When I began editing from home in June 2006 after a difficult layoff, several folks already knew about my editing experience due to my working for two companies for fourteen years (I can’t stress building that resume enough). So getting started at home wasn’t overly difficult—God did it through my work history.
One contact wanted me to edit readings for a one-year devotional book called Our Family Time with God (my pay was based on a fee per page count). Another contact wanted me to edit the daily front-page article for SharperIron, a Christian blog. I worked with a schedule of content and submitting authors (I was paid a certain set fee per month).
Even still, this wasn’t enough work to bring in the income I needed to support my family, so I prayed hard, took a deep breath, and applied for a position as an early-morning package handler at FedEx. My wife also found some part-time work to do from home. My job as a package handler lasted eight months until I found enough work (and pay) to give my two weeks’ notice.
I won’t bore you with all the details of that first difficult year of transition, but I will pass on the knowledge of what I’ve learned over seven years of working as a full-time freelance editor. The foundational formula for me was pretty simple: pray and study God’s Word (that’s where it must start), be committed to my family and my local church, stay faithful to the work God has given me to do, trust Him to provide more work, and build my client base. (Notice that novel writing doesn’t even make the cut. Until it brings in enough income to replace my editing, it’s the icing on the cake when God provides time to do it.)
So how did I find more clients? Contacts through word of mouth brought in an occasional project, but it still wasn’t enough. So what did I do? What can you do?
1. Contact publishers.
Google.com is a wonderful service. I began e-mailing various Christian publishers and inquiring into their editing needs, offering to help them from home. I wish I could say this led to many open doors, because initially it didn’t. One contact, Kregel Publishing, was more interested in the manuscript of what later became my first published novel, Fatal Illusions, but they also sent me two books to edit while they were in an editorial transition.
2. Join a Christian editing referral network.
I heard about The Christian PEN, a terrific online network for writers and freelance editors, which includes an online forum. I can’t recommend the PEN enough. Through it, I heard about the related Christian Editor Network, which refers editing job leads to qualifying editors.
I was invited to take an editing test to determine my skills. I passed the test and began to receive job leads when the network received editing requests.
3. Meet publishers at a writer’s conference.
One of my biggest editing breaks came when I attended the Write-to-Publish Conference at Wheaton College (Wheaton, IL) in summer 2009 to promote Fatal Illusions. I scheduled a fifteen-minute meeting with the editing coordinator of one of the Christian publishing houses in attendance, and God opened the door for me to find steady book editing for two years. I was paid a certain fee per page (250 words per page is the industry standard), and this opportunity was a tremendous blessing for my family.
4. Ask other freelance editors how they find work.
An online editor friend, who appeared to be very successful, told me about an opportunity to edit for the self-publishing division of Amazon.com. Again, I had to take a very strenuous editing test—this was the toughest one yet and required three full days (without pay) to complete. Praise God, I passed! The publisher has offered plenty of work and decent pay per word compared to some work I’ve virtually done for pennies.
Through another referral, God opened the door at another Christian publishing house; they were looking for an editor to check their e-books on an e-reader (like the Kindle) for correct formatting, links, and so forth. I again had to take another editing test and passed. They pay me $20 per hour.
Over the last year—to God be the glory!—the work has been the steadiest and the best paying, even with the recession. Have I had some bumps in the road—some definite lean times—over the last seven years? Absolutely.
But the experience has opened my eyes to a definite truth we can bank on. God has His special calling for each of us. What He began in us, He will complete (Phil. 1:6). If being a freelance editor is God’s will for you, He will also open doors in His time.
Oops. I wanted to talk about my day-to-day life as a freelance editor, but I’ve run out of words. Join me next time as I discuss that topic. Have any questions? Don’t hesitate to comment.
Read Part 4.
- How Can I Be an Editor Too? Part 2
- How Can I Be an Editor Too? Part 4