Launching into Freelance Editing: Tips for Choosing Your Genre Specialties

Friday, September 08, 2023
Freelance Editing

By Melanie Faith
There’s never been a better time to break into freelance editing. With the rise of e-books and digital publishing, many small-press publishers and individual authors who self-publish actively seek the assistance of editors who are enthusiastic about their craft.
When you think about beginning as a freelance editor, in addition to creating a website and posting your editorial availability on your social media, another step to explore is to decide what genre or genres you’d most like to edit.
Many editors specialize in a few areas of editorial work. While at first glance just mentioning that you are open to editing seems like enough, in actuality you are helping both yourself and your future clients by listing a few of your favorite genres that you have a passion for reading and editing as examples. These might also be genres you write as well.
Think of it: fiction alone has countless exciting subgenres, from mysteries, middle grade, thrillers/suspense, horror, new adult fiction, and graphic novels, to literary fiction, sweet romance, sensual romance, science fiction and fantasy, westerns, comedic/humorous fiction, historical fiction, and many more.
Similarly, nonfiction manuscripts include a diverse array of subgenres, from memoir to biography, journalism, and true crime, to flash nonfiction collections, autofiction collections, thematic anthologies, and flash memoir manuscripts, just to name a few.
Don’t forget that there are also exciting opportunities for editorial work in offering feedback to poets (from individual poems to batches of 3-5 poems to poetry chapbook collections and full-length manuscripts) and in offering personalized feedback on authors’ query letters, book proposals, grant proposals, contest entries, project descriptions, back-cover copy/descriptions, website copy, artist’s statements and author biographies for cover letters and/or website use, writing samples, and synopsis drafts.
Also, there are many authors specifically seeking feedback on shorter manuscripts, such as novellas and novelettes in countless fiction genres.
Remember that you can always begin with two or three types of editing and expand your range as opportunities come your way after your first few editing jobs.
Try this exercise:

I often recommend to my writing students who are interested in getting started as editors that they make a list of four or five of the favorite genres they like to read and/or to write. Get some paper, and list away!
Then, jot a few lines about what you love most about these genres; such an explication can be very clarifying.
After you’ve made your quick list (do this off of the top of your head and without pausing—first-thought, best-thought style), pick two or three of the genres on your list as your initial editorial specialties.
From reading and/or writing often within a genre, you already know a lot about pacing, characterization, dialogue, tropes within the genres, and so much more. You also have a natural passion for these genres which will make offering feedback to talented authors an especially fun and meaningful experience.
The sky’s the limit, and happy editing! 
Melanie Faith

Melanie Faith likes to wear many hats, including as a poet, photographer, prose writer, professor, editor, and tutor. She teaches workshops for WOW! Women on Writing. Her new webinar, An Insider’s Look at Launching as a Freelance Editor, is on Friday, September 15th. She’ll also teach a four-week Food Writing class, starting October 6th. Find out more about Melanie by visiting her website.


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