I have been busy as of late. Mostly with editing. It’s been back-to-back books. Not complaining in the slightest. It’s a great gig, and one that I sometimes remind myself I worked for, but I’m the kind of guy who, every once in a while, gets a little bummed about work in general. Who doesn’t?
Lounging is a lot of fun. I get about an hour of Sekiro play in a day…but wouldn’t it be fun to get four hours in? Just grind it out, level up, make some serious progress? It would. But then, like clockwork, I’d see my bank account dwindle until I panicked, then I’d be scrambling to find work.
About six years ago, I had this goal in mind: I would work about four hours a day. I wouldn’t be rich by any stretch of the imagination, but I’d make about as much money as I would at a 40-hour-a-week job, paying about $20 an hour.
This is Oklahoma. This is a very reasonable salary.
Recently, I’ve had people hit me up, asking how to get into editing. There isn’t much to it. You take jobs from friends at first. You do it on the cheap. For the first three years or so, I was editing strangers’ work for about a half a cent per word, or 33% of the going rate for most editors. And you just slowly build up a CV. You use websites like Reedsy and Upwork to find clients. You price your bids competitively. And you deliver on time.
A big thing, too, is that you stick with the project until the client is satisfied. I make it clear that any questions they have, any issues they have with my notes, are all worthy of discussion. I prefer phone conversations, where we can iron those out in about an hour. Sometimes, the client prefers to do it over e-mail. That’s a bit more time consuming, but if you’re looking to build a client base, it’s worth it.
At this point, I get about 50% new clients, and 50% returning clients. The returning ones are great. It’s like a gift every time: someone out of the blue saying “would you like money to fix my book?” Well yes, of course I would.
All of this took about six years. In that time, I worked at a hot dog restaurant, as a checker at Safeway, a concierge at a swanky downtown condo building in Portland, and a program designer for an education company. When that last job tanked due to the p*nd*mic, I was out of work for quite some time. Editing dried up a bit, but I was able to get government assistance.
As of January I’m off the government assistance and working on novels full-time. I’ve got my schedule planned a month ahead or so. At the moment I’m booked through to April. And I’ll keep it up.
Yesterday was packed, even though it was a Saturday. I edited 20k words, wrote 3k, drove to the city for Korean food, watched Space Sweepers (good movie), played Sekiro (killed O’Rin of the Water, got stomped a few times by the Corrupted Monk), hung out with the family, and posted some pictures to my Instagram Story. Oh, and I wrote my blog for the day.
That’s a good day, in my opinion.
The goals for the next year are to finish up about three books. I’m 8k words into Tomahawk now, and if you’ve read Black Gum (17k words) or A Minor Storm (15k words) you know that means I’m about halfway done. I read through AMS in about an hour to refresh my memory for Tomahawk, and I was reminded of why I love that short format. It’s just fun to pick up a book and finish it in one sitting. Very few people are doing that right now, and it’s not for everybody (check my Goodreads reviews for proof), but it’s my niche and I’ll stay in it. My style is so minimalistic that I’m not sure if I’d ever write something that cracks 80k, unless the story itself is just that massive.
Anyway, I started rocking on Tomahawk a week ago, taking a break from Dying World (currently at 15k, will probably be 40k or so). I’d like to have Desert Priest out in the fall, and MAYBE Wolf Like Me (another short Black Gum book) out in the winter. So that’s actually four books. By that point, my long-suffering Kickstarter backers will have their loot, which also makes me happy.
The editing will continue at the pace it’s going. I have one ghostwriting project that I’m scheduling for April, so I’d like to do that some more. It pays better, and it’s good exercise. By the way, if any readers of this blog are interested in a quote, feel free to e-mail me.
And finally, I’d like to somehow monetize No Country, my podcast with Kris Saknussemm, juuuust a little bit. I don’t like the idea of Patreon episodes, though Kris and I have been playing with the idea of creating a book club. Something where we could maybe make $500-1k a month each, both to cover the cost of hosting, our time, etc. But that’s perhaps something that more realistically will happen in 2022.
Again, none of these endeavors, whether it’s the books or the editing or the podcasting, have to make a ton of money. But if there’s a little bit coming in from each, then my humble little Oklahoma life will be peaceful.
It all takes time. The trick is to have fun while you wait.