Interview with Robin Samuels of Shadowcat Editing

Robin has been voracious reader for more than four decades. She always envisioned herself as a novelist, and only about a dozen years ago discovered her true passion is for helping other writers to shape and polish their words, express themselves in the most clear and vivid way possible and feel confident about the work they are sending out into the world.

Robin continues to learn and grow in her profession by taking professional classes and workshops and is currently working toward a certificate in copy editing. She is a member of the Editorial Freelancers Association(EFA) and a Charter Member of the Association of Independent Publishing Professionals (AIPP).

I loved the saying Robin has on her About page on her website:

Every superhero has their sidekick, every culinary master has a sous chef, and every great writer has an exceptional editor watching their back.

Robin and her editorial skills can be found at http://shadowcatediting.com/

What is your business?

I'm the owner of Shadowcat Editing at www.shadowcatediting.com. I work with novelists, nonfiction authors and small businesses to improve and polish their written work to ensure it's of the highest possible quality before they send it out into the world. 

How long have you been in business?

I began in 2013, so almost four years. 

What was your biggest struggle when you started your business? What did you do to overcome it?

I didn't have any systems in place. I really didn't know what I was doing from a business perspective, and I underestimated how important that was! I thought being good at the work itself would be enough. 

I learned! It was trial by fire. Then an editor friend invited me to join a Facebook groups where editors help each other, share information, and network, and that was really the beginning of my training to be a professional. I have learned more from sharing and networking with others in my field than I have from actual coursework - which isn't to say the coursework wasn't important! But the technical knowledge is only half the job, if you know what I mean.

What platform do you use to reach your clients? Why did you choose it? Are you happy with the results?

Most of my clients find me through my website. I also meet clients through social media, writers' forums, referrals from other editors, and my favorite way - referrals from happy clients!

It's been a lot of trial and error - I know editors who are tremendously successful finding clients on social media outlets that don't work for me at all, and others who get almost all their work through referrals. It's a very individual thing.

I'm working on refining my services this year and doing more of my favorite types of work and less of the types I like less, so I'd say it's still a work in progress!

What have you done to enhance your business since your launch?

 I'm constantly tweaking my website to better express who I am and how I approach my work. Editing is really a collaboration between the editor and the author, and it's important to have a good connection with the other person, to communicate well. I've also launched a book coaching service for nonfiction authors, and I'm looking forward to developing that area of my business.

Who do you turn to when you get stuck or need help?

 Easy one - my amazing network of experienced editor friends, many of whom have been in business many years longer than I have and have always been incredibly generous in sharing their knowledge.

What is the one piece of advice that you feel is most valuable that you would share with other women trying to start their own business?

Treat it like a business, not a hobby. Have systems in place. Learn about business accounting. Talk to others in the field you're entering and ask for advice, then take it. Strike a balance when pricing your services - don't expect to make what those with decades of experience earn, but don't undercut the industry standard so much you devalue the work or yourself.