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How I Easily Became a Self-Employed, Professional Book Editor (and How You Can Too!)

Updated: Sep 2, 2022


How I Left Employment and Became a Self-Employed Professional Book Editor

Professional book editor in the UK reveals how she transitioned from an employed librarian to a self-employed book editor!


Wanna know how YOU can easily become a self-employed, professional book editor like me?


In this post, I'm going to wriggle out of my hermit shell and talk about something I rarely discuss - how I became a self-employed book editor and why I launched Stand Corrected Editing, my editorial business.


During autumn 2019, I took yet another stroll around my local library, made yet another cup of tea to make myself look busy, and slumped into my chair at my messy desk as I desperately wondered what I could actually do with my English degree.


Don't get me wrong, I loved working as a library assistant, especially before I transferred to a new library that offered more hours. Organising fun events for the children and chatting to my favourite customers always kept me cheerful, but...I wanted something more. I wanted something I could be truly passionate about, something I could be excited to do every day, and something I could call my own.

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One weekend, I bounded home with a dazzling idea I had to pursue - to start my own editorial business and become a self-employed book editor!


Now, I know what you're thinking - you just randomly decided to become a book editor just like that? Without any training?


Well, yes and no.


See, I really don't believe that you need to work at a publishing house or a literary agency for half your life to make it as a bloody good book editor. And the amazing reviews (check them out here!) I have received so far agree with me! Plus, editing and proofreading is something I have always enjoyed doing, even more so than actually writing. Constructing my own written work can feel so daunting at times, but I love, love, LOVE editing the work of others, which I used to do for my university's student publishing house.


After my lovely boyfriend encouraged me to pursue a career as a book editor, I spent months learning EVERYTHING I could about how to provide value to writers.


On top of my English degree, I took multiple online courses that specialised in editing; I signed up for several classes, workshops and email courses created by professional editors; I read piles of books about how to self-edit, line edit, copy edit, proofread and developmental edit a manuscript; I read books that taught correct grammar and punctuation, books that help you to master the act of showing, not telling; I read so many articles and listened to countless podcasts...I even hired a professional editor for my own novel at a top literary consultancy to see how a real editor works.

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Anyway, you may think that spending so much time researching is a little extreme because technically, anyone can be an editor these days, but as you have probably noticed, I haven't worked as a paid editor at a magazine, newspaper or publishing house or anything like you'd expect - but I volunteered at my university's student publishing house while I studied.


Unlike a lot of other people, I don't live in a massive city, or anywhere near London, so it would have been impossible for me to physically shadow a real editor at a magazine press or a publishing house, because where I live, there aren't any. I had to rely on the fantastic resources the experts create for people like us, but that's okay! :)


In a way, I'm glad I became a book editor and launched Stand Corrected Editing in the way I did - if I had taken a different route, I may not have worked with the amazing writers I've had the pleasure to meet, and I may not have received these heart-warming reviews!

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Some people will inevitably believe that you need to waste years of your life shadowing an editor at a publishing house to be a "proper" book editor, and if you want to do that to get to where I am, that's up to you, but it's absolutely possible to gain the knowledge and skills a different way.


Once you've researched, taken your courses, read your books and soaked up everything you possible can to learn from the experts, it's time to launch your editorial business!


So, what did I do?


1. I chose my business name - Stand Corrected Editing. For security and privacy reasons, I decided to pick something that didn't include my name, and I wanted to focus on creating a brand I could expand one day, but it's your business, so you can pick any name you want, providing the domain is available.


Quick Tip: Add "Editing" or "Proofreading" to your business name to make it easier for people to find you, and to also make it easy for potential clients to know who you are. For example, if I had just named my company "Stand Corrected", no one would know what that was unless they had hired me before, but the "Editing" at the end of the name gives people a clearer idea.


2. I built my website using Wix.com - I chose Wix because I had already used it at university, so I knew how it worked, but you may prefer to use Wordpress or Squarespace.


3. I created social media profiles for my business. When I launched Stand Corrected Editing, I made the mistake of creating a business profile on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram AND Pinterest and trying to keep up with all of them, but honestly, if I could go back, I would have only picked two. I still have all four, but I only regularly use Instagram and Pinterest. However, despite only using two social media platforms now, each profile tells the viewer exactly who I am and what I do, which sounds obvious, but it can be easily missed.

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For example, this is my Instagram profile ☝🏽and you can clearly gather from my bio that I'm a book editor. As a result, potential clients who need a professional book editor know that I offer the services they need.


5. I connected with different writers on my new social media pages. When I got started as a book editor, Twitter was the platform I used the most, probably because I have always been familiar with it and I knew about the HUGE #writingcommunity on there. So, my first few clients came from there, but I recommend starting with the platform YOU feel most comfortable with.


Quick Tip: Don't spend all day promoting your services on your social media pages, because no one will take any notice and you'll likely just annoy people. There were a few newbie editors doing this back when I used Twitter and it's so awkward to see, so it's super important to balance your content out. By all means, promote your services once or twice a week, but the rest of the time, the best thing to do is to share valuable content and engage with others.


When you share valuable tips and advice on a consistent basis, your followers will begin to trust you, and the more you engage with your ideal clients, the more people are aware of you and your business!

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6. I joined Upwork, Fiverr and various Facebook groups - I gained a fair few of my clients on Upwork, and I still use it now if I'm having a dip in business, but I also recommend Fiverr if you're just starting out as a new editor, and Facebook groups can also be mega powerful!


Once you've created your profile and picked your area (editing & proofreading), Upwork will recommend different projects to you that you can apply for like an actual job. You'll have to write a cover letter for each one (I copy and paste the same one for all and tweak as necessary to save time) and fill out a short form that states how much you want to be paid and how long it'll take for you to complete the job.


If you're shortlisted, the person hiring may ask you to provide a sample edit for them so they can compare your skills with the other editors, and if they decide to hire you, the job is yours!


Fiverr - If you're unfamiliar with Fiverr, it's very similar to Upwork, but you have more control over your prices and a little more freedom to provide the services you like doing. So, rather than following what the client has requested (like on Upwork), you can create a list of services that work for you, so clients can hire you if you offer what they need.

Here's an example of what the second part of my Fiverr profile looks like - as you can see, for a short novel of 20,000 - 50,000 words, I charged £148.81 for a a full edit, which I delivered in 10 days.


Personally, I don't use Fiverr anymore as I can charge more money and provide much more for clients through my actual business, but it's a great starting point if you're a new book editor!


Facebook Groups - I seriously underestimated the power of Facebook groups when I started as a book editor, but a few months into my new job, I learnt that talking to other writers in different groups actually earned me new clients.


Sometimes I spoke to them like friends and had a laugh, other times I answered their questions and provided value & advice, and other times I straight up promoted my services on the group's feed. However, many groups hate it when you do this, so I could only do this with one or two, but every time I checked Facebook, there would always be someone asking for a book editor, which gave me the perfect opportunity to connect with them.


So, I would definitely recommend joining a bunch of writing groups on Facebook, even just to scout for people asking for an editor!

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So yes, that's my book editing journey so far - I hope you can use my experiences to launch your own editorial business and thrive as the book editor you've always dreamed to be!


But remember, it will be even harder without taking at least one online course that focuses on editing, so I would definitely check out the CIEP!


To your highest success!

Chelsea x

 

ABOUT CHELSEA


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Hey! I'm Chelsea and I'm a professional book editor at Stand Corrected Editing, my editorial business in the UK. If you need professional book editing services and are currently looking for a manuscript editor, please get in touch and we can get started today!


With my book editing and proofreading services, I hope to spread my knowledge and expertise on how to make your novel a success, and be a mentor to others who desperately want to pursue a fruitful career as an author!



3 Comments


ikechigoodman2
May 24

wow! learnt a lot, i think i need to change my approach.

Thanks.

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Unknown member
Jul 18, 2021

I'm just starting out on my self-employed journey, Chelsea and found this post really helpful. Thank you for sharing it.

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Chelsea ✨
Chelsea ✨
Jul 18, 2021
Replying to

Amazing to hear! I'm glad I could help! :)

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