Free edits for experience?

I’m often asked, “For beginning editors, do you recommend doing some edits for free to get a start?”

To answer, I want to distinguish between a beginning editor who has no idea what they’re doing and needs to learn and a beginning editor who knows what they’re doing but doesn’t have a lot in the way of credentials.

If you’re interested in becoming a developmental editor but you’ve never taken a class or done a beta read or a critique, then you don’t know what you’re doing and shouldn’t be taking on clients until you do know what you’re doing. Developmental editing is not an entry-level position.

If you’ve taken some classes and done some beta reading and critiquing and have gotten feedback that suggests you can offer thoughtful guidance to authors, then I would not give your work away for free. I would encourage these types of beginning editors to think in terms of trade, even if what they’re trading isn’t editing for money. It could be trading editing for website development or anything like that. The idea is to train yourself to see your skills as valuable and not something to just give away.

I’m typically not a fan of Fiver or Upwork or other job-bidding sites, but they can be a place to get started and to get some solid testimonials to start building a better-paying clientele. The problem is people stay too long with sites like this. Do a couple of projects and move on.

Join the Club!

how to become an editor

New to story editing? Begin at the beginning.

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