Editors and Writers discussion

Getting into editing

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message 1: by Becky (new)

Becky | 3 comments Hi

I am new to the group and the world of editing/publishing. I love to read and have been doing some Beta and review reading.

I realized I have a passion for books and the process. I want to go back to school for editing/publishing and have not been able to figure out a solid plan. Should I go for a degree or a certificate? I have a master's degree in a different field.

Any suggestions would be appreciated.
Thank you

message 2: by Harrison (new)

Harrison Demchick | 19 comments Becky,

A degree in English or creative writing (there aren't many institutions that offer something more precise than that) looks decent on the resume, but doesn't really set you apart from every other English major who thinks they can edit. Workshop experience is crucial in helping hone your critiquing skills, but it doesn't necessarily need to be in pursuit of another degree.

What actually sets you apart in editing is experience. When I started freelancing, I had years of experiencing editing manuscripts for a traditional publisher and a lot of published books to my credit. Because of that tangible professional experience, I was able to build up a client base. So if you can find a way to intern at a publisher--it's unlikely you'd be hired for pay right off the bat--that experience may actually serve you better than the degree.

But some places probably require the degree for the internship, so that could be a bit of a catch. This is a tricky business.

Harrison Demchick
Developmental Editor, Ambitious Enterprises

message 3: by Nikki (last edited Jul 24, 2014 02:04PM) (new)

Nikki | 4 comments Becky, I think different editors take different paths. As Harrison pointed out, getting some intern experience is one way to go about it. There are other ways too.

My own journey began with an English degree and career experience in medical publishing and advertising copywriting. I started beta reading for kicks, much as you have, and was told by a few authors that I had a talent for editing fiction.

I felt that it was important (for me) to go back to school and get some professional training in order to pursue editing as a career. Granted, I already had some magazine and nonfiction editing experience under my belt and had a good feeling for "what sounds right" in terms of grammar, but I wanted to review the nuts and bolts and learn from those with experience in the field.

I enrolled in the online certificate program in copyediting at University of California-San Diego Extension a few years ago and have no regrets. I researched a few certificate programs before deciding on this one, and I have been pleased with the instruction. I was also asked to edit some self-published books for free or for a nominal fee, which helped me build experience.

The end result--I am usually booked with editing projects months in advance by a mix of traditional publishers and indie authors. My rate has increased over the past few years, making it possible for me to primarily edit full time. And two weeks ago, a fiction book I edited won a prestigious award, and I'm getting even more exposure as a result.

So if an internship is not available, keep beta reading and even volunteering to edit when you can. Start building your library of editing reference books and read them. And if you do feel the need to study editing further, there are a few decent programs out there. The Editorial Freelancers Association has a number of online courses as well.

Nikki Busch

message 4: by Ruth (new)

Ruth Feiertag | 115 comments Nikki's advice is excellent. I took a similar course though the UC Berkeley Extension as a refresher and it was definitely worthwhile.


message 5: by Michelle (new)

Michelle (michelledunbar) | 13 comments I've been thinking about getting into editing too. I was lucky enough to get a year as an Intern for a independent publisher (who thought I had completed my degree, but when I told them up front I was in the final year, they took me on anyway as a student intern). I'm on my final module this year, but plan on joining the UK Society of Proof-readers and Editors, and doing their introduction to Proof-reading and copy-editing. In the meantime, I am beta-reading/editing on a voluntary basis to gain experience.

message 6: by Becky (last edited Aug 01, 2014 06:27AM) (new)

Becky | 3 comments Thanks everyone! This has been a huge help. I have been continuing to beta and pick up things for free. I want to look in to the UC-SDE or UC-BE program(s) I have yet to find any myself through searches that looked worth while. Thank you for the advice I will also be looking into the Editorial Freelancers Association. I did stumble upon them recently but have not had time to delve in.

message 7: by Harrison (new)

Harrison Demchick | 19 comments I'm a member of the EFA. It's a very useful organization, but the caveat is that you find yourself competing in an editorial field with a *lot* of experience. I've found membership very worthwhile. In fact, I just this morning renewed my membership for another two years.

Harrison Demchick
Developmental Editor, Ambitious Enterprises

message 8: by Nikki (new)

Nikki | 4 comments I agree with Harrison. An EFA membership is very worthwhile. I don't often bid on the job postings, because I tend to book up quickly on my own and each job gets dozens if not over a hundred applicants.

That said, I have landed several clients because they found my listing in the EFA member directory. So even if you don't compete for the job postings, the membership still gives you excellent exposure. You can also learn much from the more seasoned members just by following the postings on the email list, which is only open to members.

message 9: by Becky (new)

Becky | 3 comments Thank you!

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