About the time I was getting frustrated with being a newspaper journalist, two things happened in my life as a writer. A friend of my husband had started his own computer services company and needed someone to edit policy and procedures manuals for a contract. He asked if I would be willing to take on the job – and I could work at home. He’d load up my little computer with everything I needed and pay me a ridiculous amount of money to work at home. How could I say no?
At the same time, an acquaintance of mine from an online group I’d joined was working for a new e-publisher. They were looking for copy-editors and she knew my background (that Master’s Degree came with a 4.0 average). Payment would be a percentage of the royalties for each book I edited. Of course I said yes.
Oh, how little I knew. And how much I learned. The policy and procedure job was a piece of cake. I did 240 of those boring little documents over the space of a year. Plus wrote other ones for other agencies as well. I got a good reputation for accuracy and quick turnarounds. But, oh my goodness, was it boring. Still, the money was good. It helped get the last of the kids through college. The contract lasted a year, but it was a good year.
The novel editing, on the other hand, was exciting. Over the course of two years, I edited thirty-five novels for that company. And learned a lot. Enough to write my own novel. I submitted it, like every other wannabe writer, and lo, and behold, it was accepted! I was going to be published! Okay, it was going to be an e-book, but still. I was going to be published!
The day I received my contract was one of the happiest of my life. And it just happened to be my dad’s birthday. Unfortunately, he had passed away two years before this so I could not share the incredible news with him. But I know he had something to do with it.
So I continued to edit other books while working through edits of my own. I learned about cover art and blurbs and tag lines. I learned about dedication pages and promos. I learned about how much I still had to learn. In the background of all this, there were some rumblings in the company. My friend who had gotten me into the job left the company. As did some of the authors I’d edited for. When I asked my “supervisor” about it, I was told it was just internal issues and nothing I needed to worry about.
How naïve I was. But I was too excited about my book coming out to really worry. My book did come out and it was grand. I sold copies – I know this because people wrote to me to tell me how much they enjoyed the book. And a week later, the company closed its doors and went belly up.
What? I now had no book. No royalties for my book, or the other books I’d edited. Nothing. All that work for nothing? Hours spent doing edits for others only to find out they sold their books to other publishers and were making successes there. Hours spent doing my own edits only to have it tied up in limbo. I eventually found out that the owners were basically scammers who had done this before under different names. But they’d crossed the wrong people this time as several of the top editors broke off, formed their own company and took the scammers to court. The break-out people did well-enough for themselves, but they were a very small contingent of the larger company. And because I was so new, I wasn’t one of the “in” people. So I was left hanging, though I did get my rights back (I have that in writing). With no book, no editorial job, no contract (since that had ended). I saw my fledgling writing career as a major failure.
(the story continues…) (next week)