This year may very well be a make or break year for me.
Like all self-respecting freelances (or whatever we may call ourselves) I have a business plan. It’s a pretty loose plan if I’m honest, but it’s still there sitting in my work documents folder, silently brooding.
I look at it, tweak it, ruminate over it. Business plans are a map to our professional future, if we stick to them.
But no matter how much we stick to them, sometimes it just isn’t enough.
I never lie to myself, but I am often overly optimistic, and 2016 was a dire year no matter how I look at it. It’s not through lack of trying, but figures simply don’t lie. Last year was punctuated by a lot of what I call work avalanches – work is provisionally booked in, then it slides sometimes by a week, or two, or more. This year a fair few projects slid so far they didn’t materialise at all, or were put off by months. Leaving me with huge gaps that simply were not filled. And that means lack of income.
This last year I would have been better off getting a part-time job in our local Tesco. Seriously.
Now normally I try to keep upbeat when writing, but after the year from hell this post is a realistic one. It’s all about a promise to myself and I hope it may spur a few of you on to make promises to yourselves.
This year I promise to:
- Market myself more. I hate marketing, everyone hates marketing. But it has to be done.
- Not be self-deprecating. I provide a valuable service and I will no longer say ‘it was nothing’. I have trained hard to be able to do what I can do and not everyone can do it.
- Be more assertive. I know I can be a pushover but I must work hard not to be.
- Do more of what I like and less of what I don’t. There are things I love doing, mainly copy-editing, writing and interior book design, which I will market more than my indexing.
- Concentrate on earning a decent living. I’ll be honest in that I don’t know how I’ll do it, but it has to be done.
I realised last month that I have been in the book business for thirty years. THIRTY YEARS! I started my librarianship degree in 1987. I have worked in archives, art libraries, and a marine laboratory library, and have been a university librarian and I’m still a genealogist. I copy-edit, proofread, index, write and design. What I do is valuable and the time has come to acknowledge that.
It’s tough when you look back on a bad year, and realise how bad it was. But, if anything, it must spur you on to make the next year better. I am lucky in that I have a wonderful support network of freelance colleagues – they are incredibly supportive and are there to give me a swift kick up the bum if I need it. So although 2016 was the year we would all like to forget, I know that 2017 will be better.
I will make it better by:
- Taking on some more professional development that will enhance what I already offer my clients.
- Continuing with my creative writing once I’ve finished my Advanced Creative Writing course. It’s true that the more you write for yourself, and the more you study writing, the more empathy you have with other writers. Sharing your creations is scary.
- Sticking by the promises I’ve just made to myself.
I’m positive for the year ahead, and have already adjusted my business plan for 2017.
If you are an author or publisher looking for someone to copy-edit for you, drop me a line and say hello.
If you are a freelance tell us in the comments below how are YOU going to make this year better if last year was a dud?
Let’s make 2017 great!