Name: Lara Kordic
Employer: Herself (www.sosuccinct.com)
Interests: reading, walking, yoga, travel, young adult fiction (writing it), magazines (reading them and maybe starting one someday), history, media, and the history of media.
Favorite quote: “Grammar is the piano I play by ear. All I know about grammar is its power.” –Joan Didion
To explain this, Kordic says: "Ideally, an editor should know her grammar backwards and forwards, but, as I used to tell my ESL students, I can’t tell you why it’s right. I just know it’s right. And yes, I real ized pretty quickly that teaching was not the career for me!
What's your job?
Lara Kordic runs a very small (as in one-person) business called SO Succinct Editorial Services. Her company provides an array of writing and editing services for academic, educational, corporate, and creative industries. “I edit everything from sci fi novellas to ethnographic field studies to first year English papers,” says Kordic. “I write mostly promotional stuff – website and brochure copy, slogans and press releases.”
How do you spend a work day?
Working for an “extremely diverse clientele” makes every day different for Kordic, and new assignments can often pop up at the last minute. She says that three-quarters of her jobs are booked less than a week in advance. This is a job that keeps you on your toes. “Obviously, this means I have to be extremely organized and stay connected at all times,” she says.
Like cappuccinos? Setting her own work environment and schedule lets Kordic work from home and cafes that have access to the Internet. Most people communicate with her through email, but clients will occasionally want to meet to go over more detailed projects in face-to-face meetings.
How did you find this job?
“To make a very long story short, I had just completed my master’s degree, was finishing up a writing contract and applying for every publishing job that I could find,” says Kordic. “It’s a tough field to get into, though, and I didn’t want there to be any gaps in my resume.”
She is not kidding. Publishing was bad enough before this
year’s recession, but now there are even less jobs available for those budding
wordsmiths. I was just talking to a former colleague today who worked at a
major publishing house in New York. She described the publishing industry in New York City as “cut throat” with bosses can be extremely demanding. According to one blogger, now working as a literary agent in the Big Apple, “Serious work - full-time work at a publishing house
as an editorial assistant, with health and dental benefits - usually requires
either an "in" (your uncle works there) or a year's experience.”
But if this is a field you are looking to go into, be encouraged that there are
ways to get in. Starting out in unpaid internships will likely be part of the bargain.
Kordic’s unfruitful job search eventually led to personal inspiration. With the right follow through, she was able to fashion together her freelance editing career. She thought of the name SO Succinct which led to her creating a group on the social networking site, facebook. From there she printed flyers to advertise at her local university, library and community center. The turnaround was lightning fast and, within a week, she had clients. “A couple of months later I had a website, a fancy set of business cards and a steady stream of work,” says Kordic. “Of course I’m making it sound ridiculously simplistic. I must say that starting my business was the easy part. Maintaining and developing it is a constant challenge.”
What's the best part?
When you are setting your own hours, you have got to love what you do. “I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t love working with words and language,” says Kordic. “There is something deeply satisfying about removing all the clutter from someone’s written work and discovering a strong, genuine statement or idea.” The job also led to discovering an interest in working with fiction.
“Admittedly, I do kind of miss the security of getting a
regular pay cheque every two weeks. I have busy months and slow months, and
they are not always predictable no matter how much effort I put into marketing.
It all evens out in the end, but I could do without the stress!”
What special skills are required?
Kordic calls the freelance way of life “a very straightforward, clean way of doing business.” But running a one-person show is also a solitary career that requires organization, multi-tasking and time management skills, and a lot of self-promotion. You are your own boss, as well as your own secretary, marketing coordinator, and bookkeeper.
In addition, being an expert
editor requires a precise sculptor’s hand when it comes to writing: “You need
to be good with language, obviously, and it helps if you read a lot, but there
is much more to it than that, including attention to detail, an ability to weed
through wordiness and jargon, and awareness of audience,” says Kordic. She
recommends acquiring formal training and obtaining certificates or degrees. “I
went the Master’s of Publishing route, but there are plenty of courses and
diploma programs out there that will give you a strong skill basis,” says
Any lingo or jobspeak that you can share?
“First and foremost, it is crucial to know the difference between proofreading, copy editing, stylistic editing, substantive editing, developmental editing, and rewriting – and to make sure your clients know the difference, too. Secondly, familiarize yourself with the format and language of standard freelance editorial contracts. I strongly recommend drawing up a contract for any project of 50 pages or more.”
Where to study publishing: