by Dori Harrell
Making a living as a freelance editor means you need a steady stream of clients to bring in the revenue to support yourself and your family. But we’ve all heard of feast or famine when it comes to freelancing. In fact, those are typically the first words heard when new freelancers say they intend to hang out their shingles: “It’s feast or famine. How will you handle the famine aspect of it?”
When I launched Breakout Editing four years ago, with the goal of editing full time and earning a living at it, my target clientele was indie authors. I reached out to some local authors, which then quickly led to accepting clients from around the nation, to now around the world (I have authors in about a dozen countries). But in order to keep my fingers on the keyboard and checks deposited in the bank, I branched out from total dependence on my target audience, and that has meant when one revenue stream lightened, another started flowing and, by the grace of God, I’ve never faced a famine period.
To diversify your freelance editing business and increase your revenue streams, consider reaching out to:
- Publishers: More and more publishers are using freelance editors, and when you establish yourself with one publisher, others will be more open to hearing from you. Yes, you usually have to take an editing or proofreading test, but there’s another blog for how to master those (see the Christian PEN blog post “Fill Your Editing Schedule and Improve Your Skills—Edit for Publishers”). I edit for two publishers and a press. The assignments trickle in, providing a great balance to the steady pace of my indie authors.
- Editing agencies and book packagers: These author resources typically serve indie authors, but some publishers, such as Amazon subsidiaries, use editing agencies, and the agencies or packagers are usually happy to take on editors with exceptional CMOS skills. Many of these sites have “Work for Us” options on their websites. One such company is Girl Friday Productions (GHP). I serve as a senior editor for an agency (not GHP), in which I review already-edited manuscripts for quality control, and this work adds several hundred dollars a month to my income.
- Bloggers: Blogging remains a major force in today’s publishing world, and editing even a few blog posts a month can add a tidy little sum to your business. I edit for two bloggers, and not only does it increase my income, but I learn some valuable lessons along the way.
- Universities and colleges: The demand for academic editors is strong, and if you have the skills and style manual knowledge (usually APA, AMA, and MLA) to edit academic works (more power to you!), then educational institutions may welcome your inquiries. (I cry real tears if I’m asked to edit an academic paper.) Many editors approach department deans via email, using one sheets, then follow up with a CV.
Dori Harrell owns Breakout Editing and edits full time. As an editor, she releases more than twenty-five books a year. Her client list includes best-selling writers, indie authors, and publishers. She also serves as a senior editor for an editing agency. An award-winning writer, she’s published more than a thousand articles, and her first novel, A Christmas Hallelujah, was released in 2017.