Instead, the aim here is to give voice to some of the basic issues that are worth considering when choosing what, where and how to train for a career as a freelance proofreader, wherever you live and whatever your budget.
What’s on Offer?
Is there a national or regional professional society you can contact?
At what stage are you in the process?
If you've recently completed some training you might want to consider a mentoring programme. The SfEP runs a mentoring programme in the UK. Contact your national editing and proofreading society for more details on mentoring opportunities in your own country.
What kind of client are you hoping to target?
Getting a feel for what publishers want is a good start because they are one type of client that is in a position to offer you repeat work.
Case study 2: You’ve worked as an English-language teacher for years in a school or college, helping young adults improve their literacy skills. You decide to focus on independent fiction and creative non-fiction authors who are looking for the final polish before they submit their manuscript to an agent, in-house commissioning editor, or custom-publishing organization. You need to do the same research. Start networking with writers’ groups and online networks and ask the people themselves what training and experience they expect a proofreader to have. They may have a set of very different preferred externals based on their experiences of commissioning freelance editorial services. Join social networking forums such as LinkedIn where existing freelancers congregate and ask what training routes other freelance proofreaders in your country, who work with the type of client you’re interested in, took to get their careers off the ground.
The point is to research your market and find out what people want and expect. Every training provider on the market will tell you that their course is the best, and they wouldn’t be doing a good job of marketing themselves if they claimed otherwise. Asking the end-users, however, is the key to ensuring you make the decision that best suits your business strategy.
Assessed or not?
It’s best to iron out the creases while you are training, rather than alienating unhappy clients further down the line. Or to quote an old proverb: What the fool does in the end, the wise man does in the beginning.
Those who are considering setting up an editorial freelancing business may be interested in my guide, Business Planning for Editorial Freelancers: A Guide for New Starters, published in association with The Publishing Training Centre.