Ah man, I love my job. Really, the whole thing just kind of fell into my lap—it was kind of tragic, how I started my business—but it was the best thing that could have happened to me.
It was 2012. I was two months away from graduating Boise State University with a degree in English and writing. My original plan was to go into some writing field, probably for the newspaper, although I knew it was a dying industry. But in a creative writing course, our task for that entire semester was to critique and edit others' work. Each week, one student in the class was assigned to bring in a short story, and the rest of the class would edit it and provide suggestions for improvement. I was hooked. The entire focus of the semester was to have the opportunity to be a part of a writing community and improve your work, but I had found my passion: editing others' work.
I was working at a local car dealership, writing descriptions for the vehicles that would appear on the dealership's website. I loved the structure of the office setting (sitting at my desk had me feeling so professional), but unfortunately it didn't last long: After being there only 6 months, the dealership was making cuts and I was laid off.
I went home, distraught. This was my first job in the writing industry, in my career, and I was officially unemployed. My then-boyfriend (now-husband) handed me a book, Freelancing for Dummies, and told me to just read it. I was sitting on the couch, unemployed. I had nothing better to do. I opened the book and started reading.
Two days later, on a Sunday in late September, I started my business. It was the start of a long journey. So many late nights, early mornings, and a ton of hours invested in my business.
That was seven years ago, and I can confidently say that being a freelance book editor is the best career path. (Okay, I'm biased, but still.) To celebrate seven years in the business, I'm sharing seven of the best things about being a book editor.
1. I love when people ask me what I do for a living. My husband is a wholesaler, so when he tells them about his job I can see their eyes start to slowly glaze over. (LOL, and I can't blame them.) Then, people turn to me, and when I say "I'm a book editor," the majority of people just light up. "Oh, really?" they say. "How does that work, exactly?" And then I get to bask in their interest—people who really like to read are more interested than others—while I tell them about the process. ("How do authors find you?" and "Do you work for a publishing house?" are the most common questions.)
2. I get to set my own hours. I'm big on schedule, so I usually follow a normal timeframe (at work by 9:00, lunch at 12:00, off by 6:00), but if I had a late night before and need to sleep in, not a problem. If I'm just not feeling like working on a Monday, not a problem. If I want to take a few hours off to catch a matinee, not a problem. And working in PJs? You betcha.
3. Hello, introversion! I'm a major introvert, and I seem to be getting worse as I get older, so being a book editor (work from home!) is absolutely perfect for me. Interacting with clients on Facebook, via email, and the occasional coffee date is A-OK.
4. I get to read for a living. I mean, come on. What better job is there than that? Sure, there are some books that come across my editing desk that I just don't dig as much as I'd like, but the majority of the books I read are so good. So. Good.
5. I'm making a difference. Yes, I just said that the books that cross my editing desk are normally "so good," but when it comes to grammar, sentence structure, or simply making the story just a little bit better with feedback, I'm all over it. Being able to hold a published paperback after spending weeks wading through edits is such a reward.
6. I get to help authors shape their writing style. There are so many gray areas in writing. Should you italicize or quote? Em dash or comma? There's no one right or wrong answer, and that's a BIG part of what makes my job so fun.
7. I make real connections with authors. So many times, brand-new authors come to me with absolutely no knowledge of the publishing industry. To me, it's so fun to educate first-time authors on the nuances of publishing, whether they're pursuing self-publishing or traditional publishing, and I love the look in authors' eyes when they know they have someone in their corner. In fact, a lot of authors I work with end up being friends. And that, folks, is the best thing of all.
Rest assured, I'm living my best life as a book editor. Here's to the past 7 years, and many, many more!
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Book editor Kristen Hamilton is the owner and sole employee of
Kristen Corrects, Inc., where she provides manuscript editing
services for traditionally and self-publishing authors. Several
authors whose books she has edited have won awards and have
topped Amazon's best sellers lists.
Reading is Kristen's passion, so when the workday is over, she
can usually be found curled up with a good book alongside her
four cats. She loves watching cat videos and scary movies,
eating pizza, teaching herself French, and traveling, and she is
likely planning her next vacation. She lives outside of Boise, ID.