KOK Edit: Your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM)
KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) Katharine O'Moore Klopf

Friday, April 12, 2019

How to Run an Editing Business

Self-employed editors don't just edit. They must also run their own editing business. No one just hands them clients and projects; they have to go out and get those themselves. In this guest post, my colleague Amy J. Schneider explains for editors new to business what that entails. What appears here is a version of material that she originally posted in an editors' Facebook discussion group. She has given me her permission to repost it here.

Let us remember that even a part-time business is still a business, and we must treat it like one. All businesses require capital investment: professional training and development, equipment (computer and peripherals, Internet connection), software (general and industry-specific: Office, Acrobat, editorial plug-ins, etc.), and more. You'll need to consider taxes, local business licensing (if any), bookkeeping, time tracking, scheduling, quoting and setting appropriate rates, invoicing, contracts, client relations, marketing, networking, online/social media presence, IT self-education and maintenance, and the list goes on. Much if not all of this is covered in Katharine O'Moore-Klopf's Copyeditors' Knowledge Base (CKB).

Remember also that your clients will not be interested in what editing will do for you, but rather what you can do to meet their needs. You may have to do less of an edit on a project than it needs, or than you think it needs. You may need to edit to different styles (style guide or house style), or be asked to make or leave things "wrong." Your clients will expect you to be a problem-solver and a self-starter, with minimal hand-holding from them, to give them the edit they want. You are a vendor to them, just as a service provider such as a plumber is to you; they expect you to take care of things so they don't have to.

When I started as a freelance editor, I didn't know what I didn't know. Now when newbies approach me for advice, I send them to three resources: CMOS [the Chicago Manual of Style], Amy Einsohn's Copyeditor's Handbook (the 4th edition will be available in May 2019), and the CKB. That's enough to keep them busy for a while. In my 24 years of self-employment, no one has ever come back and said that they still wanted to be a freelance editor after reviewing those references. They all apparently had a very different idea of what it was all about. It's a lot more work than many people think, and it's not always glamorous or fun. It is most certainly a profession and a business that requires a generous infusion of cash, time, blood, sweat, tears, and, yes, talent. But the least of these is talent. You will get out of it what you put into it.


Amy J. Schneider is the owner of Featherschneider Editorial Services and has been providing professional editing and proofreading of textbooks, trade books, and fiction since 1995.

Where to find Amy: editing and proofreading; LinkedIn profile

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