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How to Make a Living as a Freelance Book Editor

When you read a book, whether it’s a fictional tale, a historical account of an event or a textbook on economics, do you get irked when you see an obvious spelling error? Well, if so, a career in freelance book editing could be for you – remember, not everyone can be a writer. With the independent book publishing market growing at a rapid rate, the market for freelance book editors is increasing.

A career in freelance book editing can be quite an interesting endeavor. It can allow you to learn about new things you never previously were interested in, delve into the mind of a creative and dedicated writer or be the discoverer of the next Arthur Miller, Anton Chekhov or Edgar Allen Poe.

There are numerous advantages to working as a freelance book editor: working remotely, earning a decent income, completing your work in a peaceful environment and convenience. Of course, there are drawbacks, though, akin to any other freelance career: booms and slowdowns, taxes, potential boredom, no health benefits and heavy taxation.

If you’re interested in entering the world of book editing, how can one making a living from it? Here are some tips to help get you started.

Personal Website

Just like any other self-employment endeavor, it’s crucial to establish a website with plenty of details, including contact information, a list of comprehensive services, fees and a portfolio of previous experience. This way, potential clients can find a suitable match to edit their work.


Sure, you might be a whiz at proofreading and identifying spelling and grammatical errors. However, are you proficient in the Chicago Manual of Style or the Associated Press Stylebook? Every editor has to know the aforementioned from front to back. Also, sign up for some editing, proofreading and business classes or one-day workshops to help advance your qualifications and learn some new skills.

Freelance Websites

Over the past few years, the freelance industry has grown to new heights. Each year, more and more residents of the asphalt jungle transition into the freelance business. To tap into this market, there have been numerous websites launched for freelancers and those who need work done.

Outlets such as Elance, oDesk and Freelancer provide wonderful opportunities – they are highly competitive – so take advantage by signing up and creating a detailed portfolio with a professional photo, a resume, samples and contact information.

Job Ads

During the week, spend an hour searching through freelance gig websites to find a job. There are an abundance of such venues, including Freelance Writing Gigs, Pro Blogger, Craig’s List, Kijiji and many others. Always apply with a resume and a concise cover letter explaining why you want the gig, your qualifications and your financial compensation expectations.

Literary Marketplace

Whether you’re a writer, editor, graphic designer or web specialist, owning a copy of the Literary Marketplace or perusing the website each day can help you gather a list of potential clients. Instead of waiting for prospects to reach out to you, you can reach them out and attempt to find out if they need any extra hands (or eyes).

Microsoft Office

In every edition, Microsoft installs new features and functions on its suite of Office programs. As soon as you enter the freelance book editing industry, it would be prudent to understand all of the utilities of Word and Excel because these will be imperative to understand fully when you begin working with professionals.

CMS, Amazon and Others

Akin to Microsoft Office, it’s also just as imperative to understand the intricacies of content management systems (CMS), like WordPress or Blogger, Amazon, Lulu and other self-publishing sources. By mastering the features of these programs, you’ll have a step above others who also desire to be a successful freelance book editor.

The key to making a good living as a freelance book editor is persistence. Rather than giving up after a few weeks, keep trying and you’ll eventually have a 10-month stretch of constant work. If there’s a dry spell, which is usually early in the year and around August, don’t panic and take some time to improve your skills, enhance your website or permit your eyes to take a break.

Are you a freelance book editor? Do you want to enter the business? Let us know how your career is progressing in the comment section.

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