Have you ever wondered how a professional proofreader or editor got started in their career? I get a lot of emails from people asking how I got into publishing, what my background is, etc. In this post, I answer some frequently asked questions about me, proofreading, copyediting, and working with books. Enjoy!
How did you get into proofreading and editing?
As a kid I loved reading and knew from an early age I wanted to work with books. For a long time I thought I would be a writer. Growing up, I also loved correcting errors in text and was everyone’s go-to proofreader (for free!) up until university.
It wasn’t until a professor told me that I had a talent for editing and should look into growing my skills properly that I realized I could fuse together my love of reading and editing. At the time, there were no editing courses online, so I packed up my bags and went to publishing school.
What kind of editing do you do?
I do all levels of editing. I proofread, copyedit, line edit, and do substantive/developmental editing.
Do you just work on books?
Books make up a majority of my projects due to their size and the time required, but I also proofread and edit business communications, blog posts, articles, product materials, etc. I’m open to different types of content. One day I’ll be editing a fiction book, and the next day I’ll be working on a product label.
If you don’t have an English degree, what’s your background?
I studied media, communications, and cultural studies in university. After that I did a post-grad program in book and magazine publishing.
How did you get into proofreading romance novels? And do you think I can do that, too?
I worked in-house for a romance publisher for a few years before going freelance. I still do freelance work for them, and I also have other clients. Writers have writer friends, so anytime I finished a book for a freelance client, I’d ask them to refer me to their friends. That led to more romance work as well as other genres.
Yes, you absolutely can work on romance books! It’s the most popular genre on Amazon, and it’s a billion-dollar industry. Get the proper training, and then focus on attracting clients in the romance niche. In my course, High-Level Proofreading Pro, I teach you how to proofread and copyedit so you can work on romance books or any kind of content.
What was the very first project you ever worked on?
The very first project I ever worked on was while I was in publishing school. I wanted to get a head start on my career so I told all my friends that I was getting into editing and was looking to volunteer my services, and did they know anyone? A friend had a friend who was a virtual assistant, and back then very few people knew what that was, so I proofread all of her website content and her client onboarding material, making sure it was clear and easy for people to understand.
How did you gain experience?
I gained experience quickly by volunteering and networking. In under a month I had proofread websites and copyedited magazine articles. I didn’t do a lot for free, just enough to get myself comfortable with client communications and figuring out my workflow. Then through networking, I landed my first book project. A friend knew someone who had written a book, so he hired me to proofread it.
Do you have any advice for someone who wants to start proofreading or copyediting?
I have lots of advice, lol! If you want to freelance, make sure you’re committed because it takes work and patience. Read lots, and notice errors in text so you train your eye, and learn about the skills and the industry. You can sign up for my free introductory proofreading course if you want a closer look at working as a proofreader. Proofreading 101 is 5 days of lessons, and you can sign up here.
How fast can you work on a book?
It depends on what state the book is in when I receive it, the deadline, and what the client wants. I can do a proofread of a 500-page book in under a week. Mind you, my first book took me much longer than that because I was such a newb I double-checked everything!
Do you really think anyone can work as a proofreader or copyeditor? I mean, you went to publishing school, so didn’t that give you an advantage?
I believe that with the right training and guidance, you can work as a proofreader and copyeditor. You do have to have a great command of English and have an eye for detail to start. But I don’t recommend you wing it and learn what you can, piecemeal, for free. That’s not going to get you far, and can hurt your reputation.
When I graduated from publishing school and found a job, I quickly realized that you don’t need publishing school to get into publishing. Ironic, but true. I was one of the few people in my editorial department that actually did go to publishing school.
Publishing school gave me an overview of all aspects of publishing including design, production, marketing, editing, etc. But to work in an editorial capacity, you can acquire the necessary skills through different programs and courses. You don’t have to commit to a school for X number of years and spend a lot of money!
Why do you think people should learn to copyedit? Can’t I just proofread?
Proofreading is the easiest form of editing. It’s a surface check for errors in spelling, punctuation, and formatting. You don’t go deep, but if you have additional editorial skills, you’ll be able to do your due diligence because ethically, some things you can’t just ignore because it’s not a surface error.
To me, if you’re going to learn how to proofread, you may as well invest a bit more time and effort to pick up copyediting, too. I believe that with proper training, you can copyedit without it being a struggle. You don’t have to be a grammar expert to copyedit. In my course, I teach it in a natural and easy-to-learn way. And yes, you should learn to copyedit if you want to offer more services, make more money, and be more marketable. Copyeditors can make up to $60 an hour or up, so why wouldn’t you want to learn it?
Do you still proofread and edit now that you teach?
Yes, I’m still a full-time proofreader and editor!
What’s your favourite type of book to work on?
I love mysteries, romance, Russian literature, and YA. I’ll read anything, though!