One of the best things about working in editorial is the ability to seamlessly grow your proofreading and editing business by adding new services so you can land new clients and make more money. Someone who has successfully done that is Michele Cooke, a freelance editor and proofreader.
Michele began her career in editorial as a proofreader before creating an editorial business that offered proofreading and copyediting services. She scaled her business with line editing, and as a result, has gained new clients, including book publishers. Michele is a grad of all of our training programs, and I couldn’t be happier for her.
Keep reading to learn how Michele grew her editing business, how she feels about working on her own schedule, and her advice for how you can start and grow your own editorial business.
Hi Michele! Can you tell us about yourself?
An avid reader since childhood, I often carried a book wherever I went. Books allowed me to journey anywhere I desired, to learn about anything of interest, and to have the most intriguing adventures without traveling anywhere. I have always been fascinated by words and would often detect and correct overlooked errors in books and magazines, on signs, in a classmate’s work, and in whatever I read.
I hold bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English Literature as well as certificates in line editing, copy editing, and proofreading. [Note: Michele is a graduate of Edit Republic’s editing programs.]
My career includes working as an English instructor, a legal assistant, and an editor. I enjoy spending time refining the details while helping others to create a polished manuscript, article, blog, essay, or legal document.
How has your editorial business impacted your life?
Deciding to move forward with an editorial business has positively impacted my life for the better. I have gained wisdom, confidence, value, recognition, and the satisfaction of doing exactly what I enjoy doing. It is very rewarding to go to work every day knowing that you are making a difference in someone else’s life while doing what you love. I also enjoy the freedom of working on my own schedule.
What inspired you to get into proofreading and editing? Also, how did you grow your editing business?
When the pandemic occurred, I was teaching and working as a paralegal. At that time, the schools had closed, and I found myself in need of additional work. I discovered an online proofreading course and decided to take a risk and pursue it, as I had always wanted to work as a book editor. After successfully completing the course, I began searching for proofreading opportunities.
I then realized that I could learn more skills, earn more income, and be more helpful to others if I pursued copyediting. At that point, I discovered and enrolled in Edit Republic’s “High-Level Proofreading And Copyediting Pro” course as well as Phon’s copyediting course and was provided an opportunity to work for a publishing company. After having secured that position, I decided to advance my skills with line editing.
Can you tell us about your business and the services you offer?
As the owner of Precision Proof Editorial, I specialize in line editing, copy editing, and proofreading Christian/Inspirational fiction, nonfiction, and children’s books. I also proofread blogs, articles, and academic essays.
Most of my clients are indie authors and writers of children’s books who desire to hire one editor to perform all stages of the editing process, including developmental editing, line editing, copy editing, and proofreading.
What do you like best about running your own editing business?
I enjoy being able to do what I love—helping writers to produce their best work—and the flexible schedule allows me the freedom to spend more time at home with my family.
In addition, it is wonderful to be genuinely valued and appreciated for the work that I do. When clients recommend my expertise to others because they are very pleased with the meticulous care that I take in editing their manuscripts, it is very rewarding to be acknowledged and, occasionally, compensated above and beyond the norm for all my hard work.
How did our training programs prepare you for working as a freelance proofreader, copy editor and editor?
“High-Level Proofreading And Copyediting Pro” and the “Art of Line Editing” helped me to achieve the necessary confidence to begin building my editorial business as a line editor, copy editor, and proofreader. Phon provides excellent in-depth instruction relative to proofreading, copy editing, and the utilization of various style guides as well as detailed information concerning how to select a niche and begin marketing your business. She also provides coaching call expertise, which has been extremely helpful in building my editorial business.
To learn how you can start a proofreading and copyediting business, we have a free beginner’s masterclass to get you started. Click here to watch it now.
Want to learn how you can grow your editorial business with line editing? Sign up for our FREE 3-day editing course, Line Editing 101.
You started with proofreading and copyediting, and now you’ve expanded into line editing. What made you decide to expand your services?
As mentioned previously, I have always wanted to work as a book editor. However, when I attended college and graduate school, there were no courses offered in the publishing industry, not to mention that my stomach would cringe anytime I considered moving to the city to work for a publishing company.
I elected to learn and offer copyediting to my clients so that I could more effectively assist them with their manuscripts.
Can you tell us about the clients you proofread and edit for?
I work as a paralegal and utilize my editorial skills to draft, edit, proofread, and revise various legal documents. In addition, I work as a copy editor, line editor, and proofreader for a publishing company that specializes in Christian/Inspirational nonfiction.
It has always been my dream to work with this genre and to advance my skills by learning developmental editing as well. I absolutely enjoy learning new things and am very grateful to have this position in addition to my editorial business.
How do you balance your time between your editing business and your day job?
Time is fleeting, and it is necessary to plan the day ahead of time. I work my editorial business around both positions, and although it can become stressful to balance the time issues, I absolutely love what I do and would not trade it for anything.
On Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays, I typically begin my day at 9:00 a.m. and work until approximately 1:00 p.m. At that point, I break for a half hour lunch and then either resume work for my clients until approximately 4:00 p.m. or work for the publishing company on a per project basis.
I then walk our adorable Shih Tzu, Shiloh, and begin dinner preparations. On Tuesdays and Wednesdays, I work at the law office from 9:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. I typically spend one to two hours in the evenings answering emails and finishing any incomplete tasks.
What advice do you have for people who are considering getting into proofreading, copyediting and editing?
My advice is to begin with the foundation. If you love to read and have an interest in, and an eye for, detecting and correcting overlooked errors, you will certainly succeed in this business. However, it is important to select a niche that allows you to work on projects of interest.
In addition, it is extremely essential to invest in reputable editing courses where you will have an opportunity to build on the skills that you already have and allow for life-long learning. The publishing industry and its grammar rules are consistently evolving; therefore, it is important to remain updated with the latest transitions.
Can you give us a peek at what your typical day editing is like?
A typical day, when not working at the law office, involves breakfast at 7:30 a.m. followed by quiet time and a workout. I often begin editing manuscripts at 9:00 a.m. and stop around 1:00 p.m. for a half hour lunch break.
After lunch, I work until approximately 4:00 p.m. At that point, I typically walk our dog, begin fixing dinner, and spend time with family. I occasionally work additional hours in the evenings, when my workload is heavy, to avoid working on weekends, and I consistently check email (even on weekends) and correspond with clients relative to additional projects or questions they may have.
About Michele Cooke
Michele Cooke has been editing and proofreading in the education, legal, and publishing industries for many years and has worked on various types of content. She is a copy editor, line editor, and proofreader specializing in fiction and nonfiction Christian and Inspirational manuscripts and children’s books. Michele is the owner of Precision Proof Editorial where she works with authors, book publishers, bloggers, and college students. She is fascinated with words and enjoys helping writers refine and polish their content. To learn more about Michele’s expertise, message her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on LinkedIn.