In which The Author is putting a plan together

A couple of weeks ago I told you that I’m planning to get my proofreading business really established this year. With this in mind, over the Xmas period I’ve been trawling the Internet in search of ideas and contacts. My first thought was to pay a visit to the London Book Fair in April, where everyone who is anyone in UK publishing will be busily networking. I checked out their website yesterday, and learned that an Early Bird ticket costs £35. So far, so good…
However, if I add the £18 coach fare from Cardiff to London, the £8 train fare from Aberdare to Cardiff, and the extra £5 on my Oyster card, I’ve just spent my entire income for a week. I haven’t even had lunch or a pint yet, remember. And that’s only for one day; the LBF itself is spread over three days, with numerous workshops, conferences and fringe events – all of which cost money. A lot of money. To get the most of it, you need to be there on all three days. That involves staying at least two nights in London on top of what I’ve already spent. I think it’s safe to say that I won’t be attending in April.
It would probably be different if I was self-employed, of course. In theory, at least, I’d be able to offset a lot of those expenses against tax. In practice, it would probably be a tangle of red tape which would keep me and HMRC busy for months.
Speaking of red tape, check out Jack Blanchard’s story from Tuesday’s Mirror: Red tape regime as 600,000 self-employed must fill in tax form every MONTH. That’s rich (no pun intended) coming from a Tory Party which always claims to be on the side of enterprise. Fuck knows what will happen if a anti-business socialist government gets in after May this year (chance would be a fine thing!)
Last time I was talking to Ellen S. in the Jokecentre, we mentioned the New Enterprise Allowance. This was an initiative dreamt up by the Tories last time out, whereby people setting up businesses could receive a subsidy while they were getting established. As I recall (and don’t quote me on this), under the original Enterprise Allowance, new startups could claim £40 a week for the first year. This would help to cover costs and overheads before the cashflow started in earnest.
Well, it’s back – to some extent. The new system grants new businesses £60 a week, but only for six months. I don’t know how long it takes to get established, but it doesn’t sound to me as though six months is long enough. And is £60 a week really enough to live on, when everything has shot up in price compared to the 1980s? It’s effectively a 16% drop in income for anyone coming off Jobseekers Allowance.
Bear in mind that several hours every month will be now spent doing your tax return, and that’s time during which you can’t actually be working. It’s becoming increasingly apparent that the Party of Business doesn’t have a great deal to offer ordinary working people to go out on their own. They’d much rather help their party donor mates, and allow massive multinationals like Amazon and Starbucks to dodge their corporation tax liabilities instead.
Anyway, I’m going to start laying the foundations myself over the next few weeks. I’m going to get a new batch of business cards done, with a nice slogan I worked out a while ago. I’m going to start contacting publishers and ask them to send me their proofreading tests and style guides.
I’ve got one in mind already. According to their website, they already have all the freelance help they need. Well, I’ve just finished a novel from one of their imprints – in paperback, which means it’s already been through a hardback edition – and I spotted at least a dozen errors which made it past their proofreaders. I’m going to scan the pages in question, mark them up, and email them to the editor in charge of that imprint. Sometimes the cheeky approach will get you through the door.
I’m still waiting for a date for the Business in Focus course, which runs periodically in Treforest. Mike H., my Aberdare Library pal, told me he found it very informative and worthwhile. I also need to do some more work on the website which Andrew Chainey set up for me ages ago. I haven’t been able to log into it for months, so we might need to use the system in his office and reset everything.
My second resort – teaching adults – has run into the sand for the time being, unfortunately. Janis and Grace decided to wind their company up a few months ago, so I’m still looking for an avenue to do my PTLLS qualification. Someone I met suggested the Workers’ Educational Association, but on the couple of occasions I’ve rung their local office there’s been nobody there.
I’ll try again next week, once everyone’s back in work. There has to be a better way to spend 2015 than visiting the Jokecentre every Friday, and being shunted onto pointless ‘courses’ simply to massage the statistics. Wish me luck…

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