It's a spooky time in the business world, and the publishing industry is no exception to the rule. When we had a wave of layoffs at my company this summer, it got the rest of us thinking about what we would do if it happened to us. I found my answer fairly quickly because it's the answer I've been sitting on for nine years, since layoffs were threatened at my former employer. In a word: freelancing.
So skittish was I about the prospect of going jobless that I have been doing freelance editing on the side ever since I left Macmillan in 1999. I was finishing up a big deadline for Alpha just weeks before my baby was born, and I picked it back up again when she was 1. I have always steered clear of doing anything competitive to my main gig, and have not allowed my performance to suffer as a result.
But dang, it's been hard. When I get a project from Frommer's, I work every night and all weekend for two weeks straight. I've just learned how to take "power breaks," rapidly decompressing and then getting back to work before wasting too much valuable time. I count on my husband tremendously to keep the child out of my hair. Recently she broke my heart when I shooed her away and she said "Mommy, you work too much."
So I've still got good connections in place. But with publishers delaying projects (in some cases, their entire lists) until next year, it's just one of the baskets I'm putting my eggs into. The other is--get ready--resume writing!
I have been enchanted with the art of resume writing since 1999, when I first met Susan Whitcomb and worked with her on reprint corrections to her classic Resume Magic. Since that time I have acquired and edited dozens of resume how-tos and collections, attended resume writers' conferences, and soaked up the best of the collective wisdom for how to optimize your personal marketing presentation. I know all too well how really difficult it is to do it right.
Recently I got the opportunity to try my hand at writing resumes myself--and I loved it. It uses every bit of reporting, marketing, writing, editing, SEO, problem-solving, big-picture, and tiny detail skill I have developed over my entire career. But best of all, it's a lot faster than writing or editing a book!
So the point of all this is that we all need to be thinking of what we will do if we lose our jobs. If you lose yours, I'll be happy to take you on as a client. :)