So, I’ve recently taken the plunge and gone pro with this whole editing malarkey.
When I say gone pro, I mean I tell people that’s what I do now. As in: that’s my job. As in: that’s how I earn a living. Pay the rent. Feed my addictions. It makes me feel good, telling people that, because I really enjoy the work and what’s better than doing what you enjoy and getting paid for it?
The truth of the matter is, only a man of very modest needs would be able to live off what I’ve earned from editing thus far. In fact, the only paid gig up to now has been a sub-editing job on a young adult/romance novel, written by a long-time friend of mine from the States. (More on that another time, but suffice to say it’s very, very good). Other than that, it’s all been freebies and favours—writers helping writers—while I try to make the last lot of the wages from my job as a primary school teacher stretch as far as possible.
And that’s okay… for the time being. Like I said, I enjoy the work, and even if I’m not being paid for it, I take pride in offering a professional-level service. For example, I’ve just finished working on a short story written by a young author from Dundee. It’s the fourth or fifth piece I’ve read by this author, and although I enjoyed those others and felt that each story had its strengths, this particular piece really grabbed me—a funny, touching scene about an ex-RAF fighter pilot who decides to stand up to the young ruffians (or as he describes them, “mullipuffs”) that have been terrorizing the passengers on the local bus route—and I felt it represented his work at its most complete. After an exchange of emails, in which I offered a few suggestions—including an alternative ending—and a number of line edits, the author came back with a revised version that read much more smoothly. And though he chose not to follow all of the suggestions I’d made, the net result was a piece with which we were both happy, and one that will published shortly. Job, as they say, done.
Of course, the time will come when I have to say “no” to doing it entirely for free. That’s going to be hard, because it’s always hard to refuse another writer help (and in all honesty it’s highly unlikely I’ll ever flat-out reject a fellow writer’s request for assistance). But a man’s got to eat—and besides, a large part of going pro is having the self-belief to say I deserve to be paid for this. I’m good enough, dammit. Not everyone’s going to feel the same, but those that do, those that put their trust in your abilities… well, they shall be rewarded handsomely.