“Feet on ground, Heart in hand, Facing forward…”
by Renée Layberry
September 1. First morning of my freelance life. I woke up happy and excited and freaked out and excited and happy and freaked out and . . .
After giving notice to my supervisor six weeks ago, I followed through with my strategic transition from full-time Author Account Manager at FriesenPress to freelance editor, copywriter, and desktop publisher. I assigned the last of my files to carefully-chosen colleagues, packed up my desk, wiped it down all nice and clean, and went home. All this on the last day of the week on the last day of August whilst coming into a blue moon at the end of summer. Nice.
Almost exactly one year ago, my husband made the same transition from working as a Web Content/SEO Copywriter to full-time Freelance Editor, with his biggest client being the same subsidy-publishing company I’ve been with. It was scary at the time, but he hit the ground running and has been unbelievably busy ever since. So busy, in fact, that it only made sense for me to join him in our home office. The dream all along has been to work from home together, up to our eyeballs in writing and editing and designing and publishing, side-by-side, with our Macs and our music and our moccasins and our mugs. For the last year, we’d been projecting that it would happen, but we just didn’t know exactly when or how. And then, a couple of months ago, the timing came together and it made perfect sense to do it now.
When I realized that the only reason I’d not choose this was fear, I had to make the choice to be afraid and do it anyway. Otherwise, I’d stagnate.
At any given time during my recent Author Account Manager incarnation, I had sixty distinct projects that I was overseeing. I’m something of a micro-manager (read: bossypants), so coaching authors on every minute aspect of their self-publishing experience came naturally to me. Among other things, I learned how to:
- build a book from a raw manuscript
- assign ISBNs
- prepare for online categorization through keywords and BISAC codes
- clean up the formatting for smooth translation into InDesign
- coach authors on how to write a bio and back of book synopsis
- research and procured artwork/stock photography/illustrators for book covers
- send first and second and third and sometimes eighth proofs
- perform revision rounds using tools within Adobe Reader
- prepare files for submission to distribution channels
- perform rigorous quality control checks
and a myriad of other details in between, not to mention spending countless hours in written correspondence and telephone conversations with each individual author. I learned a lot about publishing, and I learned a lot about being a therapist and quasi crisis negotiator to boot.
I’m going to need to deconstruct that process while I apply it to this new direction. My success is driven by me, my partner, my shiny new iMac, my expertise, my inspiration, my moxy, and the open road. I’m positively vibrating with all the possibilities—and I’m a little bit terrified. More than anything, I’m exhilarated.