Year in Review and Goals for 2020 (+ Free Workbook for Freelance Editors!)

Sophie Playle

Every year, I love spending some time to slow down and reflect on the months gone by, using that insight to point me in the right direction for the new year ahead.

It’s so easy to fall into habits, let our assumptions go unchecked, and just amble along in our businesses – leaving us wondering why we aren’t making the progress we’d like.

That’s why I believe this process – of looking back and thinking ahead – is so important. It forces us to take a step back from the day-to-day running of our businesses and take stock of the bigger picture.

I’ve published my reflections on my blog for the past few years (see: Year in Review and Goals for 2017, 2018 and 2019) and I’ve been refining my approach to this task every time – considering what are the most useful things to think about. And so I thought it might be a neat idea to put together a workbook to help other editors think about their own businesses and plan for the year ahead.

UPDATE: The 2020 workbook has been retired. Use the site search to find the workbook for the most recent year!

Now, onto a few of my own reflections and goals …

Biggest Wins of 2019

I’m really proud of what I’ve achieved in my business this year.

Probably the biggest task I undertook was the new website. It took me way, way longer than I expected but I’m so happy with the results. I’m sure a professional designer could have done better, but I relished the challenge of learning a new skill.

If you want to create a website for your editorial business, I’d first encourage you to consider your options. Then start from the ground up by developing your brand.

Another thing I’m really happy about is the success of my online courses. I’ve run each of my courses a couple of times throughout the year, and each time they’ve sold out! I haven’t done a huge amount of marketing for my courses, so I can only hope that past students are spreading the word after finding the experience valuable – and that’s the best kind of marketing, in my view. Gives me the warm fuzzies.

I also finally created my course on how to line and copy-edit fiction, Tea and Commas. It’s a little longer than my other courses, containing six modules instead of four. I found I had so much to say about sentence-editing that even that wasn’t enough. So I’ll be developing the second part to the course next year! Woot woot!

And, of course, I can’t not mention my wonderful clients. One author had her novel longlisted for a national book award. Another landed an agent on the strength of the short story she submitted to a competition. Another was a speaker at an international conference. Yet another published his seventh novel. And many of my clients saw their first books in print this year. I am very happy to bask in their reflected glory, and I’m so proud of them all.

A Surprising Yet Obvious Revelation

Until recently, I hadn’t realised quite how much of my headspace was occupied by thoughts about my work.

About four months ago, I started taking exercise much more seriously. I’m loving feeling stronger and fitter. Going to the gym several times a week has been an amazing mental palate cleanser for me. While exercising, I’m focussed only on the task at hand – which means there’s no room in my head for work-related thoughts.

This has been hugely mentally refreshing for me, and I feel more willing and able to focus on my work when I’m actually sat at my computer. It’s also made me feel less anxious about work, too, because I have goals and activity that are completely disconnected from anything work-related, which gives me non-work-related things to feel good about.

Looking Ahead to 2020

I’ve got some ideas for what I want to work on next year. This includes:

  • Conducting more Editorial Appraisals – I really enjoy doing these and I think they’re pretty good value for authors who can’t afford, or aren’t yet ready, for full-manuscript editing. I’m going to experiment with social media adverts and special offers to promote this service a bit more.
  • Sprucing up my courses – with freshly designed modules and video content. I want the materials to be as accessible and digestible as possible … with the view that I might eventually start offering self-study versions alongside the taught versions.
  • Creating a new course – Coffee and Clauses: The Art of Line and Copy-Editing Fiction. This will be the more advanced course that follows on from Tea and Commas: The Foundations of Line and Copy-Editing Fiction.
  • Continuing to make useful and interesting content – I’d like to increase my newsletter subscribers and continue to publish blog posts. I don’t have any set metrics I’m aiming for – I’d just like this area of Liminal Pages to keep growing!
  • Being more strategic with social media – My current approach is far too scattergun and, well, a bit lacking at the moment. I might look into hiring someone to help me in this area, or whether there’s some neat bit of software that could be of use.
  • Editing more short stories and more collections – I don’t know why I’ve drifted away from working with authors on short stories, but I’d like to get back into it! I’d especially love to help indie authors who are publishing their own collections (like I did).

Last year, I said I was going to focus more on the method than the goals, but this didn’t really work for me. By now, I know that if I add a task to my calendar, chunk it up and put one of those chunks on my daily to-do list, it will get done (eventually). So I’m just going to stick with that method for the above goals.

Here’s to a successful and fulfilling 2020!

Sophie Playleis a professional fiction editor. She specialises in developmental editing, critiquing and copy-editing, and loves working with authors and publishers who are passionate about high-quality storytelling. Speculative fiction, fantasy, science fiction and literary fiction are her genres of choice. She's an Advanced Professional Member of the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading and has a Creative Writing MA from Royal Holloway, University of London. Find out more:

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