Editing and Marketing (and a cool blog)

April 12, 2010 | Written by admin

We have been getting publishing questions at a fast pace, so let me tackle two of them today… Jason wrote to say, "I'm graduating from college soon, and looking for a job. What advice do you have for a journalism major who is interested in a career as a freelance editor? Do I need to work on my master's degree?"

It's a tough time for anyone graduating from college, Jason. Jobs are scarce everywhere, and particularly so in this tough publishing economy. But our world runs on words, and that means there is a huge need for editors. So if you're thinking of going the freelance route, some thoughts… First, pick up a copy of something like THE DUMMIES GUIDE TO COPYEDITING AND PROOFREADING, because it moves things from an academic to a real-world view. Second, talk with local publishers (magazines and newspapers, not just books) and see if you can do some freelancing for them. I might suggest you go over to a local publisher and say, "I've got some experience editing, and I'd like to copyedit something for you. I'll tell you what — if you'll give me a project to copyedit, I'll do it for free, just to show you I can do it and get it on my resume." With a book publisher, maybe offer to do some page proofs or blue line checks (if you know how to do those — running heads and page numbers and all). 

Third, you're going to need to set up a business — "Jason's Editing" or something like that. You'll need business cards and a bank account with that name (just go to any good local bank — they'll help you out). Most of the publishers have to prove to the government they aren't using freelancers as no-benefit-full-time employees, so they have to have evidence you're working for others. Business cards and a website can help with that. Fourth, write to publishing houses and ask to take their copyediting test. Many have a test they send out, in order to find new copyeditors. Fifth, go to the marketing companies in town (or directly to the larger businesses and organizations), and offer to copyedit their websites. Every business and organization has a site, and most need both content creation and content editing. Make some similar sort of "I'll do some work for free" offer, just to get in the door. Websites are notorious for being poorly edited, having been written by marketing majors (who often struggle with basic tasks such as "can you find your butt with both hands?"). 

If you really want a graduate degree, check out the degrees in editing at places like Emerson University. (There are others, but the notion of a degree in editing is relatively new.) There's nothing wrong with a great MFA program in writing, of course, but I'd do that if I wanted to move forward as a writer. And I'd do a Master's in English if I wanted a job teaching high school English classes. Does that help?

Dineen wrote to ask, "Where can a Christian non-fiction writer get practical marketing help?" 

Okay, first, I won't use this as a place to promote my own marketing seminar. (I've done that before, and you're probably sick of hearing about it.) There are a number of places to turn. First, consider investing in some good marketing books. Or maybe take a basic marketing class at a local college. Consider going to a conference this summer and signing up for all the marketing workshops they offer. If you write non-fiction for a Christian women's audience, I just found out about one thing I think has promise — Rob Eager's WildFire Marketing has a resource to help you market books to key church leaders. They've compiled an updated, verified database of the "Top 500 Women's Ministry Leaders in America." That could help you get access to the actual individuals who make important decisions about women's ministry book purchases, group curriculum usage, and speaking engagements. At least 70% of all Christian books are purchased by women, and the WildFire database helps you tap into the biggest influencers over these book selections, so it could have some real value. (Imagine a bunch of "mini-Oprahs" all across the country recommending your book to the women they know.)

I asked Rob Eager about this, and he says they spent months of research to uncover the 500 largest and most active women’s ministries across the United States. He wrote to me that their listing "is the most accurate and complete resource of its kind." (His words, not mine.) The database gives you the leader’s name, church mailing address, phone number, overall attendance size, and denominational affiliation. The data is provided as a sortable Excel spreadsheet and a Word document with ready-to-print mailing labels. To view pricing information, author testimonials, and a free sample of the Top 500 database, call Rob Eagar at 1-800-267-2045 or visit: www.startawildfire.com/ministrydatabase.html
  (And Rob says if you mention "Chip MacGregor" when placing your order, you'll receive a 10% discount — it just PAYS to know me, I guess.) 

Another resource for this is Randy Ingermanson's website, OR you could just go over the right side of this blog and click on the word "marketing" to find a couple year's worth of blog postings on the topic. So there are a handful of resources for you to consider, Dineen. 

By the way, if you haven't read Jon Acuff's STUFF CHRISTIANS LIKE, you're missing out on one of the best books I've seen in a long time. VERY funny stuff, along with with some VERY insightful and thought-provoking material. Just released from Zondervan — you should pick up a copy. And if you're already a fan, you should see the article the author just created for the folks at Catalyst — really strong stuff here: 


I'm off to the Calvin Festival of Faith and Writing, first stopping to spend the day with the students in Dennis Hensley's fine writing program at Taylor University. If you're close by, please come introduce yourself to me. (I'm the guy who looks EXACTLY like Brad Pitt, only without the ugly long gray beard thing.) 

Posted in Career, Marketing and Platforms, Questions from Beginners

  • http://www.godsabsolutelove.com patriciazell

    Chip, another informative post–thanks! I want to add something to your advice to Jason about being a high school English teacher (I am one). Most states won’t let an individual into the classroom without a good amount of education coursework. If Jason doesn’t have any, he would be wise to get his Master’s in education. Also, he should be aware that many states require two Praxis II exams for high school teachers–one in the content area and one in teaching and learning principles. On the plus side, a high school English teacher has ample opportunity to edit.

  • http://storiesfor.us Amelia

    I read Jason Acuff’s blog the other day and couldn’t stop laughing. Thanks for linking to his article. It was very insightful. I’ll stop by and say hi this weekend.

  • http://godtoldmetosaythat.blogspot.com/ AimeeLS

    Hmmm…Brad Pitt with a scraggly gray beard and sporran.
    I knew there was a reason I read this blog!

  • http://sharonalavy.blogspot.com/ Sharon A Lavy

    Great post Chip. Love your humor in the closing line.

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