Did you know that romance is one of my niches as a proofreader and editor, and that I’ve worked on over 1800 romance books? That’s a lot of love stories! I’ve never gotten tired of them, though, and I don’t think I ever will. I find them entertaining, and with all the subgenres within the category of romance, the stories can be so varied and compelling.
Christine Wheary has many reasons for why she started a side hustle proofreading and copyediting romance books. She’s a full-time medical professional, yet she wanted to work on projects that brought her personal fulfillment. Keep reading to learn why she prefers romance novels over other content, and her interesting story of how she discovered proofreading. There’s also an opportunity for you to learn how to start proofreading romance books as a side hustle!
Can you give us a little background info on yourself? What do you do for your day job?
I still work my “day job” as a laboratory science educator. My educational background is a BA in biology, a master’s degree in Health Administration, and I’m a certified Medical Technologist – in simple terms, I perform medical laboratory testing on blood and body fluid samples.
I don’t do a lot of “bench testing” nowadays, as I am the Director of a successful Clinical Laboratory Science Program. I oversee our program, and I am the sole didactic instructor for our students. I love teaching, and I’m passionate about medical laboratory science! Right now, I’m happy to keep my day job and work in the evenings doing my “side hustle” – proofreading and light copyediting.
I love listening to podcasts, especially on my commute to/from work. I was listening to a podcast about 2 years ago and heard an interview with Chris Guillebeau, who also has a podcast called “Side Hustle School”. I started listening to SHS and heard a story there about a young man from Britain, living in Germany, who became a freelance writer. I signed up for free lessons on how to become a freelance writer – people had always told me I was a good writer, and I liked the idea of working from anywhere.
I became very active in this writer’s Facebook group, and after a few months, he referred me to Chris (Guillebeau) and Chris’s content manager. I completed a paid writing trial and was hired! It was exciting to hear my stories read on SHS (the podcast scripts are written for Chris by ghostwriters, who interview entrepreneurs via email and write their stories).
The podcast is international and has many listeners. I also continued to listen to the SHS podcast; I was still a fan of the show! I heard Phon’s story there about working as a freelance proofreader and copy editor – what really stood out to me was that she worked in the romance genre. This was particularly appealing to me.
I have been a lifelong avid romance novel reader, and it seemed like heaven to me to get paid to read romance novels and help romance writers! I didn’t act on pursuing this side hustle right away. I wrote for the SHS team for a year.
Then I heard another story about another young woman who was a freelance romance novel editor. I had been trying to make a go of freelance writing for a year with minimal success, but it became a chore for me. I began to consider pivoting to freelance proofreading, specifically in the romance genre because I love that genre so much. Then I remembered Phon’s story and looked into her training.
What made you decide to take the leap and get into proofreading and copyediting?
I really wasn’t enjoying freelance writing anymore, but I wanted to build a business doing something I was good at, preferably something I really enjoyed doing, that I could do from anywhere.
My husband and I have an RV and we spend almost all our weekend months camping in the Keuka Lake (NY) region. Also, my husband wants to retire in 5 years, and I’d like to work my traditional job in a part-time capacity when he does retire. I’d like to build up my freelance proofreading business so I can supplement our income more substantially by then, and work from anywhere. We love to travel, and we have two young adult children who won’t be living close by forever, so I’d like more freedom to visit them when we want.
It was scary reaching out to romance authors about proofreading for them – I still get Imposter Syndrome. But I have to say, the romance writer community is super supportive and overall wonderful clients to work with. And I really, really love reading romance while helping writers improve their product. For me, it’s a win-win for sure!
How do you manage your side hustle with everything else going on in your life?
Ha, ha – it can be a challenge some days. I’m a very organized person, so I think that really helps. I also believe in breaking tasks down into more manageable chunks. This helps me get jobs done and helps me not get overwhelmed.
When I start a project, or even when bidding on a project, I look at how long I have each day to work in the evening, keeping in mind my other commitments. For example, if I know it takes me an hour to proofread 3,000 words and I have a 12,000 word job to complete, it’s going to take me 4 days to complete if I can devote an hour each of those 4 days. So I really plan out my days each week.
What kind of books do you work on? Specific genres?
I prefer romance, all subgenres, and I’ve worked on full-length novels and novellas.
Can you give us a peek at your typical day?
A typical weekday for me is waking at 4:30 am to take care of my corgi, Lola, and do some stretching – I have arthritis and spondylolisthesis, so daily stretching is essential to my mobility and comfort. I leave for my day job commute by 6:15 and work there until 3:30-ish.
My husband and I have dinner together, usually by 6 pm, and I do any necessary light chores (dishes, etc.). If the weather is decent, I walk Lola and then usually try to sit down at my computer for anywhere from one to three hours, depending on other activities or commitments.
I work on client projects during that time, but I also will work on marketing my business. I’m active on Instagram – that’s where I connected with my first two recurring romance author clients. This year my goal is to build my engagement on LinkedIn.
Are you interested in proofreading and copyediting romance books like Christine, too? Check out my FREE training webinar that’ll give you advice and tips on how to start.
What do you like best about being a proofreader and copy editor?
It feels really good to know that I’ve helped a writer make their already great work really shine.
Why do you think romance books are so popular and what is it about them that made you want to work on them?
Speaking for myself, I love reading romance because it relaxes me. When I read, I want a happily-ever-after at the end of the story. My motto is that life needs more happy endings. Life is tough sometimes. I’ve lived through my dad’s suicide, losing my mom to lung cancer, and I personally struggled with having multiple miscarriages. So I don’t want to read about difficult, uber-dramatic plot lines – I’ve lived through some tough stuff!
I want to be entertained with a happy story. 🙂 I love working in the romance genre because it is so beloved to me, and I absolutely love knowing that I’ve helped writers in their process.
I truly enjoy the genre and being able to help talented romance writers produce their best work is really gratifying.
What advice do you have for people who are considering proofreading and copyediting?
I recommend starting with Phon’s website. There is great, free information there that will give you an idea if this might be the kind of work you’d enjoy, and if you would be good at it.
Would you recommend High-Level Proofreading Pro to people who would like to start working on romance novels?
Absolutely – the free information is helpful to decide if this is the work for you and in starting out. But High-Level Proofreading Pro has invaluable training and resources in it. I still refer to the resources I received when I purchased the course. The lifelong access is a huge bonus.
My name is Chris Wheary, and I am a freelance proofreader and copy editor. I love working with talented authors and helping them create their best work possible. I especially enjoy working in the romance genre and I’ve proofread and copyedited novellas and full-length novels in numerous romance subgenres. I’m always open to new opportunities. You can find me on LinkedIn and @cmwheary on Instagram.