This post was originally published at The Poetics Project by Missy Lacock.
Let’s face it: If you’re reading this blog, you love writing and reading—and probably wouldn’t mind a paycheck for doing it. Enter freelance editing, just one of the many positions available to talented bookworms. Sylvia Spratt, cofounder of Ex Libris Editing, a two-person editorial firm based in Portland, Oregon, and Denver, Colorado, agreed to share ten behind-the-scenes facts with The Poetics Project about operating a freelance editing business.
Consider founding a company, partnership, or informal collective.
Although Sylvia has been editing in some capacity for around ten years, she decided to cofound her LLC two and half years ago with her friend and business partner, Sarah Heilman.
What’s the advantage of forming an LLC instead of maintaining sole proprietorship?
“Increasing consumer confidence,” Sylvia said. Some clients feel more secure working with a company instead of hiring an individual. “We collaborate on marketing, and we have the legal protection of a company, even though we take on most of our projects individually,” Sylvia said. “We also wanted room to grow in the future, which is why we settled on an LLC.”
The hard part? “Remembering to get out of your PJ’s when you’re working from home!”
Be prepared to take tests.
It’s not always as simple as finding a manuscript to edit; editors often undergo regular testing to prove they’re worth the expense—especially for larger clients. Test materials usually cover grammar and style, especially where less-common style guides such as AMA Style (for the medical sphere) and IEEE (the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) are concerned. The tests are usually timed for acceptable ranges and completed using track changes in Microsoft Word.
Most clients are referred by word of mouth.
Networking and positive referrals are key to consistent freelance employment. However, freelancers can also find editing gigs by combing sites like bookjobs or mediabistro, or, for a yearly fee, by joining the Editorial Freelancers Association.
Businesses still hire copyeditors.
More and more businesses are utilizing freelancers to help cut costs, but Sylvia said in-house office jobs for editors definitely still exist at ad agencies, PR firms, publishing houses (but they’re extremely competitive), universities, and even local giants like Nike and adidas.