How to Become a Book Editor

How to Become a Book Editor

If you’ve always dreamed of being a book editor, this guide is for you.

Here, we provide an overview of the different roles available for book editors, as well as tips on how to land your ideal career.

What Does a Book Editor Do?

First things first: What does being a book editor actually involve? 

Generally speaking, the role of a book editor is to polish an author’s writing, ensuring it is clear, correct, and compelling.

However, the specific work a book editor does will depend on the type of editing they offer. The main types of book editing are:

  • Developmental editing. This occurs early on, sometimes before a full manuscript has been completed. Developmental editing looks at the book as a whole and can involve working with an author to refine their ideas, develop the plot and characters, and adjust the book’s structure.
  • Line editing. This is an in-depth type of editing that involves looking at a manuscript line-by-line, focusing on substantive issues such as pacing, tone, style, and clarity.
  • Copy editing. This type of editing occurs after a line edit and prioritizes correcting errors and inaccuracies such as inconsistencies, spelling and grammatical mistakes, and punctuation or formatting issues.
  • Proofreading. This is the last stage of editing. Proofreading is the final check before a manuscript goes to print and involves combing the text for any missed or introduced mechanical errors, such as typos.

After choosing which type of editing to offer, you can narrow it down further by focusing on things like form and genre. For example, you could choose to exclusively edit nonfiction books, or you could specialize in editing young adult fiction.

Things to Consider

Before you start your journey toward becoming a book editor, there are a few things you need to consider.

1. Type of Editing

As we addressed above, there are many types of book editing you can choose to offer. While you think about what areas you would like to specialize in, keep in mind how you might find clients and whether you’ll need additional qualifications.

If you’re having trouble deciding, try offering a few different types of editing on a freelance or voluntary basis to see what feels right.

2. Freelance vs. Traditional Publishers

Book editors can work on a freelance basis, or they can be employed by a traditional publisher.

If you choose to freelance, you’ll have the benefit of flexible hours and the ability to choose which clients you work with.

On the other hand, working with a traditional publisher can provide more job stability and opportunities for career progression.

3. Necessary Skills

You don’t need a particular degree or qualification to edit books, but you do need to have the right skills. These include:

  • Attention to detail
  • The ability to focus for long periods of time
  • Time management
  • A good understanding of the English language
  • Excellent communication skills

If you choose to edit a particular genre or subject matter, being able to demonstrate knowledge of those areas will also benefit you.

Becoming a Book Editor

Once you’re sure that book editing is the right option for you, you can take the first steps to start your new career.

1. Take an Editing Course

Book editing requires a good understanding of the rules and requirements of English as well as how to fix errors when you spot them.

You’ll also need to understand complex concepts like tone, voice, and plot structure.

Taking an editing course can provide you with the skills and knowledge you need to land a job as a book editor. It can also boost your confidence as a new editor and help you impress employers and clients, especially if you lack practical experience.

2. Build an Online Presence

Online marketing is key to finding employers and clients as a book editor. 

To build an online presence, try:

  • Establishing professional social media accounts where you can connect with people in the publishing industry, especially platforms like LinkedIn.
  • Creating your own website where you list the services you offer and demonstrate your skills with a portfolio and testimonials.
  • Running a blog where you share regular tips and insights about relevant topics.

3. Reach Out to Potential Clients

Whether you want to become a book editor on a freelance basis or work for a publishing company, reaching out to your ideal potential clients can provide many benefits, such as:

  • Establishing yourself in the industry 
  • Gaining the opportunity to network
  • Finding work to boost your resume or portfolio
  • Gaining experience with communication, marketing, and editing

You can find these potential clients through social media groups, in online marketplaces like Upwork and Fiverr, and by cold emailing people you would like to work with. 

Self-published authors, in particular, often make great clients for new book editors.

Becoming an Editor

For comprehensive online training that teaches you everything you need to know about editing, look no further than our Becoming An Editor course.

This course covers a range of editing niches that can help you get started as a book editor, including how to edit creative writing.

Try the course out for free and be one step closer to your ideal career.

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