by Karin Beery
Should I offer all services for all projects or specialize in a particular type of edit?
That’s a common question among new editors. It’s tempting to do everything because the numbers add up—the more services you offer, the more authors you’ll be able to help. Thus, a full schedule and more money in your pocket.
That logic only works if you meet three criteria:
- You enjoy working on all kinds of projects.
- You enjoy performing all kinds of edits.
- You’re capable of performing all kinds of edits on all kinds of projects.
Early in my career, I did what most new freelance editors do—I said I could help anyone with any editorial needs. The truth, however, was that I preferred fiction; it was actually my dream to be able to specialize in fiction someday, but I thought I needed as many clients as possible to prove my mettle and add to my resume.
Then someone wanted to hire me to edit her poetry.
Someone else wanted a proofread of a devotional on a topic I didn’t care for.
Someone else needed a substantive edit for a political thriller.
I don’t read any of those genres (and I don’t particularly care for poetry). Two of those jobs should have been quick and easy, but because I’m not a personal fan of the styles or topics, the projects dragged on and I dreaded doing them. (I’m happy to say I was smart enough not to take the third gig because I knew I wouldn’t do a good job.)
It took a while for me to figure out #1 in my life.
- I love certain fiction genres and creative nonfiction; I don’t like poetry, devotionals, or anything heavily theological.
I figured out #2 and #3 when I applied to the Christian Editor Connection. In order to become a member, I had to pass editing tests with 75% accuracy (the passing grade is now 85%). I nailed the substantive editing and passed fiction copyediting; I scored 60% on proofreading and nonfiction copyediting.
- I enjoy substantive edits of all kinds; I hate
- I’m no good at proofreading or nonfiction copyediting.
Once I figured out those things I was able to only take jobs I knew I would enjoy and could perform well, which resulted in better turn-around times and better edits (let’s be honest—it’s hard to do a good job when you don’t even want to read the material).
Are there some editors who can offer all edits on all materials? Sure. Does it work for everyone? Not at all. I’m a much happier and more effective editor since I started specializing. If you’re struggling to find your place in the editing world, consider specializing—you may find a niche that’s perfect for you and the writers who need you.
Owner of Write Now Editing, Karin Beery is an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers and the Christian Editor Network, where she teaches several editing classes through the PEN Institute and serves as the coordinator for the Christian Editor Connection. She is the Managing Editor of Guiding Light Women’s Fiction, an imprint of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. Her sophomore novel, Practically Married, is a 2020 INSPY Award semi-finalist.