Kallie Falandays is a freelance writer, manuscript editor and published poet based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. We talked about creative control over work, copywriting from a poet’s perspective and starting the conversation with other writers. Check out her website to learn more about her work.
You run a poetry manuscript editing service, Tell Tell Editing. What inspired this business?
Maybe it was four years ago – I think I was about to go to graduate school for poetry. I was about to get my MFA. I wanted to talk to poets who had published collections because I wanted to better understand the process.
At the time, I don’t think I had published any poetry. Maybe I’d published one poem. The process was a mystery to me, and all the resources I was finding were uninspiring. I started reaching out to poets who wrote books I liked and requesting interviews, and everyone I reached out to was super receptive. So this really started as a blog interview series.
After about a year and a half of that, I started having more poetry-editing clients. I switched the format of the website to be a poetry-editing website with a blog attached. That’s allowed me to grow into what it is now – which is mostly a resource site and a poetry-editing service.
What other types of writing do you do?
Obviously I write poetry, but by day I also write copy. So I make home pages, landing pages, sales copy, B2B copy, marketing, print campaign copy. Whatever someone needs words on, I can do.
Writing advertisements from a poet’s perspective has been helpful and kind of illuminating. I approach ad copy from a different place than, say, a marketer.
What was your first ever paid piece of writing?
My first paid piece was actually a poetry piece. It was a series of postcards at Meekling Press, a tiny press based out of Chicago.
They had a series of twelve poets. They paid me, like, 20 bucks, and I thought it was the coolest thing. My mom bought a copy, and so did everyone else I knew. I felt so fulfilled, because someone was paying me for this work that I had cared so deeply about.
What piece of writing, or body of work, are you most proud of?
I just had a book come out in October, and I would say that I’m the most proud of that because of the length of time I was working on it – and because now it’s a tangible object that I can hold, or put under my bed, or give to a friend.
It was a daunting, exciting and terrible process. I’m happy that I got to work with a press that was as open and excited about the work as I was.
I’ve been freelancing since probably 2009. I first started editing college application essays. I was doing some – I don’t know how else to call it – content farm writing, where I was assigned 3,000 words every day on whatever topic. I was pumping out really boring text every day, so I did that for just three months before I had to move on.
What do you enjoy about freelancing and having your own business?
I like being able to reach out to clients directly, because – as you might discover from a lot of freelancers – I’m kind of a control freak. And so, the ability to handle all the business myself is really fulfilling, because I’m able to have a deeper understanding of my clients’ needs. I can figure out what needs to happen. That part of it’s been really positive for me. Of course, there are the other perks, like adhering to my own schedule.
[I enjoy] the ability to cut out the middleman and just work on what I want, work with who I want and do the kind of work that I love.
What don’t you enjoy?
I don’t really have a good work-life balance. I just work a lot. I don’t know if I don’t like that, but I find that sometimes it’s difficult for me to separate myself from my work.
What values are important to you as a writer and editor?
For my poetry clients, I like to help them finally put out their collections. A lot of my clients have been writing for years and years and they don’t know where to start. I love to be able to help them turn [their poems] into something that they can share with their friends and family.
Part of my mission is to help people finally finish that collection that they’ve been working on for years, and to finally find their voice and share it.
What message do you have for anyone reading this?
They should call me. Seriously. Start a community, start reaching out to people. Go somewhere together or, you know, spend time working side-by-side with other freelancers in a coworking space or outside of it.
If you find someone who’s doing the work that you love and you can find an email address, let them know and start the conversation. I think that you need that human communication, especially if we’re writing in isolation, so just reach out and see what happens.