Tips for finding work editing self-published authors

FreelanceBy Valerie Borden

The growth of self-publishing has created an exciting opportunity for freelance editors. To take advantage of this trend, it’s important to be aware of the many ways to market your editorial services and connect with self-publishing authors.

Recently, I spoke with three editors who have experience in self-publishing, who gave me useful information for the freelance editor.

Beth McAuley, senior editor of The Editing Company in Toronto, advises making your website inviting to authors, since many do not see the need to have a professional editor working on their manuscript. To allow potential clients to search for you, she recommends listing your services in the Editors’ Association of Canada’s directory. You can also write blogs and put up flyers where writers meet. In other words, “Go where writers go.”

Beth emphasizes, “Do not agree to anything unless you have read the entire manuscript.” By assessing the whole manuscript, the type of editing required can then be determined. From there, a contract or letter of agreement is negotiated, which defines tasks, fees, and timelines. It’s important to educate the novice author about the process of editing. It takes time to produce a good book and a lot of reading, assessing, editing, rereading, reassessing, and copy editing.

Vanessa Ricci-Thode,owner of Thodestool Literary Services and an author and freelance editor, adds that writing and editing manuscripts require a certain amount of knowledge of the book publishing process. She always sends her clients to the definitions page of the EAC website in order to avoid any confusion concerning her role as editor. It’s always important to be open and up front with the author, and work on the editorial stage that is within your skill level, she says. You can form a small group of editors, each having their own editorial expertise, who you can recommend for services you don’t handle.

To market her services, Vanessa joins relevant online forums. She suggests going to the sites that deal with your hobbies. Do you like to garden or knit? Maybe there is someone who is writing a book on that subject. Get involved with National Novel Writing Month. Thousands of writers sign up for this Internet-based project. The participants must write 50,000 words of a new novel within the month of November. This is a great opportunity for freelancers to promote themselves. Vanessa fully supports social media as a valuable tool to promote your editing skills and connect with authors.

Kathryn Exner, a freelance editor who teaches proofreading and editing principles and practices at George Brown College, has experience in both traditional publishing and self-publishing. She explains that the growing interest in self-publishing amongst authors is due to it being easier, faster, and more affordable than traditional publishing due to print-on-demand services, thus producing more job opportunities for freelance editors. Kathryn also supports the education of new authors. They need to understand how both a good substantive edit and copy edit can really clean things up to produce a high-quality manuscript, she says.

As for acquiring editing projects, be persistent, says Kathryn. Network, talk to people, use social media, and hand out those business cards. Don’t forget, word of mouth may seem old-fashioned, but it works.

Here are some extra tips to help market your freelance editing services:

Most authors search for editors, not vice versa, so freelance editors need to get their name out there. Marketing yourself in the right places will ensure that you will be found by an author who wants to self-publish and realizes the importance of an editor. Once the connection is made, the experience of working with a self-publishing author can be very rewarding.

Valerie Borden is the owner of the Sudbury-based freelance editing business Fresh Set of Eyes. She is a member of the EAC’s Toronto branch.

This article was copy edited by Joe Cotterchio.

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