Freelance Editor Seeking Resources
August 16, 2022 8:17 AM   Subscribe

I recently transitioned careers and now work as a freelance editor. So far, I've been successful, but need and want to avoid complacency. It's important that I develop my editorial skill set, AND understand how to manage my finances as a freelancer. I am seeking resources and advice that can help me on both fronts.

Since I started freelancing, I have amassed a diverse and loyal clientele, who bring me a diverse array of writing projects.

Now, I'm looking to specialize.

Some quick facts, for context:
- I have done editorial work for many years, in addition to freelance writing, but never as a full-time gig.
- My current projects include everything from proofreading and copy-editing, to line-editing, up to developmental/story/content editing.
- I find that I am most successful, and most enjoy my work when I am hired as a line-editor (a copy-editor who also addresses style) or a dev/story/content editor. My clients' feedback supports this, and it feels like the natural progression for my career.

My questions:
1. Fellow editors: what editing resources (books, blogs, vlogs, subreddits, non-reddit message boards, infographics, social media accounts, etc.) should I add to my toolbox?
I have most of the usual suspects (latest editions of all major Style Guides, Strunk & White) but want to hear your suggestions for the best resources for:
- Structural/developmental/content editing (fiction, creative non-fic)
- Stylistic/line-editing
- Manuscript evaluation (critique)

2. As a freelancer, I've found that it helps me secure more clients when I have crossover skills. My most-used crossover skills are basic eBook creation, basic print manuscript layout and typesetting, and general qualitative research (a skill I obtained through my degrees).
- How can I take my eBook and print manuscript skills to the next level? (I have the Adobe Creative Cloud suite, so that's one place to start, but would like input.)
- What additional crossover skills should I develop, and why? What resources do you recommend for learning those skills?

3. As a freelancer, what financial, accounting, and "business" resources do I need to be looking at?
- What do I need to know when accounting for my taxes, and expenses?
- What are best practices for setting aside taxable income?
- Should I seek an accountant who specializes in clients who do freelance/contract work?
- Are there any unions or guilds that I can consider joining?

4. What are the best editor (or editor-writer hybrid) communities I can join?

Thank you in advance!
posted by nightrecordings to Work & Money (5 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Editors Canada has lots of resources, some of which can be accessed for free. They offer a lot more with a paid membership, including mentorship and other training and development programs.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 8:49 AM on August 16, 2022 [1 favorite]

As a fellow freelancer, I love The Writers' Co-Op community and resources. It's a good mix of writers, editors, and other word-using creatives. Several of their podcasts, webinars, and other resources answer your questions, so I'd start with the archive. They go into depth about choosing/refining your niche, building skills, crossovers, etc. Their (paid) Slack channel is great, too - very supportive with good ideas and resources. It's a little quiet right now (August) but usually pretty active.

After four years of full-time freelancing (and another 6ish part-time), I finally hired an accountant and it's been very worth it to remove the stress of having to think about taxes. He also quickly identified changes that will save me more in taxes than his fee, which is deductible as a business expense. The Writers' Co-Op did a webinar on this a couple of years ago that I found helpful. In general, make sure you're setting aside money (typical recommendation is ~30% if you're US-based) with every paycheck and keeping tabs on the quarterly estimated tax deadlines (again, US), which are maddeningly illogical. And track your expenses.
posted by writermcwriterson at 10:32 AM on August 16, 2022 [1 favorite]

I have found helpful over the years. It is a paid membership community of primarily freelance writers but also includes freelance editors.
posted by Bella Donna at 11:22 AM on August 16, 2022 [2 favorites]

For #2, Adobe InDesign remains the default for book layout. It is a beast to get started in but with some training (I worked through a random library book on InDesign and then googled anything harder - nowdays I would take a Udemy course) it becomes very efficient and powerful for layout as you know how to set-up and quickly change things.

I would also recommend browsing slowly through some books on book design. There is truly creative page design out there - largely magazines - but good book design is also a craft in understanding the grid layout, adjustments for printing and binding if needed, thinking about fonts and pairing them appropriately, what booksetting conventions are for different types of books and texts. I went to an art bookstore and browsed to get titles that worked for me, and I'd recommend going to a library for the same, not ordering online - you want coffeetable type books that delight in well-presented text.

You want to be able to colour-correct and appropriately crop images for screen and print maybe, but graphic design for complicated visual layouts and book covers is a very different job entirely, and I wouldn't try to learn that.

If you end up going into non-fiction work, then learning how to index could be a useful additional skill.

But again - if you don't need to do more complicated layout work, then this is a lot of extra training. I did it in part because I really enjoyed it and it helped with magazine work, but if your clients aren't asking for it, then I wouldn't.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 4:37 PM on August 16, 2022 [2 favorites]

i sadly haven't been a freelancer in almost a decade, but found freelancer's union helpful for the businessy aspects.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 10:30 AM on August 17, 2022 [2 favorites]

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