I love blogging (obvs.), but I love it even more when my readers suggest a topic for me to cover. Today is one of those days. The Uncommon Cliche asked me to write about how I became a full-time editor, and well, here I am to tell you.
Long story short: I fell into it.
I know. I know. That’s probably not the answer you were wanting, but don’t fret. I still have tips for everyone set on doing what I do. It’s a lot of fun, after all! (But also a lot of hard work.)
First and foremost, you should love to read, because you’re going to be reading a lot. (And that’s not including your free reading time.) In fact, I spend most of my life reading. I read at work and I read when I get off. It’s a passion of mine. So much so that I found myself reading articles about reading. You could say it’s an obsession. This little obsession of mine eventually pushed me into writing, and writing taught me some harsh lessons about grammar. Harsh, public lessons. This is when I became obsessed with not only reading and writing, but also grammar and punctuation. I wanted to get as much as I could get right, and I wanted to learn even more after that. I wanted to be a professional, and then, I realized I could help others be professional, too.
My initial experiences with editing happened in college. I was an English major, and for some reason, everyone seems to think English majors understand grammar…even though they don’t teach you grammar in college. You’re expected to already know it. All of it. So, in a way, being an English major forced me to hustle, and I learned in order to pass. This put me in a place to help fellow students with their papers, and eventually, reading others’ works became a regular, everyday thing. On the side, I started a blog for fun, but this is important. Remember this. I mainly shared writing tips and book reviews, and four months into it, I decided I wanted to pursue publication.
Move ahead to my senior year of college, and I sign with a small publisher. This upped the stakes. Now it wasn’t grades on papers. It was readers and their reviews for products people purchased. On top of that, it was a totally different type of editing with a new demand. As an author, I tried, made mistakes, tried again, and learned. I adjusted. I did what I had to do, and I worked with other editors to learn the more complicated aspects. If an editor wants to take you under his or her pen (er…wing), do it. Offer to be a proofreader or even a beta reader. Practice. Then practice some more. Learn as much as you can. Buy a copy of The Chicago Manual of Style. Study it. Study it again. Follow Grammar Girl and other grammar-related blogs. Talk to as many editors and authors and publishers as you can about what it takes and what they know. Most people are willing to help you, and there’s always something new to learn.
When I first started, it was by accident. I was helping authors at my publishing company, and the publisher happened to expand. They needed a proofreader, and I took the gig. I did that for over a year before we went our separate ways and I started my own editing services. (I did this after many hours of research on appropriate pricing for my personal goals and such.) I launched my services via my website, a website I started three years prior. (Told you to remember that.) If you’re doing this independently, have a platform, and if you’re working toward doing this independently, start a platform now. Set your goals, research your audience, and move forward.
In my case, I’m still half of the industry standard. Why? Because I went into this knowing I wanted to give Indie authors a bigger chance. I mainly wanted to create a place for people to go if a previous editor didn’t turn out to be all they were cracked up to be. The other aspect I decided to focus on was having “no limits.” While many editors do, I don’t deny work because of controversial topics or scenes. I’m not here to judge; I’m here to edit. I understood the market and the average buyer’s budget, and I set out to help them.
I make just enough for me, and I’m happy. I love reading the works of my fellow writers, and I love it even more when I see the readers fall in love with their work too.
Being an editor isn’t easy. My eyes hurt, my wrists ache, and my migraines stay well into the night. But it’s worth it in the end…especially when you love to read.
My weekly Twitter series #AuthorinaCoffeeShop will take place this THURSDAY at 7 PM CDT, since I’ll be out of town on Friday. I hope to see you then!
Come get your books signed on February 13, from 1-3 PM during the Barnes & Noble Valentine’s Day Romance Author Event in Wichita, Kansas at Bradley Fair. Come meet Tamara Grantham, Candice Gilmer,, Jan Schliesman, and Angi Morgan! If you haven’t started The Timely Death Trilogy, don’t worry. Minutes Before Sunset, book 1, is free!
Minutes Before Sunset, book 1:
Seconds Before Sunrise: book 2:
Death Before Daylight: book 3: