So You Want to Be an Editor?
If you find yourself spotting typos and grammatical errors in your local newspaper and being asked to look over friends’ cover letters when they apply for jobs, you might be considering becoming an editor. Maybe you’ve always wanted to know the ins and outs of the leading style guides such as The Chicago Manual of Style or The Associated Press Stylebook. Or perhaps you are intrigued by the prospect of helping writers develop their work on a larger, more developmental scale. You’ve got the right instincts; you just need help refining them and learning about the industry.
A class is the best place to start. By taking an introductory course, you can get a good overview of the market, the skills required, and the nitty-gritty of the profession, to see if you’d like to pursue it.
Look for courses
- at local colleges. Many offer in-person or virtual introductory editing courses under their professional advancement programs.
- on the internet. Many universities offer online certificate-granting programs in editing. Some well-known programs include The University of Chicago Graham School, UC Berkeley Extension, and UC San Diego Extension.
- through a professional association. The EFA offers a number of introductory courses (see below), as do other associations in the industry, such as ACES (The Society for Editing) for general training and AMWA (American Medical Writers Association) for industry-specific training.
- The EFA frequently runs introductory courses in copyediting, developmental editing, line editing, and more. Find our current offerings on our website at the-efa.org/education.
- For those seeking a quick overview, we offer a number of recorded webinars about entering the industry, including “Copyediting Fiction, Part 1: Overview,” “Listen to the Music: Introduction to Line Editing,” and “Introduction to ‘The Chicago Manual of Style.”
- The EFA’s Publication Program (the-efa.org/booklets) publishes a number of booklets for beginning editors. Those titles starting with “Freelancing 101” may be of particular interest to budding freelancers.
Key EFA Benefits for New Editors
If you decide to join the EFA as a member, you’ll be eligible for a number of member benefits of particular interest to new editors:
- 20 percent off all EFA courses and webinars
- access to the EFA’s online Discussion List, where participants exchange ideas and advice with thousands of other editorial professionals across the globe
- networking with fellow members via in-person and virtual chapter meetings
- resources, events, and programs spearheaded by the EFA’s Diversity Initiative to ensure a diverse membership and inclusive editorial practices
- discounts on editing software, industry conferences, reference materials, and more
Industry conferences present new and potential editors with a rare opportunity to quickly learn more about the industry, find more resources, and network with other professionals. Some prominent editorial conferences include the following:
- EFA (Editorial Freelancers Association) biennial conference
- ACES (The Society for Editing) annual conference
- American Medical Writers Association annual conference
- Communication Central/NAIWE Be a Better Freelancer® annual conference
- Northwest Editors Guild biennial Red Pencil conference
Copyeditors’ Knowledge Base: http://kokedit.com/ckb.php
Conscious Style Guide: https://consciousstyleguide.com/
An American Editor (blog): https://americaneditor.wordpress.com/
The Subversive Copy Editor Blog (blog): https://www.subversivecopyeditor.com/blog/
Editors Canada Career Builder: https://www.editors.ca/sites/default/files/editorscanada-careerbuilder.pdf
CE-L listserv: http://www.copyediting-l.info/
The Editing Podcast: https://www.louiseharnbyproofreader.com/podcast.html
The Deliberate Freelancer Podcast: https://deliberatefreelancer.libsyn.com/
The Copyeditor’s Handbook: A Guide for Book Publishing and Corporate Communications, by Amy Einsohn and Marilyn Schwartz (4th ed.; 2019)
What Editors Do: The Art, Craft, and Business of Book Editing, by Peter Ginna, Ed. (2017)
The Subversive Copy Editor, by Carol Fisher Saller (2nd ed.; 2016)
Developmental Editing: A Handbook for Freelancers, Authors, and Publishers, by Scott Norton (2011)
The Chicago Guide to Grammar, Usage, and Punctuation, by Bryan A Garner (2016)
Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen, by Mary Norris (2015)