One of the things I need to impress on you if you want to make decent money from writing is that you need to be fairly flexible and open to different ideas.

It’s not all about sitting, gazing out of the window, thinking nice thoughts and penning your latest novel. (In fact as I’ve mentioned before writing is really nothing like that. Writing a novel isn’t an easy moneymaker.) But there are easier ways to make money from writing.

So here’s how to make money from writing

To generate a good, regular income you need to have various strings to your writing bow.

And one of those can be proofreading and editing.

So firstly, what exactly is proofreading and editing? Well, although they are often coupled together they are really quite separate jobs. A proofreader reads written documents such as books, manuals and articles and corrects typographical mistakes in them. Editors actually add and remove material or write new material for these works.

You can do either proofreading or editing or both as they can be both carried out at the same time. Although it’s fair to say editing involves a little more practice.

Will proofreading or editing be for you? Have you got an eye for detail? Do you like reading, and writing, and working on your own initiative? If so it could be for you.

You don’t necessarily need any formal qualifications in English to be a proofreader or editor. But you will need a decent standard of written English. There are training courses you can do to learn the skills you need if you want to.

Finding customers. One of the things you will need to do if you decide to become a proofreader or editor is go out and find customers for your service. That could take a fair bit of effort initially, and it could take a few months to build up your name and reputation.

* Students are a good place to get started. They need proofreading and editing services for their essays and dissertations. They don’t usually have a lot of money to pay you. But this is a good way of building up your skills or experience.

* When you’ve got a little experience start to contact publishers – newspapers, magazines and book publishers, whatever – to offer your service. Much of their editing work and MOST of their proofreading work is farmed out to freelancers. (A handy spin-off is that you can get to read all of the latest books before they’re even published and for free!) The advertising industry is also a good source of proofreading work ….. although you might not find proofreading catalogues and brochures that much fun!

There are also a few professional associations and freelancing websites where you can promote your service and find customers. at is one to try. I’ve picked up a fair few editing jobs from there in the past. It’s not just for journalists by the way. Plus it only costs £50 a year to promote your service on there, which I think is a real bargain.

Doing the job. Proofreading and editing are both a lot easier than they used to be. At one time the job involved marking up endless paper proofs with weird and wonderful textual marks to indicae errors and changes. Nowadays it can all be done electronically in just a few clicks of your mouse.

If you have Microsoft Word (which chances are you probably do) there are tools already available within that which allow you to review documents and track changes. Your customer will send you a Word file of the original manuscript. You then mark any corrections and changes and send it back to them. It’s the sort of part time job you can do anytime, from anywhere, over the Internet … yes even while relaxing on the sofa (or relaxing on a beach) if you want to.

So how much money could you make from proofreading and editing?

There aren’t any fixed rates for this kind of work. It depends on what you can negotiate with your customer. And of course it depends on the complexity of the job you’re doing. But generally they’re pretty good for a sideline business. The Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP) suggest you charge from £19.25 an hour for simple proofreading …. up to £26.00 for substantial editing work. Multiply that by 10/20/30 hours a week and you can see it has decent potential.

Are you interested in becoming a freelance proofreader or editor?

If you are ….. let me know. I could cover it in more detail in a future newsletter …. or I could recommend some proofreading and editing courses you might like to try.


Make money reviewing books

If you’re into reading serious books (and I don’t mean Mills & Boon bodice-rippers) then writing reviews can be a good way of making money from it.

I’d suggest you taken a look at writing for the world famous London Review of Books. Each issue contains up to 15 long reviews and essays. There are also shorter art and film reviews, as well as poems and a lively letters page. A typical issue looks at political commentary, science, ancient history and so on by way of literary criticism.

They look at unsolicited submissions as well as proposals – poems, reviews, reportage, pieces for the Short Cuts and Diary slots. The best guide to what they might like is to study what they’ve published. Reviews should be at least 2,500 words long (1,000 for Short Cuts). Typical payment is likely to be about £100 per 1,000 words.

Send for the attention of the editors by email or post to: London Review of Books, 28 Little Russell Street, London WC1A 2HN. (Include an SAE if you contact them by post.) Email:

Hope you find these tips and ideas helpful …. and that they help you make some money from writing. Look forward to hearing from you soon.