But before you start reading, understand this:
Of course we want editors who have the important and foundational skills that any editing job requires. These include excellent reading comprehension, advanced writing capabilities, a strong grasp of grammar and spelling, etc. You probably already have these skills if you’re reading this.
The problem is that many traditional editors see their job as “enforcing the rules of writing” (like the ones in Strunk & White). We don’t want editors like that. Yes, of course the “rules of writing” matter, but for the most part, we leave enforcing the rules to proofreaders, not editors.
Basically, we want editors who love the creative work of turning good ideas into important books. To be specific:
If you like helping people tell their story, you’ll like working with us.
If you like helping people share their wisdom with the world, you’ll like working with us.
If you like helping people refine and shape their ideas so other people will understand them, you’ll like working with us.
Most importantly, if you want to work on books that have a real impact on actual readers, you’ll like working with us.
But—if you prefer to focus on things like “proper“ literary merit, the use of “whom” vs. “who,” rigorous Oxford comma enforcement, and refusing to allow an “ain’t” anywhere in your sight, instead of really digging into the meaning of the content…you probably won’t like working with us.
Attention to detail is crucial. That starts with reading this entire job posting. Job reposting websites tend to cut off a posting after a certain word limit. Read everything we have to say in this job posting *on our own website*.
The most accurate description of this job would be, “Interviewer, Creative Translator, and Book Editor” but if we put that, no one would know what we meant. Editor is the closest thing to an established job description that fits.
In that vein, these are the two primary skills needed for this job (beyond fundamental editor skills):
You’ll be on the phone with authors a lot, so comfort with people and talking on phones is a necessity.
What’s really important here, though, is good interviewing skills. You must be able to listen closely, understand what the author is saying, and then ask the pertinent questions that ensure he or she fully explained his or her point, and extract every piece of relevant knowledge.
That’s the hard part.
The easy part is that you will be provided with an outline of their book ideas, so you won’t have to figure out what direction to take the interview, or wonder what information you need to find. The roadmap is right in front of you. You just have to make sure you keep asking them questions until you get everything they have to say about their topic out of their head and onto the audio recording.
What you really are here is the advocate for the reader. It’s your job to make sure the author explains everything they know in a way that the reader will eventually be able to understand.
Once you’ve finished interviewing the author, the audio recording will be transcribed (not by you, of course; your time is far too valuable to spend doing that rote work), and you’ll be given that finished transcript to work from.
Your job will be to “translate” the audio script into book prose that reads well on the page. This means you will take the words and ideas that are there (that you already got out of the author in the interviews), and make them read clearly and smoothly on the page, without losing any meaning—not to come up with meaning yourself.
This is a hybrid between writing and editing. This isn’t “true” writing, because you aren’t being asked to create any new content or ideas; those come from the author. Neither are you coming up with the words or phrases, but you are helping the author to make them understood by the reader on the page.
Often this means you will not literally be editing the transcribed paragraphs but absorbing the spirit, graph by graph, and rewriting directly above. We’ve found that good editors can usually knock out 1000-2000 words an hour once they get used to the process.
Those are the skills you need to be qualified for the job. If you’re this far, you’re probably confident you can do this job.
Great! But you may be asking:
First off, you’ll enjoy this work. You probably started editing because you liked helping people turn their ideas and words into something impactful, right?
That’s what you’ll be doing with us.
You’ll work with and learn from world-class people, build awesome relationships, and help them create important books. The authors you work with are serious, experienced professionals, many of whom have done amazing things in their lives. You will be helping them record their wisdom, knowledge, and experience into books, which will be very valuable to other people.
The best part is that our process is designed so you only spend time on the things you like about interviewing, learning, writing, and editing. This means you are NOT spending any time on the crappy parts of freelancing, like finding clients, negotiating pay and scope of work, getting them to pay you, endless revisions, etc.
One of the main reasons our freelance editors love working with us so much is because it’s not like other freelance work. They are used to searching for a job, dealing with clients, enduring the slog of getting started, learning the client’s needs, and then being done in a couple hours.
We pair you with authors we think you’ll enjoy working with, and then turn you loose to really sink your teeth into projects, learn, and create something great. You’ll spend 40-60 hours on a project, really get into the topic, become a mini-expert, and create something substantial—then you’re done and move onto the next project, with the money in your account, guaranteed. It’s an editor’s dream.
If this sounds like something you’d like, let’s talk, because we have work to offer you.
But there’s more to it than that just the work itself. You get to be part of something new, something we think can truly make the world a better place (through books). To understand, here’s a little about us:
We’re Book in a Box, and we created a new way for people to write and publish a book. What we do is simple:
We take people from book idea to published book—as a service. All they have to do is spend about 15 hours on the phone with us, talking about their ideas. We do everything else necessary, and in about five months, their book is finished–their ideas, in their words and their voice.
Our company started because a frustrated entrepreneur wanted to put all of her incredible knowledge and ideas into a book, but didn’t have the time to write it or the patience to deal with the frustrating publishing process. So we solved her problem.
Her book became an amazing success for her, and we built a company out of the solution. The whole origin story is here. (www.linkedin.com/pulse/20141118152523-205984021-my-start-up-made-200k-in-it-s-first-two-months-and-i-m-embarrassed)
We realized the world was full of these people—smart people who should write a book, but don’t.
They just want a solution to their problem—and that’s why Book In A Box exists: we are the best way for professionals to turn their ideas and knowledge into books that help the world.
Our process has worked for hundreds of authors already, and we are growing fast. Our ultimate goal is to be the default publishing option for professionals, and if we do that, we’ll help create books that not only change the world—but that would never have otherwise existed.
That’s really exciting to us.
Before we officially work with you, we have to test you to make sure that you’re as talented as we need you to be, because we only work with excellent editors whose skills meet the needs of our process.
Well, if you pass the test and you are among the best editing talent out there, then shouldn’t we pay you like you’re the best?
Yes, we should—and we do!
Generally speaking, our gigs pay a flat fee of $3,000. We expect them to last 40-60 hours, so this means the hourly rate is a minimum of $50 an hour (if the job goes over 60 hours, we pay you more on an hourly basis).
This is among the highest base pay rates for freelancers (that we know of). We pay a lot, because we believe in the idea that to work with the best, you have to pay for it. So we do.
And we pay through Dwolla, so you generally get your money in, oh, about 30 seconds. No “net 60 days” nonsense with us.
Everyone says they care about the people they work with, but we actually show it. For example:
Our contracts are simple, fair, and in plain English
We pay you immediately and with zero hassle, through simple services like Dwolla and Zenefits
We create and share resources to help our editors improve in their careers
We give regular gifts and bonuses to show our appreciation
Plainly put: we spend a lot of time making sure that our freelancers love working with us, so they produce the best work possible, and so we can all enjoy what we do.
It just makes sense, for both of us: if you don’t like who you work with, what’s the point?
Books have a unique capacity to change the way people think, and to change the world. But you already know this. Your love of books is probably what made you want to be an editor.
Well, with us, you’ll be working closely with some of the best and brightest in a wide range of fields, and contributing to the marketplace of ideas with new and important books. Not every book we work on is life-changing, but some are, and you will have the primary role in bringing them into existence.
We’re a remote, results-oriented company. All that we care about is that you have a reliable phone and internet connection, and that the author is happy with the results of your work. If all of that is on-point, we’ll never bother you about any other nonsense.
And remember: we do all the bullshit that comes with client work; contracts, collecting pay, dealing with late payments, etc. All you do is your work, and then you get paid (like it should be).
You will do books with all kinds of different people, most of whom are pretty amazing. Past authors include major company CEOs, famous entrepreneurs, professional athletes, and people with incredible personal stories.
And then there is the Book In A Box team…we’re OK, I guess. These three are the main people you’d be interacting with at the company as an editor:
Harlan “Hal” Clifford
Hal has been a writer and editor for three decades, publishing three national nonfiction books, editing several major nonfiction books, and writing for publications including The New York Times Magazine, Outside, National Geographic Adventure, and The Wall Street Journal. He’s responsible for the team that makes manuscripts sing, loves the word “zymurgy,” and lets his dog sleep on the bed.
Justine’s job is editor happiness, which means she’s the go-to person for our freelance editing team. Previously, she worked at the publishing startup Pubslush, and has always been a writer at heart (even if lately she seems to just be writing a lot of emails). In her spare time, she runs an inspirational clothing company.
The rest of the company is here (bookinabox.com/about-us).
NOTE: Part time vs. Full time: We do not hire full time editors, at least as of right now. This is because we have so many clients with such varied book topics that we need a large number of editors to draw from, far too many to hire full time. If you are seriously interested in a full time “editor type” position, check out the Outliner job. It is different than being an editor (though many of the skills overlap), and a much harder job to get, but it pays extremely well and can lead to full time.
You'll fill out the standard information form on the next page, but we also want you to complete a writing test specific to our unique process. Keep in mind that we're far more interested in seeing how you think than in you nailing exactly the answer we're looking for. Follow the instructions below, and use your own best judgment.
Book in a Box Editor Test Assignment Instructions
We want you to turn a transcript into an excerpt from a book.
To give you some background, the transcript that you’ll be working from comes from part of an interview with Lorenzo Gomez. Lorenzo’s book identifies and explains principles and qualities that can help someone without a formal education build a career beyond entry-level jobs. Lorenzo looks back over his career so far, from manual laborer, grocery store employee, and computer store receptionist to Director of two private organizations, and, through authentic stories, shares the basic business principles he’s learned along the way.
In the transcript you’ll be working from, Lorenzo is describing one of his principles.
Here is a link to the transcript of the interview with Lorenzo. (docs.google.com/document/d/1eZ1p6N3teOonvYaAyFJF4EOX-prZWhV5DG1pDIL5YuE/edit?usp=sharing)
To explain a bit more about the goal of the assignment, our process involves turning people’s spoken words into a polished book. That means that the final product you send in should be in the first person, should align with Lorenzo’s personality and tone, and should read like an excerpt from a full, finished book.
The transcription is 1,700 words, but your final product does not need to be that long. The goal is to skillfully craft Lorenzo’s words to read like a book you might pick up from your own bookshelf. Your final product should display logical structure and flow, as well as proper grammar and syntax.
There’s a tendency to want to turn off your brain and use all the author’s ideas, in the order and way they are presented, verbatim. This leads to the need for a LOT of editing and ends up making the process pretty painful. It also leads to writing that sounds more like talking. You want your finished product to read like a book, not a cleaned-up transcript.
There’s a lot of writing and thinking involved, and the goal is to create the best book excerpt you can. You should feel free to organize and structure things however you’d like to accomplish that goal.
You'll submit your assignment on the next page. Good luck!