If you're interested in how to make money critiquing writing, you'll need a solid set of credentials and the right background to succeed.
How to Make Money Critiquing Writing
For you to be able to earn money while critiquing others' writing, you must possess something the writers don't currently have, such as years of experience or a vast pool of knowledge. The best paid critics have an impressive list of credits to their name, a longstanding reputation in the industry or other solid credentials that make them a hot commodity.
While writers' groups often come together to critique group members' stories, books and poems at no cost, some writers want the services of a writing professional. There are a few ways you can make money critiquing writing and most ways will involve more than simply critique duties.
If you teach some type of creative writing class at the university level, you're paid to teach writing and revision and also to provide valuable feedback to students. Perhaps they want to learn how to craft short stories; others may be interested in starting novels. You'll read a lot of writing, some of which might be terrible, but it's your job to instill a passion for creative writing and a desire to improve, even among aspiring writers who think they've already written a masterpiece. Depending on where you teach, your salary may be merely passable or be quite good.
For instructors holding impressive credentials, you can run writers' workshops at various venues. From smaller groups arranged at community colleges to large groups held at writer's conferences, part of your task as a writing workshop teacher is critiquing the various manuscripts you'll see.
Some editors take their skills into the freelance arena and set up their own editing and critique businesses. When working as an independent contractor, you have the advantage of setting your own rates, but you have to prove you're worthy of them to attract clients. If you previously worked for a big name publishing house or worked directly with a well-known editor, this is one way you can establish yourself as a viable option.
You may find a job as a manuscript or book reviewer at a publishing house. While this career probably won't pay as much as a university or independent contractor position, you can possibly work your way up in the publishing field. You may find yourself working through slush piles, eliminating unsuitable manuscripts before they make it to the higher ups; you may also be in charge of sending out form rejections.
In order to be a successful writing critic, you'll benefit from a few basic requirements:
- Advanced college degree: Some companies or individuals may be satisfied with a four-year college degree, but others will require an advanced degree. This is more true if you work independently and are hiring yourself out. Clients want to know that they're getting the best, and having a Masters Degree or a Ph.D shows that you've immersed yourself in the writing field.
- Objectivity: Even if science fiction is your least favorite genre, if someone pays you to critique a sci-fi manuscript, it's imperative that you leave your biases at the door. This includes any personal feelings you have about the opposite gender, ethnic groups, religious denominations and even pets. If you're fundamentally opposed to a manuscript because it contains excessive violence, profanity or disturbing scenes, that's understandable, but let prospective clients know about your deal breakers ahead of time.
- A good reputation: To be a successful editor or critic, you need to maintain a solid reputation of levelheadedness and fairness. No one will want to employ a critic who's known to be dramatic and temperamental. Publishing is a much smaller industry than some writers think it is and if you damage your reputation beyond repair, it may be difficult or impossible to find the work you want.
A Satisfying Career
Finding critique jobs isn't as easy as finding writer jobs. You can search on job listing boards for a few listings from time to time, but this is one of those careers that's usually helped more by who you know. However, once you establish yourself as a reputable force in the industry, you might enjoy a satisfying career helping writers to find just the right words.