Do What You Love Guest Post: Jeri Walker
Becoming a Freelance Editor
Becoming a freelance editor was not on my career radar when I started a blog back in November 2011. After devoting more than a decade to pursuing graduate English studies in education and rhetoric and composition followed by teaching high school language arts and college composition‚ I should have been giddy when faced with the chance to do nothing but write. Truth be told‚ the cross country move for my ex-husband’s spiffy new job left me overwhelmed and isolated.
I gave myself the summer to get settled. Come September I planted my butt in an office chair and went about the business of establishing an author platform. Big mistake. I had no clue how to harness the power of social media. Even though I fully intended to pursue traditional publishing‚ independent publishing was starting to make strides. I found myself torn between two worlds. Plus‚ the pesky problem of actually writing a dang book persisted.
An idea for a novel had been kicking around in my head for years‚ but I’d never written longer works. Plentiful graduate and undergraduate writing workshops had enabled me to write lean and mean short stories and works of creative nonfiction. But an 80‚000-word novel? Yikes. As a way to get back into the writing habit‚ I Decided to paraphrase five of Edgar Allan Poe’s most popular stories into modern English and publish the effort as an e-book. I even made my own craptastic first book cover.
Yet‚ blogging was love at first sight. Post deadlines and an interactive readership provided great motivation. But what to blog about? At first‚ my tagline for JeriWB.com was Teacher. Writer. Traveler. I’d been told to blog my passions‚ but soon realized the need to find a niche. I refined my focus to discussing literature and my progress as an author. My tagline became: What do I know? A Twisted Book Blog.
The road was bumpy and damn frustrating at times‚ but I knew not to give up. Most blogs fail because their owners abandon them too soon. I went down from five posts a week‚ to three‚ and then finally two. Now I’m at 44 posts a year because that’s what works for me. Back in September 201’‚ after posting some critical book reviews‚ I received my first editing request. Though I’d never considered critiquing manuscripts‚ I certainly possessed the right skillset for becoming a freelance editor.
At that point‚ I’d finished the first draft of my novel during those nine months. I knew the book wasn’t working‚ so I decided to self-publish a collection of short stories in January 201’. Unfortunately‚ I knew next to nothing about book marketing but managed to sell some copies. What was working for me was the editing. Most likely because my confidence as an editor far outweighed my confidence as a writer. Gradually‚ I took on more clients and started to raise my rates. Referrals starting coming in as well.
Though not business savvy at first‚ I buckled down and taught myself what I needed to know in that arena as well. It helps too to have a really phenomenal accountant who will answer all kinds of questions. When the divorce apocalypse happened‚ I could have run back to teaching. Instead‚ I took the leap into full-time freelancing. The reality of feast or famine keeps me hustling‚ and it’s safe to say I don’t want to work for anyone else but myself ever again.
My floundering as an author has led to my success in becoming a freelance editor. By immersing myself in the indie publishing community‚ I have found a cadre of clients and blogger friends. Because I self-published a few shorter works and attempted to market them‚ I earned valuable experience that serves the needs of my clients. I can also format e-books and print books upon request and can cobble together a serviceable book cover.
As for that novel? It’s still in progress. At one point‚ I cut its length in half. I also discovered I am not much of a pantster and my editor-brain is inclined to detailed outlining. I also don’t hold myself slave to a daily word count but rather aim to write for a certain number of hours each week. I plan to start it over from scratch because I believe in the core story idea‚ I just wasn’t ready to write it yet.
Because I put effort into becoming a freelance editor‚ success was inevitable. I know the same holds true for my path as an author. It May have taken me five years to come up with a master plan‚ and it truly was worth every mistake along the way because I have learned so much.
What bumps in the road have you faced when it comes doing what you love?
Truth really is stranger than fiction‚ and it’s a long damn story. Jeri Walker’s short stories‚ creative nonfiction‚ and psychological novels (in progress) show the influence of being raised by a bipolar mother in the eccentric North Idaho mining town of Wallace as well as the trauma of being abandoned by her Jekyll-and-Hyde ex whom she fell in love with while working in Yellowstone National Park.
She and her demanding pets call the Pacific Northwest home. In the continual pursuit of finding herself‚ she plans to someday live in an RV or a tiny house. She dwells online at Word Bank Writing & Editing‚ grateful to be charting a course as a freelancer. Connect with her at or .