How to Start a Book Editing Business

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If you love to read, and think you can tell the difference between a good book and a great book, then you may want to start a book editing business. In a nutshell, in a book editing business, you will be deciding which manuscripts should be considered for publication.

To open a book editing business, you must first understand the different positions editors hold. An acquisitions editor buys books for a publishing house. These editors deal directly with literary agents and authors. Copyeditors read an author’s manuscript for grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors, and then make the necessary corrections.

The publishing industry is undergoing rapid changes due to emerging ebooks and self-publishing, which make this an exciting and uncertain time to break into the industry. Opportunities for freelance book editors are promising for those willing to market their business and build a clientele.


  • Work from home
  • Get paid to do a job you love
  • Changing climate in the publishing industry


  • Editors work alone
  • Highly competitive field
  • Again, changing the climate in the publishing industry


Book editing is a highly competitive industry, especially as more and more publishing houses downsize.

However, the internet is creating new opportunities for anyone wanting to become a book editor. As a freelance book editor, you may work for publishing houses, e-book writers, and writers who want to have their manuscript edited by a professional before submitting it to an agent or publisher.

Getting Started

You will need to know something about the writing process, but a college degree is not necessarily required. Experience and the ability to edit are just as important. Previous experience as an editor or proofreader of a high school or college newspaper is helpful. Knowing other professionals in the business also helps.

You must also possess a passion for reading, and the aptitude for editing. Good communication skills are vital. In addition, you should become knowledgeable of the formats used in the publishing community. Learn the guidelines of the AP (Associated Press) style, the MLA (Modern Language Association) style, and the Chicago style.

You will also need to calculate the cost of setting up your office and marketing your business. For under $5,000 you can invest in a reliable computer, printer, fax machine, copier, and separate business line. Reference books are crucial. Business software can help keep track of clients and project, and an ergonomically comfortable chair is worth its weight in gold.C