Editor’s Insight: Siobhán O’Brien Holmes

Siobhán is a freelance developmental editor who spends her life reading children’s books, watching scary films and drinking unicorn gin. She lives in Surrey, England, with her graphic designer husband and four-year-old son who wants to be a Pokémon when he grows up. Siobhan works directly with authors of middle grade and YA genre fiction, specialising in horror, mystery, fantasy and sci-fi (or anything with a dash of magic or macabre). She has an MA in Novel Writing and an MA in Children’s Literature and is a Professional member of the Chartered Institute of Editors and Proofreaders. She was a judge on the 2020 British Fantasy Awards horror panel and the IPNE Annual Book Awards’ YA category and reviews YA for the British Fantasy Society. 

Best marketing tip:

For me, the thing that has worked best is making sure my website is bursting with personality and visitors feel they are getting to know me before they’ve even sent an email. The thing I hear most from prospective clients is that I sound nice or passionate in my copy or that they stopped researching editors as soon as they found my site because they just *knew* I was the one from the way I talked about what I do. 

This is super flattering and means that my website is working hard for me in the background while I focus on other marketing efforts. I’m lucky that my husband is a graphic designer and was able to design my branding and WordPress site for me, plus I have a copywriting background, but you don’t need to be a professional designer or marketer: just stick up something clean and professional and really focus on injecting your unique voice and point of view into your writing. 

Best learning the skill tip: 

I am definitely a lifelong learner and can’t stop myself taking classes and webinars whenever an interesting one pops up! I think the best thing I did was join CIEP (the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading) and EFA (Editorial Freelancers Association) because I’ve taken so many excellent courses with them over the years at the reduced members’ rate – Editing Fiction, Editing with Word, Introduction to Children’s Literature, Book Mapping, and a few of Jennifer Lawler’s classes, too. 

Joining those organisations was the best way of learning what I didn’t know yet and it was a brilliant starting point. The best thing is that they both also offer discounts for their partner organisations so I’ve saved money on courses with other professional bodies like Editors Canada, too. 

Best business practice tip:

Invest time (and, when you can, money) setting up good processes and software to support you. I use OfficeTime time tracker (free), aText text expander for Mac (free) and Post Haste automatic folder creator (very cheap) and I automate as much as I can through Dubsado, my project management software. It’s not cheap and I couldn’t have afforded it in the early days but now it’s a huge time saver as it sends out contracts and invoices for me and is hooked up to my intake form so prospective clients are automatically added to my workflow. I wouldn’t worry about investing in something like this up front: wait until business is booming and you can’t keep on top of the admin manually. 

Siobhán’s website can be found at: www.writerandthewolf.com 

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