In my first post in this series, I talked about how to find editing and proofreading work with publishers. This time, in Part 2, I’ll go over how to find editing work with authors. Working with writers is quite a different beast. Freelancers can often struggle with finding those writers in the first place. You need to put yourself out there a lot more, and do more marketing, so that authors know who you are and what you do.
Training, qualifications, and/or experience are still important
Let’s address training and experience first. Authors aren’t going to make demands and require you to have training from certain providers, or a particular level of experience. But your responsibility is to make sure you know you can do a good job. Make sure you’re equipped in some way before you start offering services – if you don’t know how to copyedit, trying to do a copyedit for an author isn’t going to work out the way you both want.
Getting started and gaining experience working with writers can be easier than breaking in with publishers. You can draw on other skills, and start small.
For example, if you want to work with authors developmentally, you might try:
- Beta reading: Offering to beta read for authors is a good way to drum up testimonials/reviews. Some new editors do this for free in exchange for a testimonial.
- Existing writing circles: If you’re a writer yourself, you might be able to offer to critique swap for writer friends, and this can be good experience. This is how I got started. My earliest experiences of doing critiques and developmental work was either swapping work with a friend or giving them general feedback. Even if you aren’t a writer, you can offer to critique for authors in online spaces.
If you want to copyedit and/or proofread, learning those skills properly is essential. You can take courses, webinars, or read professional editing books. There’s more on this kind of training in my post on how to become a book editor, and in Part 1 on working with publishers.
If you’re a new editor trying to gain experience, be upfront with authors about what you’re offering and what you can do for them. Some authors are happy to work with someone looking to gain experience and others might want someone with a different skill level.
How do I find editing work with authors? Where do I go?
I’m in a lot of editing groups, and this question – or some variation of it – comes up all the time: Where do you find author clients? How do you make yourself visible to them?
The answer is slightly complicated, because there’s no single right answer. Rather, you need to put your eggs in a lot of different baskets. This is especially important because some authors might write one book, then vanish for a year before they have something new for you. Or they might only ever write one book. So if you aren’t visible to other writers, you risk your work drying up. Visibility is so important, and there are many ways to do it.
A tip: Diversify. Use many strategies. Don’t rely on just one of these.
I’d also argue that diversifying your type of client is useful too. I work with a mixture of publishers, independent authors, and service providers (meaning I also take on work for other editing businesses or platforms). Because of that, I’m never short of editorial work.
All that said, here are my tips for putting yourself out there and finding editing work with the authors you want to work with!
Online directories and marketplaces
Listing yourself in as many online directories as you can will allow you to be more visible to authors searching for an editor.
Editorial societies are a great place to be listed. You usually have to join as a member (which involves paying a yearly fee) to get yourself listed in their directories. Here are some societies to look into:
- The Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading directory (you have to be a professional-level member to be listed, but they do have a Marketplace forum where job opportunities come up, and that’s accessible to all members)
- The Editorial Freelancers Association member directory; they also email out job opportunities to members, and you can then apply directly to the person who posted the job
- Editors Canada – directory of editors
- ACES: The Society for Editing – editors for hire listing
- EPANI – The Editors’ and Proofreaders’ Alliance of Northern Ireland – member directory
Other marketplaces for freelancers that you can join are:
- Find a Proofreader (small fee)
- Reedsy (free, but for this one you do need traditional publishing experience; they also take a cut of whatever you charge authors via the platform)
- PTC Freelance Finder (free if you’ve taken any of their courses)
- Freelance sites such as Fiverr and Fiverr Pro (free but they take a cut of what you charge – I hesitate to recommend these because they can be a race-to-the-bottom, but I do know a few editors who do very well on them, so they aren’t entirely awful)
- Services for Authors (membership fee – new as of 2022, and I haven’t tried this one out yet)
The writing community
Immersing yourself in the writing community is a great way to put yourself out there and meet authors. I was quite lucky in that I was a writer before I was an editor, so I already had a bit of a network of critique partners and writing friends. But if you’re an editor who doesn’t write, don’t worry! As I said in Part 1, connections and relationships can be made.
There are lots of ways to get involved in the community.
- Interact on Twitter and Instagram. Hashtags like #amwriting and #writingcommunity are great for meeting people, sharing your knowledge, and interacting.
- Join writing-related forums or Reddit pages.
- Join writing groups and share what you know.
- Attend writing and publishing events in person and online.
One thing to remember when you’re diving into the writing community: don’t just go around shouting, “I edit books, hire me!” No one likes a hard sell, it looks tacky and isn’t going to resonate with anyone. Be authentic, be helpful, and share knowledge. In other words, be genuine!
Get involved in conversations that really interest you – if you love fantasy, chat with fantasy writers and answer their questions about craft and the genre. As editors who love words, stories, and books, it shouldn’t be too hard to find something we can be passionate about in the community.
A website is so important to help authors find you. It doesn’t have to be complicated, it can just be a few pages about your services and how you can help clients. You can point people to this if they ask you about your work, and you can link to it from your directories and other online profiles.
Avoid free sites if you can – having your own domain name looks more professional and doesn’t have to be expensive. Make sure you have a clear and easy to use contact page too.
A website won’t necessarily get you clients by itself – you need to use it alongside other methods for it to be most effective.
Your website can become bigger and be a hub of information and resources that can help you attract clients, if you want it to. And that leads me to my next point…
This tactic isn’t for everyone because it’s time-consuming and can be a slow-burn, taking time to pay off. It means creating helpful and useful content for your audience (in this case, the clients you want: authors). In the long-term, it can mean that instead of you trying to find editing work, it often comes to you, because you’re being helpful and showcasing what exactly you can do to help people.
There are lots of different types of content marketing, so if you’re interested in it, explore some of the different options and see which ones appeal to you, and which ones you think your clients would find helpful:
- Blogging: A blog is perfect for editors because we work with words – and so do our authors. It’s familiar territory. Blogging can also do wonders for your website, improving your SEO ranking. SEO stands for search engine optimization, and it means improving the content of your website so that it ranks higher in search engines like Google. SEO is a huge topic so if you’re interested in blogging and want to learn more, check out Google’s Starter Guide on SEO, and the Getting Started page.
- Video content such as YouTube and TikTok: Video is hugely popular so if you have the confidence to be on camera, you could start a YouTube channel or a TikTok profile to share what you know. An editor (and author) who does this really well is Katie Wismer on her Katesbookdate channel. If you don’t want to show your face, you can still create video content to help writers – try making slideshows or videos with graphics and a voiceover.
- Podcasting: Another option if you don’t want to show your face is to start a podcast! This is a great way of tackling problems writers might be facing in bite-sized chunks, and letting people know who you are and what you can do. Some examples of editors who are doing this are Louise Harnby and Denise Cowle with The Editing Podcast, and the two Alexas running The Pen to Published podcast.
- Ebooks and booklets: Writing ebooks and booklets on issues authors need help with is another form of content marketing. You can give this away for free on a resources hub page or as part of a newsletter. You could also choose to sell them on Amazon, ebook platforms or through your website.
- Newsletters: Newsletters are helpful for keeping up with your clients and reminding them that you’re there! You can also use them to provide useful content such as advice and tips, and share your latest content with your clients (videos or blogs).
- Social media posts: Social media posts are actually a form of content marketing too, whether it’s sharing your existing blog or starting tweet threads filled with advice. Some editors use visual mediums like Instagram to connect with writers – Hannah at Between the Lines Editorial is great at this.
Building up a network with other editors can lead to work being referred your way. I talked about this in Part 1, so I won’t say too much more on it here except to repeat the need to be authentic and genuine when building your relationships. Barging in and demanding excess work another editor might not need isn’t a good look (and I’ve seen it happen!).
There are plenty of places online that you can meet other editors. The editorial societies I listed before are great places to start. You can also try:
- Business + Professional Development for Editors (Facebook group)
- Fiction Editors of Earth (Facebook group)
- The #amediting and #edibuddies hashtags on Twitter
Work with service providers
What I mean by this is that you can freelance for other editing businesses, editorial companies, self-publishing service providers, and so on. A lot of these businesses subcontract work or have a team of freelancers to complete projects.
This tactic doesn’t always mean that you’ll be working with the authors directly. Sometimes the service provider will be a “go-between”. But other times, they may allow you to work with the author direct, so this type of client is worth looking into as well.
Finding opportunities for this can be tricky, but I do have some suggestions (outside of the usual networking, building relationships and keeping your eyes peeled wherever you can):
- The Editorial Freelancers Association sometimes advertises these types of opportunities on their email list
- You can look through the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook, which has some listings and adverts for these businesses – try contacting them direct (there’s advice on cold-emailing in Part 1)
- Keep an eye on EAE Ad Space – sometimes editors looking for team members or subcontractors post here
- Network – editor colleagues often know about service providers or other editors who need help with workload and may share them on forums
Word of mouth and doing good work
Do good work for your existing clients. If they’re happy with your work, ask them to pass your name along to other writers who may be looking for an editor. Collect testimonials from happy clients so other authors know about your skillset. These things won’t help you find editing work immediately and it’s not a shortcut to landing clients, but it all adds up – especially if you’re using lots of other strategies to demonstrate your skills and make yourself visible.
And those are all my tips on how to find editing work with authors! It takes time to build up a client base, so if you’re new to the freelance journey, don’t beat yourself up if things are slower than you’d like. Even experienced freelancers go through ebbs and flows. So long as you dedicate time to marketing and making yourself seen, you’ll have the best chance of landing the work you want.
If you try any of these methods, I’d love to know how you get on! And if you have any other times on how to find editing work, feel free to share them.
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