Ever have that one class where you work really hard and still don’t quite make it to an A—but in the process you absorb oodles of valuable information that will still be on your mind years later? For me, that was our editing class during MPub. While I’m pretty strong in the stylistic and copyediting department, this course served as a big reminder of just how far I have to go.
Since coming back to Portland, I’ve thought about marketing my editorial/writing services to friends and acquaintances for a relatively low price in order to keep building my expertise, increase my experience, and supplement my day job’s cash inflow. Is it worth all the trouble to market your services though, if your potential clients don’t even realize how many usage errors are on their resume, or that a proposal is much too technical for the intended audience?
Enter my friend Sarah.
Sarah is a writer too, and knows that when you’ve been looking at a piece of your own writing for too long, your own eyes miss things that fresh eyes will catch in seconds. Over the past six months she has sent me a few short pieces that she wrote before submitting to publishers, in hopes of having a second set of eyes to help polish the final product. Because the pieces have been short, I’ve been able to easily fold it into my day.
We’ve got a bit of a system worked out, which we never really discussed as an “agreement” but which works really well for both of us. She sends me her writing and gains the benefit of feedback, and I get to work at developing my editorial skillset.
Oh yeah—and she sends me presents afterward!
In the past she has sent me a box of Coconugs from Mexico, packages of tea from Montana Tea and Spice (I forgot to try/buy some before leaving Missoula!), and more. Most recently I got a box with a plastic bag of almonds and some homemade cookies. The almonds were from the kibbutz where her mother used to live in Israel!
The point is that Sarah acknowledges the value of my work. Her sunny personality always makes me excited to hear from her anyway, but we have a mutually beneficial system. Traditional payment is absent, but we’re both happy.
When you ask someone for a favor that draws upon their special skills, make sure to be clear you value it. Whether your value shows up as cash, a batch of homemade cookies, or simply a heartfelt thank you (or a combination of the above!), genuine gratitude and acknowledgement of someone’s time and effort will mean they’re more willing to help you again in the future.
Sarah and her fiancé Josh just left yesterday for a six month bike trip they’re undertaking, traveling from Alaska to Mexico—check in with their progress at Real Big Fun!