By Jeanne Marie Leach
I’ve been asked by intermediate-level editors what they can do to take their freelance business to the next level.
The answer is easy—learn more. Look for opportunities to glean from others in the business. Knowledge adds value to everything you do.
I suggest you plan to attend this year’s PENCON conference in Colorado Springs.
I also highly recommend that you attend writer’s conferences that feature the genre(s) you wish to specialize in. For me, it’s fiction. I’ve attended thirteen Christian fiction writer’s conferences, and I still learn something new about the genre each time.
If you want to learn about non-fiction, magazines, etc. the Colorado Christian Writer’s Conference and the Philadelphia Christian Writer’s Conferences are the best places for that. This might sound weird and maybe even like overkill, but learning how to write the genre in which you want to specialize will take you farther toward becoming the best at editing it.
Learn About Publishers
You need to immerse yourself in the industry and listen to editors at the big publishing houses and well-respected agents to see what they’re looking for.
What are the publisher’s current needs? What do they look for in a book? What do they NOT want to see in a book? Do they require agents? If so, who are considered the best agents in the industry?
You can learn all this at writer’s conferences that offer editor panels.
Learn New Skills
Now for the non-genre specifics, such as punctuation, grammar, usage, etc, College English courses will offer the best avenue for that.
To learn about how to run your own business and work with clients and how to get the clients to hire you, Kathy Ide’s class on Establishing Your Freelance Business gave me that last shot in the arm I needed to get my business off the ground.
You’ve also got to have a relevant website. (Mine is being completely scrapped and rewritten because it was created in 2006.) Remain relevant.
Study the Industry
To be top dog, you’ve got to never quit studying the business. You’ve got to keep your thumb on the pulse of the industry at all times so that you may see each new technique, trend, or change as it is happening at that moment.
Subscribe to magazines that feature the genre(s) you wish to edit. The Christian Writer’s Guild puts out an excellent magazine called The Christian Communicator that addresses non-fiction writing as well as fiction. The ACFW is THE place learn about and to keep abreast of up-to-the-minute fiction trends.
And you’ve got to advertise. Use social media. Look for blogs that talk about your specialty genre, and offer to guest blog about it. You’ll get your bio and website listed at the end. Learn about what the industry looks for in a book proposal, and then look for conferences that match up. Send out a “special” proposal edit (in advance) at a discount for attendees.
Finally, every time you go to your desk, set aside 30 minutes (or more if you have the time) to do nothing but read up on something that has to do with the writing industry through magazines, blogs, and courses.
If you do these things, you’ll become an expert in your field. Knowledge is key. The more information you have to pass on to your clients, the better chance you have of becoming a successful freelance editor. If potential clients perceive that you have a bit more to offer than others bidding on the same job, you’ll get more contracts.
Jeanne Marie Leach is a multi-published fiction author, speaker, writing coach, and freelance editor specializing in fiction. She is the former PEN Administrator, a Gold Member of The Christian PEN, a member of the Christian Editor Connection, and member #46 of The American Christian Fiction Writers, where she received the 2012 Member Service Award. She teaches 32 weeks per year to editors and authors on how to edit fiction. She lives with her husband of 41 years and their Alaskan malamute in beautiful Colorado.