Yesterday, I had a guest blogger who gave us some insight to the distractions that face the writer. The moral of the story is that distractions exist, and we can’t always eliminate all of them while writing and editing. I wanted to delve into the psyche of my guest blogger a bit more because she is the embodiment of what so many writers desire. Shayla Eaton is the successful owner of the small business Curiouser Editing. She has edited countless blogs, social media posts, articles, marketing campaigns and something like 150 books. What writer doesn’t want a successful business doing what they love? She is a writer and editor with a lot of experience for those of us who are just starting out. Here is what she had to say to my many questions:
1. How many years’ experience do you have total as a writer and editor? Five.
2. What was your first paying gig as a writer? I became a copywriter at age 20 for a publishing company. My dream of becoming a writer was the best day of my life.
3. How did you get that first gig? I had decided that it was time to get serious about becoming a writer—sound familiar? So I applied for a copy editor job, I believe, on a Wednesday, and the supervisor called me on a Thursday to interview me for the copywriting position. He hired me on Friday. I just knew I wouldn’t get it, so when he called, I was like, “Who is this?”
4. What does a copywriter do, exactly? A copywriter writes copy. Ha! Anything: marketing materials, email campaigns, web content, social media, bios—you name it. The idea of copywriting is to write with the intent to sell something.
5. How did you end up as an editor? You’re going to love this. After six months of working as a copywriter, I was asked to interview for the editing position. I was emailing the supervisor to tell her no, because I didn’t think I was ready yet. I called my sister first, and she said, “Tell her yes! Just figure out how to do it later.” I took the editing test, and when she called me in to hire me, I kid you not, I said, “Didn’t I fail the test?” She said, “No! Usually, the editors who take this test miss fourteen. You missed four. We want to hire you.” I forgot to capitalize Nazi.
6. What is the single-most useful piece of advice you were given when you were starting out? Make it happen. Simple, yet profound.
7. What would you like to pass on to those that have writing/editing aspirations? To not let anything, including your lack of confidence, stop you. You’ll hear everything from “writers don’t get paid much” to “editors will destroy my work.” You have to drown out all of the negativity and replace it with optimism. If you truly want to be a writer or an editor, nothing and no one will stop you.
8. Publishing independently vs. getting published via an established publishing company—can you outline some upsides and downsides to each process? The first thing I hear from authors who want to self-publish is: “I don’t think traditional publishers will want this book, so it’ll just be easier to self-publish.” Self-publishing is a full-time job. Yes, there are people who offer services to help you—hint, hint—but in the end, it is all on you, baby. Regarding traditional publishing, Stephen King was rejected so many times he finally nailed his pink rejection slips to his wall, until he couldn’t fit anymore under the nail. Don’t choose self-publishing as a way out just because you’re scared. If you want to see your book published by HarperCollins, then make that happen. Research their guidelines. Look at their market. Get a developmental editor to take your book to the next level. Knock on the publisher’s door if you have to. And for heaven’s sake, write a killer query letter.
9. Where would you suggest a new writer begin? Any suggestions for gainful, writing employment? What is the first step? Networking, which is something I learned a year after starting my business. Go to conferences, workshops, book clubs. Join author Facebook groups and talk to people. People won’t know you’re a writer if you don’t tell them.
10. As a business owner, what is the worst thing about being your own boss? Filing receipts, invoices, and pay stubs for taxes. That’s a mess, and I don’t much like it. But if that’s the worst thing of being your own boss, well, that’s not so bad.
11. What is the best thing about being your own boss? Seeing your idea actually…work. It’s a great feeling to know that you started something from the ground up, and now it’s prospering. Also, working in your pajamas is pretty cool. “Is she kidding?” Yes. No.
12. Do you have any advice or suggestions for small business owners out there? Don’t do everything on your own. I did that, and I wish I would’ve let other people help me in certain areas. If you need direction, get a business consultant. Every person who has done it will tell you it changed their whole business. If it helps your decision, I had a 30% increase in profit after hiring mine, Mike Loomis: http://www.mikeloomis.co
13. How do you meet people that need your services? Almost every client comes to me through word of mouth or guest blogs. I’ve had a few who have seen me on Independent Author Network or from Curiouser Magazine. But it’s truly from word of mouth, the best form of advertisement.
14. As a freelance writer, I find it very difficult to set my own rates. How do you decide how much to charge? I started out with the-efa.org rates and dropped them considerably. I started out very cheap and increased my rates as my company grew. I now review manuscripts before giving a solid price, because every manuscript is different.
15. For those that may not know, what is a query letter? Not to be confused with a summary of your book, a query letter acts as an ad campaign for your book—it’s the one-page wonder you’ll need to land a great agent.
Thank you, Shayla, for sharing with us! Shayla can be found online, on her blog, and on Facebook!