By Paul Anderson, EdNSW
Freelance professional and accredited editors Dr Linda Nix AE and Jess Cox AE were our panellists for an online discussion hosted by EdNSW on 7 February 2023. Both speakers have well-established freelance editing businesses: Linda runs Golden Orb Creative, and Jess’ business is Quick Fox Editing.
This was a new format of speaker presentation for EdNSW and it proved to be popular. The event was fully booked and there was a good-sized audience of over 60 participants on the night. Kai Jensen, our presentations coordinator, moderated the discussion. Responses to initial poll questions put to the audience indicated: 45% were starting out as freelance editors (less than 2 years business) and 31% had an established business (more than 5 years). One thing a majority of the audience (69%) had in common was they started their business without having previous paid work as an editor in an organisation.
Kai put a series of questions to Linda and Jess in turn and interacted with the panellists based on their responses. Their wide-ranging, informative discussion included how Linda and Jess:
- took the plunge into full-time editing
- initially went about getting work
- use IPEd’s Editors Directory and LinkedIn
- communicate with clients
- handle setbacks and lean times
- set hourly rates
- manage the administrative sides of their businesses, such as accounting and IT.
There is space here for just a couple of excerpts, but the full content can be accessed in the recording, which runs for approximately an hour.
For Linda, running workshops was important for raising her profile:
“When I first went freelance, I started a blog … writing about all the things I knew about publishing, which former colleagues have encouraged me to do. I just put it out there and it got picked up by the Independent Book Publishers Association in America. They published my blogs as articles and consequently I got enquiries from overseas and here [Australia]. The other thing I did was I submitted abstracts … and workshop proposals for IPEd conferences, and to writers’ centres – and those were accepted. I [ran] courses at Writing NSW and (when I moved to Armidale [NSW]) the New England Writers’ Centre. Teaching people is a way of demonstrating your skills and that’s always led to more enquiries for more work.”
Jess commented, partly in hindsight:
“You need to make sure that you’re providing value for your clients … a quality service that’s worth the rate that you’re charging.” She explained: “I started by thinking, freelancing’s too hard, I’ll try to find a permanent or contract job, and that was when working from home … was so rare that people didn’t want to know. So I had no leads … I tried some of those freelance websites … and it’s a real race to the bottom, that’s what I discovered. In terms of pricing and quality it’s just not where you want to be. I think you need to market … and pitch yourself … so that you create enough money to earn a living.”
The lively panel discussion stimulated a busy Q&A at the end of proceedings. There were supplementary questions from the audience on editing speeds (average words per hour for different types of editing; this related to setting rates), editing tools and software, and more.
Linda and Jess were incredibly open and generous with their time and in sharing some of their wealth of experience as freelance editors – thank you again to both.
A recording of the presentation will be available to purchase via the IPEd events page (or free if you paid to attend).
Dr Linda Nix AE has worked in editing and publishing since 1997, starting in-house at large and small publishers and then setting up her freelance business, Golden Orb Creative, in 2010. Now located in northern New South Wales, Linda’s business provides a range of services to a broad client base in Australia and internationally, including all levels of editing and manuscript assessment; design and production in digital and print formats; writing; and, for authors, assistance with submissions or self-publishing. Her content experience spans law books; academic journals; literary fiction; and genre fiction such as romance, science fiction and crime. Linda also presents at industry events and runs workshops for both editors and writers. She recently stepped down as the Chair of IPEd’s Accreditation Board having held the position for four years.
Jess Cox AE has worked in publishing since 2001, working at Weldon Owen Publishing and Reader’s Digest. She moved to Bellingen on the NSW mid-north coast in 2016 where she started her freelance business, Quick Fox Editing. Her freelance clients include publishers such as ABC Books, Allen & Unwin, HarperCollins, Rockpool Publishing and Simon & Schuster; NGOs such as World Vision; and self-published authors. Jess has a Masters in Linguistics, a Postgraduate Diploma in Editing and Publishing, and became an IPEd Accredited Editor in 2020. When not grappling with words, you will find her wrestling bodies at jiu-jitsu, practising yoga or getting out in nature.