Hot Home Business: Proofreader/Copy Editor

Want to work from home but not sure what you can do? The Hot Home Business Directory helps you find a business to run out of your home, lists the skills you need to do it and tells how to get started and where to get more information. Read on to find out if this Hot Home Biz is for you!

What You'll Do:
Read and edit manuscripts and galleys for typographic errors, grammar mistakes and clarity of language, as well as checking typeset proofs for alignment, hyphenation, widows and other typographic elements.

Skills You'll Need:
Excellent spelling and grammar skills, attention to detail, organization and neat handwriting. The ability to communicate clearly is also a must -- you'll spend a lot of time dealing with editors, writers and advertising project managers. You should also be able to work quickly under deadline.

Equipment You'll Need:
Computer, modem, printer, fax, plus the standard reference books (see The Bookshelf, below). If you specialize in a given area, such as medical, technical or garden writing, you should invest in a dictionary and style guide devoted to that subject matter, as well.

Start-Up Costs:
About $2,500 for a computer with a fast modem and printer; $300 for a fax. Basic reference books will run you about $200 (don't skimp on the dictionary; while an Oxford English Dictionary may be overkill, you should get a good, generally accepted one, such as Webster's 10th); specialized dictionaries and encyclopedias can run $60 to $100 apiece. Also, you'll want to earmark about $100 for resumes and cover letters, done on good bond stationery, to send to editors and advertising agencies.

How Much You Can Expect to Make:
Proofreaders make $10 to $25 an hour; copy editors, $15 to $30. With a steady flow of work (30 hours or so a week), you can reasonably expect a yearly gross of $22,500 to $40,000.

The Bookshelf:
The most basic reference books for any copy editor or proofreader include Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 10th Edition; Roget's Thesaurus; Bartlett's Familiar Quotations; Chicago Manual of Style and Words Into Type, all of which are available on ( or at your local bookstore in the reference section. Also of interest: "How to Start and Run a Writing and Editing Business," by Herman Holtz (John Wiley, 1992) and the Writer's Market (Writer's Digest books; updated yearly).


  • Editorial Freelancers Association
    72 West 23rd Street
    Suite 1504
    New York, NY 10010
    (212) 929-5400

  • Freelance Editorial Association
    PO Box 380835
    Cambridge, MA 02238
    (617) 729-8164

    Related Web Sites:

  • The Slot
    A great site for copy editors, from a Washington Post copy editor.
    Includes the excellent Curmudgeon's Stylebook.

  • The Elements of Style
    The full text of the classic.

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