Welcome to another Small Business Update – today we’re revisiting Sophie Playle, from Playle Editorial Services, who we first met in December 2013, at which point she’d only been going for eight months! When I asked her where she wanted to be in a year’s time, she replied “Hopefully, I will have a more stable income, and a few more regular clients. I hope to start working with publishers as well as continuing to work with writers. I’d love to edit more speculative fiction novels, as this is a particular passion and expertise of mine!” I have to say it’s lovely to have specialised fiction editors to pass prospective clients on to, as I only take on a small number of fiction books a year myself, and it’s been good to see Sophie going from strength to strength over the year. Let’s see how she’s doing …
Hi Sophie, and welcome back! Are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?
To a degree, yes. I’d hoped to have a more stable income … That hasn’t quite happened yet! Things are still very up and down month-to-month, but I have had a continuous stream of work this year, which I’m very proud to have achieved; project timescales and waiting for clients to pay makes it very hard to predict a monthly income, so I’ve discovered having a buffer is very important.
What has changed and what has stayed the same?
I rebranded my business during the year, and made the decision to focus exclusively on editing – mostly fiction editing. Previously, I’d also offered copywriting, but I was finding it difficult to target my marketing when I had two very different markets. I had planned to create a separate brand for copywriting, but this hasn’t yet happened.
I have been editing more genre writing, which was one of my goals. I’d also hoped to work with more publishers. However, I’ve only worked with one publisher this year, on a single book. They sought me out – I haven’t been pursuing work from publishers yet, and I’m not completely sure I do want to go down this avenue. I really enjoy working with self-publishers and with writers directly, as I love their creativity and enthusiasm.
What have you learned? What do you wish you’d known a year ago?
I’ve focused a lot of my time and energy on professional development this year. I completed a training course (PTC Copy-Editing) and earned a certificate in Basic Editing from the Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP). I also attended the SfEP annual conference, which was a fantastic networking and learning experience.
In terms of business sense, I’ve learned a huge amount – I wouldn’t be able to write about it all in a single post! I think the most important thing I’ve learned, however, is perhaps the most surprising. I had thought that all I had wanted was to edit fiction, but doing that non-stop for a year has really drained my energy. I’ve discovered that I’m the kind of person who needs variation. This year, I narrowed the focus of my business; next year, I’m widening it again (but in a more targeted way).
Any more hints and tips for people?
Sounds boring but … accounting software! FreeAgent has been a lifesaver, and one of the best investments I’ve made in my business. I use it to create and track invoices, track my profits and expenses (handy graphs included), manage my projects and timescales, and even time-track my work to see my productivity levels and profit margins. Next year I’ll also be using it to submit my tax return. I highly recommend it. (Use code 43g3im21 to get a lifetime 10% discount!)
Also, I’ve discovered just how important it is to look after yourself. Set boundaries for your business – who you’re happy to work with, when you’re happy to work, etc. After all, it’s your business. Create a schedule, but focus on one thing at a time. (These are all things I’m still working on!)
And … where do you see yourself and your business in a(nother) year’s time?
Ah, the million dollar question. (Hmm, with a million dollars – or pounds – in the bank wouldn’t be a bad start.) But seriously. I have big plans for 2015. Unfortunately, the #VATMOSS mess has put a major spanner in the works. I’d hoped to branch out into offering products and courses for writers, and I still plan to do this, but I’m going to wait and let the dust settle on this #VATMESS thing for the time being, then figure out my next move from there.
I may also set up a separate copywriting side-business. In short, though, I want to make sure I have enough diversity to keep me motivated, and I’m determined to reach a certain income goal, too. (Probably not a million dollars.)
Thanks for having me again, Liz! I’ve really enjoyed reading about other small business owners in your series. It’s amazing how much we can learn from each other, even if we’re working in vastly different industries. I’m a big advocate of ‘power to the people’, and I think small businesses owners are doing just that: claiming their power. To me, that’s hugely inspiring.
I find Sophie’s interview really inspiring, too, and hope you do as well. I love her learning points – it’s great that she’s picked up on the looking after yourself side of things nice and early, and she’s right about using accounting software or good systems right from the start – it makes life so much easier, and it’s so important to know where you are at all times. Best of luck to Sophie as she continues learning and developing – I’m sure 2015 will be a good year for her!
Sophie Playle is a professional editor who specialises in helping fiction writers reach their literary potential. Find out more and download your free guide, ‘15 Steps to Get Your Manuscript in Shape Before Hiring an Editor’, by visiting her website: Playle Editorial Services
If you’ve enjoyed this interview, please see more small business chat, the index to all the interviewees, and information on how you can have your business featured (I have a full roster of interviewees now so am only taking on a very few new ones). If you’re considering setting up a new business or have recently done so, why not take a look at my books, all available now, in print and e-book formats, from a variety of sources.