Ideas for a copyeditor returning to the biz?
June 26, 2015 8:08 AM   Subscribe

I'm returning to freelance copyediting after 10 years on the writing side of nonprofit operations. Educational, business and technical content interest me the most, and that’s where I want to start (I also enjoy research, but how to fit that in?). Can the hive mind help steer me in the right direction? Another challenge: I must do it remotely. Where do I start?

Do publishers still have stables of freelance copyeditors, or are they primarily in house? Can I test in? Every industry needs editors, but which ones actually hire them? Does tech editing require industry expertise? Most of all, how do I overcome my geographic disability to build a network that believes in me?

It's been years since I posted this about a planned transition and my desire to edit textbooks. Well I just made the anticipated leap, am now settled in the new town, web site and business cards done. I’m ready to reach out. I would love to copyedit educational texts or business content. Social studies would be a favorite. I’ve also tutored GED and ESL students, and the volume of materials for that population is staggering and the content rather fun. When I was in the editorial pool for Prentice Hall I edited business and international management test banks. Interesting content, regular work, fun and reasonably paid. It all sounds good!

I also really enjoy technical editing/writing, though I’ve done it only in the course of my operations work with nonprofits (I wrote large portions of the in-house Salesforce knowledge base, I created workflows, wrote detailed bibles for how to run fundraisers and I’ve ripped apart and rewritten the formal manual for my job). I like concision and wading through the muck to identify the necessary meat of the matter. Does freelance technical editing generally require a specialty? I’m no computer engineer or legal wizard. If the aerospace industry truly needs competent editors, er, is my outdated pilot’s license worth a mention?

I also very much enjoy research, which can sometimes dovetail with editing and writing when it comes to detail and the compilation, organization and summary of data. I’m not a librarian or a statistician (my degrees are in journalism and geography), but I love seeking out information and culling it into something useful. Or just gathering data for someone else who is too busy to do it. I can imagine project work exists where my skills would be valued. I have no idea who needs this, but it’s an interest.

In general, I like cleaning up other people’s messes. It’s hugely satisfying. I live nearly three hours from Seattle. I can certainly go there from time to time and would, once I’ve generated the cash flow to support it, consider a workshop or two if some sort of certification would add value to my resume. Ideas and links and voices of experience all welcome!
posted by AnOrigamiLife to Work & Money (3 answers total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
 
I can't speak to your preferred content areas, but copyeditors are almost all freelance these days, and I wouldn't think that being remote would be a problem. (I'm an in-house editorial assistant who hires proofreaders, and I've met, like, four of our regular freelancers; 90 percent of communication is by email.) I'm in the middle of the UC Berkeley Extension editing certificate, and the instructor is primarily a technical editor and says she's gotten a lot of work from joining editorial organizations and being listed in their databases. The Bay Area Editors' Forum was the one she specifically recommended, but there's also the EFA and probably a few others I don't know about. (I know of at least one member of BAEF who's in Colorado, fwiw, so I don't think you have to be in the Bay Area to join.)
posted by sunset in snow country at 9:26 AM on June 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


I do freelance editing, proofreading, transcribing and localising from home - I've met about 2 of my clients ever, everything is long-distance (around the world) and I work for a range of publishers, individuals, companies, etc. So it is perfectly doable and there's plenty of work out there. Feel free to memail me if you want any links etc as I've got quite a lot of info on my blog, etc. written as I've worked it all out for myself. And good luck!
posted by LyzzyBee at 4:25 AM on June 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm a freelance copyeditor and have never left my home for a job—it's all online. (Well, some years ago I did have a client who insisted on my marking up paper proofs, but that was all done via FedEx, so I still never had to leave my house. And I hope they modernized after one issue got lost in the FedEx warehouse.) The hard thing is finding clients; network as hard as you can, and good luck!
posted by languagehat at 6:59 AM on June 27, 2015


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