We’re welcoming the lovely Jane Badger from Jane Badger proofreading and editing (she’s also a writer) to the series again today. We first met Jane in November 2013 and updated ourselves on her new business venture in December 2014 when she’d launched her editing business full time. When we updated again in January 2016 and I asked her where she wanted to be by now, she replied, “Still growing, I hope”. Short and to the point, then! Let’s see how she’s doing now.
Hello again, Jane! Are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?
Pretty much. Growth has been unspectacular, but growth there has been — at least on the proofreading and editing side. My regular clients are all still sending me work, and the fact they are expanding is helping me too.
I followed through on my plan to look at my continuing profession development, and took a series of courses run by the SfEP (Society for Editors and Proofreaders). That meant I could upgrade my membership of the SfEP to intermediate level, which was very satisfying!
Writing is in an in between state. Writing anything has been difficult, as the increasing volume of paid work means it is difficult to devote the time to it that it needs. However, I’ve found an interest in railways that surprised me: I haven’t become a train spotter, but have started putting some pieces together on the horses who worked on the railway, and the people who worked with them. One blog piece, on women, railway horses and the war, hit a spark, and was my most successful blog piece of the year.
I have also managed to complete a couple of smaller research projects that I’d been wanting to look at: horse stories published during World War II, and the horse stories published by Puffin books. The World War II project I did for a conference on girl’s fiction. I’d just about managed to retain my knowledge of how to present things from when I used to teach, so it went reasonably well.
On the academic front, I was also part of a conference run by the University of Cambridge on horse stories: Pony Tales: Writing the Equine. That was an excellent event, where KM Peyton (author of the Flambards series) and Meg Rosoff (Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award winner 2016) spoke.
What has changed and what has stayed the same?
Speaking at conferences was another of those things that I had thought were well behind me, so it was good that those opportunities came up.
What have you learned? What do you wish you’d known a year ago?
I’ve learned to say no to clients! I recently turned down a large and lucrative book edit because I felt the book was not yet in a state where it could be edited. I’ve also become better at recognising red flags for when clients might prove tricky: for example, a prospective new client initially said they were happy to wait for me to be able to fit their work in, but when they sent their test edit chapter, it very soon became obvious that waiting for me was precisely not what they were prepared to do. I politely declined the opportunity of working with them.
At last, I managed to go to a local networking event where I met actual people rather than communicating over the internet. My plan is to carry on with local networking now that I have faced the fear and done it. One really useful thing that emerged from the event is that it’s not just about getting business for yourself, but also about looking out for the interests of everyone in the room.
I’ve also set up a backup for when I can’t take work on, for whatever reason, and that’s worked well. I find it does give clients more faith in you if they know you can recommend someone else who is as good as (or better!) than you.
What do I wish I’d known a year ago?
I am always learning, and clients always provide something new for you to learn about. Fortunately, I am a member of a couple of internet-based groups who are very good at providing support and help if you have a problem.
What question would YOU like to ask other small business owners?
If you are an introvert, what do you find helps you to get out there and network?
Any more hints and tips for people?
Get out there and look for support and help in whatever form it comes, whether it’s local business networking groups, or internet-based groups.
And … where do you see yourself and your business in a(nother) year’s time?
I’m hoping to have some local clients.
The SfEP courses I did were really worthwhile, and my plan is to work on upgrading to advanced membership through doing more training courses, looking in particular at developing my editing skills.
I will get the rights back to Heroines on Horseback, my book on pony books, later this year, so am investigating how I’m going to proceed with that. Whatever I do, it will be a steep learning curve, so I’m looking forward to that. The Society of Authors runs workshops on e-book publishing, so I’m planning on doing one of those.
Fabulous progress from Jane here. To pick up on a couple of points, it’s SO important to learn to say no – and so difficult. When you’ve only been going a few years, you tend to say yes to everything, just in case it all goes away. But saying no is important – both for you and the client, if you’re not going to be a good fit – and listening to that gut feeling is also vital. In addition, having a back-up is, in my opinion, vital. I have a list of people (including Jane!) who I refer clients on to if it’s not a good fit or I can’t get them into the schedule, and have a couple of people who cover my work in case of illness or holiday. Well done, Jane, and I’ll look forward to seeing how you get on this year.
Find Jane’s website at janebadger.com
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.