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And Now for the Next Chapter – Fiction Editing

With my six-month employment as a magazine editor finally over, I was delighted to be back in the freelance fold. I felt invigorated after conference, pumped with ideas and ready to inject new life into my editorial business.

I’ve been working as a freelancer since 2009. Much of my work has consisted of editing newspapers and magazines – with travel features, web design, content editing and writing press releases forming part of the diverse mix.

I love editing; I liken it to decluttering – which I also love. I would get top marks from Marie Kondo if she ever stopped by to inspect my wardrobe; plus, I fold my socks and knickers and store them in shoeboxes. The whole process sparks joy.

My least favourite work is website design – and by design, I mean registering a domain name with a web host, choosing a WordPress theme, writing content and uploading a few images. I’ve built five personal websites over the years – but building a site for paying clients is a different matter entirely. I have done it, with good results, but I always undercharge as it’s not my main skill; therefore, it takes me longer than a full-time web designer. Spending more time on a job for which I’m being paid less makes no sense. I have decided to turn down all such jobs in the future.

Training is key to developing our businesses

I’ve always fancied fiction editing, and with the rise of self-publishing over the past few years, it seems like a good service to offer. So, enrolling on a fiction editing course went to the top of my post-conference list. For the past two years, I’ve been avidly following Louise Harnby and using the tools and ebooks she so generously gives away. Louise (another Norfolk copy-editor!) specialises in working with indie authors, especially crime writers, and her website is bulging with help for editors at all stages of their freelance careers. 

It is so important for freelance editors to keep their training topped up and to do it through accredited bodies such as the Publishing Training Centre and, of course, the Chartered Institute of Proofreading and Editing (CIEP), fornerly the Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP) I completed Proofreading 3, the most advanced proofreading course offered by SfEP, back in March. So, to expand my skills, I signed up for Editing Fiction with the Publishing Training Centre.

The course guides you through some essentials of fiction editing such as:

  • Using timelines and other plot grids
  • Recording relationships
  • Marking up dialogue
  • Using a style sheet
  • Framing author queries

It’s a good starting point, and inexpensive, which is a big consideration for me right now – that is until the money starts rolling in (insert crying with laughter emoji here). And, if you’re already an experienced copy-editor, it adds a useful string to your bow. I have done some fiction editing: a 100,000-word novel; creative writing coursework; and some short stories, and now I’m ready to take things further.

I completed the course fairly quickly – I have a bit of time on my hands right now – and I’ll be referring back to the course notes time and again.

I still feel I need a more detailed course, so I’ve checked out the CIEP’s Introduction to Fiction Editing and I think that’s the way to go. It costs more, but this course is clearly what I need to give myself –and my clients – more confidence in my abilities as a fiction editor.

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