If reading is your one great love in life, why not turn it into something that can make you a living? One of the best things about the book business is that thanks to the Internet, it adapts well to copyeditors, layout designers, and even editors telecommuting from home. So settle in, my excellent bookworms! I’ve got some great ideas that’ll let you read your books and make an income, too.
Major and minor publishers – not to mention websites, magazines, corporations, etc. – often outsource their copyediting jobs. If you’d like to copyedit for a publishing house, they will most likely require a professional Copyediting Certificate, which you can get by completing a copyediting course. These courses are often offered by universities, and many can be completed online. If you are unable to get a certificate right now, don’t worry! You can still land a position copyediting for someone else – like those websites or corporations I mentioned above. Simply demonstrate your superior grammar and spelling skills, and apply! Also, get yourself a copy of The Copyeditor’s Handbook: A Guide for Book Publishing and Corporate Communications by Amy Einsohn. (Make sure you pick up the latest edition.)
With a little bit of luck, you can score a proper editing or proofreading position! These opportunities are not that common, but you’ll periodically find websites or online publications looking for assistant editors and even managing editors. Some of the smaller publishing houses out there may also work with remote editors. Bookjobs.com is one great place to keep an eye out for openings in the publishing industry; you can also keep a tab on Indeed and make it a habit to regularly check the Careers page on your favorite websites.
You could also develop your own freelance editing business, selling your services to authors seeking a professional polish and evaluation of their manuscript. This will take some time and legwork on your part – you’ll need to build your business from the ground up: decide your rates, design your website, and gather customer testimonials. Then you’ll need to land clients! You may want to look for editing jobs via other services while you work on your own base of operations. You can find freelance editing jobs on various low-paying job boards (such as UpWork) or via better-paying Virtual Assistant companies (like Time Etc). This work-while-you-build strategy serves two purposes: first, it’s bringing some money in and, secondly, it lets you collect testimonials on your performance. Be careful when employing this tactic, however – make sure you don’t poach customers from another service or violate the terms of your agreement with any virtual assistant platform.
Layout & Design
If you appreciate a beautiful book, why not design them yourself? You can learn how to do book layout and design for free with sites like The Book Designer, and there are many great programs out there like Adobe InDesign, QuarkXPress, Microsoft Publisher, and more to help you with the actual layout. Then just hang out your shingle! You can create a website to advertise your layout and design services, network with authors and publishers on social media, and look for jobs on offer in all the usual places. Again, some smaller publishing houses may even hire freelance book designers, giving you the opportunity to establish a lucrative business relationship. Or you can actively seek out self-publishing authors getting their books ready for POD and ebook stores. (The latter will likely be your primary clientele.)
This position builds off of the layout and design skills mentioned in the previous section. Frankly, being fast and accurate at e-book conversion, turning out a beautiful end product, can be a great way to make some cash in today’s book market with self-publishing on the rise! For conversion, you won’t necessarily be worried about the layout – instead, you’ll take the book file and mainly worry about its format. Ideally, you would offer your customers a variety of end file types – like MOBI (for the Amazon Kindle), EPUB (basically everything else), and even PDF.
Conversion is an important but tedious part of the modern book industry. While much of ebook conversion is automated – you’re just feeding the file through a program like calibre (free!) – you’ll still spend a good amount of time preparing the file for conversion, then testing the file on various devices to make sure it’s formatted correctly and nothing was broken. You may also need to do a little coding (in HTML or CSS) to achieve effects like a linked table of contents or specific styles for fonts and dingbats.
If you can master ebook conversion, you can turn it into a pretty penny! There are plenty of authors out there who are good at getting words on the page, but not so great at making them look good on a Kindle or other e-reader. Get good at it and do it for them! And as a bonus, you get paid to read more books.
Become a Publisher
This is pretty much the ultimate in “get paid to read books.”
Let’s say you’ve been building all those skills I outlined above. You’ve maximized your opportunities in the book business: you’re a good copyeditor and overall editor. You know how to make a book look beautiful on the page and on the screen. You can recognize good writing. So why not start publishing books yourself? Go into business for yourself and create your own publishing house!
If you’re a writer, you could start with self-publishing your own work. Once you’re established as someone who can turn out a beautifully designed and cleanly edited product, you could start looking for other authors to publish. You’d need some start-up capital to land your first author, but then you’ll have all the skills and a golden opportunity to create a book that you believe in. And make both you and your author some money, of course!
Marketing & PR
One of the key tools in anyone’s arsenal is knowing how to market yourself, your skills, and your products. Not only is this crucial to making your own business work – like your freelance editing business, or your own publishing business – but you can also turn marketing into its own business! With so many self-published authors new to the field every month, and traditionally published authors who are struggling to manage their own PR and book promotion, there are tons of opportunities to step in and help them out. You can become their freelance marketing and PR pro, who lines up blog tours, lands them interviews, and really gets the word about their books out.
Where Can I Find These Jobs for Book Lovers?
- Kirkus hires for several of the positions mentioned above.
- Freelance Writer's Den offers a job board specifically for writers and editors
- Publishers Weekly offers several freelance publishing positions
If you aren't necessarily looking to pay the bills with your book reading, you may be able to pocket some extra cash or at least get a free book in exchange for an online review.
- Online Book Club – pays cash
- Kirkus – cash, also hires for many of the other positions mentioned above
- Any Subject – pays cash, not contracting at this time
- Book Look Bloggers – free books
- The US Review – pays cash
- Bethany House – free books
- Chicago Book Review – free books
- Civitas – free books
- Moody Publishers – free books
Are my book-loving readers excited yet? I’m excited for all of you! There are so many opportunities for you to turn your love of reading into a livelihood, and now you know how to look for them. I’d love to hear from you about any and all jobs you land and businesses you begin from here!