Do you consider yourself a booklover? Are you passionate about reading and words, and would love to spend all day working with books? If so, you’re going to enjoy this interview with Maria Chance.
Maria, who is also a graduate of our program, High-Level Proofreading Pro, runs a successful editorial business at home proofreading and editing fiction. In this interview, she shares how she started and how she feels “happier and freer” than she ever has before. Keep reading to see how she’s built a fulfilling life around her love of books.
Hi Maria! Can you share a bit about yourself?
There’s a running joke in my family that we always knew I was going to be a bookworm since before I could even read. Like most parents, my mom would read me bedtime stories. However, instead of putting me to sleep, she was the one who, after a long exhausting day, would end up dozing off halfway through the story. I would then have to shake her awake to finish it.
I grew up in a single-parent household. With my mom raising two daughters on her own, we didn’t have the money or the resources to send me off to college or university. So, when I finished high school, instead of packing my bags on that scholarly adventure most young adults take, I got a job at a local company and stuck around to help my mom provide for my younger sister.
In the meantime, however, my love for writing and reading never died. I read everything I could get my hands on from old classics like Jane Eyre and 1984 to more modern stuff like The Hunger Games, never limiting myself where genres were concerned. On my own, I studied style and technique, analyzing every line to better understand what made a story great, so that I could one day try and replicate that in my own writing.
What made you decide to get into proofreading and editing?
After working for many years at that dead-end job, I was looking for something else to do with my life. I was very unhappy at that job where those who worked hard never got rewarded but rather punished with more work.
It was mind-numbing, especially for someone creative like me, having to move through the motions day after day, feeling like I was working extremely hard but getting barely anything in return. With no degree, my options were very limited, and I felt stuck for a long time.
The one skill I knew I could swear on was writing. I had been toying with the idea of freelance copywriting and had been in the middle of researching this when I came across an ad for Edit Republic (Art of Proofreading at the time).
In that moment, it clicked. All those years of annoyingly correcting my friends’ and family’s grammar flashed through my mind – friends and family had been sending me their university papers and even theses all those years to correct. I then realized that this was something I could do and be really good at it too.
It made even more sense for me to offer editing as a service rather than copywriting, since my passion for writing comes from writing and reading fiction. I felt so much more enthusiastic about reading others’ work and helping them polish it than I felt about having to write content for other people. It helped that the course was advertised as something you could do even without a degree – that part spoke to me personally.
Can you tell us about your editorial business?
It was while reviewing books for my first editing gig with Paperback Paris that I realized I was good at analyzing writing, structure and plot, and it got me curious about other forms of editing. That’s when I learned about developmental editing, beta reading and line editing.
I recently launched my website, The Intuitive Desk, where I offer developmental editing, line editing, copyediting, proofreading, manuscript critiques and blurb writing.
I work with fiction novels because that’s what I’ve always loved to read and write, and it’s what I understand most. However, I’ve helped some people with the structure of their memoirs, as well – one of them recently messaged to thank me because they’ve just recently published! So, I’d like to expand into nonfiction as well, but at the moment I’m enjoying working with fiction. Growing up, and even now that times are crazy, books have always been an escape, fiction more so for me.
Want to work from home and take the first step towards an editorial career?
Note from Phon: If you want to learn how to start an editorial career like Maria, sign up for my FREE masterclass that shows you my 4-step framework that includes editorial skills, marketing and publishing training.
What do you like best about running an editorial business?
Books are my passion. All those years working that mind-numbing, low-paying, soul-crushing job, I knew I loved books, but I never thought that I could do something more than read and write them. It never occurred to me that I could make a career out of helping writers publish their stories.
I love being able to help authors figure out how to improve their writing and polish their vision, whether that be by advising on the story itself or simply by going in and cleaning up the language. I love that I’m working in an area of life linked to my passion.
How has your editorial business impacted your life?
The ability to create my own hours — to wake up and enjoy my morning tea before starting work rather than gulping it down to get to a job that I hate on time – has given me a whole new outlook on life. I feel happier and freer overall.
If I have errands, I can run them and then continue working late into the evening, if I so wish. I no longer feel like I’m watching my life pass me by while I make someone else money. The pressing feeling that I’m wasting my life away is gone. The freedom that comes with running your own business is priceless.
My husband and I also recently adopted a puppy. I finally get to have a dog because I’m home enough to spend time with her. I can tend to her needs and give her the attention she needs, rather than sit in an office worried about her being alone or destroying my house.
What advice do you have for people who are considering getting into proofreading, copyediting and editing?
You have to have a passion for words. If you love to read and you love to write, whether that be novels, medical essays or recipes, if you don’t have a passion for the art that is writing and reading, you’re quickly going to burn out, and you’ll be as miserable as I was at my 9-5 job. Editing and proofreading can be very easy to do, but so was my previous job. I got to the point I could do it with my eyes closed, but it just didn’t light me up.
With editing, copyediting and proofreading, even in the most complex of manuscripts, I feel like every mistake fixed, every plot hole found, is a win. After hours and hours of reading, sometimes having to reread several times to figure out some frustrating sentence that doesn’t make sense, of changing “there” to “their” countless times, I still want to get up the next day and do it again.
Editing and proofreading will have its problems, just as with any other jobs, but these are problems that I choose to have over and over again, and that’s the difference between a job you love and a job you hate.
How did our course, High-Level Proofreading Pro, prepare you for working as a freelance proofreader and copy editor/editor?
High-Level Proofreading Pro, did more than just teach me copyediting and proofreading skills, it did something that I don’t think many courses out there do for their students. HLPP had a focus on impostor syndrome and how to handle it.
Though I’d already learned so much in the technical aspects of the course, I really appreciated that this was included. It’s really one thing to learn a skill, but it’s something else entirely to go out into the world and start to apply it. HLPP gave me confidence, it reminded me that no service offered is ever going to be perfect, but that we do need to trust in ourselves, our skills and our willingness to get the job done as accurately as possible.
Can you give us a peek at what your typical day is like?
I usually wake up around 8am, but I laze around in bed until around 9. That’s when I get up, take the dog out for a walk, come back in and begin to prepare breakfast.
My morning tea is a very important part of my day, and I feel lost without it. It’s my meditative practice of sorts. I love to sit and savor for long moments. Once my tea’s finished, it’s officially time to start the day.
Before I go to sleep, I write down everything I need to do the next day. So I go through that notebook before I begin, find what I need to work on first and get to it. I sit down and work on that for about an hour or two. Around 1pm, I’ll take the dog out again, then head to the gym for at least 45 minutes.
When I come back, it’s time for lunch. I often work through lunch, not because I have to but because I can, if I want to – this might not sound like a big deal, but just having the freedom to say “I can do it IF I want to” can be so liberating. Lunch is usually a small meal for me, so it’s easy to squeeze some work in while I eat.
I’ll then work on and off, with intermittent breaks (phone breaks, puppy-playing breaks, YouTube breaks) until about 6pm, when my husband and I start dinner.
After dinner, my husband, the dog and I go for a 30-minute walk. When we return, if work is light, we might watch some TV shows together or play with the puppy. If I’m working on a manuscript that requires more attention than others, I might use this time to work on that. Otherwise, I also like to use this time to work on my own personal projects like my novel or maybe just read a book. Sometimes, if it’s been a stressful day, I’ll just watch art videos on YouTube as my own personal brand of self-care.
Bedtime comes anytime between 10:30pm and 12am.
Once a week we go visit family, and on weekends, I make time to paint – a newly found passion of mine.
About Maria Chance
Maria Chance turned her passion for reading and writing into an editorial business called The Intuitive Desk where she offers everything from developmental editing to proofreading. Maria understands that each creation comes from a unique mind and works to protect writers’ voices and enhance their vision. Her favorite pastime is reading, but when she needs a break, she’ll brandish a brush and palette and pretend to be today’s Bob Ross. She’s enthusiastically curious about metaphysics and the cosmos and finds her life completely empty without a dog or cat at her side. She hopes to someday soon be a published author. You can find her services at The Intuitive Desk and follow her on Instagram. If you like books, visit her book blog Knocking Books and follow her bookstagram here.