Y’know, when it comes to running a business enterprise, I have a problem. To wit: I am not a plow horse; I am a cow pony. What sets the sparks to flying under my hooves is not plodding along in the traces, but galloping into unsown fields. Which is a way of saying, in 21st-century words, that I’m fundamentally entrepreneurial. I like to round up new cows and chase down loose dogies, not turn the soil into row after row after endless tidy row.
Hence, of course, Camptown Races Press…
Because of this psychological quirk, of late I’ve found myself growing mightily tired of the copyediting business. Not that I don’t love my clients and admire their work…just that I tire of turning the stuff into English.
So the other day when a friend suggested I might like to write a grant proposal for a nonprofit that he heads, I was given pause. As in…huh! why am I still doing what I’m doing?
In the past, I’ve written a few grant proposals. I’ve also edited some, in the persona of The Copyeditor’s Desk, Inc. As a matter of fact, I wrote the proposal that founded the nonfiction writing program at GDU West, which I directed for ten years before moving over to the main campus. I can do this. Sure, I’d need to refresh and update a few skills. But I do know how to write a proposal.
Grant writers earn a helluva lot more than copyeditors do. (Say what? Minimum fee $11,500?????) Not that we haven’t been paid decently when we’ve hooked up with a company or…yeah…a nonprofit. Most of the time, though, we’re working with individuals who try to chisel us down as low as we’ll go on our fees.
Not that I can blame them. They’re individual operators, too — although they at least are earning a salary that, in the US, runs upwards of 60 grand for nine months of work (plus the occasional semester-long or year-long sabbatical, plus travel funds for conferences and research). They’re used to working with graduate students, who perforce will work for next to nothing. And some of them seem to see us as perennial graduate assistants. Not their fault…but annoying nonetheless.
Grant writers, however, work for organizations. They’re more likely to be seen as professionals than as floating RAs. That would mean their clients expect to pay them a living wage.
Why did I not think of this before?
Well, I did. At the outset, I considered grant writing in passing but dismissed it for two reasons: 1) the Kid and I were fully engaged in copyediting, having run the Great Desert University’s office for scholarly journals for the previous five years; and 2) it looked like drudgery. I figured it would be easier to segue into a business that simply extended what we were doing into private enterprise than to do the gear-shifting required to launch into a new trade. And we hoped we would be able to pick up several journals as long-term clients. In fact, we do have one such. But we would need eight or ten of them to come anywhere near supporting the two of us. And that would be an outrageous amount of work. So much so that we would have to hire a crew of underlings, negating the “support us” factor.
But…I could easily write eight or ten small proposals a year. No problem. Add two to four indexes, and the revenue goal would be met and surpassed. One large proposal for a substantial organization would do the same.
So. I’m thinking it’s time to revive those skills, rewrite the resumé, and go in search of a new species of client…