Since it came through one of the LinkedIN groups I belong to I assumed the person meant some kind of editing within the publishing field. I emailed her a quick ‘yes and no’ and promised more in a blog post. So here we are.
The first thing to figure out is exactly what kind of editing you’re interested in doing. I break it into four pieces:
Copyediting – also known as line editing – reading manuscripts with an eye toward catching errors, but not changing the meaning.
Proofreading – like copy editing but generally associated with shorter manuscripts.
Rewrite, substantive, or substantial editing - probably closer to actually rewriting a book length manuscript so it fits what an agent or publisher wants – often, but not always, done by the author.
Developmental editing - the editor works directly with the author to create a book.
How difficult any individual finds these types of editing is highly personal. I don’t do copyediting or proofing – my spelling is too creative and my attention span too broad. However I hire editors who thrive on that kind of detail.
I love rewriting and developmental editing, either of which isn’t that far from ghostwriting, which I also do well.
Finding out which kind of editing you’re best at is often a matter of luck. Copyeditors and proofreaders sometimes get their start because they recognize they are the ones catching everyone else’s typos while they’re doing a typical office job. Or they discover people come to them to help them sort out their writing and they realize they can do developmental editing.
Breaking into editing
Implicit in the question is “How can I break into editing or find an editing gig.”
Finding an editing job is not unlike finding a writing job. You’ve got to find a way to get some credits in the editing field you want to tackle. It’s quite possible to get credit for editing right in the job you’re at – if you’re the one people come to with writing questions, see if you can’t get editor added to your job title, or some testimonials about what a great job you did.
Those then can be worked into a resume or credit list and used when applying for editing jobs or gigs.
Which in turn can go on your web page – editors need websites just as much as writers do and for most of the same reasons.
Finding editing jobs and gigs
The approach almost the same is finding freelance writing gigs. You look, maybe using a job list like the one here. You talk with people, telling them what you’re looking for. I can even imagine a telemarketing campaign around editing much like freelance writers often do.
Another great way to build some credits is to talk to your local weekly newspaper – they often need editing. Don’t expect a ton of pay, and maybe you’ll even have to do a bit of the work on a volunteer basis, but newspaper credits are worth having for both writers and editors.
Have a question about writing, editing or publishing? Contact me – with Q&A in the subject line and I’ll probably answer you here.
Have you been hired as an editor? How did they find you? What other tips might you have?
Write well and often,
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