Monday, February 26, 2007

Freelance Copyediting

In class on Friday, someone asked what it took to be a freelance copyeditor. Frank gave us a response on what is needed, and other little bits of information, but I'm curious on what the average workload is for a freelance copyeditor. Frank painted a very nice, if probably over-exaggurated, of a freelance copyeditor working on manuscripts in front of a fireplace while in pajamas. As aesthetically pleasing as that sounds, what do employers look for when it comes to being a freelance copyeditor? Do they start you out with ten manuscripts and see how fast and accurate you work, or do you work on a script-by-script basis?


Pat said...

Well, one thing employers look for is the ability to spell and proofread.

When I was being considered for an editorial position at the research center I mentioned, I had to submit a portfolio and, when I was interviewed, take a test. If you try to find employment as a copyeditor, expect (1) to have stiff competition, (2) to have to prepare work samples, and (3) to provide information about your computer skills.

While you're still in school, you might consider doing volunteer work for nonprofit organizations. Many of them can use people who can write, edit, and proofread. You'll get experience, work samples for your portfolio, and a few references perhaps.

Pat said...

The Hawai‘i Book Publishers Association is probably the best place to start if you want to find out about local publishers. Each will have its own method of selecting freelance copyeditors. Whichever you contact, proofread your letter of inquiry three times to make sure it has no errors: once when you write it, once when you print it, and once again right before you seal the envelope. If you e-mail the publisher, make sure your message has no errors in spelling, grammar, punctuation, and so forth. No publisher will hire someone who is careless.

There are also editorial positions at the university level. MANOA has a managing editor (me) and a production editor, a young fellow who started off as an intern and has been with us for several years. For your class presentation, you might want to survey such positions and do a compare-and-contrast study of them.