Monthly Archives: January 2017

Small business chat update – Liz Dexter

Small business chat update – Liz Dexter

Welcome to my own Small Business Chat update. My participants tell me they find it useful to reflect on the past year and plan ahead, and I’m no different. And today it’s my birthday, so it seemed apt to do this now. I started interviewing myself back in December 2011, then  December 2012, December 2013, a December 2014 and January 2016.  Last year, these were my plans for the year: “I’m going to be reading more because I started to make more time for reading over Christmas and I’m continuing with that. I’m going to keep running a half-marathon distance or more a month, and hopefully (very carefully and slowly) running a marathon later on in the year. I’m going to complete the self-mentoring for editors guide and produce a print and e-book version by the middle of 2016. I might write up my research or I might not!” Did I achieve these? Um, partly. Oops! But I’m no different from my other interviewees there.

Are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?

Reading more: Yes, I read 11 more books in 2016 than in 2015 and I read more non-fiction (not a goal, but I like reading non-fiction. I did a report on the year as well as a top ten reads list here. I had more time for reading because I adjusted how I was working; see below.

Running: I continued running half-marathon distances until the Easter, when I had an epic fall (over a dog: not funny yet, I’m allowing it to be funny from next Easter), cracked and bruised my ribs and had to eschew running (and moving, sleeping on one side, coughing, laughing) for a bit. HOWEVER, I did fight my way back to some form of fitness, and completed my first marathon in Iceland in 6 hours 1 minute (race report here).

Writing: I did not complete the self-mentoring for editors guide or produce any versions of it in book form. I did add to what I had already and it will be done.

Research: I have nearly but not quite finished writing up my Iris Murdoch research.

So it looks like I completed more of my personal than work goals, and that’s fine!

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

I continued to make sure that I took more time off, and this had an impact on what I was able to do with the writing. I now take most weekends off, or at least 1.5 days of each weekend; I might have the odd bit to do.

The balance of my work has changed: I’ve always worked with writers and journalists and had worked on transcribing the interviews for a couple of books, but this last year I’ve worked a lot more for ghostwriters on big projects. I have had repeat projects from some clients and been recommended on within the ghostwriting community. This is great as it’s large projects with reasonable flexibility and interesting work: you really get to know the subjects of the books, and also having a lot of tapes of one person means you can build a glossary for them, spend less time looking things up and get more done (and more earned) in the average hour.

I’ve also continued to work on more in-depth and longer academic projects in transcribing, which again is good from the point of view of economies of scale. I have continued to keep a good mix of academic, journalist and corporate work. My clients are constantly amazed at how much I “know” – which is mainly looked up, of course!

My editing work has stayed constant, working with translators, non-fiction writers, etc. I have moved away from any fiction editing except for a couple of regulars, as I prefer working on non-fiction.

My localisation work has diminished; I’m not sure why and it hasn’t had the effect on my income that I feared, as I’ve balanced it with corporate transcription.

In my personal life, I’ve qualified as a Leader in Running Fitness which means I am doing more volunteering in my running club, which I love! It’s great to have the theory behind the practice and the practical tips from the course at my disposal.

What have you learned? What do you wish you’d known a year ago?

It sounds really arrogant to say you haven’t learned anything. I’ve continued to know that I am supported by a community of colleagues; I have kept up with saying no, and every year I re-learn to trust my gut instinct and that sometimes you do end up pulling a late night to get something done.

Any more hints and tips for people?

Be clear on what you’re offering people. As economic and political times don’t seem to improve, competition can become more fierce. Be clear what you’re offering to a prospect, but do not allow people to play you off against your colleagues.

Keep a good spread of customer types and regions, etc. to try to protect yourself against economic shocks.

Make time for mental health, whether that’s running, reading, colouring in or sitting around blankly staring into space. If you need it, do it.

And … where do you see yourself and your business in a(nother) year’s time?

I will still be running, I will have done the Birmingham Marathon and I will have supported running club mates through the training, too.

I will have volunteered at parkrun or junior parkrun 100 times (you don’t get a special t-shirt for that but it’s so cool to say you’ve done it.

I will have finished my self-mentoring guide to editing careers and also a transcription version.

I will have continued to maintain a good work-life balance and have most weekends fully off. I will continue to work as transcriber to the ghostwriter stars and will see lots of my books on the shelves but often not be able to point them out as I’m not allowed to talk about them!

I will have written up my research such that I can provide a copy to people who want it at the Iris Murdoch conference in September.

You can find me here, of course, and also on my books website and my book reviews one for more personal stuff. Happy New Year!

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. 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. 

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Posted by on January 21, 2017 in Business, Small Business Chat


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How to Make the Switch to Fiction Editing (by Sophie Playle)

How to Make the Switch to Fiction Editing (by Sophie Playle)

I’d like to welcome Sophie Playle from Liminal Pages to my blog today: Sophie is a fiction editor and also trains other editors to do what she does. I tend towards working on non-fiction, marketing, informational and academic texts myself, but if you’re interested in moving into fiction editing, Sophie outlines here the ways to start going about this. I hope you enjoy reading this excellent article; do post a comment or share the article if you’ve found it useful. Over to Sophie …

So you’re a freelance editor. You’ve done the training, built up your business, maybe even tucked a few years’ experience (or more) under your belt. By day, you edit textbooks. Or technical papers. Dissertations. Journal articles. But by night … you lose yourself in the latest Man Booker Prize winner, or perhaps a heady romance or a brain-tingling sci-fi.

And you wistfully think to yourself: I wish I could spend my days editing books like this. Editing novels. But you don’t have the right skills, you tell yourself. And besides, you’ve already built your business, and fiction editing doesn’t really come into it. (Other than the occasional proofread that comes your way.)

If you harbour the desire to become a specialist fiction editor but are worried about changing your business model, I’m going to tell you step-by-step how you can make the switch. Really – it is possible! What you need most is a shift in focus and a plan.

Step 1: Change your mindset

We build our identities around a number of factors. One of the more dominant is what we do for a living. It’s often the first question we’re asked when we meet new people. ‘So, what do you do?’ Changing our profession feels like changing a core part of our existence. Scary stuff, no?

But you’re more than your job; your job doesn’t define who you are. We grow and change throughout our lives. Just because you’ve set yourself down a certain path doesn’t mean you have to stick to that path forever. ‘I’m a biomedical-sciences editor’ can become ‘I’m a fiction editor’ if you want it to.

If you’re not entirely happy with the business you’ve built, you can change it. It doesn’t mean you’ve failed at building the right business for you. It simply means the time has come for a change. Your business has served you well to this point, but you’re ready to steer it in a new direction.

Big change can be scary. But if you’re feeling stuck in a rut and wish your professional life were different, it’s scarier to think you’ll be in the exact same position feeling the exact same way ten years down the line.

Step 2: Build your confidence

Editing fiction can be quite different from editing other kinds of text. You need to pay extra-close attention to the author’s style. Different characters will have different voices, too – you can’t make them all consistent. Then you might have to consider whether the author has deliberately deviated from convention for effect. (Did the author mean to use the passive voice continuously throughout this passage?)

But don’t panic. I want you to remember two things.

  1. You’re already skilled. Proofreading and copy-editing focus on the technical side of writing rather than the artistic side of writing. A misplaced modifier is still a misplaced modifier whether your editing a thriller or a journal article. And a homophone is still a homophone. You already possess the skills to spot and correct these mistakes. And if you’re proofreading or copy-editing a novel, that’s still exactly the kind of thing that’s required.
  1. If you’re an avid reader of fiction, you’re already an informal expert. Reading fiction might seem like just a hobby, but I bet you’ve subconsciously absorbed a whole lot of information about what makes for good writing in fiction. If you know your stuff as a reader, you can apply this knowledge to editing novels.

For more tips in this area, read my guest post on Louise Harnby’s blog: How to edit fiction with confidence.

Step 3: Increase your knowledge

A lack of confidence almost always comes down to a lack of knowledge. I hope the above points will make you realise that you know more than you think, but there’s even more you can do.

  • Learn about all the different types of fiction editing. The path to publication for novelists is not quite the same as it is for other types of writers, and editors can come into the fold at different points along the way. You might already possess the skills to provide proofreading and copy-editing at this point, but perhaps line or development editing interests you, too – in which case, you’ll likely need to bolster your knowledge.
  • Learn how to adapt your editing style. I’ve already touched on this point, but generally being open to rule-bending to allow for style while still applying a degree of consistency is key. This is where your informal knowledge comes most into play, and where you’ll need to both exercise your judgement and hone your querying skills!
  • Study the craft of writing. There are many excellent books out there on how to write fiction. If you want to develop your copy-editing skills, focus on books that talk about style, self-editing and point of view. (Try The Art of Fiction by David Lodge, Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Rennie Browne and The Power of Point of View by Alicia Rasley.) If you want to develop your line or developmental editing skills, read books on bigger topics like plot, story and characterisation. (Try Monkeys with Typewriters by Scarlett Thomas, Story Engineering by Larry Brooks and Writing Characters Who’ll Keep Readers Captivated by Roz Morris.) You could also take a fiction writing class and learn by doing!
  • Read novels analytically. As an editor, you might find you do this already. (I know I always have ­­– I can’t seem not to!) Read slowly, carefully and thoughtfully. Take notes in the margins and underline passages, if you like. Keep a reading log and write out your thoughts. You’ll learn so much about fiction editing by simply reading with awareness. Grab a copy of Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose for more advice on how to do this.

Step 4: Re-do your website

Now that you’ve built your confidence and knowledge, it’s time to take the leap. If you want to edit solely fiction, I strongly advise that you market yourself as a specialist fiction editor. Not as a generalist who also happens to edit fiction. But as someone who just edits fiction.

Why? Imagine for a moment that you’re an author who wants to self-publish. You have a crime novel that’s ready for copy-editing and you’re looking for someone to take on the job. Who do you choose? An editor who works on business flyers, cook books, journal articles and the occasional novel? Or the editor who focuses solely on novels? It makes sense to choose the editor who has their head firmly in the novel-editing game.

It makes sense to make fiction editing your niche.

The most important thing you can do now is totally re-do your website. Your website is one of your key marketing tools, and you want it to attract and engage the right clients – people looking for a fiction editor. This may seem like a big task, but it’s essential if you want to make the switch to fiction editing.

Step 5: Build your client base

It would be short-sighted to immediately sack all your current clients and expect a boatload of fiction clients to land straight in your lap. I know you don’t think that. In fact, it’s probably one of the things stopping you from making the switch.

Instead, keep working with your current clients – even though you’ve now totally changed your website. (They probably won’t notice anyway.) As the fiction editing enquiries start trickling in, start dropping your existing clients. You can always keep the ones that bring you the most benefits if you really want, but eventually you’ll be able to transition to full-time fiction editing, at your own pace.

Of course you’ll also need to start marketing yourself as a fiction editor. Most people won’t land on your website by chance, so you need to start point prospective clients towards it – through directory entries, online and in-person networking, advertising, content creation and so on.

And there you have it!

Switching your business model to specialise in fiction is perfectly doable but requires a little courage and some careful preparation.

If you’d like to know more about setting up a fiction editing business – and would also like some guidance and feedback as you make the transition ­– my online course, Start Fiction Editing, goes into much more detail and is open for registration until Wednesday 1st February.

 Come and join us – and make the switch! Visit to learn more.

Sophie Playle runs Liminal Pages (, where she offers editing to authors and training to editors of fiction. She’s a Professional Member of the SfEP and often packs her laptop into a rucksack to run her business while traipsing around Europe.


Posted by on January 18, 2017 in Copyediting, Guest posts, New skills, Reading, Skillset


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Small business chat update – Amelia Wilson

Small business chat update – Amelia Wilson

Welcome to an update with the lovely Amelia Wilson, now of The Editing Shop where she provides copyediting, translation review and localisation services (and someone I recommend to prospects for these areas when I can’t fit them in to my schedule. We originally met Amelia in November 2014,and had our first update in January 2016. When I asked her then where she wanted to be in a year’s time, she replied “That’s a great question, because for the first time since I started I’m setting goals and intentions for next year. I feel like I’ve got ground beneath my feet now, and I can start building. I would like to niche down even more, and package my services into something very specific, with my products to go alongside. I keep overhauling my website, it’s quite basic at the moment but I’d like to create an online home I can be really proud of, and which better serves my clients and readers. I’m also setting revenue goals so that I can improve on last year and continue to grow. Here’s to an exciting 2016!”

Hello again, Amelia, we’ve spoken during the year but let’s get started on your exciting update. Are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?

Yes and no – I guess that’s always the way! My business looks a lot different this year (intentionally), and I’ve ticked off a lot of goals: I’ve streamlined the behind-the-scenes which makes the day-to-day running of the business a much smoother process, and I’ve also carved out time for the more creative pursuits I had in mind at the end of last year.

Some things I feel a bit behind on, but I think it’s an occupational hazard of business owners to beat ourselves up over the things we didn’t get done instead of celebrating all that we did. Overall, I’m really happy with where I am, what I’ve done, and what’s in store for this year.

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

I completely overhauled my branding, my business name, and my website, because my old branding didn’t reflect where I am with my business anymore. I’m glad there was a need to do that (however long and complicated the process!) because it shows how much things have grown and developed since I started two years ago.

I’ve put a lot of work into developing my first product, a course, and I’ve put an emphasis on connecting with other business owners and making new friendships. I’ve started blogging consistently and sending out a newsletter, to really build a community with the people I serve.

I’ve also been working hard to increase my revenue streams, and successfully experimented with affiliate marketing, which is something entirely new to me.

The things that have stayed the same are my core services and the fact that I’m still totally in love with what I get to do every day!

What have you learned? What do you wish you’d known a year ago?

My big investment this year was a conference for female online business owners. I shared what I learned from that in a blog post, but the longer I’ve been doing this and the more entrepreneurs I meet, the biggest thing I’m learning is that we’re really all in it together. The people we admire and look up to are facing the same challenges that we are, and you can’t overestimate the importance of community and support as you continue to grow.

I completely agree; as I’ve said many times, cooperation is more important than competition! Any more hints and tips for people?

Be fluid and open to change. My business and my brand looks an awfully lot different than it did last year, and while it’s not perfect, and it took (and takes) a lot of work, it was the absolute right move to set me up for success going forward. If you wake up one day and think something could be better or different in your business, don’t let the complications of making the change stop you from adapting.

BONUS NEW QUESTION: What question would YOU like to ask other small business owners?

Have you got a community or friendship circle made up of other people in business? Where did you meet them and how much of an impact do those relationships make?

And … where do you see yourself and your business in a(nother) year’s time?

My course will have launched! I hope to have increased and diversified my revenue streams, and to have continued to grow my audience via my blog and newsletter.

This is all so exciting – lots of change and a lovely new website, but still a great service and a good contact to have to be able to pass prospects to (I really cherish the people I can do this with, in the same spirit as Amelia’s discoveries of community and cooperation!) I wish Amelia the best for her business through 2017. And one last very important point …

Finally, if any of your contact info, websites etc. have changed since last time, please give me your new links.

All change! My website is The Editing Shop and you can find me on Twitter @editingshop.

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. 


Posted by on January 14, 2017 in Business, Small Business Chat


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I closed Windows Explorer and now I can’t see my task bar: how do I get it back?

This was a question that arose for me the other day. I was trying to rename a file in the folder view of Windows Explorer and everything froze. I opened Task Manager (see my article on Task Manager if this is new to you) using control-alt-delete, selected Windows Explorer and clicked End Task. To my horror, what I now know is called the “Shell” – the explorer view but also the lower task bar and my desktop, the clock, the Windows button – all disappeared. How would I get it back?

windows explorer shell has disappeared

My poor sad monitor view with no desktop, Windows button, bottom task bar, clock, etc.

How do I restore a closed app using Task Manager?

Just as you can use Task Manager to close an app or piece of software that’s frozen, you can use it to restore, too.

Open Task Manager using the Start button or Control-Alt-Delete and click the File tab (note, this is Windows 10, so yours might look a bit different, but it will have the same features that we’re talking about here).

If you haven’t previously used Windows 10 Task Manager, you will need to expand it from the initial view:


Click More details and you’ll see the full view:

Task manager open new app

Select Run new task. You will then see this dialogue box:

task manager run new task

Type “Explorer” (or whatever else you can’t find) in the Open field and then press OK (Don’t worry about the admin privileges bit at the moment: you would know if you needed to use that).

And now all of the Windows Explorer Shell has reappeared:

Windows explorer shell has reappeared

In this article, I’ve shown you how to make Windows Explorer (or any other app or software you have made disappear) reappear when you’ve accidentally closed Windows Explorer and your desktop icons and task bar have disappeared.

Related posts on this blog

How to close down an unresponsive program using Task Manager

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Posted by on January 11, 2017 in Computers, Errors, Short cuts, Windows



Small business chat update – Marvin Edinborough

Small business chat update – Marvin Edinborough

Today we’re catching up with my old personal trainer, Marvin Edinborough, or Marvelous PT. He started taking part in this series in July 2012 and checked in for an update in August 2013, October 2014 and December 2015, Especially as I’ve been involved with supporting beginners and other runners in my running club and qualified as a Leader in Running Fitness, I’ve thought of Marvin’s excellent Emotional Intelligence and the way in which he tailors his training to how his clients work and are motivated – and there’s a lesson there for all of us in adapting to how our clients need to be interacted with. Around this time last year, when asked where he wanted to be by now, Marvin replied “I aim to be working towards my life goal of running my own qualifications company. At the moment it’s just ideas, but over the next few years I’d like there to be some sort of development. I’ll still be personal training of course. No matter how busy I get I will find time to personal train, as it’s something I have enjoyed for 6 years now”. Let’s see how he’s getting on.

Hello, Marvin. It’s great to have you back! Are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?

Yes, definitely. Currently I am still tutoring on fitness courses, both delivering full-time courses and meeting with learners who are studying online for practical tutoring days. It’s going great and I believe I am slowly but surely making a difference to the industry with the personal trainers I am putting through.

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

Well I am still tutoring, the change has been I am now travelling and meeting with learners all over the Midlands, interacting with and training people from all different backgrounds and walks of life. One by one I am affecting learners across the West Midlands, enabling them to succeed in what is a very competitive industry.

What have you learned? What do you wish you’d known a year ago?

In the past year I’ve done a lot of re-learning if you like, going back to when I sat my own personal training qualification and covering modules you probably wouldn’t use in everyday training. I also, as stated, wish I knew the requirements to provide these types of qualifications independently, as this is something I intend on doing going forward.

Any more hints and tips for people?

Take the leap. Go for it. Whatever “IT” may be. That is something I intend to do this year, my aim is to have started my own company, providing qualifications by August. What has stopped me so far is my ability to do the above.

BONUS NEW QUESTION: What question would YOU like to ask other small business owners?

My question would be on a personal level! Business owners who have “made the leap” if applicable: How do you juggle the hustle and bustle of running a business, tending to a toddler, whilst working and still having time to workout!!!??

And … where do you see yourself and your business in a(nother) year’s time?

In a year from now I hope to be running my own qualifications company, and for this to be established (Marvelous Qualifications, maybe?) producing high-quality professionals.

I love that a man’s asking questions about fitting in work and childcare – so often it’s only women who are asked about this! Any tips for Marvin? I’m glad he’s on the case of training personal trainers, as there are some very shoddy courses around but he has the credentials and attitude to teach people the right way. Let’s hope he has that qualifications company going by the next time we talk to him!

You can contact Marvin via Facebook, Twitter or email.

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. 

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Posted by on January 7, 2017 in Business, Small Business Chat


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How to close an unresponsive program or app using Task Manager on your PC

In this article I’m going to explain the basic way to close a piece of software, app or program that is not responding or has frozen, using Task Manager. Images are from Windows 10 and do differ from previous versions, but they all have these particular features and functions. I’m writing this post in preparation for one on reopening programs using Task Manager, coming next week.

Why do I need to use Task Manager to close a program?

Sometimes, with the best will in the world. programs or apps freeze or stop working, and the little X in the top right-hand corner that you use to close it just will not work.

If this happens, you need to go to the central program which shows what is running on your computer to force the program to shut down. This is the Task Manager.

How do I open Task Manager?

You can use the Windows button or the search bar in Windows 10 to find Task Manager, but I and most people who use it use the keystroke combination control-alt-delete to bring it up. That means pressing and holding down the Control key, the Alt key and the Delete key at the same time.

You may then get a menu which offers you Task Manager.

Task Manager has a list of the open programs and also how much of the computer’s attention or memory they’re using up. It looks like this in Windows 10 when you open it


and you can End tasks from here, but then if you select More details you will see a list with more information (in older versions, you will get the more full list straight away and be able to click on CPU etc):

Task manager Windows 10

This shows you everything that’s open and how much memory etc. it’s using. Although there is a large amount of information here, we’re going to concentrate on closing a program that has got stuck and won’t let you close it in the normal way.

How do I close a frozen software application using Task Manager?

You can do this in two ways:

  1. Click on the program you wish to close and click the End task button:

close application using task manager

2. Sometimes, the End task button will read Re-start but you just want to end it. If this happens, or as an alternative, right-click on the application you’re concerned about and then choose End task:

right click to end task

You can then click the X in the top right-hand side of Task Manager to close it.

In this article, I’ve explained how to use Task Manager to close a program, software application or app which has frozen and won’t allow you to close it in the standard way.


Posted by on January 5, 2017 in Computers, Windows