Because self-publishing has become a huge and legitimate market, you couldn’t choose a more opportune time to become a freelance editor than now. However, it’s not something you can simply start doing just because "reading" for a living sounds like a great way to earn income. Editing isn’t only about your love for the written word. Becoming a freelance editor requires about as much of an investment of time, education and money, as any other profession.
If becoming a freelance book editor is a career path that interests you, you are not alone. There are countless individuals (with little or no prior experience) who want to try their hand at freelance editing. So ultimately your challenge will be figuring out how to stand out amongst the masses as a successful book editor. Here are a few tips to get you started in the right direction:
If you are serious about becoming a freelance editor, you need to start thinking of yourself as a business person. Promote yourself as a business professional so people will come to you for your services.
a. Create a Website – Set-up a professional website with an impressive portfolio that highlights your credentials and prior experience as a freelance editor. Here, you can receive clients, network with authors and other freelancers and market your skills. As most clients will never get to meet you face to face, a website becomes your editorial brand.
b. Set Up Social Media Accounts – If a website poses to be too much of a financial burden, set-up social media accounts in platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, among others. The point is to create an online presence through popular platforms where people can find you.
Editing isn’t just about having the passion for reading. It requires a strong command of the English language and an impeccable grammar skill set. Take a class in proofreading. There are one-day workshops that offer the basics on using proofreading symbols – a skill that book publishers require of its freelance editors.
Leverage Your Editorial Experience
Before jumping into freelance editing, you must either show or gain some experience in what you are trying to sell. You cannot refer to yourself as a fiction editor if you don’t have novels or short stories under your belt (preferably published). Consider writing a few short stories and publishing them (even if only in digital format). You can also start offering your editorial services free of charge. Once you've done these things, you can now reinvent your resume to include your new and tangible editorial experience.
Attend conferences, seminars and writing workshops/festivals. Also find and join online platforms and discussion groups (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn) where freelance editors congregate. Such resources will give you access to like-minded people in your field whose experience and advice you can use to maneuver the freelance editing field. Joining these platforms also carries an added benefit – clients have a tendency to visit editing forums in their search for qualified freelance editors.
Joining freelance editing associations is another good way to network. Doing so will give you a certain amount of legitimacy, though you might have to pay an annual membership fee.
Secure Proper Equipment
Obvious as this might sound, a lot of first-time freelance editors journey into this field without first considering the hardware and software requirements of the job. Do you have a computer, a printer and an ergonomic desk/chair (because you will spend astronomical amounts of time seating)? How about the right software for you to get the job done? If you already have Microsoft Office software installed on your home computer, that's pretty much all you'll need to get started. Just familiarize yourself with the functions of Microsoft Words because this is the program you'll most likely use the most.
Money matters, and ultimately the amount of money you charge for your services will determine your success. However, initially you may need to provide your services for free until you build up a decent reputation. This is despite the ridiculous amount of time and effort you'll be required to spend doing editorial work, especially when editing manuscripts. You need to first prove to someone that you deserve their money as a freelance editor. Blow them away with your services by going above and beyond their expectations. Out of appreciation they will spread the word about their wonderful experience, and this in-turn may produce more paying clients than you know what to do with.
While the tasks detailed in the information above will not land you at the destination of a freelance editor, including them in your journey will definitely get you off to a good start. In the beginning the majority of your time and effort will go into branding yourself. Once you build your reputation, you’ll be on your way to becoming a well-known and highly successful freelance editor.