Our member of the week, Ally Peltier, wears many hats in the publishing world: she's a writer, editor, and publishing consultant who does what it takes to get a book published. Authors and agents hire her to polish manuscripts, book proposals, and even jacket and catalog copy. Plus, Ally works with small businesses and individuals to create marketing materials, brochures, and websites. (Ally also has her own website, Ambitious Enterprises.) To learn more about her work and her life as a freelancers, take at look at Ally's Yellow Pages profile and read our interview with her below.
1. What has been your most interesting project?
I've just finished ghostwriting a book on home design and decorating for Chronicle Books with two incredibly talented interior designers from Los Angeles. I've never had the opportunity to work on such an image-heavy book before--learning to write so that the text and images work together in a very particular way was such a challenge! I really enjoyed learning the new format, and learning more about interior design, too.
2. Why did you decide to go freelance?
I had reached a point in my book publishing career where I was ready to move up the ladder, and in fact had been taking on responsibilities typically assigned to more senior staff members, but unfortunately a series of layoffs in the company had downsized my department and made further promotion impossible. I wasn't willing to hold myself back while waiting for the economy to shift; I had found myself turning down freelance opportunities more and more, and I was more than halfway through a graduate degree that I'd been pursuing part time for years. I figured it was as good a time as any to try freelancing while I finished my degree on a full time basis.
3. What tip would you give to a new freelancer or someone who is considering going freelance?
I've seen people build careers from nothing, but it is much more difficult. I got a great start through my work on staff and the connections I made in the industry--some of those connections are still paying off with new projects coming in regularly from old coworkers. If you have a staff job in the field you're going to freelance in, milk it for all it's worth--network, get experience, create a solid portfolio, and save up some money before you make the plunge. Most importantly, when you leave, don't burn bridges. Even though I left out of frustration, I never took it personally, and I made sure to leave on good terms with everyone from my coworkers to the head of the department. I stay in touch regularly. You never know where a job will come from.
4. What is your favorite spot in the city in which you live?
I've lived in Columbia, Maryland now for a little over a year, and am still just exploring the neighboring cities of Baltimore and Washington, DC. I'd say my favorite spots right now are all restaurants!
5. What is your inspiration?
I find inspiration in everything--natural beauty, music, pop culture, and most importantly, the people around me. What drives me, though, is the desire to earn a decent living on my own terms, to have flexibility to fully enjoy my life all the time, not just two days a week. So far, so good!