Skip to content

Why You Should Work For a Two-Year-Old Publishing Startup (That’s Growing Like Crazy)

We need editors. We’re not looking for traditional book editors. But you might be just what we have in mind.

You may think of yourself more as a writer than an editor. Understood—we call this job “editor,” but it’s actually an amalgamation of skills. Of course, we want editors who have the important and foundational skills that any editing job requires—excellent reading comprehension, advanced writing capabilities, a strong grasp of grammar and spelling, etc. 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, the “rules of writing” matter, but you won’t land a role here because you know them.

So, what type of editor are we looking for?

Basically, we want editors who love the creative work of turning good ideas into important nonfiction books. To be specific:

  • If you like helping people tell their story, you’ll like working with us.
  • If you understand that the foundation of helping people tell their story is building an authentic relationship with them, 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 important, if you want to work on books that have a real impact on actual readers, you’ll like working with us.

As we said—this is not a normal editing job. Book In A Box is a new creature in the world of publishing. We borrowed from other parts of the publishing industry, then added a dash of innovation, to create this company. The most important thing to understand, though, is that we do not see ourselves first and foremost as publishers. Instead, we are a relationship company that happens to make books. Everything we do is premised on building and maintaining great relationships with our authors, because those relationships are the basis for great books.

What that means for you is that an editor’s job embodies a few key requirements. The most accurate description of this job would be “Interviewer, Creative Translator and Book Editor,” but if we wrote that, no one would know what we meant. So we call this role Editor.

In that vein, these are the primary skills needed for this job (beyond fundamental editor skills):

1. Good Interviewing/People Skills (sort of like a journalist or reporter)

You’ll be on the phone with authors a lot, so comfort with people and a great, reassuring, confident phone presence is essential. Being able to connect with, empathize with, understand and lead your author with confidence are key skills.

Your foundation must be great interviewing skills. You must be able to listen closely, understand what the author really is saying, lead him or her with confidence, ask pertinent questions that ensure he or she fully explained the content, 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 the author’s book, 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.

You are the advocate for the reader. It’s your job to make sure the author explains everything he or she knows in a way that the reader will be able to understand.

2. Audio To Prose “Translation” Skills (sort of like a re-writer)

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. This isn’t ghostwriting—you don’t do any additional research. Your job is to write what the author said as it should sound in the pages of a well-crafted book.

The work at this stage 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. You are helping the author be understood by the reader on the page.You don’t literally edit the transcribed paragraphs, instead absorbing the spirit, graph by graph, and then rewriting. We’ve found that good editors can usually knock out 1000-2000 words an hour once they get used to the process.

In addition to those two fundamental qualities, here’s the background we look for in our editors:

–Extensive (i.e., 5-10+ years) and varied editorial experience with the words of others (think: ghostwriting, developmental editing)

–Extensive interviewing experience (for example, as a reporter)

–Extensive experience writing your own words (specifically, nonfiction books!)

–Experience speaking publicly / presenting / on camera

–References who can speak to your abilities on the phone; about “getting” the author; about crafting spoken language into written

Those are the skills and experience you need to be qualified for the job. If you’re this far, you’re probably confident you can do this job.

Great! But this begs the question:

Why would you want to work with us?

You’ll work with and learn from high-performing individuals, build awesome relationships, and help them create important books—and we’ll pay you fairly and quickly to do so. The authors you work with are serious, experienced professionals, many of whom have done amazing things in their lives—but who don’t have the time or capability to make a book. You will be helping them package 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 excel at: interviewing, learning, writing and editing. This means you are NOT spending any time on the crappy parts of freelancing: 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 ours is not like other freelance work. We pair you with authors we think you’ll enjoy working with, then turn you loose to really sink your teeth into projects, learn, and create something great. You’ll spend about 60 hours on a project, 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.

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 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:  

About Book In A Box

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 20 hours on the phone with us over several months, 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 (thanks in large measure to you).

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.

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 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 never would have otherwise existed.

That’s really exciting to us.

It’s exciting to lots of other people, too. In our first two years we’ve worked with almost 300 authors and become a fast-growing, multimillion-dollar enterprise. Every day we deal, as a company, with the problems of growth. If you’ve spent much time in traditional publishing (as many of us have), you might find this situation to be quite refreshing.

So all of that is awesome, but let’s get back to reality–what’s in it for you personally?

Pretty Good Pay (And Fast)

Before we officially work with you, we will test you to make sure that your skills match our needs, because we only work with excellent editors whose skills meet the requirements of our process. (There are plenty of good writers and editors who don’t belong here.)

Our projects pay a flat rate, with a caveat: the flat rate covers your time up to a certain point (usually 60 or 80 hours, depending on the nature of the project). If you need to put in more hours to get the book where it should be, we pay you additional money on an hourly basis. We never want you to have to choose between doing good work and getting paid, and will never ask you to work for free.

If you become one of our A-List freelancers (and there’s a clearly defined path for that), we pay you 20 percent more across the board. (In other words, you get a fat raise, among other benefits.)

We pay on milestones and we pay through Dwolla, so you get paid as the book progresses, generally within 72 hours of hitting a milestone. No “net 60 days” nonsense with us, and no need to send us invoices.

We Love Our Editors

Every company 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
  • We wrote a manifesto, The Best Gig In The Gig Economy, to lay out what you can expect from us and we expect of you

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?

Make A Meaningful Impact On The World

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 as good as you are at your craft.

With us, you’ll work closely with some of the best and brightest in a wide range of fields, and contribute 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.

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.

Totally Flexible & No Bullshit

We’re a distributed, results-oriented company. All that we care about is that you have a reliable phone and internet connection, are generally available for calls on an author’s schedule, make deadlines, and that the author is happy with the results of your work. We do have some basic technical requirements you have to get right, and we have a process we ask you to follow because we are handling a lot of authors at once and growing fast. You have control over when you take work from us, and how much you’re willing to accept.

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).

Who You’d Be Working With

And then there is the Book In A Box team…we’re OK, I guess. These are the main people you’d be interacting with at the company as an editor:

Harlan “Hal” Clifford, Head of Book Creation

Hal has been a writer and editor for three decades, publishing three national nonfiction books, editing many other nonfiction books, running magazines and newspapers, and writing for publications that include The New York Times Magazine, Outside, National Geographic Adventure, and The Wall Street Journal. He leads and supports the team that turns words into finished books, loves the word “zymurgy,” and lets his dog sleep on the bed.

Justine Schofield, Freelance Manager

Justine’s job is freelancer 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.

Next Steps?

We’re not currently hiring for this role, but will be soon! Please join this mailing list for updates about available full-time and freelance positions with Book In A Box.

Please note that our application process for this role generally involves three steps:

  1. When you click on the application link we’ll ask you to fill in an online form.
  2. We’ll sort the best candidates and ask those of you who make the cut to take a short personality test. (At this point you’re saying, “Really? For a freelance role?” We do this for three reasons. First, as we noted up top, we are a relationship company, so we want to understand your skills in that regard. Second, our culture is the most important asset this company has, and we want to make sure you’ll thrive in it. Finally, we tend to hire our full-time staff from our freelancer pool, so this is our way of ensuring we have great talent in our pipeline.) If we don’t hire you, we’ll be happy to send you the results of your test—they can be pretty interesting.
  3. We’ll sort the best candidates again, and ask the finalists to take a brief editing test that simulates a piece of the editor’s job. If you rock that, we’ll interview you by phone (okay, that’s really a fourth step!).

NOTE: Part time vs. Full time: We do not hire full time editors, at least as of right now. 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. That said, many of our full-time staff (“tribe,” around here) started with us as freelancers, including both Harlan and Justine. And many of our A-List freelancers work for us almost exclusively, so it starts to feel like a full-time gig for them.

Learn the Book In A Box Method

Sign up below for a free copy of our book, which shows you exactly how to:

  • Test your book idea
  • Create your outline
  • Write your book in hours by talking
  • Edit into a great manuscript
  • Publish and distribute easily
  • Make sure your book is professional
Book In A Box Method