Friday Frivolity: How Do Freelance Editors Work?


Happy Friday to all! I hope your week has been behaving itself. The first and last weeks of any month tend to be the hardest for me and it made me revisit a question I've been asked before: how do freelance editors work?

Generally, we're summoned out of a book on the third full moon...

Just kidding. Though with the looks I sometimes get when I say "I'm an editor," you'd think we were some kind of mythological beastie.


I spend a lot (too much) of my time hunting contracts. Freelance editing is a very transitory job (as is most freelancing) so I hop from project to project as I'm needed. I'd say almost half of my work day is spent searching job sites, freelance websites, and even sending out cold resumes to various websites and businesses that need editors, even when I have lots of work to do! I can't stop job hunting.

Most of the time that work means copy editing—checking content for spelling errors and adherence to a style guide—and sometimes that means content editing (reorganising and rewriting). Now and again, I also write from scratch or transcribe research notes.

In between hunting for new projects to sink my teeth into, I have what I call my "long-term contracts." That is, clients and companies who keep me on the payroll year-round and have work for me most days (albeit sporadically).

Long-term contracts vary hugely on the amount of work they can offer. For example, I work for one magazine that has anywhere between 0-10 articles per day, Monday to Friday (and some weekends). They pay me a flat rate, as do all smaller works (anything under 2000 words per article), and I keep tabs of all my work until the end of the month.

Most of these long-term, short work contracts pay out monthly.

Of the dozen long-term contracts that I have, only two of them have regular work (as in a daily demand) for me (I'm their dedicated copy editor). The rest are less frequently scheduled projects: comic scripts that have creator deadlines (a.k.a. it gets done when it gets done); professors and academics who publish every few months; bloggers who source out to various editors and only have work for me once or twice a week; and editing companies that offer work between dozens of editors.

There are various pros and cons to each kind of client in a long-term contract (and maybe I'll cover that next time), but once I have them, I don't need to hunt for more and I can gauge about how much I'll get from them per month.

Right now, or rather before I was saddled with a family debt, I was capable of paying my bills on these contracts alone. I'd check out freelance websites and pick up single-term contracts as they came to me and save most of that money.

And that's the other type of work I do! Single-term contracts are signed between an editor and an author for one project. I usually get these contracts from novelists. While I will often work with those clients again, writing a full-length novel takes some time! So I might see a repeat novelist client once or twice a year (and then it depends what they need from me, if I'm only copy editing, I'm not needed until the project is almost complete).

Recently, the increase to my monthly bills (the story of that family debt, such as it is, can be found in this Twitter thread) has forced me to be a little more aggressive with my project hunting (and also in a little more of a panic about it, ha).

It was suggested I start a GoFundMe as well, but, well, we all run into money issues (unless we're very, very lucky)—whether it be due to family, health, school, loss of employment, etc.—and, with all my faculties still intact, I couldn't justify asking for charity. (I am accepting PayPal donations for those who want to lend a hand without receiving anything in return...but please at least accept a discount code I'll e-mail out after receiving any donations! I'd much rather work for the money I need to pay off this debt.)

I decided to try a different tact and offer my editing services and experience, as well as my writing, via Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/Scribe_Cat

I don't know how well Patreon will work for an editor and upcoming author, but I thought it would be an interesting experience. And, if nothing else, it sets the groundwork for when my books are in print!

I'm incredibly grateful to the people who've sought me out to offer projects and leads. If you should happen to need an editor (or know someone who does), please contact me via Twitter, Facebook, or ScribeCat.ca.

I'm confident I can overcome this hurdle in time and get back to the happy equilibrium I once had (a.k.a. contract hunting in a less panicked fashion)! In the mean time, if you need an editor...you know who to call. ;)

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

#frivolity #editing #Lachance

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