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Editing Books

Projected Income Around $2,500-$8,000/ project
Costs to Start $100-$500
Time to Start 2-3 weeks
Category Freelance Editing

Our Side Hustles Breakdown

Editing books is an immersive experience where editors collaborate with authors to refine and shape manuscripts into publishable works. With a deep appreciation for storytelling and a critical eye for detail, book editors play an integral role in the literary world. As more authors venture into self-publishing, there’s an increased demand for professional editors to ensure quality.

cons-icon Cons

  • Lengthy Projects: Some books can take months to edit with extensive revisions, making the editor feel bogged down.
  • Sensitive Feedback: There is potential for friction if not balancing constructive criticism with an author’s emotions.
  • Market Competition: The rise of self-publishing has led to a crowded market, with many professional editors offering their services in this niche.

pros-icon Pros

  • Collaborative Effort: Work closely with authors to perfect their writings and bring their visions to life.
  • Diverse Genres: Every book offers a unique narrative and editing experience, providing constant excitement for the editor.
  • Sense of Achievement: Accomplish something larger than life by playing a part in creating successful literary works.

Up until ChatGPT and its kin revolutionized digital communication, those entering freelance book editing are naturally wondering if this industry is still a good way to earn a living.

Has this tech push really sidelined human editors? Not exactly – editing books can still be a profitable career if you take the right steps.

Check out this breakdown book editing as a side hustle and see if it’s worth getting into in 2023.

An Overview of Editing Books: A Primer

Editors are responsible for improving a written text by taking a deeper look at the book as a whole: its core ideas, story arc, flow, or other things like characters’ dialects and historical background.

The editing process involves much more than proofreading, as editors have to watch out for inconsistencies, suggest improvements, and ensure the final piece will reach its goal with readers.

Book editing is far from dead, though you might see fewer simpler requirements like fixing grammar and spelling mistakes popping up on job boards.

Editors who can focus on structural or developmental editing, line editing, stylistic editing, or even fact-checking are still in demand, so there are plenty of opportunities to get this career started.

How Much Can Editing Books Earn You?

In May 2022, editors had a reported median yearly income of $73k or roughly $35/hour.

However, a significant point to consider is the BLS’s prediction of a -4% dip in job prospects for editors, likely due to AI’s increasing role in editing services, particularly for proofreading jobs.

This tells you how important it is to stay on top of your game and use whatever tools available to you to provide the best value-for-money as a book editor.

How Much Does it Cost to Start a Side Hustle Editing Books?

Starting a book editing side hustle has relatively low initial costs. You’ll need a reliable computer, word processing software like Google Docs, and a stable internet connection.

Beyond that, AI and proofreading tools will take your work to the next level and allow you to focus on the edits that really matter. Which tools you choose depends entirely on what you feel comfortable using, but you can try Hemingway or Poe, which are classics for book editing. In any case, most writing and editing tools cost less than $20/month.

Aside from your tools, you might want to spend on self-marketing strategies, whether it’s editors associations’ membership, ads, or a website. However, these are not necessary if you’re starting fresh.

Where Can You Find Book Editing Gigs?

Self-publishing is a big deal now, and so is the demand for high-caliber freelance editors. Here are two main ways to find editing opportunities.

Where to Independently Find Book Editing Gigs

Start with an online presence, not just a LinkedIn profile, but a dedicated portfolio showcasing your best editing samples. Potential clients can browse through your past projects, client testimonials, and even blog posts on editing insights.

Also, engage with online writing and editing communities. Engaging in discussions can position you as a knowledgeable editor. Offline, writers’ workshops, and literary events are excellent venues to network. 

Remember, the writing community often leans heavily on referrals, so a job well done can ripple into multiple opportunities.

Gig Economy Companies That Offer Book Editing Gigs

The definition of a gig has definitely expanded over time, and it isn’t for ridesharing or delivery jobs only anymore; it’s also a treasure trove for editors.

Platforms specializing in editing and proofreading services have exploded in popularity, and general freelance platforms often have specific sections dedicated to writing jobs, including book editing and copy editing.

Here are some resources that can help you find new editing jobs:

  • Gig economy companies: Check out a roundup of over 40 companies in the gig economy market that can help you get a new job.
  • Best gig jobs: Learn about other types of careers similar to editing that you can have.
  • Freelance platforms: See what sites can offer you the best support for a freelance editing career.

Why You Should Consider Editing Books As a Side Hustle

Book editors often enjoy these perks:

  • Endless Material: With the surge of self-publishing, there’s currently a constant need for human eyes on manuscripts, far beyond what AI can offer.
  • Flexible Schedule: Choose your projects, set your deadlines, and work from anywhere, anytime.
  • Diverse Opportunities: From developmental to stylistic editing, there’s a range to suit your strengths and interests.
  • Intellectual Stimulation: A bookworm doing this kind of work is a match made in heaven, and you’ll feel that to your core.

Problems With Editing Books

Before you get started, you should know about some drawbacks:

  • Inconsistent Income: Projects can come in waves, making income predictability tough. The effort you put in vs. your compensation is also often lackluster, unlike other fields like graphic or web design.
  • Difficult Clients: Some writers can take your editing personally, even the ones that hired you for your input. This can lead to some back-and-forth between you and your client.
  • Unpredictable Industry: There are now more people selling books on Amazon in one city than there were authors in entire continents years ago, but it’s impossible to predict where the industry will be headed next and how much work there will be.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the Different Types of Book Editing?

Book editing spans various specialties, but the general types are developmental editing, line editing, proofreading, fact-checking, and academic editing, to name a few.

Is it Hard to Edit a Book?

Editing isn’t just about proofreading skills – it involves diving deeper into the meaning of a text and ensuring every word aligns with the author’s vision. As a beginner, you’ll probably need the help of a mentor to learn how to do it properly.

Ask a Question About Editing Books?

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