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Do What You Love Guest Post: Jeri Walker

Posted in - Books on May 17th 2016 20 Comments

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.

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An idea for a novel had been kicking around in my head for years but Id 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 80000-word novel? Yikes. As a way to get back into the writing habit I Decided to paraphrase five of Edgar Allan Poes 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 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 Id never considered critiquing manuscripts I certainly possessed the right skillset for becoming a freelance editor.

Word Bank Logo Medium

At that point Id finished the first draft of my novel during those nine months. I knew the book wasnt 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? Its 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?


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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 browse her books.

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As of now (20) people have had something to say...

  • Jeri - Reply

    May 17, 2016 at 1:56 pm

    Thanks for asking me to write this post Crystal. It was a great way to look back at the path Ive taken in becoming a freelancer.

    • crystal - Reply

      May 17, 2016 at 5:22 pm

      I am excited that you did it and it is great to see your journey and how far you have come. =)

  • Dodie Neill - Reply

    May 17, 2016 at 4:42 pm

    Wow that was motivating to read. I have an online business.
    And there other things that I need to do. Reading about
    the progression of your blog and then business was helpful.
    Thank you

    • Jeri - Reply

      May 18, 2016 at 4:38 pm

      Dodie Im glad I was able to get my feet wet before taking the full-time freelancing plunge. There is always more to learn about how to be a better freelancer but the work is always there is one is willing to look. I belong to a couple of editing organizations that send out vetted job requests to editors so that helps keep my schedule full though there are always times when famine strikes and I have to hustle to find projects.

  • Kim - Reply

    May 17, 2016 at 5:31 pm

    Its true that sometimes you need to take a deep breath and balance what you love doing with demands of life/what works for you. Thanks for writing about your experiences and how you have to really stick with what you love to get to where you want to be… even if it wasnt what you initially expected. Best of luck on your book!

    • Jeri - Reply

      May 18, 2016 at 4:41 pm

      Kim sticking with it counts for so much when it comes to the things we want in life. I was able to stick with turning the blog into an editing business because I was ready to do so while also realizing I wasnt quite ready to work on a novel. Now that the freelancing is taking off I find I am much more ready to tackle becoming a serious writer. I like to do things backward I guess 😉

  • Shelley - Reply

    May 18, 2016 at 12:09 am

    Thanks for these inspiring words! -Shelley

    • Jeri - Reply

      May 18, 2016 at 4:44 pm

      Shelley Ive always firmly believed in sharing the convoluted ways that are needed to learn anything new or take on new business endeavors. Too often the impression is left that there arent a ton of twists and turns in the road because we naturally want to present ourselves as successful but we all know success often comes about in surprising ways that typically involve a lot of dead ends and mistakes made along the way. Its all a part of the process and I do love studying processes and reflecting on how one event influences another.

  • Ken Dowell - Reply

    May 18, 2016 at 5:09 pm

    I still looking forward to the novel Jeri. Meanwhile congratulations on your anniversary as a freelance editor.

    • Jeri - Reply

      May 18, 2016 at 8:24 pm

      Ken I know the novel is still in me. This time around Im making sure to work on some shorter pieces first as I find my true footing as an author.

  • Larry Crane - Reply

    May 18, 2016 at 5:13 pm

    Hi Jeri – Ive followed your journey for a while and have called on you to put your skills as an editor to work in my own writing (and have been very happy I did!). You have talent. Getting started in anything is a rough road. Nothing can substitute for trial and error as you have pointed out in this well conceived post. One thing that will provide a wind at your back is the fact that this time in tech history is continually blossoming with opportunities to jump on the wagon and go with it as you have done. So its all about learning new skills and keeping up with the speed of change. Its very exciting. Personally I find that the further I go with self publishing the more I have to go to reach my ever changing goals. Keep believing in yourself.
    Larry Crane recently posted…Free eBook Coming! Missing Girls: In Truth Is JusticeMy Profile

    • Jeri - Reply

      May 18, 2016 at 8:26 pm

      Thanks so much Larry. Such words mean a lot coming from you. Heres to all the adventures we will continue to have in publishing and all of the trial and error that will be involved 😉

  • Candy - Reply

    May 18, 2016 at 5:58 pm

    The more I write the more I understand that its always a step-by-step process. And sometimes the steps are sideways or backwards or in place. Its a crazy dance! Since I enjoyed your collection of short stories I look forward to the novels eventual appearance.

    • Jeri - Reply

      May 18, 2016 at 8:28 pm

      Candy tis a crazy dance indeed and one you do rather well I might add.

  • Jacqueline Gum - Reply

    May 18, 2016 at 10:29 pm

    Congratulations. You are such an inspiration. Navigating speed bumps is necessary and so courageous. Youve mastered it:) Now to the novel………….:)

    • Jeri - Reply

      May 19, 2016 at 9:32 pm

      Jacquie thanks so much. Its great that so many of my blog readers have been with me so long and have seen all of the changes (and bumps) Ive gone through along the way.

  • Jeannette - Reply

    May 19, 2016 at 1:54 am

    Jeri ̵; Ive been following your path for several years and watched as you evolved into what you were meant to be ̵; a freelance editor. I envy those people who know instantly what their lifes work will be but most of us find out by trial and error. There is nothing wrong with that. The key is that we end up at the end of the right road. Congratulations on your success.

    • Jeri - Reply

      May 19, 2016 at 9:34 pm

      Jeannette its been great to realize how suited I am to helping others make their books the best they can be. Its also true too that even editors need editors. I could greatly benefit from a book coach to help me with the drafting process. The earlier stages are not my forte which goes to show we all benefit from being aware of my our strengths and weaknesses.

  • Glynis Jolly - Reply

    May 19, 2016 at 1:11 pm

    And here I thought you were a westerner. Youre a transplant–one who fits in well I must say.

    Although Im still a way from editing your still at the top of my list of who I want professionally for this task.
    Glynis Jolly recently posted…Examining the Plotting Method AgainMy Profile

  • Jeri - Reply

    May 19, 2016 at 9:36 pm

    Glynis I am a westerner! I moved from Idaho to North Carolina and then back again. The East Coast was okay but too crowded for my tastes. I like wide open spaces 😉

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