How I Left My Cubicle To Proofread Romance Novels From Home

I proofread and copyedit romance novels from home, and yes, sometimes I eat chocolate or chips while I do it! I’ve been doing this for over 20 years now, and have worked on over 2000 romance books and haven’t once gotten tired of them. The material is fun, sexy, exciting, heartfelt, and full of strong women. I’ve learned so much sometimes I joke I’ll just write a story of my own. 

Cubicle Life Wasn’t For Me

Shortly after graduating from publishing school, I got a job as an in-house proofreader for a global publisher where I worked on fiction novels, mostly romance. It was what you’d imagine a romance publishing house to be like: pink cubicles, a steady flow of sugary treats, and Valentine’s Day was the biggest day of the year. I loved working there, but after a while I started to feel stagnant. I wanted more freedom, and to me that meant setting my own schedule, choosing where I worked, and being able to pursue other goals and interests.

My unhappiness grew and grew, and it started to impact my attitude at work. I so badly wanted out of the cubicle that I started to write my ideal day on Post-it notes. You know, the life that I really wanted to live. Whenever I was down I cheered myself up by writing what I could’ve been doing instead. I wrote down simple things like what I’d do from the moment I woke up (no alarm going off, taking my dog for a long walk) to the end of the day (work on my own writing, watch a movie).

In hindsight, I realize that back then I was doing a form of visualization. By writing those Post-it notes, I was actually putting into motion the next course of my life. I remember one day reading my Post-it life and thinking I can’t spend the rest of my days planning and yearning for a life that never happens. I had become like some of the women in the stories I read, who dreamed of a way out. So I decided to be the hero of my own story.

How I Started Proofreading Romance Novels From Home

I went online and started to pick up freelance proofreading and editing jobs that were flexible. I did these side hustles in the evenings after work and on the weekends. I needed to see what was available for me out there before I quit my job. I had a mortgage to pay, and my husband was starting a new business, so it was important we had a steady stream of income.

I also wanted to see where my skills would take me in the remote-working world. I applied to everything that utilized my skills, even if just a portion of them, and I looked outside of the publishing industry. There weren’t as many telecommuting jobs back then as there are now, so my choices were limited and competition was fierce.

I worked my full-time office job and juggled side hustles for about a year until I felt confident that I could make a successful go of freelancing. I had just secured a freelance managing editor position for a lifestyle website, and I was picking up more writing jobs.

My decision was also bolstered by a former coworker who had left the company to work from home, and she raved about how wonderful it was. After discussing everything with my husband who was fully supportive, I knew it was time to break free. I had goals I wanted to accomplish: helping my husband with his business, growing my writing career, and starting a new business.

I had a great relationship with my boss, who I suspect knew I was unhappy. I was a valued employee and had been trusted with training new proofreaders, and I was hoping that I’d be offered freelance work.

When I told my boss I was leaving she was sad to see me go, but was very understanding. And like I had hoped, I was offered freelance proofreading work. I can honestly say that one of my biggest fears was not having romance books in my life. You can’t imagine how much I grew to love them — and it was a relief to not only get the extra source of income, but to also have that constant in my life.


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My Happy Ending

I’m now a freelance proofreader and editor who works on all kinds of content for various clients. One of my consistent streams of income is proofreading and copyediting romance novels. I’m grateful that every day I get to read love stories; I really get drawn into the stories and characters, and have even shed some tears.

I’ve worked in every romance subgenre imaginable such as Western, thriller, supernatural, Christian, fantasy, historical, and LGBTQ to name a few. And, yes, many of my days are happily spent reading stories featuring sheikhs, firemen, Navy SEALS, and billionaires.

My ideal day has always been about being flexible, which was why I so badly wanted to freelance. I’ve been able to accommodate my job around my life. I can travel when I want (all I need to work is my laptop), act as tour guide for visiting friends and family, go to appointments, run errands, volunteer, and drop off and pick my son up from school.

I don’t have a set routine; every day is different. While my son’s at school I’ll manage my tasks for my training program I developed, High-Level Proofreading And Copyediting Pro. That’s the course I created to teach people how to work at an expert level, like me. I’ll also do a few hours of proofreading every day.

Usually I stay home and work in my sweats, but I’ll also work at my local library or coffee shops to change things up. Occasionally I’ll treat myself and watch a movie, nap, or bake instead of work. When my son was younger and at home, I was able to focus on him all day, and then work when he was asleep. While it’s important to me to work hard, I also value having the flexibility to enjoy my life.

Do You Want To Proofread Romance Novels, Too?

Many people think you need a degree or certificate to work as a proofreader, but the truth is you don’t. You do need to have an eye for detail because proofreading is the last step of the publishing process, and you have to be able to work on your own, and enjoy reading.

Romance fiction is a billion-dollar industry, and one of Amazon’s best-selling genres. If you’re interested in proofreading and copyediting romance novels from home, I recommend you learn how to proofread and copyedit properly.

Why should you also learn copyediting? Working on books is more than just fixing spelling and commas, and requires some knowledge of copyediting skills.

What I’ve Learned

I’ve learned how important it is to set goals and to have an image of your future life and self. How do you want to live? How do you see yourself changing? I inadvertently learned this in my little cubicle when I was writing my ideal days down on Post-its. Little did I know that I was showing my subconscious, which influences your actions and feelings, what I truly desired.

The subconscious doesn’t know the difference between what’s real and what’s imagined, so I’ve started a habit of writing down what I want to achieve. It’s a trick that’s helped me overcome obstacles and go for what I want. I highly recommend you try it, too. Seeing what you really want, on paper, is very powerful and motivating.

I also discovered that I had the potential to do more with my skills. By being self-employed, I pushed myself to explore other opportunities that I wouldn’t have before. I wasn’t limited by my job title, which tends to happen when you work for a company. I approached my job search creatively and found positions that weren’t in my field, but required some of the skills I had. As a result, I’ve ventured into new industries and now do higher-level editing.

I’ve also learned the power of a network, and how reaching out opens up new opportunities. If you’re serious about working remotely, let your network know you’re available for freelance work. I recently reached out to my network to update them on my proofreading and copyediting course, what I’ve been up to, and to remind them that I’m still a freelance editor who welcomes new opportunities.

People are always willing to help. Networking is a different way to approach a job search than clicking “Apply” on a website and submitting your resume. Also, maintain good professional relationships (even if you’re unhappy) and never, ever burn your bridges. You never know when you’ll have to use them.

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