Guest post by author Liza Street
Two years ago, I was desperate to find a job that would allow me to work from home. An avid fan of writing guru James Scott Bell, I discovered freelancing sites through one of his books, and a dream was born. While writing the copy for my profile, I looked at other successful freelancer profiles and tried to emulate their professionalism and confidence.
Despite my professionalism, confidence, and the experience I brought to the table, the work did not start rolling in immediately. I bid on everything related to editing, no matter how small, no matter how bizarre. My specialty, I thought, was young adult fiction, but here I was bidding on copyediting for health blogs, collections of sermons, and real-estate themed PowerPoint presentations.
Eventually, though, I found my niche…and it wasn’t what I expected. There were many, many clients seeking editors for their ghostwritten romantic fiction. I started getting some of these jobs. To gain some experience in the genre, I began educating myself in romantic tropes. I read romance, scrutinized reviews to find out what works and what doesn’t, and I even found a copy of Sarah Wendell and Candy Tan’s book, Beyond Heaving Bosoms, which is probably the best crash-course in romance out there.
There was a huge gap in what I understood to be good romance and what I was editing, however. I found I was the only line of defense in ensuring a manuscript was not awful. The problem was, some of the hired ghostwriters, and even some clients, knew little about writing or romance.
Beyond examples of bad writing, here are some of the things I found in these “bad romances.” (Please note: details are invented, as I have an understanding with past and current clients not to disclose content.)
Despite the angst of learning words I wish I didn’t know, and reading painful sex scenes I can’t unread, this has been one of the most rewarding jobs I’ve had. I get to fix things before they’re published. I’m the behind-the-scenes person who makes books better. That one time you didn’t read about a monster penis in first-time anal with no preparation for the woman? You’ll never thank me for that, because you blissfully never had to read it. But I know, and it makes me giddy.
Best of all, editing jobs sometimes turned into ghostwriting jobs, and I learned I really enjoyed writing romance! I came up with some of my own ideas, wrote them down, and now I publish paranormal romance featuring hot shapeshifters. There’s still so much for me to learn, but in finding out what I don’t like, I also discovered many things that I love, and those things are what I hope to bring to the genre.