How to Become a Freelance Editor

Becoming a freelance editor

In the words of the great writer E.M. Forster- “What is wonderful about great literature is that it transforms the man who reads it towards the condition of the man who wrote.”

Is that how you feel about literature? Do you even feel passionate about the art of writing? Are you one of those who detect errors over a block of text just by a glance? Well, if the answer is ‘YES’- then probably you are fit to be an editor.

Editing is a natural progression for writers within a company. But if you can develop yourself to a pro-level then you can extend your work prospect by becoming a freelance editor. This helps you with the utmost freedom to choose your work and develop your portfolio. There is great scope to build a business out of this profession.

So before we discuss how to become a freelance editor, let’s explore who they are!

Who is a freelance editor?

A freelance editor is a skilled professional who is capable of reviewing and correcting a block of text to make it error-free before it gets published. A freelance editor works for a variety of clients on a contract basis. They check structural, grammatical, and other aspects of content depending upon the type of editor they are.

Unique editorial responsibilities are drawn from publication types. Let’s explore the type to decide what is fit for you!

Types of editor

You need to know the scope before you decide to become a freelance editor, as you would providing service depending upon your niche. Here are the three main types of editor who works on a different aspect of content:

  • Freelance proofreaders: They are the ones who check for typos and other errors in a block of content before publication.
  • Freelance development editor: They work on a wider aspect and reviews content. They detect structural errors and edits to improve the flow to make the content impressive.
  • Freelance copy editor: Besides revising content for word choice, structural mistakes, and grammatical errors, copy editors also look for factual errors. They are also known as line editors as they go through fact-checking for various non-fiction books and articles.
Having knowledge of the responsibilities a job demand makes it easier to plan out your next steps. Let’s discuss the job responsibilities of a freelance editor!

What does an editor do?

Take a look to know what an experienced freelance editor does:

  • Reading the content: Reading the draft content several times is one of the primary tasks of an editor and the initial step of editing a project. This way they can look for obvious errors and change those immediately.
  • Content editing: Providing feedback about the content to the writers regarding flow, content structure, tone, etc., comes under the responsibility of an editor.
  • Shapes the style of writing: Editors guide the writer to improve their writing style. For major rewriting and restructuring, editors often become ghostwriters to meet their targets.
  • Solves editorial problems: Fixing editorial problems by following the official style guide is among another prime responsibility. They also go through spell-check, grammatical errors, punctuations, etc.
  • Adjust the language: To make an article or a story comprehensible for a wide range of audiences, editors review the content to look for correct word usage. Proper word choice makes the content look clear.

Becoming a full-time freelance editor requires a lot of hard work. Most of the book publishing companies and magazines are headquartered in New York and hence, it becomes difficult to find new clients by walking up to them physically.

Despite being challenging, it is equally rewarding to lead a life of a freelance editor. Let’s discuss what it takes to become one!

How to become a freelance editor in 7 simple steps

Let’s explore how to become a freelance editor by following the below steps:

Develop a niche

Simply trying to sell your editing service could be an ordeal, as people look for more specific services. Focusing on particular media helps freelance editors to get clients more easily.

Depending upon your area of expertise you can set your prices and get projects accordingly.
Keep reading to learn about the various work areas of a freelance editor.

Read a lot – intensely

To answer your question- how to become a freelance editor, reading ‘intensely’ would be the best fit and highly recommendable. Read contents of the type you prefer working on to learn about the writing style, tone, word choice, and other stuff. This improves your writing style and helps you guide your writers in a better way.

Get an editing ‘degree’

The field is flooded with aspiring editors and to stand out from others, it is recommended to have a certification in editing or proofreading. Even a bachelor’s degree in editing or creative writing could be beneficial to prove your credibility to your potential clients.

Decide what type of editor you want to be

If you have come across a wide variety of project and editing types, then you have enough scope to decide on your niche. If you are inclined towards a big structural fix of development editing, then probably the development editor is the best role for you. Analyze your skills before you take a call on this.

Create your portfolio

Once you are quite thorough with the process and running well, get your portfolio done to highlight your work areas. Don’t forget to mention special projects with positive feedback and appreciation to build a strong impression in front of your potential clients.

Build your network

Finding clients may be the main hurdle that one needs to overcome to sustain their freelance business. Join editors community, self-publishing groups, and professional organizations like EFA(Editorial Freelance Association). Build your network to get more contacts for referrals.

Market your editing service

Market your services to reach out to a wide range of audiences. Design a website and use SEO to build traffic. You can start blogging or even contact literary agents and publishing houses to get clients on a contract basis. Remember to get a professional business card printed for your clients for better reach.

Besides in-house editor roles, there is a good market for freelance editors in the US. Let’s discuss what probable qualities do the clients look forward to in a freelance editor!

What do potential clients look for in freelance editors?

  • To get more clients first understand what they look for in freelance editors.
  • Explain your services to them so that they know what type of work they can expect from you.
  • Clients often look for budget-friendly editing services.
  • They go through the resume and prefer a conversation, in the case of experienced professionals.
  • For newbies, the clients may come up with editing tests. This is just to make sure that you are fit for the project.
Wanna break into this business sector? Then know possible working areas available!

Various fields in editing

As already mentioned earlier, deciding your preferred niche is a necessity for this kind of job. Hence, you must focus on a particular type to get clients more easily. Let’s find out what you can do as a freelance editor:

  • Book editor: You need to specialize in fiction or nonfiction types and need to edit book-length manuscripts of about 70k-80k words. You need to mainly check the facts, sentence continuity, flow, voice, tone, etc., of the content.
  • News editor: News content is way more different than any other type. Therefore, for editing news, website, and magazine content, you need to learn about the style, ethical standards, and pace of drafting news content.
  • Blog editor: Editing content on various online platforms like website pages, blog posts, social media platforms, etc., requires special skills. You need to grasp the SEO technique, add catchy headlines, and implement formatting techniques for blog posts to make your content more impressive.
  • Academic Editor: To be an academic editor you need to be familiar with the content type- essay, thesis, research paper, dissertation, etc. Accordingly, you need to follow the academic stylebooks. Note – Being a degree holder in specific fields is highly preferable by the clients.
  • Multimedia: Having the ability to edit and proofread the content in any video, graphic, or other visuals would improve your credibility. Learning the skills of visual editing improves your portfolio and can get you more clients.

Key takeaways!

Wondering what makes a good editor? Here’s what you need to know!

  • Impeccable writing skill: One needs to be a good writer to become a good editor. As that would help them to provide creative solutions and would also allow them to cultivate the writing skills of the writers.
  • In-depth knowledge: Having in-depth knowledge on a particular topic is a must-have quality of a good editor. As that would guide one to bring out the best from one’s write-up.
  • Problem-solving ability: Being a good editor also requires great problem-solving abilities. One must be ready to accept feedback from critics and must facilitate collaboration instead of conflict.
  • Detail orientation: Editors must have detailed orientation about the project to get into the nitty-gritty and spot the errors so that they can produce a flawless piece of writing.
  • Efficient multi-tasker: Efficient editors are capable of working in stressful work environments and tight timelines. They can even assess situations to make rapid decisions on current assignments.
  • Respectful people skills: Excellent editors are quite artful and have the capability to bring out the best version of the writer through constructive criticism.
  • Selfless: The hardworking and good editors work silently to polish the imperfect writing and give the credit to the original author.

Average Salary of Editors In The US

  • Book editore: $65k
  • Magazine editor: $52k
  • Web editor: $52k
  • Newspaper editor: $39k
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Final thought!

By now, you must have understood what it takes to become a freelance editor. If you are passionate about creative writing and editing, go ahead!

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