PenguinFreelancers enlists freelance editors, proofreaders and indexers to help the editorial departments at Penguin and Random House books

Expected pay: $30+ per hour

Husl$core: $$$$$

Commissions & fees: NA

Where: Nationwide (remote)

Requirements: Relevant experience; knowledge of the Chicago Manual of Style; Adobe Acrobat and Microsoft Word software; exceptional grammar and spelling

What is PenguinFreelancers?

PenguinFreelancers is operated by Penguin Publishing Group, one of the largest publishers in the world. The site seeks remote freelancers for copy editing, proofreading, cold reading and indexing.

How it works

Unlike some independent copy editing jobs, PenguinFreelancers expects anyone who works here to have experience and mad skills.

Copy editors and proofreaders must read at a pace averaging 10 pages per hour. Cold readers should read 10-20 pages per hour. Copyeditors earn roughly $36 per hour, while proofreaders and cold readers earn $31, according to the site’s job posting.

Given the depth of Penguin’s titles and the quality of the finished work, good freelancers are likely to find attractive books to read and edit. But it’s a real job, with exacting requirements for accuracy and skill. By the same token, the pay is good too, particularly for remote work.

What’s expected

PenguinFreelancers’ copy editors fact-check and verify all proper nouns, dates and places. And they ensure that timelines are correct. Freelance editors also create style sheets for each manuscript to ensure that capitalization, punctuation and spelling remain consistent throughout the work. Editors must respect the author’s style. This means copy editors must “query” about changes rather than imposing their own voice.

Proofreaders compare the edited copy to the finished text to ensure no errors were introduced in typesetting. They also verify that the proper nouns, dates, places and style sheet are consistent. And they look for bad breaks, check page references, chapter titles and headings.

Cold readers will do much the same as proofreaders, serving as a final safety net against typos and errors. Indexers match keywords with references in the book.

Entrance exam

Potential freelancers take a test before they’re accepted into the PenguinFreelancers system. Freelancers who do well on the test are added to the site’s database. Freelancers are contacted about projects by individual production editors on an as-needed basis. The current hourly rates are subject to change, depending on the title and the schedule.

Apply by email

Send job queries to [email protected]. Include your résumé and a list of titles you’ve worked on. Also indicate whether you are interested in copy editing, proofreading, cold reading, or indexing work, as well as any genre preferences. PenguinFreelancers will contact you about taking the test.


PenguinFreelancers offers great part-time opportunity. But, if you want more work, also register with Reedsy.  And consider listing your proofreading/copyediting services on Fiverr.

If you love fiction, you also may want to write book reviews through U.S. Review of Books.

(OnlineBookclub also promises to pay for reviews. But does not recommend it because it has a history of stiffing reviewers.)

What their users say:

Penguin Random House reviews on Glassdoor are generally positive. However, a few complain about the wages being low for high-priced New York. Although the bulk of the reviews are from employees rather than freelancers, corporate culture is often consistent. This company appears to treat workers with respect and values diversity.

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