I wanted to be a book manuscript copy editor, but my teacher was a bit abstruse. Fortunately, I didn’t really listen to him, although I did heed what he had said about women being good book manuscript copy editors – somewhat. Upon my very first project, I had to do substantial rewriting, not just copy editing alone. Freelance writers can’t really stick with any one category of work for very long.
Over the years, I have learned that working on book manuscripts for people can entail anything from simple proof reading and checking of a well written book manuscript that requires no attention but a simple run through for grammar, to having to full scale write or rewrite an entire book.
This latter has often involved using my own information gleaned from the Internet and other sources – or even personal experience – by basing it on the author’s ideas. Freelance writers have to be versatile when it comes to both idea finding and idea expression, and there’s a lot of sources you can use to find material. You can even work completely from the Internet, using only the author’s basic ideas, or by working closely with the author.
The book author is the person who hires you to do the book manuscript writing; sometimes they help you write, and sometimes they don’t. It’s up to you to turn in professional work for a fee, usually paid in advance, and you often receive no credit whatsoever for your work. And the work, as I said, ranges from simple proof reading to writing or rewriting everything.
But in between lurks the realm that puts the lie to what my college teacher said: you can’t simply be a copy editor. Professional copy editors are forced to wear several hats, not just one. Too many of the jobs involved are combined ones. You may need to – for example – copy edit for fact and syntax changes, proof read for grammar and mistakes, constantly check for technical inaccuracies, and rewrite short to long portions of a book manuscript, all from being hired only as a copy editor.
Often it’s a three pronged job, and I have worn those three hats: copy editor, proof reader and partial or thorough manuscript rewriter. This sort of job is what may go down in a contract as a typical book manuscript copy editing job. But it can be a four, five or six pronged job, entailing being a ghost writer, a rewriter or a co-writer – as well as the other jobs.
Sometimes someone hires me to be a book manuscript ghost writer, but hands me so much material, some of it well written, that it is really a case where I’m a manuscript rewriter. Some work has a tone that doesn’t suit it, and then I might have to rewrite, which also involves fairly extensive copy editing. And some jobs as a ghost writer involve everything: original writing, writing from my and the client’s research, ghost writing, rewriting, copy editing, proof reading, being a coauthor and/or co-writer, writing a movie or television oriented script, graphics and CAD artwork, website development work, and making out a time line or a book outline, which may make all the rest of the work a lot easier.
This can entail several pieces of other work, especially when there is a lot of technical detail to a book manuscript. You may prepare character outlines, places, people and other names outlines, description outlines, special nuances outlines, etc. You might also want to help the client get published, writing a letter of query for literary agents and publishers, creating a book proposal, writing brief biographical material and a book review and/or a press release, making phone calls to certain people, writing a script, sending work you can’t do yourself out to other people, or whatever else the client may happen to need.
When you do this, you have gone far beyond the status of a mere book manuscript copy editor, what “women are good at,” and you have to enter the so-called “masculine” world of the book manuscript ghost writer. The lines simply cross so often, there’s no real way to be only one or the other. And as you proceed in your career, you will want to make more money and not limit yourself to mere copy editing. Ghost writing entails a lot more money, as typical book manuscript ghost writers make ten to twenty-five thousand dollars or more per book they write. I charge less for first time authors and people with lower budgets, but I’m an exception to the rule.
Meanwhile, I have to do ghost writing – there’s no getting around it. It’s not just the money; people will send you what they think of as copy editing jobs, and then they turn out to be or become ghost writing ones.
So bear that in mind when you take on jobs as a book manuscript copy editor: you will also have to be a ghost writer or ghostwriter, a copy editor or copy editor, a rewriter, a proof reader or proofreader, possibly a graphics artist (if you have those skills), a coauthor or co-writer, a publishing assistant or helper (to help the book get published), and a website developer, writer, updater or copy writer or copywriter.
Copyediting is a whole other field
In fact, website copy editing or copy writing is a whole other field worth exploring, which can involve steady work on an ongoing basis. Website copy writing is something you can almost do by itself alone, unlike regular copy editing, and you can make a decent living from it. And it will test your editing skills over time, not to mention your rewriting skills. Most websites I’ve ever edited required substantial rewriting. Like I said, it’s hard in the writing profession to wear a single hat, if not outright impossible. Some people at least do specialize in categories, such as science fiction, historical romance, non-fiction, murder mysteries, cozies, or whatever. But I have found over time it pays to be open-minded about a broad range of categories. I do everything from children’s chapter books to adult literature, and have written in all categories and most subject matters.
Lastly, you should read on a regular basis, everything you can grab, and keep abreast on the latest in copy editors and ghost writers news through online magazines, many of which you can get for free through signing up for a subscription. It also helps to keep a daily journal of your thoughts and ideas, to refer back to for the novels you’ll find you eventually must write.
You have to become a book author someday, in all probability, so you should jot down ideas. As you probably already know, book authors stand to make good money in the upper echelons, so why not go for it?
Whatever you do, don’t forget: stay on those book manuscript copy editor jobs, while remembering they are also the jobs of book ghost writers, copy editors, rewriters, proof readers, coauthors, co-writers, graphics and CAD technicians and artists, publishing assistants and helpers, movie, play and television script writers, and website developers. This is not to mention that your work will involve other types of freelance and contacted writers and writing jobs, which you can find on the Internet in a lot of places; you only have to look. I suggest avoiding the bidding websites, as all they do is undercut decent professional writers pay. You have to bid low to “win” the job, and by the time you do, you’re working pretty much for free. Instead, list with reputable services like Daylo and First Writer, and have your articles published by services such as Ezine Articles, which gets the word out about your writing talents.
You can of course put up your own freelance and contract manuscript book ghost writers work related website. I run two of those, both for our Rainbow Writing, Inc. freelance ghost writing business. Once you do proper SEO (search engine optimization), you’ve got advertising, and righteous ghost writers work should start pouring in on a regular basis – which is what I’m doing nowadays. It can take a lot of work to create links and optimize your keywords and meta tags, so you may need to hire someone else or invest in a good program such as Web Position Gold to help you figure out how to do really great SEO.
Well, that’s a start, so why are you still just sitting there? Get cracking, and start finding those book manuscript copy editing and ghost writing jobs!
About the Author:
Executive Director and President of Rainbow Writing, Inc., Karen Cole writes. RWI at http://www.bookauthorswriters.com and http://www.rainbowriting.com is a world renowned inexpensive professional freelance book authors, ghost writers, copy editors, proof readers, coauthors, manuscript rewriters, graphics and CAD, publishing helpers, and website developers international service corporation.