March 2016 Q&A: Susan Pierotti

Susan Pierotti is a freelance editor who has been working full-time for about three years. Her preferred editing work is with authors and their books, but she will happily edit anything that needs it. She has been known to stand on chairs in restaurants to rub out extraneous apostrophes on chalkboard menus.

How has your month been?

I have been working with some business people on producing their books. One is a novel for teenage girls. My friend, the author, was warned that I would be ruthless with her story. She is now rewriting it. (Yes, I left her in one piece.) I’m looking forward to the result. The other is a ‘what I didn’t know about being a sole trader before I started my own business’ book. I’ve just got the first notes and will be meeting with the author this week, who has warned me that it will be a long-term project.

I’m also writing a flyer for an HR consultant’s team project and the regular monthly newsletter for a vocal coach.

As well, I have been chasing up public speaking opportunities to promote City Kid by Lola Russell, a retired actress whose memoirs were published last year. I thought I was just editing City Kid but have ended up as a sort of project manager for the book. I’m really enjoying speaking about it, though marketing per se freaks me out still!

What are the biggest challenges you face in your work?

As I only started as a full-time freelance editor about three years ago, my biggest challenge has been getting clients. No, actually, it has been convincing people I meet that they need an editor to add value to what they do.

Running a small business also has its challenges. Marketing, accounts, anything to do with numbers, and I become strangely dyslexic and find a sudden urge to do the housework …

What do you love most about your work?

I revel in recrafting text and language to make it even better, and the flexibility of working any time and any place where there is wi-fi. I love the variety of texts that I come across; I’m always impressed with people who have the courage to write.

How did you get here?

I was a professional musician for 35 years (I still play), but for reasons too numerous to mention I left. I had done a correspondence course in proofreading and loved it. I was advised that, at my age (!), I shouldn’t bother with formal training but that I should join Editors Victoria and attend short courses. My mentors have been all the wonderful editors I have met in the past three years who have been so generous and encouraging.

I had a moment of bravado and did the IPEd exam. I was gobsmacked that I passed! That really boosted my confidence. I have only done one interview in my life, for the Editors Victoria newsletter. I made it to last round, three out of 33 – I was rapt. Now I’m on the EdVic communication subcommittee, helping Margie Beilharz with the newsletter. I feel very privileged to be there (a flicker of ‘imposter syndrome’ still lurks within!)

What is your average weekly workload? Does it vary throughout the year?

I spend many hours doing marketing for my business nowadays. I’m not getting heaps of work but am always following up opportunities to get more. So far, there is no pattern to my working hours, though I try to keep Mondays free to work on the business.

If you are comfortable discussing salary, can you give an idea of the rate of pay for the kind of work you do?

I have a base rate per hour. I have a three-tier newsletter and web content package, and I charge a few thousand for work with someone on a book. It usually depends on the nature of the job.

If you didn’t have the job you are in now, what would you like to be doing?

I would like to be playing more music, but the stuff that I play now is so rewarding that I’m not complaining. My dream job would be to be paid to travel the world, and write about it (occasionally).

How can people get in touch?

My website (about to be revamped) is www.creativetext.com.au. You can also find me on LinkedIn and Facebook under my name and Creative Text Solutions, and on Twitter at @susan4cts. I enjoy conversations with other editors, so feel free to contact me at susan@creativetext.com.au.

Thanks very much, Susan!