By Ken Walker

Last year marked my third consecutive year of increased business, a most welcome development after the bleak years of the Great Recession. However, until I stopped long enough to take a closer look, I didn’t appreciate the full significance of 2016.

When I inspected my annual revenue summary recently, I was surprised when I realized that on January 1, 2016, none of what would become my top five accounts for the year existed. That means that I had no idea that 57 percent of my income for the next twelve months would originate with business not then on my radar screen.

My top-paying account showed up via e-mail while I was at PENCON in May: an author wanted me to edit out more than 75 percent of the material in his book to create an abridged edition. This didn’t come from the Christian Editor Connection; he just found my name on the Internet.

Unexpected Business

Another top account surfaced in mid-October, a short-term project that kept me constantly busy the rest of the year. A book editing project that turned into as much ghostwriting as editing came out of the blue in early March. Another gig started in June after a co-author I had helped with three small books asked me to edit his blogs and website material.

Inspired by this unexpected discovery, I decided to take a glance back at five-year intervals, stretching back to 2001. Here’s what I found:

  • Of my top five income-producing accounts in 2001, only one exists today. Among those who are gone is a newspaper that hit tough sledding in the recession. Another is a news service that slashed its freelance budget after the 2008 real-estate debacle.
  • The magazine that occupied the #1 position in 2006 has since stopped sending me work because of a serious decline in advertising and a change in format. The ministry that occupied the #2 slot in both 2001 and 2006 eliminated my contract position after 2010.
  • Only one of my top five accounts in 2011 is still sending me work. Last year I earned one-fifth of what I billed to that ministry five years earlier.

Faith for Survival

I know that repeat business is important to all editors; a trio of ongoing accounts I landed last year have helped give me a better cushion and boosted my cash flow. Still, in the midst of all the planning, marketing, and strategizing that are part of any sound business plan, we have to leave room for faith.

What I have discovered in more than thirty-five years as a follower of Christ is that just when I think I have things figured out, God surprises me. He never does things the way I think they should be done, and He always comes through in ways I never expect.

So, while you’re looking ahead and trying to figure out how you’re going to survive 2017, remember faith is a tangible element of survival.



Experienced. Award-winning. Skilled. For years, Ken Walker has been shaping stories—thousands of them—for books and articles in various venues. He uses his writing and editing talent now to help edit and refine authors’ material, as well as coaching bloggers and other writers on how they can improve their material. In recent years Ken has co-authored or edited more than a dozen health-oriented books. This specialty began with co-authoring Winning the Food Fight, a book that emerged from Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, an Emmy-Award-winning mini-series on ABC.