Monday, June 02, 2014

Becoming an Editor (or Jumping into the Pool): Part 2

In Part 1, I suggested some reality checks for those thinking about becoming editors, before jumping into that pool. Today’s post includes some practical considerations for working toward that goal, based on my own journey into the profession.

Working in publishing had been a dream since my father once predicted publishing was where his reading-crazy daughter would someday land. After ten years at home with my children following a first, definitely-not-publishing career, a surprise opportunity came for an entry-level, temporary position in a publishing house. I gladly accepted, and after a few years into my career there as, ultimately, an executive managing editor, I knew I someday wanted to be an editor who edits.

That job was a blessing, and not everyone interested in editing will have a similar opportunity. But I’m sharing these five steps out of my own experience for those of you who, too, want to become an editor.

·         Get training to acquire editorial skills. For those who wanted to freelance but had no training or experience, we recommended Mark My Words for proofreading and an online university course for learning copy editing. One training source, which also has in mind the Christian market (my niche), is The Christian Pen. I made a point of getting editorial training, and the time and cost have always been worth it. Consider: Training for proofreading is a relatively inexpensive first step for assessing your interest in editing.

·         Find an internship or job where you can learn "on the job." I looked over the shoulders of the editors I worked with as much as I could. If you can get a position in any area of publishing and work around trained editors, that would be fantastic. Consider: In a non-publishing environment, try to unobtrusively look over the shoulder of someone who is usually tapped to ensure documents, signs, or letters are editorially excellent.

·         Seek personalized feedback. When I took that online copy editing course from a university, the professor confirmed, unsolicited, that I had aptitude and talent for editing. With gained confidence and the gracious support of my editor-in-chief boss, I began to more obviously tap the brains of the experienced editors around me. One editor allowed me to simultaneously edit a few chapters of a book he was editing and then gave me feedback. Many of them graciously answered questions—and still do! Consider: Your friends and family—like my dad—may have your best interests at heart, but that does not make them expert at assessing your aptitude for professional editing.

·         Create opportunities to gain experience. Again with the support of my boss, I established an in-house editorial services team that proofread and edited catalogs, marketing pieces, mass communication to authors, and so on. Not only was this job enhancement a great place to train future editors, but it jump-started those of us on the team into being considered editors.  Consider: If your non-publishing supervisor does not prioritize editorial excellence, suggest its valuable benefits and how together you can care for it.

·         Go freelance after thoroughly preparing for the best and the worst. Before leaving my job for full-time freelancing, the two most important things I did were (1) making a list of potential clients and (2) thinking through what I might do if I failed. My conviction that God was leading me into moving closer to family by way of a full-time freelance editing career was confirmed with the blessing of continued work. But he built into my DNA a fondness for and drive to preparation, and I recommend it for anyone taking this leap. Consider: Determine why you think freelancing is the way to go for you, especially if you tend to be extroverted.

Feel free to leave a comment or ask a question.

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