A new focus in the new year

January 7, 2012

“Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t know.”

Maybe and maybe not. Sometimes sticking with that familiar devil is worse than taking a leap into uncharted territory–the devil you don’t know.

I’ve been an editor for most of my life, and I cut my editorial teeth on college textbooks when I worked for Scott, Foresman from 1984 to 1992. Educational publishing is familiar to me, and I’m very good at it. But textbook copyeditors don’t make much money, and the textbook publishing industry has become more unstable over the last couple of decades. At the end of December one of my biggest clients, McGraw-Hill, laid off most of the editorial production crew in their San Francisco office. I was in mid-project, and my contact person no longer works for the company. Her supervisor is still in the office, but she hasn’t answered my emails. And it appears that the three co-authors of this first-edition textbook have not been notified of the layoffs.

I’ve been diversifying my client base for several years now, and the mass layoffs at McGraw-Hill have motivated me to redouble my efforts to find new clients for B2B (business-to-business) editing and rewriting. In December I began editing proposals for a local architectural company. I like the work, it pays better than textbook editing, and the checks arrive more quickly. The “devil I don’t know”–ditching textbook publishing entirely–has become overwhelmingly more attractive than the alternative.

Are you looking forward to making changes in 2012? Ready to ditch the devil you know? If so, I’d love to hear from you!


One Response to “A new focus in the new year”

  1. Claris Says:

    Good for you for “taking the plunge.” What I find most objectionable about this company’s actions is the complete lack of response and courtesy in answering email and notifying its business partners of upcoming changes. If all its human relationships are so dispensable, no wonder the company appears to be in financial trouble. It’s such an easy concept but so difficult for many companies to grasp: people first.

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