, motivations, and conflicts, both internal and external.

In diving headfirst into the many fiction writing and fiction editing craft books on my office bookcase, I noticed that I wanted to do more for self-publishing authors. More than that, I wanted to do more for self-publishing authors writing queer romance and queer romantic suspense. While I’ll continue with my developmental editing and manuscript evaluation services, April gave me the chance to step back and find what was missing in those services from an editorial perspective.

Fiction story coaching focuses on truly getting in on the ground floor of an author’s project. Collaborating from those early stages means I help you explore your story idea, find the gems buried under the dirt of genre expectations and imposter syndrome, and polish them into a (rough) first draft. Passing on knowledge about the writing craft itself through fiction story coaching, the writing principles that are threaded throughout popular and obscure stories the world over, is what I’ve been moving toward for the past nearly three years.

Finishing the First Draft of My Debut Novel

As of this blog’s publish date, my novel-in-progress has just over 34,000 words. This novel wasn’t supposed to exist, of course. But a writing prompt from the Queer Romance Writers Group workshop I signed up for in January would not let me go. I even have a working title as well as a working front and back cover.

Through completing professional education courses specifically on developmental editing, editing romance and romantic suspense novels, joining a writing critique group that fits both my current skills and long-term goals, and tackling nine writing craft books in the first quarter of the year, I was bound to apply those lessons to my own writing eventually. Being an editor-author, especially in the early drafting stages, can be both thrilling and terrifying.

Mostly terrifying.

The more I add to this story, the more it’s started to reveal its core to me, the more my outline solidifies. I’m not a plotter, but I’m not a pantser, either. I’ll outline just enough ahead to get to the second major turning point. After that, I have no idea what my characters will do until I get there. Yet when we do get there together, they reveal a bit more. I don’t like to give firm publishing dates, but I don’t begrudge those authors who do. My characters reveal their stories in the time it takes to tell them, whether that’s six months or six years. This story, though, is shaping up to be ready for public consumption in spring 2025.

Freelance editing. Fiction writing. While they’re solitary ventures, they don’t have to be lonely ones. I’ve been lucky enough to have editing colleagues and friends who have bolstered me in ways I’ll never be able to fully express. They’ve held my chin up when all I wanted to do was drop it.

Because of them, I got through the first quarter and am looking forward to the second one. The sun will rise again, and tomorrow is a new day to try all over again. I’m excited to see how I can help other fiction editors and authors reflect on their own stories and journeys one word at a time.

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