by Karin Beery

When you’re self-employed, it can be tempting to take every job that comes your way. Before you do that, however, I suggest an honest, thorough evaluation of what you can do and what you like to do. Ask yourself these three questions.

What do I read?

If you don’t read nonfiction, I don’t recommend editing nonfiction; if you don’t read fiction, I don’t recommend editing fiction. Not right away, at least. First you need to learn the subtle differences between each (just because something works in nonfiction doesn’t mean it will work in a novel).

If you’re already an avid fiction reader and you’re ready start editing fiction, take this question a step further—which genres do you read? Those are the best genres for you to consider editing, as you’re familiar with what works and what doesn’t. This doesn’t mean you can’t edit other genres, but some will naturally be a better fit for you.

For example, I read a lot of historical and contemporary romance, with some speculative and contemporary fiction, plus the occasional suspense and mystery. When it comes to editing, however, I focus on historical and contemporary romance, speculative fiction, and contemporary fiction. I don’t edit a lot of suspense because I haven’t spent a lot of time studying what creates a believable and compelling suspense novel. The same is true for middle grade chapter books, horror stories, erotica, etc.—I don’t know the nuances of well-written books in those genres, so I don’t bid on projects in those genres.

What do I like to do?

Grammar is not my strength. That’s why I rarely perform copyedits. They’re not only difficult for me to do, but I don’t enjoy them—I spend so much time looking at the punctuation that I don’t get to appreciate the story.

And the story is what I’m passionate about—relatable characters in gut-wrenching situations that keep me awake until 2 a.m. It doesn’t matter how rough the manuscript is, because I love the process of helping authors create better stories (which is why I’m a substantive editor). If you don’t enjoy working with new authors on rough manuscripts, then substantive editing is probably not for you.

What are you qualified to do?

I’m not being paid to mention this, but consider taking the editing assessment tests available through the Christian Editor Connection (CEC). These tests can help you in two ways:

  1. You’ll receive an honest review of your editing skills.
  2. If you pass, you have the good name and reputation of the CEC vouching for your abilities.

Why does this matter?

Because literally anyone with a computer can create a website and offer editing services. You can set yourself apart, however, by displaying the CEC logo. One thing that I tell authors is to look for editors with editing certifications and recognitions. Editors who join the CEC receive a stamp of approval that the they have proven their abilities.

So, how did you answer those questions? Which services will you offer?

Karin Beery – Writer. Editor. Novelist. Karin writes contemporary and speculative fiction with a healthy dose of romance. Represented by literary agent Steve Hutson at WordWise Media, Karin is a newly-signed author with Elk Lake Publishing.

When she’s not writing fiction, she’s editing or writing business copy through her business Write Now Editing & Copywriting Services. And when she’s not doing either of those, she teaches Substantive Editing for Fiction and Romance Editing through the PEN Institute. You can connect with her on FacebookTwitterInstagram, or at her website,

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