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5 Places to Find Children’s Book Illustrator Jobs

Digital Digs (Alex Reid) - 7 February, 2020 - 16:29

If you’re in the process of breaking into the children’s illustration market, one of the most important things to know is where to look for children’s book illustrator jobs. Because while there are tons of opportunities out there, it’s not always clear how to find them!

Fortunately, this article should take obscurity out of the equation and make it much easier to track down great illustration jobs. Not to mention that through these jobs, you’ll gain experience, shore up your portfolio, and create valuable connections in the industry that will lead to even more jobs. Read on for the top five places to find children’s book illustrator jobs — and what you need to attract clients on each platform.

1. Reedsy

For those who don’t know, Reedsy is a resource hub and professional marketplace catering specifically to authors. So if you want to reach a pool of highly relevant clients, you’ve come to the right place! Since 2014, we’ve cultivated a reputation as one of the top platforms for authors to hire amazing editors, marketers, designers, and illustrators. And because illustration is such a niche skill, quality children’s book illustrators are always in high demand.

As a children’s book illustrator on Reedsy, you’ll create a detailed profile with an overview of your career and experience, the specific services you provide, and a gallery to show off your work. Clients seeking children’s book illustrations can then request quotes through the marketplace. This ensures you’re only contacted by people who are serious about collaborating.

These clients will mainly find your profile through the search function on our marketplace (see below), but you’re welcome to post your custom Reedsy URL on other platforms as well.

children's book illustrators on reedsy marketplace

To become a Reedsy professional, you’ll first need a pretty extensive portfolio to demonstrate your skills and experience. Ideally, you’ll already be a full-time illustrator with several children’s books under your belt. If you have experience working for a major publisher, all the better. You can read more about our selection criteria right here, and check out some of our current illustrators’ profiles here to get a concrete idea of who’s already on our team.

If all this sounds doable and you’re eager to get moving on new projects, great news! You can create an account with Reedsy and start today.

community Create your Reedsy freelancer account

We have some great projects already lined up for you to work on.

Learn more about how Reedsy can help.

2. Indeed

Indeed is another great place to look for children’s book illustrator jobs because it aggregates listings from all over the web. (As most illustrators will know, illustration jobs tend to be listed privately and/or in small quantities. This makes it difficult to access a decent pool of opportunities on non-aggregate sites like LinkedIn.) Indeed also focuses on long-term positions with publishers and other relevant companies, rather than individual gigs.

In that sense, Indeed is the best job-search platform for freelance illustrators looking to shift into an in-house position. It’s far more effective than LinkedIn at identifying companies that are actually hiring — not just offering unpaid internships, or worse yet, volunteer positions. Indeed also turns up a greater quantity of results than other job sites like Monster and ZipRecruiter.

children's book illustrator jobs on indeed

That said, not all of the illustration positions advertised on Indeed are 100% relevant, especially as you sort through the results. (Page three of this particular search, for example, includes a listing for a life coaching mentor.) Though it may help to think “out of the box” and consider alternative positions you’d be willing to take, it can also be frustrating to find that, out of dozens of results, only a few match your intentions.

Illustrators seeking work through Indeed should also know that many of these positions are more managerial than hands-on. That is to say, the illustrative work itself will likely be minimal. For instance, the position displayed above — Designer at Viking Children’s Books — looks pretty sweet at first glance. However, the full description clarifies that you’d mainly be working with other illustrators to facilitate the production of their books.

Of course, if you’re tired of the gig economy grind and ready to take on a manager’s role, Indeed could be the perfect place to find it! But if creating your own unique illustrations is your life’s passion, you won’t find what you’re looking for on this platform.

3. Upwork

When it comes to procuring short-term freelance gigs, Upwork is one of the biggest names in the game. Clients can post listings for individual jobs, then pick and choose from the applicants they receive. As a result, clients on Upwork tend to have the upper hand over freelancers. Still, there’s no denying that if you’re looking for lots of short-term opportunities, Upwork is a real goldmine.

Without a doubt, the primary advantage of Upwork is this abundance of desirable, discoverable jobs. As you can see below, a simple search for “children’s book illustrator” yields 7x as many results as the exact same search on Indeed, and the listings are much more relevant to actual illustrators. You can also use filters to customize your Upwork searches based on experience level, budget, hours required per week, and other important factors.

children's book illustrator jobs on upwork

But the flip side of all this is that so many freelancers use Upwork to find jobs, there’s quite a bit of competition on the platform, especially in terms of pricing. As a children’s book illustrator, you'll have a professional edge over less experienced and/or less specialized freelancers, but you may have to compromise on your rates in order to actually land gigs.

Still, it’s not impossible to find Upwork clients who don’t mind paying fair rates for high-quality work. If you’re willing to be patient and seek them out — or if you don’t mind taking a temporary pay cut for the sake of building out your portfolio — Upwork is exactly where you want to be.

4. SimplyHired

SimplyHired is another job aggregator that operates similarly to Indeed, not least because they’re owned by the same people. As a result, the children’s illustration listings on SimplyHired overlap somewhat with the listings on Indeed; these, too, are largely in-house positions with big-name publishers.

In fact, the top result on SimplyHired for “children’s book illustrator” (as of January 2020) is the same position featured first on Indeed: Designer at Viking Children’s Books. Diligent observers will note, however, that the SimplyHired listing also includes a salary estimate and more upfront info about the specific skills you need — information that’s buried in the Indeed listing of the same position. This might make SimplyHired the preferable platform for detail-oriented job-seekers who like to know what they’re getting into straight away.

children's book illustrator jobs on simplyhired

SimplyHired also seems to have a better search algorithm than Indeed, as nearly every listing on their first page of results is connected to an actual publisher. Perhaps most impressively, SimplyHired appears to refresh its listings fairly frequently, more in the spirit of Upwork and other gig-based platforms.

In other words, it’s a fresh take on classic job-search portals like Indeed and LinkedIn. So what’s the downside of using SimplyHired to find illustration jobs?

Well, for one thing, it shares Indeed’s model of mostly featuring managerial positions — so if you find a job through SimplyHired, you can kiss your own illustration days goodbye. Smaller companies have also reported issues posting their job vacancies through SimplyHired. It's possible the platform not only highlights high-level positions at major companies, but intentionally excludes small businesses (and therefore indie presses).

All that said, SimplyHired still offers a greater variety of long-term positions for children’s book illustrators than similar sites, and presents them in a more relevant order. Indeed may be the more established platform, but we’d recommend that aspiring in-house illustrators start with SimplyHired — just be wary of those potential small business exclusions.

5. Fiverr

Founded on the intriguing premise of five-dollar individual jobs, Fiverr has since come into its own as one of the premier platforms of the gig economy. The five-dollar rate is no longer the standard, but a baseline that freelancers can adjust to their own skill and experience levels. (Though as one might suspect, a platform predicated on cheap, easy gigs will inevitably have a hard time shaking that ethos.)

Fiverr turns the tables on Upwork in that freelancers create their own profiles and allow clients to come to them — not dissimilar to how Reedsy works, in fact. However, it’s clear from Fiverr’s “book illustration” landing page that clients still have a massive advantage on the platform. Just look at those baseline prices!

children's book illustrator jobs fiverr

Luckily, closer inspection reveals that each of these ridiculously low figures corresponds to an extremely basic illustration. For example, a client would pay £4 for a black-and-white character sketch with no background, and an elaborate, full-color illustration would (rightfully) cost a lot more. But it’s still alarming that illustrators have to advertise in this misleading way in order to attract clients.

As with Upwork, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to find children’s authors who will pay reasonable rates for good illustrations. Again, you’ll likely have to slash your usual prices, at least at first. But it’s also possible to advertise your services as ONLY available for full projects — setting your base rate at hundreds of dollars — and still have success with Fiverr clients. (As you'll see, their “book illustration” landing page features a handful of thriving illustrators who do this.)

Yes, it might take some time to get the clients you want. But if your illustrations are good enough, you’ll eventually rise to the top! Fiverr is a brutal economic landscape, but with illustrators’ work on clear display, it’s more of a meritocracy than other platforms — clients can immediately tell who’s genuinely skilled vs. who’s just cheap.

But seriously, which one should I choose?

A quick summary of where you should look for children’s illustration jobs, depending on your qualifications and priorities:

⬆ If you’re just starting out and want to build your portfolio, choose Upwork.

✋ If you’re a skilled illustrator who can depend on your work to attract clients, choose Fiverr.

???? If you want complete control over your rates and hours, plus highly relevant clients (all authors), choose Reedsy.

???? If you’re seeking a managerial role at a publishing house, choose SimplyHired.

???? If you didn’t find what you were looking for on SimplyHired, try Indeed.

Any more questions about where to find children’s book illustrator jobs? Feel free to shoot us an email at freelancer@reedsy.com.

The post 5 Places to Find Children’s Book Illustrator Jobs appeared first on Reedsy.

Categories: Author Blogs

How to Become an Editor: A Guide for Beginners

Digital Digs (Alex Reid) - 20 December, 2019 - 21:38

Are you the kind of person who can glance over a block of text and spot all the typos immediately? Do you get a special kind of satisfaction from feeding back on friends’ essays? Have you always loved literature and dreamt of working with words, words, words (as Hamlet once said)?

If you answered “yes” to any or all of these questions, then you might be the perfect candidate to learn how to become an editorand maybe even build a business out of it.

Of course, editing for a living is no picnic, and it takes quite a bit of work just to get started. But if you’re passionate, determined, and truly care about improving the written word, editing could be the career of a lifetime for you! Read on to find out what an editor does, which factors determine editing success, and how to become an editor in six simple steps.

How to become an editor in 6 steps — start today! ????
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What does an editor do?

The particulars of an editor’s job depend on the type(s) of editing they do. However, every professional editor needs sharp eyes, a patient and focused disposition, great communication skills, and — most of all — a strong sense of what works in a story.

An editor’s job is working with writers to transform their work into the best possible version of itself. This can mean anything from rephrasing a couple of sentences to restructuring the entire piece. However, all editing suggestions should ultimately be in service of three things:

  • Refining the author’s voice;
  • Achieving the piece’s purpose; and
  • Ensuring that the audience understands the text itself.

Again, the specifics of this will vary based on the type of editing in question. A developmental editor, for example, looks at the “big picture” of a book and adjusts the narrative and overall style to whip it into shape — which can be a huge undertaking, especially if it’s the author’s first book.

Then a copy editor, sometimes called a line editor, evaluates the writing on a line-by-line basis: tweaking the prose to make it more effective, fixing spelling and grammar mistakes, and scouring for small inconsistencies that the developmental editor may have missed.

Proofreading is the last step in the editing process. This involves fixing all the tiny mistakes that neither the developmental nor copy editor noticed. It's also where typo-finding becomes crucial, as proofing is the final boundary between manuscript and publication — if a proofreader doesn’t catch those typos, they’re going in the published book.

These are the three main types of literary editing. Academic editors, news and magazine editors, blog and media editors, and others typically perform a combination of all three, though it can still be beneficial to specialize in one over the others.

???? How much do editors make?

As of 2020, the average editor in the U.S. makes around $65-70k/year. An editor who’s just starting out will make less, more in the range of $30-50k depending on the quality and quantity of projects they take on. And an editor with years of experience and high-level expertise, such as a current or former Big 5 editor, can make up to $100k/year or even more.

In other words, editors make a respectable salary, especially once they’ve been in the industry for awhile. That said, you shouldn’t become an editor just for the paycheck; editing might pay well, but you have to earn your keep. This means day after day of close reading, thoughtful feedback, and communication with clients. All this is fulfilling, but it can also be quite draining — and if you don’t love editing, the money may not be worth it.

Of course, if all that sounds pretty reasonable to you, you could be the perfect fit. But how can you know if you’re cut out for an editing career, when you’ve never worked with authors or publishers before? Well, that leads into our next section…

Is editing right for you?

We’ve already covered a few things you need to be a good editor: attention to detail, patience, focus, and knowledge about what makes a good story in terms of both structure and prose itself. But even if you possess all these qualities and feel well-suited to editing, doing it for a living might be very different from what you’re expecting.

You can ask yourself the following questions to decide whether editing is the right career for you:
  • What aspect(s) of editing am I interested in specifically?
  • Do I have a solid grasp of what works narratively, stylistically, and thematically in today’s market — and if not, am I willing to learn?
  • Am I capable of conveying my thoughts about other people’s writing in a clear and constructive manner?
  • Can I read through dozens of pages per day without losing focus?
  • Do I work well under pressure, or do I need lots of time and flexibility?

In order to become a successful editor, you need to have a genuine, passionate interest in editing from the outset. You should know whether you prefer developing stories themselves, or working through the gritty mechanics of writing (spelling, grammar, etc.).

As a book or publication editor, you also need to have your finger on the pulse of modern literary culture: what people like to read these days and why. And when communicating with writers about how to make their work better and more culturally appealing, you need to strike a delicate balance between honesty and diplomacy.

Finally, you have to love to read, as you’ll be combing through multiple pieces or chapters per day. You’ll also be tackling multiple projects at once — so if you have trouble juggling responsibilities, meeting deadlines, or generally working under pressure, an editing career probably isn’t for you.

Of course, if you’re lacking in any of these areas, you can always develop them. At the end of the day, nothing should stop you from becoming an editor if that’s what you want to do! And if you feel confident that editing is your destined path, you’re ready for this next section: how to become an editor and build your career from the ground up.

community Create your Reedsy freelancer account

We have some great projects already lined up for you to work on.

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How to become an editor in 6 steps 1. Read as much as you can

The first (and most practical) thing you can do to prepare for an editing career is to read, read, read. Of course, if you’re interested in becoming an editor, you’re probably already an avid reader. But that doesn’t mean you can’t improve your reading habits even more!

Specifically, you should start reading more pieces in your intended specialty. So if you want to become a literary fiction editor, pore over the New York Times Best Seller list to find the hottest new novels and short story collections. Or if you hope to become a lifestyle magazine editor, subscribe to Vogue and Town & Country so you can keep up with the latest voices, topics, and trends in that arena.

If you’re not sure what you want your specialty to be, that’s okay too! The main goal here is to sharpen your editorial senses — every book, article, and essay you read contributes to your understanding of what makes good writing (and what doesn’t). Try to break down and articulate the elements of works that are especially successful, so you can replicate those elements in your own projects down the line.

2. Earn your bachelor’s degree

This next step has become increasingly vital as the field has flooded with aspiring editors. In order to stand out as a skilled, qualified professional, you need to earn a bachelor’s degree — preferably in English, journalism, or communications. Yes, in days past, some editors could skate by on skill alone, but nowadays a degree is more or less required for an editing career.

The good news, it doesn’t have to be difficult, or even terribly expensive! You can complete your bachelor’s degree online or at state/city college, and your current employer might even be willing to pay your tuition if you’ve been working there for a certain amount of time. There are plenty of scholarship opportunities available for humanities students as well, and applying for them will have the helpful effect of boosting your writing and editing skills along the way.

Note having a bachelor’s degree in a non-editing-related subject will be sufficient as well. Though the aforementioned majors are ideal, it’s not so much about what you’ve learned in school as it is about having the degree. (After all, tons of people enjoy flourishing careers that are unrelated to their college majors.) What a degree really proves is that you’re smart, hardworking, and dedicated: all qualities that people desire in their editors.

3. Take internships and low-paying jobs

You’ve been reading all you can and have earned (or are well on your way to earning) that coveted bachelor’s degree. Now it’s time to obtain your first bit of professional editing work via internships and low-paying jobs.

As with getting your degree, this part is less about the work itself than it is about establishing yourself as an editor. One of the best ways to achieve this is through an internship with a publisher or publication!

Editing internships are great because, though you won’t make much money, you’ll have a steady stream of work coming in that you can use to hone your skills and grow your portfolio. You can search for editing internships on sites like Indeed and LinkedIn — and if you’re still in school, or have recently graduated, see what you can find through your college’s job search portal.

If you can’t find or can’t afford to take such an internship, you can look for short-term gigs on freelancing sites like Upwork. However, you’ll still need to create a compelling profile and strive to sell your services. You’ll also have to take jobs that don’t really interest you at first, and do every kind of editing work, no matter what your preference (for instance, you might plan to specialize in developmental editing, but you’ll be doing mostly copy and line editing for these gigs).

This part of your editing career is the definition of “the hustle.” You’ll be working long hours, not getting paid much, and feeling unsure about whether you even can be an editor. But if you manage to push through all that, you’ll emerge on the other side with plentiful knowledge and experience to serve as the foundation of your editing career.

4. Find your niche as an editor

The biggest silver lining of working so much is that you’ll start to form a very clear idea of your own editing niche: where your natural skills lie and what you most enjoy doing. So after a few months of experience, you should definitely be considering what kind of editor you want to be in the long-term!

We’ve already touched on the three main categories of literary editing (developmental, copy, and proofreading), but now let’s break down the most common types of editors, so you can think about which path you might want to pursue.

???? Book editors

Book editors work on full-length manuscripts of 50,000 words or more. Consequently, this is the most intensive area of editing (especially if you want to become a developmental editor). However, book editing also offers a massive variety of projects to choose from: fiction, nonfiction, and all the different genres they contain.

As a book editor, you’ll directly influence the literary world and engage with exciting projects that look great on your résumé. In other words, it's an incredibly rewarding niche — but it’s also a major commitment, so make sure to familiarize yourself with the world of writing and publishing before you devote yourself to a book editing career.

???? News and magazine editors

News and magazine editors work on news, feature, and opinion pieces for a given publication, most of which clock in at around 1,000-2,000 words. So each individual assignment is fairly easy to get through, but as a news or magazine editor, you’ll be expected to edit multiple articles each day — often going through multiple rounds of editing on each article. For this specialty, a degree in journalism or communications is essential, and you’ll probably need a foot-in-the-door internship or personal connection to snag a decent position as well.

???? Academic editors

Academic editors work on research papers, theses, and dissertations. These can be anywhere from 20 to 200 pages, so depending on your specialty, you might be working on pieces that are basically manuscripts themselves. In order to make a career out of academic editing, you will need a post-grad degree in the relevant subject and the ability to wade through lots of dense text. It’s certainly not for everyone, and is usually only a viable career option for those who already have a master’s or PhD.

????‍???? Web editors

Web editors create and edit content for various online sources. As a web editor, you’ll need to know how to apply search engine optimization (SEO) tactics, and how to publish your writing with tools like WordPress and other content management systems. This is a good choice of specialty for those hoping to gain applicable skills in an increasingly Internet-based world, but it may be hard to find clients yourself, especially at first.

As you rise in your chosen field, particularly at a publication, you may also become a managing editor or even an editor-in-chief (EIC). These roles come with specific requirements and greater responsibilities, but if you’re just starting out as an editor, you don’t need to worry about them yet — it’s just good to know that there are always more rungs on the editing ladder, which means more opportunities for your career to grow down the line.

5. Chase better editing jobs

Once you have some general experience under your belt and you’ve determined your niche, it’s time to go after that niche work with all you’ve got. So if you want to be a book editor, home in on book editing jobs. If your dream is to become the EIC of a well-known magazine, edit tons of articles and constantly check their website (and LinkedIn) for job listings.

And if you don’t have one already, you should build a website to advertise your services and portfolio. Though profiles on other job platforms will help, it’s important to carve out your own space on the web, so clients can see you are a dedicated professional! You can even blog about editing-related topics to demonstrate your expertise and attract clients.

Now is also the time to pull out all the stops when it comes to networking, both online and in person. If you’re struggling to capture the job(s) you really want, rack your brain for any people you know — however randomly or distantly — who work in that field, and reach out to them for help. Ask your current or former teachers, your coworkers, your parents, your friends, and your friends’ friends whether they can give you a boost.

Think of this as the culmination of all your efforts. You’ve gained the necessary experience and proven to yourself that you can perform your dream editing job. Now you just need other people to give you a chance… so keep asking around, because you never know who might say “yes.”

6. Take the leap as a freelancer

And if you don’t want to work for a publisher, company, or publication, you can always work for yourself as a freelance editor! Indeed, once you’ve earned enough work through your own efforts, it can be incredibly empowering (not to mention lucrative) to continue your career as a freelancer.

We’ve actually written a full guide to freelance editing, and another article on tips for success as a freelance editor. Make sure to check out those resources if you want to freelance edit for a living. The only other thing we’d mention is to join groups that will facilitate this work on both a personal and a professional level.

You can join the ACES Society for Editing for $75/year, which will provide you with a fantastic community of fellow editors and tips on how to improve your work. You can also join the Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA) for a slightly heftier price tag of $180 annually and a couple more perks, such as group health insurance.

If a membership-based editing society isn’t in the cards (or budget) for you, you can always join free editing groups on Facebook and on various forums to get advice and find an encouraging community.

And of course, one of the most valuable things you can do as a freelance editor is to join an agency that will connect you with potential clients. This gives you all the security of working for a publisher or publication, while still retaining the freedom of choosing your own clients and hours.

No matter which editing path you follow, there will always be downsides: the low starting pay, the long hours, and the potential for burnout, to name a few. But if you’re truly meant to become an editor, the rewards — having so much independence, using your creativity, and the utterly unique nature of the work — will be more than enough to satisfy you.

And who knows? A project of yours might just end up making the best seller lists, or winning a Pulitzer Prize. One thing is for sure: if you’ve always wanted to make your mark on the literary landscape, becoming an editor is an amazing way to do just that. ????

Got any more questions (or comments) about how to become an editor? You can email us at freelancer@reedsy.com.

The post How to Become an Editor: A Guide for Beginners appeared first on Reedsy.

Categories: Author Blogs

How to Find Ghostwriting Jobs as a Freelance Writer

Digital Digs (Alex Reid) - 16 December, 2019 - 07:33

So you want to be a ghostwriter? Tapping away at the keyboard in anonymity, collecting checks and paying the mortgage. Nice. But as with all freelance work, there's one big question: how do you find and land ghostwriting jobs?

To answer this, we asked veteran ghostwriter David Congreave for his advice. For his extensive list of secret clients, David has written countless blog posts, ebooks, business books — and even a celebrity memoir. If there's anyone who knows the trick to getting ghost gigs, it's probably David:

"It’s probably the kind of thing I should keep to myself, but I’m a big believer in the modern adage that information wants to be free (unless I’m writing it, in which case you’d better write me a flippin’ cheque).

"Okay, are you ready? This is how you do it…

"First of all, you need to have an older sister who is a natural socialite. Then your sister needs to make friends with a celebrity (they don’t have to be A-list, any celebrity will do) who reveals the fact that he wants to write a memoir and is looking for a writer. Your older sister then refers the celebrity to you, and you are left to hammer out a deal.

"I know, I know. It sounds too simple to work. But in my experience, this strategy is effective 100% of the time.

"But what if your sister works in HR at a pencil company and doesn’t have any celebrity friends? Well, then, I’m afraid you’re going to have to roll up your sleeves and start hustling."

Before we get to David's (serious) tips, let's answer some basic questions.

What is a ghostwriting job?

Broadly speaking, ghostwriting is any writing that's done on behalf of the accredited author. Projects range from writing blog posts and speeches to crafting entire books. In most cases, ghosts are totally uncredited but it has become more common for them to receive a tip of the hat either on the cover (with a co-writer credit) or in the acknowledgements.

How is ghostwriting legal?

This is a common question authors ask but, in our experience, readers don't really mind if a book has been ghostwritten. In certain genres (celebrity memoirs), it's often assumed that someone was brought into draft the book. The key point is that in the vast majority of cases, the credited author is responsible for the ideas in the book — and the ghost is someone whose helps the author express those ideas in their voice.

It is not, in any legal sense, fraudulent to write someone else's book.

How much money does a ghostwriter make?

We could be getting into "how long is a piece of string" territory. What a writer charges for a full book will depend on:

  • The length of the book
  • The amount of research required
  • The writer's track record
  • The nature of the client (a memoirist would not be charged the same as a CEO)

In interviews with freelancers on the Reedsy marketplace, we were able to establish that it is not unusual for experienced ghosts to start charging around $32,000 for a full-length book. Though depending on all those factors above, that number could rise to as high as $100,000 in rare cases for bestselling ghosts.

As freelancers, most ghostwriters don't rely exclusively on writing full-length books and will often supplement their income by editing, drafting book proposals, or coaching new authors.

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We have some great projects already lined up for you to work on.

Learn more about how Reedsy can help.

With that out of the way, we asked David for his personal approach to landing ghostwriting jobs as a freelance writer. So who better to learn from?

4 tips for landing ghostwriting jobs

It sometimes feels like most of my work has come from some kind of fluke. But when I dig deeper, I usually find that it’s a result of some simple marketing efforts that I used in the past.

It often only appears coincidental because there tends to be a long gap between my marketing efforts and eventually landing a gig.

A career in this field is something that, in my experience at least, develops gradually.

I don’t consider myself to be a prolific freelance writer, but it’s been eight years since I had a spell without any paying work, so I figure I must be doing some things right.

These are the tips…

1. Don’t rely on freelance sites

Before I break the Reedsy team’s hearts, I should preface this section by saying that Reedsy is the one exception to this rule. I’ll explain why in a moment. But here, in a nutshell, is why it’s very unlikely that you’re going to land a great ghostwriting client from online portals like Upwork or Fiverr: the best jobs are not posted or advertised.

This is something I learned while doing work for an executive recruiter. And it isn’t just true for ghosts — it’s true of most high-profile jobs.

When an employer has a really important role to fill, they don’t advertise it to every person under the sun; they hire a headhunter to poach someone who is already successfully doing the work. They might throw up a few adverts, but they’re not seriously expecting it to yield any results. Because the best candidates aren’t hanging around a jobs board – they’re too busy already doing great work for somebody else. High quality ghostwriting gigs are the same.

Imagine for a moment that you’re an experienced entrepreneur with a string of successful businesses in your wake. You decide you want to hire a ghostwriter to write a book about your experiences. Do you head for the freelance sites?

Hell, no.

If a high-profile client posted an opportunity on Upwork and offers $20k to ghost a book, they’re going to get 100+ bids easily. Upwork would have you believe that this is a good thing, but most people don’t have time to trawl through every single reply and try to figure out who has the skills necessary.

Yes, they can put limits on who can bid, or send invites manually — but then comes the problem of hiring the right person based on a random portfolio and a series of testimonials that are all just versions of “Great work! Would hire again! A++++”.

A busy, well-connected entrepreneur doesn’t have time to mess about. This is what they would actually do: email a few of their closest colleagues and ask them for a recommendation.

That’s it. And one of their colleagues would reply with, “I know a great person for this opening. Here are his/her details.” This recommendation comes from someone they trust, so their search is over. It’s a classic shortcut. An affluent person — the kind of individual who is willing and able to pay a decent rate — will find their ghostwriter through their personal network of like-minded connections.

I’m not saying freelance sites are useless. I’m simply saying that very few of the best assignments for ghosts get sorted out publicly. It happens out of sight between people that know people.

Reedsy, of course, is the exception to the rule because they personally vet every single freelancer.

Instead of the chaotic free-for-all that takes place on regular freelance sites, Reedsy is able to provide discerning clients with a small pool of experienced, proven writers. In effect, Reedsy provides the same service as emailing a trusted friend and asking for a recommendation.

It’s a small difference, but it’s crucial.

(At this point, I feel compelled to point out that Reedsy is NOT hiring me to write this. I’m writing this of my own volition and I can categorically state that they have not kidnapped my cat to coerce me to write nice things about them.)

Where were we?

Oh, yes. Freelance sites are fine for the occasional visit, but don’t expect them to provide you with exciting ghostwriting opportunities. Instead, you should…

2. Network in a small pond

Every banal list of marketing tips for freelancers features “networking.” At which point, the average freelance writer dies a little bit inside. Surely one of the perks of being a writer is that you don’t have to spend time with irritating people, like… well… everybody.

Although “real life” networking events do have value (and you should make an effort to attend one at least once a year) you can do most of your networking online these days. But that’s a generic insight that isn’t going to get you closer to landing a gig.

Instead, make a concerted effort to network in a small niche. It could be an area in which you already have expertise, but it doesn’t have to be. Just pick something that looks interesting, and immerse yourself in it. Make sure it’s a field in which lots of people are selling training products. These are all prospective clients.

Go Google-crazy and start reading and following blogs, social media gurus, newsletters, books, and news sites. Learn everything about your niche until no stone is left unturned.

After a few weeks, when you feel like you have enough knowledge to add some original ideas to the mix, start publishing content under your own name. Start with a blog or a Medium.com account, push articles out on LinkedIn, and create 1-2 ebooks that you can either give away through social media or publish on Amazon.

Don’t worry about getting tons of eyeballs on your stuff. The aim is simply to establish yourself as a writer in this niche and create a portfolio of well-written content.

Finally, write to the suppliers in this niche and ask if they could use an experienced writer. These are the people or companies who provide the software, training, or consulting services within this niche.

If you don’t like the idea of begging for work, you don’t have to ask people if they can give you projects: ask if they know anyone who is looking for a ghostwriter. Most people are flattered by this because the implication is that they’re well-connected, and that flattery often makes them more willing to help.

Yes, most of the time, the answer in the short-term is “no”— but then sometimes you get an email a month later with a lead.

This isn’t a quick route to becoming a ghostwriter. Reedsy opportunities and helpful older sisters aside, I’m not sure that one exists. But becoming the “go-to” writer in a small niche is your first step on the ladder.

Because once you’re a known writer in a particular niche, it doesn’t stop there. Some of the contacts you make along the way will be involved in other niches, and before you know it you’ll be side-stepping into new markets.

I started off in the “make money online” niche, but soon moved into Internet Marketing. From there I landed projects in business development, investing, and… erm… dentistry.

That’s right, I’ve ghosted for dentists. I’m living the dream. Although a month of YouTube research on dentistry actually gave me nightmares.

3. Join a mastermind group

If you’re not familiar with them, a “mastermind” is a private club for like-minded people. They hang out in unlisted Facebook groups and swap stories, tips, and opportunities. They’re the kind of place that clients go when they need help finding a ghostwriter, and if you can find your way in, masterminds are a great way to pick up new business.

Private masterminds usually require an invitation, a fee, or both. I joined my first one when a client gave me access as a favour and it provided a very welcome boost to my networking as well as some long-term work.

Look for a group in your chosen niche, which has a strict prohibition about advertising to other members, and has no more than a few hundred members (too many and the group gets too noisy to be useful). You might find a good group by doing some Facebook searches, but the best ones aren’t advertised so you might have to ask around.

Another alternative is to start your own. I’m experimenting with this, but it’s too early to share my results. If you want to know more, I recommend following me on Medium.

4. Introduce potential clients to ghostwriting

Sometimes the best prospective clients don’t even know about the benefits of using a ghostwriter. Which means you need to get them hooked.

I’ve had two projects in the past that required me to contact experts in a particular field and invite them to contribute an article in exchange for a byline and a backlink. (I was fortunate enough to be paid for this work, but you could just replicate the role by starting a blog or a newsletter in your chosen niche.)

In any case, I’ve found that most experts jump at the chance to get some free publicity and are usually happy to agree. However, when it comes to actually getting them to send an article, it’s often a slow process that involves a lot of nagging, pleading, and emotional blackmail.

Not fun.

So I tried another approach. Once an expert agreed to contribute, I offered to write the article for them so they wouldn’t have to spend a lot of time on the project. All they had to do was send me some bullets, or a 5-10 minute audio recording explaining what they wanted the article to say. I’d then write a kick-ass article that they loved and for which were happy to take credit.

I got to feature an expert who got a great ghosted article for free, and I introduced a potential future client to the joys of ghostwriting. Over the years, some of these experts have come back to me with more job offers for ghostwriting ebooks, print books, blogs and newsletters.

Writers: learn how to turn a free writing gig into a ghostwriting job.
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Think of this strategy as highly-targeted networking. Your publication gives you an “in” — a reason to contact them. The offer to ghost the article shows that you respect their time and makes it easy for them to agree. The positive experience shows them the benefits of ghostwriting and puts you front of mind when they one day decide they want to write a book or start a blog.

A while back, I interviewed my father about his career in freelance writing. He was paid to produce articles and training material that were published under his own name (which is how you know it was pre-Internet), and he picked up most of his work by writing to training businesses in his field of expertise and asking them if they had work available. Eventually, clients started coming to him with opportunities.

This feeds my conviction that ghostwriting opportunities, like any writing opportunities, don’t often fall into your lap. At least not to begin with. To make the transition from freelance writing to ghostwriting, you need to build your profile in a specific niche, proactively look for work beyond the ones posted online, and work hard at building a network of contacts.

Freelance services such as Reedsy are a fantastic tool, but in the long run you must be prepared to put yourself out there and use marketing strategies that may take months or even years to pay off.

Or just get yourself one of those great, sociable older sisters.

That works too.

David Congreave writes words in exchange for help with his mortgage payments. You can read more of his words on Medium

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The post How to Find Ghostwriting Jobs as a Freelance Writer appeared first on Reedsy.

Categories: Author Blogs

12 Crucial Tips for Success as a Freelance Editor

Digital Digs (Alex Reid) - 28 November, 2019 - 04:50

If you’ve made the switch from in-house to freelance editor, you’ll know it’s a pretty sweet deal: flexible schedule, choosing your own clients, and perhaps best of all, escaping that oppressive cubicle life. However, you’ve probably also realized it’s a lot of hard work to grow your client base and expand your portfolio all by yourself.

That’s why once you've become a freelance editor, you should always be thinking about ways to go above and beyond. How can you maximize your efficiency, manage your business smoothly, and show potential clients that you’re the best possible fit for their projects?

To address all of these questions and more, we’ve put together a list of tips from some of our best freelance editors, which should help you thrive even in the most competitive circles! Read on for these 12 crucial tips for freelance editing success.

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1. Build the admin side first

When it comes to running a successful freelance editing business, it’s not just the editing work itself you have to worry about, but also the administrative work. As an in-house editor, your clients, projects, and pay were organized for you — but as a freelance editor, you’ll need to take care of all that admin yourself.

This means you’ll need a designated spreadsheet to track your progress for each project. You’ll also have to develop contracts, invoice templates, and a reliable payment system for clients. According to editor Lisa Gilliam, these elements should be prepared even before you start taking on projects, ideally with the help of professional tools:

“Have your contract ready to go. Have a project-tracking spreadsheet ready to go. Set up billing and payment systems ready ahead of time, and bookkeeping if you’re feeling thorough — I use Zoho Books now, and I wish I’d used a system like this from the start.”

2. Track your hours rigorously

Gilliam also emphasizes the importance of maintaining detailed records, particularly when it comes to tracking your hours. Not only will this spare you the stress and inaccuracy of guessing on your invoices, but it will also help you determine better timelines and rates for clients in the future.

“I actually didn’t start doing this until my third year in business,” says Gilliam. “I use ManicTime for time-tracking now, but that means I’ve lost some valuable data from my first two years.

“Time-tracking numbers can be used to more accurately estimate per-project pricing and scheduling. You can also use it to calculate how much you’re making per hour on each project after the fact (if you charge per project, per page, or per word). With your historical data, you can even see the difference in editing speed from where you started out, to where you are now.” So start tracking now, if you haven’t already — the tools available make it surprisingly easy.

3. Charge what you’re worth

Speaking of rates, how should you go about setting them, especially if you’re just starting out? You probably had a set salary as an in-house editor, but now you alone will have to decide what to charge clients. This can be a daunting prospect, even as an experienced pro.

Luckily, we’ve prepared a whole separate article to help you set your freelance editing rates. The most important takeaways are:

  • You’ll no longer receive a steady salary,
  • You’ll have to think about business costs,
  • Your experience/genre affects the rates, and
  • Rates are not fixed; they evolve over time.

As a freelance editor, you don’t want to accidentally overcharge your clients. However, you also don’t want super-low rates that fail to compensate for your time! If you want your business to be sustainable, you have to charge what you’re worth. So keep in mind that your rates should not only include editing services, but administrative tasks as well.

Pro tip: the handy calculator on this page will give you an idea of what authors expect their freelance editors to charge. Simply enter your typical genre and word count to find out.

4. Know how to file your taxes

Another hurdle as a freelance editor is figuring out your taxes. We’d recommend you speak to a tax advisor early, and check out this exhaustive article on managing taxes as a freelance editor. It might seem formidable at first, but once you’re armed with the right knowledge, filing your taxes becomes a breeze. Editor Leonora Bulbeck can attest to this:

“Filling in a self-assessment tax form sounds terrifying, and every freelancer I know has said that doing their taxes is a downside of the job. It really isn’t. I maintain my accounts throughout the year, doing it little and often so it doesn’t seem like such an intimidating process. When I go to fill in my self-assessment, it takes me 20 minutes. It’s completely painless.”

Hear that? Completely painless. Educate yourself, maintain your accounts regularly, and you’ll be perfectly fine.

5. Find a niche and stick to it

Now let’s talk about how to appeal to clients. If you don’t already have a defined editing niche, it’s time to find one! Clients are much more likely to choose a specialist with experience in their genre or subject, rather than a generalist who’s a jack of all trades, but a master of none.

This is why we ask our Reedsy editors to choose just a few genres to feature on their profiles. We want their expertise to be entirely relevant, and for authors to be able to find the highest quality editors in their genre, without muddling through tons of vague and overstuffed profiles.

Not sure what your niche is? Take a close look at the genres you’ve edited and analyze them for the following criteria:

  • Total number of books edited,
  • Commercial success (book sales, reviews), and
  • How much fun you had while editing.

Don’t underestimate the last factor. You shouldn’t force yourself to work on projects that you don’t enjoy! Also, know that the books you read in your spare time aren’t always the same as the books you enjoy editing. Monitor yourself for which manuscripts satisfy you as an editor, and what kind of balance you’re hoping to strike between different types of projects.

6. Balance honesty with tact

Honesty is the best policy when it comes to editing; if you can’t be honest with a client about their manuscript, you won’t be able to help them. That said, your suggestions should always come from a place of constructive criticism — focusing not on the problems, but on their solutions.

This may be somewhat difficult, depending on what type of editing you do. For example, if you’re a copy editor, most of your edits will be pretty inoffensive anyway (a comma here, a paragraph break there).

But as a developmental editor or even a line editor, you’ll have to make more significant edits that might feel personal to the author. That’s why, no matter how much work a manuscript requires, you need to stay positive and make it feel like a manageable job.

Luckily, even if you’re a natural pessimist, you can work on your communication style so that your clients don’t feel attacked. For example:

❌ Chapter 8 is a mess. It’s going to take forever to fix.

✅ Chapter 8 is a little confusing. I’d suggest eliminating the flashback and incorporating the information that it reveals into Chapter 11. You might also condense the rest of the chapter to quicken the pacing and keep the reader’s attention, since it’s such an important scene.

As you can see, the second statement is much more positive and solution-focused. It gets the point across — that the chapter has issues — but quickly sets the author on a clear path to remedying them. Phrasing your editing suggestions this way will not only foster a better editor-client relationship, but also improve efficiency overall.

7. Guide new authors carefully

You’ll also have to be patient when guiding new authors, as some clients will have no idea what to expect from the editing process. And while you should be clear and communicative with all your clients, it’s especially crucial for those who have never worked with an editor before.

That’s why it’s good to start every potential collaboration by inquiring about the author’s previous experience, even if they seem like they know their stuff. For those who are completely new to collaborative editing, lay it out step-by-step. Explain your particular process: how do you work on a manuscript (through Google Docs, physical pages, etc.)? Then inform them of your expected timeline, and be transparent about the cost.

Leonara Bulbeck even goes so far as to advise additional edits for new authors, since one round won’t necessarily fix everything, and revisions may even produce new errors. “I have now embraced explicitly advising authors to seek a proofread after a developmental or copy edit, akin to what happens in the traditional publishing industry,” Bulbeck says.

“Errors can easily be introduced as part of the editing process… when we’re talking about thousands or tens of thousands of edits to a manuscript, another professional pair of eyes really needs to check through everything to make sure nothing has escaped.”

8. Don’t take on too much

On that note, it’s absolutely fine to recommend another editor for a task you can’t do yourself, or to pass on a project when you have too much on your plate. The truth is, as your freelance editing business grows, you’ll no longer have the capacity to work on every single manuscript.

This is a good problem to have, of course — but it can still take some time to break out of that “striving” mindset, where you have trouble turning down opportunities even if you don’t have time for them. Once again, the experienced Bulbeck has some wise words on the matter:

“The uncertainty of freelancing can easily make you addicted to saying yes to everything that comes your way… It’s taken me a long time to learn, but if you haven’t got the time, or something is outside your field of expertise, it’s okay to say no. Declining work is not being impolite; it’s about respecting yourself, being aware of the client’s needs and maintaining integrity in your work.”

9. Get a website and social media accounts

Even if you already have a strong brand and robust client base, it never hurts to thoroughly establish yourself #online. At the very least, you should do the following three things:

Build a professional website. This should be where you display your full editing portfolio and list your contact info for clients. You can also use your website to blog about relevant topics and demonstrate that you’re true expert in your field! For bonus points, conduct keyword research beforehand, so you know which editing topics people tend to search for — if you play your cards right, tons of clients will come your way organically.

As for where to host your website, it’s fine to use a template-based CMS like WordPress when you’re just getting started. However, as your business grows, you should invest in a custom website that looks a little more elegant and unique. (If you don’t know how to build a website, you can find someone to do it for you right here.)

Set up social media accounts. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are great ways to share your experience and expertise in an approachable way, and to find new clients through followers and hashtags. You can also use social media to publicize your website — yay, synergy!

Create a LinkedIn profile. While you can and should network on social media, LinkedIn is a different beast entirely. If you don’t have an account, sign up now, offering as many details as possible about your work. Connect with tons of people and ask fellow freelancers how they’ve found clients through LinkedIn, so you can employ similar strategies.

10. Brand yourself in-person

Having a strong web presence is undoubtedly vital, but what about branding yourself as a human being? To become an author’s trusted collaborator, you’ll have to prove that you’re a friendly, communicative person who will guide them steadfastly through the editing process.

When you meet people at industry events, through acquaintances, or even via video chat with potential clients, try to project confidence and knowledge about your niche. Again, this is extra-important with first-time authors, who want a freelance editor who can both do the job and show them the ropes of publishing.

To really up your game, you can use LinkedIn and Facebook to find conventions in your area. Try to attend as many as possible so you can network with fellow professionals and, of course, authors who might want to hire you. Don’t forget to exchange contact details!

11. Join a community for advice and support

As a freelance editor, you may sometimes feel uncertain, isolated, and lost — this is the downside of not working in an office with other people to advise and encourage you.

But just because you’ve taken your business solo, doesn’t mean you have to go it alone! Joining freelance groups on LinkedIn, Facebook, and other platforms is a great way to gain both a sense of community and access to helpful freelancing tips.

“I belong to several professional associations, some editor groups on Facebook, and a few Slack workspaces,” says Lisa Gilliam. “I’m also the coordinator for my state’s Editorial Freelancers Association chapter, so several times a year, I get to talk shop with editors from my area, meaning I get the best of both worlds — online and in-person camaraderie!”

12. Stay positive and keep yourself motivated

In addition to joining freelancer groups and finding like-minded people, you can stay motivated simply by remembering why you chose this path in the first place. There’s a myriad of reasons to become a freelance editor, but for most of us, the big ones are: that wonderfully flexible schedule, the ability to pick and choose your own clients, and the knowledge that you can make a life-changing difference. As Leonora Bulbeck says:

“I love having that direct contact with authors and seeing them go from manuscript to published. I'd never once communicated with an author while working in the industry, but you can really feel your impact and value when you have that direct author-connection in freelancing.

“I also love being self-reliant, being able to work from anywhere with an Internet connection and managing myself. It would take an awful lot to get me back into a nine-to-five.”

If you can keep these things in mind, you should have no trouble staying motivated, even through the most challenging projects and clients. Because at the end of the day, you’ll be making someone’s dreams come true — maybe even helping them become a famous author. Envision your name in the acknowledgements of a bestseller, and continue doing the best work that you can do. ????

Got any more questions about succeeding as a freelance editor, or perhaps a few tips of your own? Leave them in the comments below!

The post 12 Crucial Tips for Success as a Freelance Editor appeared first on Reedsy.

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