The right way to Change into an Editor: A Complete Information for Writers

Regardless of some similarities, writing and enhancing aren’t the identical job. 

But enhancing is usually a pure development for writers inside a corporation, and it’s a means for freelancers to broaden their work prospects.

Primarily based on my expertise transitioning from author to editor as a freelancer and staffer, right here’s how you can grow to be an editor.

The right way to grow to be an editor and broaden your profession horizon

Like quite a lot of skilled writers, I’ve at all times had mates who reached out for enhancing assistance on tasks. Engaged on these interest tasks (without spending a dime, as a result of I had no precise enhancing abilities) helped me see how a lot I loved working with others’ writing. 

Over time, I spotted my enhancing abilities even outshine my writing abilities; I’m more proficient at perfecting current content material than producing one thing of my very own from scratch. (Holy creativity, fiction writers! Kudos.)

Early on, my freelance enhancing work was sparse and low-paying, as a result of, no abilities. And I used to be considering like a author.

Early on, I utilized for a workers editor place with a blogger I knew properly. After an enhancing take a look at, I didn’t get a name again, despite the fact that I assumed I’d achieved properly. Looking back, I notice I used to be lacking an enormous talent: the power to ask the proper inquiries to information a author to enhance the piece. As an alternative — chuckle with me — I made a couple of copy edits and submitted the take a look at with a word to the hiring supervisor that the piece was just about unfixable. Not an awesome teaching second.

(Trace: They make the writing in enhancing checks actually unhealthy on goal. They need to know the way you take care of it.)

In 2015, I began as a workers author with The Penny Hoarder. In that position, I took on extra duties, together with coordinating syndicated weblog posts and dealing with our social media workforce on graphics. Work like this gave me expertise working with different individuals’s writing, a great stepping stone to turning into an editor.

My enhancing profession actually started after I utilized for an open enhancing place at The Penny Hoarder and handed the enhancing take a look at with a pair years’ extra information of the method. As soon as I used to be doing the work every day, discovering freelance enhancing gigs was simpler. I knew what sort of gigs to search for, and I had the expertise to again it up. I’d realized to assume like an editor.

Earlier than you delve into enhancing, take into consideration what it takes to be a great editor. Who’re your favourite editors? Observe how they work with you: What sorts of conversations do you have got? What sorts of feedback do they make in your work? What techniques do you want and dislike?

What does an editor do?

Opposite to what your non-writer mates who always ask you to look over their writing imagine, an editor is way over a typo catcher. (Oh. My. Goodness. Cease with this delusion.)

Editors are advocates — for good writing, for an viewers, for the purpose of a bit and for the creator. Our job is to make sure an editorial shines, that the viewers will perceive it, that it achieves its goal and that the creator at all times comes out on high.

A tiny piece of that’s catching typos.

Your extra writerly mates most likely perceive that enhancing additionally means serving to a author mildew content material into its finest kind, together with its group, formatting, phrase alternative, sentence construction, fact-checking, and our beloved grammar, punctuation and magnificence.

We’re additionally typically coaches or managers. An editor job description may simply embody serving to writers brainstorm concepts and reshape pitches, guiding them by means of widespread errors and serving to them lean into their artistic strengths, assigning and managing content material, supervising staffers or freelancers and contributing to enterprise objectives.

How a lot any of those duties are included in a job relies on the group, consumer or venture’s wants. Focus on these together with your consumer or boss upfront to know what’s anticipated of your position.

Is enhancing best for you?

You’re a author now, and most editors start with an curiosity in writing — few individuals at a younger age fall in love with the written phrase and imagine their future is to shine another person’s.

Some individuals are nice writers as a result of they’re nice storytellers or they’ve a compelling message to share. These individuals most likely aren’t nice editors.

Some individuals are nice writers as a result of they know how you can manipulate phrases so any story sounds nice and any message is compelling. Should you’re that sort of author, you may take into account turning into an editor; you possibly can switch that energy to others’ work.

Should you’re undecided whether or not enhancing is the proper transfer for you, ask these questions:

Do you get pleasure from growing and shaping content material?
Can you’re employed with a number of voices?
Are you a pure downside solver?
Are you comfy delivering constructive suggestions?

Do it’s a must to hand over writing to grow to be an editor?

I nonetheless each write and edit. Loads of writers transition to enhancing and notice the latter is a greater match, so ultimately cease writing. And a few enhancing jobs don’t embody any writing. However you don’t have to be one or the opposite. 

With newsroom budgets tightening and on-line companies working lean, quite a lot of editor job descriptions embody as a lot writing as enhancing. And as a freelancer, you possibly can tackle any sort of work you need! My full-time editor job doesn’t contain writing, however most of my freelance work does.

Nonetheless, enhancing is not writing. If you edit another person’s work, don your editor cap, and put aside the author cap. An editor’s job is to make the writing one of the best — that features maintaining a author’s voice intact and fulfilling a publication’s goal.

Should you can’t resist the urge to make your mark on a bit, take into account that you’re not an editor, and work to develop in your writing profession with out shifting into enhancing.

Or take into account ghostwriting. Ghostwriting — composing work that might be revealed below another person’s identify — isn’t enhancing, however the companies may go hand in hand. Decide what sort of work you’re prepared to tackle, and set clear boundaries with purchasers earlier than accepting jobs.

Kinds of editors

As a result of “enhancing” encompasses so many various kinds of work, enhancing jobs fluctuate a ton, too. You might work in any respect ranges of a corporation, on any medium or at any level in a venture, relying in your talent and expertise degree, and what sort of work you favor.

Everybody defines and labels the ranges of enhancing in another way, however they typically imply the identical factor: ranges of enhancing denote the purpose at which the editor enters the manufacturing course of. 

I exploit Stacy Ennis’s definitions from “The Editor’s Eye” to delineate forms of editors:

Developmental editor

This editor helps a author plan and form an editorial, normally a guide or long-form content material. You may become involved earlier than they’ve achieved any writing, otherwise you may take a look at a tough draft to make suggestions about overarching parts, like storyline and characters.

Substantive editor

This work is concentrated on macro edits, or strategies for the group of a bit. You’ll assist the author reduce or add info and reorder content material to finest convey a narrative or message to the viewers.

Line editor

Right here you’ll transfer into micro edits, or corrections to grammar and strategies to strengthen and tighten copy. (This position is usually known as “copy editor” throughout industries, however I’ll go along with “line editor” for this piece to differentiate from the precise newsroom title of copy editor, outlined under.)


That is the final line of protection between reader and error. You’ll catch errors in grammar and punctuation, in addition to inconsistencies: incorrect web page numbers, mismatched desk of contents, font types, character names or use of phrases. Study extra about how you can grow to be a proofreader right here.

Widespread areas of enhancing

You’ll be able to present these ranges of enhancing on just about something written. A number of editors give attention to explicit media to extra simply discover purchasers and follow work they get pleasure from. 

Listed here are some widespread examples of areas of enhancing:

Ebook editor 

Edit book-length manuscripts. Editors normally specialise in both fiction or nonfiction. You’ll want to know how you can manage info and guarantee continuity throughout a number of chapters over one thing like 80,000 phrases.

Weblog or internet editor

Edit weblog posts and duplicate for web site pages, newsletters, social media and different on-line content material. You’ll must know web-specific abilities, reminiscent of search engine marketing (website positioning), catchy headline writing and weblog publish formatting.

Information editor

Edit for newspapers, web sites, broadcast media or magazines. You’ll must be accustomed to the fashion of information writing and the nuances of journalism, reminiscent of working with sources, moral requirements and the tempo of the information cycle.

Tutorial editor

Edit essays, analysis papers, theses and dissertations. You’ll must be accustomed to tutorial stylebooks per discipline, and students typically favor an editor with a related diploma, particularly a sophisticated diploma.

Multimedia editor

This isn’t a discipline however a set of abilities you can apply anyplace. The flexibility to edit and proofread copy off the web page — in graphics, video or different visuals — may improve your worth as an editor. Even higher if you may make visible suggestions or work with visible enhancing software program your self.

Recognized by many names — different editor titles you may encounter

Folks with the “editor” title additionally typically tackle duties past working with copy, reminiscent of workers, venture and content material administration. That is widespread in newsrooms and corporations which have adopted the newsroom construction, reminiscent of content material advertising companies or blogs. Some editor titles you may encounter:

Copy editor

This position is centered on copy. They’re normally the final to have a look at content material earlier than it’s revealed, performing line edits, fact-checking and proofreading, in addition to writing headlines and meta knowledge. Supervisory roles, reminiscent of slot or copy chief (each virtually solely in conventional newsrooms) carry out copy enhancing duties and handle different copy editors.

Task editor

In a newsroom, this editor is accountable for a selected part of the paper. In a much less conventional atmosphere, they could merely oversee an editorial workforce. Writers may report on to an task editor, and the editor assigns items and works with writers on developmental and substantive enhancing earlier than sending content material to the copy desk.

Managing editor

This editor oversees newsroom operation and is normally in a roundabout way concerned in content material manufacturing. They handle individuals, guarantee content material high quality and are concerned in content material technique. 

Editor in chief or government editor

It is a enterprise position, despite the fact that it has “editor” within the identify. They handle a corporation’s operations, together with budgets and staffing, in addition to guiding content material technique and setting the usual for content material high quality.

Are you a workers editor or freelance editor?

These job titles are based mostly on conventional newsrooms. You’ll encounter these duties or mixtures of them below varied titles, relying on business.

No matter any of those job titles, nonetheless, one of the impactful distinctions in your work is whether or not you’re a staffer a freelancer. That is the distinction between working for another person and dealing for your self, however it could additionally have an effect on the kind of work. 

Employees editor

Inside an organization, you’re extra prone to have the chance (or expectation) to grow to be a supervisor, and assist form writers’ abilities and careers. Staying centered on precise enhancing may imply hitting a ceiling, as a result of the assumed profession development usually results in administration.

Freelance editor

Freelance work is extra doubtless centered on content material. With a long-term consumer, you may work on content material technique, and deal with communication and administrative duties with contributors, however you’re not as doubtless as on a workers to grow to be deeply concerned with worker or organizational growth.

How a lot do editors make?

Defining a typical editor wage is hard. How a lot an editor makes relies on the above job duties, the business, the situation and — typically, particularly in freelancing — how a lot you ask for and the way a lot somebody is prepared to pay.

To set your wage or charges, analysis typical pay for the work. Listed here are some helpful sources:

Editorial Freelancers Affiliation: This group’s fee desk is a go-to for freelance editors, most likely as a result of it’s so complete. It’s a great begin for understanding how you can cost in your work, however I warning sticking to it strictly — not least of all as a result of it doesn’t web site any supply for what it calls “widespread editorial charges,” and too many variables exist to name any fee “widespread.”

Wage-comparison websites, together with Glassdoor, LinkedIn and Payscale, plus job-search websites together with Certainly and ZipRecruiter, allow you to search by job title and site to be taught a pay vary based mostly on crowd-sourced salaries.

What purchasers anticipate to pay: Take a look at the opposite facet of the equation. When a author hires an editor, for instance, how a lot are they anticipating to pay?

Different editors: Analysis your competitors. What charges do comparable editors record on their web sites? You may even attain out to pleasant colleagues and ask instantly, however with warning, contemplating any variations between your conditions.

Family and friends charges

Freelancers typically set discounted charges for family and friends. Mine is about 40%, however that’s arbitrary, so resolve what works for you. 

The F&F fee generally is a solution to stay skilled whereas softening the awkwardness of telling these expectant acquaintances they can’t use your companies without spending a dime. Setting it alongside together with your different charges makes the negotiation simple — both they’ll pay the speed or not.

Specialization pays extra

When you’ve got specialised information that qualifies you in a selected discipline, reminiscent of academia, science or legislation, you’ll command the next fee. It’s more durable to seek out editors who’re each well-versed in grammar and magnificence, and educated sufficient about, say, company legislation or environmental science to catch errors and form copy for a related viewers.

The right way to get enhancing jobs

Trying to find enhancing jobs, whether or not as a contractor or worker, seems to be comparable to looking for writing jobs (minus the pitches). 

Strive these sources to seek out enhancing jobs:

Freelance brokers: Gig websites reminiscent of Upwork, Toptal and Freelancer assist you to join with individuals who want freelance companies. These might help you dip your toe into the enterprise or fill in gaps throughout gradual months. I don’t suggest them to maintain what you are promoting, as a result of purchasers are sometimes selecting companies based mostly on the bottom worth, not the very best quality.

Job-search websites: You’ll find each freelance and full-time enhancing jobs by means of websites like Certainly, ZipRecruiter and LinkedIn.

Journalism and media websites: Seek for information enhancing jobs by means of Media Bistro, or Mediagazer.

Publishing companies: Contracting with an organization that helps authors publish books (or different content material) might help you get a gradual stream and number of freelance enhancing work with out chasing purchasers your self. Try Elite Enhancing, Scribe Media and Reedsy.

ACES: The Society for Enhancing: A $75 annual membership to this group for editors throughout industries comes with various perks, together with entry to a job financial institution of high-quality jobs and tasks in addition to an inventory within the ACES Editors for Rent listing.

Your web site: Don’t overlook to hang around your shingle your self! Add enhancing companies to your freelance author web site to draw queries. Optimize your web site by creating content material that can appeal to the sorts of purchasers you need: recommendations on how you can write a guide, how you can develop a weblog or how you can write a tutorial essay, for instance.

What do purchasers search for in freelance editors?

Many writers and enterprise house owners don’t know what editors do, so your first hurdle as a freelancer is usually explaining the forms of enhancing you provide and serving to potential purchasers perceive what they want. It’s normally greater than the proofreading they assume they’re hiring you for.

In my expertise, purchasers don’t typically dig deeply into your expertise for one-off tasks. Whether or not fiction authors or PR execs, they’re typically sure by a price range and need to discover inexpensive enhancing. That works in your favor; simply don’t promote your self brief out of desperation for work.

For an ongoing gig, purchasers may need you to take an enhancing take a look at or a minimum of try your resume and discuss by means of your enhancing expertise. Familiarize your self with their business, viewers and the suitable fashion information for his or her work (e.g. AP, MLA or Chicago).

What do employers search for when hiring editors?

Like every job, the method to get employed as a workers editor with an organization is extra in depth than that to get a contract gig. Listed here are some issues employers search for in editors:

You’re accustomed to their business. Some corporations, particularly these in extremely technical industries like well being care or know-how, favor specialised editors. Extra typically, although, corporations need to know you possibly can work of their kind of atmosphere — a fast-paced newsroom, a authorities company or company communications, for instance. Expertise as a author in these environments is perhaps adequate.

You’ll be able to work with freelancers. A number of corporations work with freelance writers for a minimum of a few of their content material, and plenty of editor job listings search for expertise working with freelancers, which requires a corporation and finesse in communication that differs from working with workers writers.

You’ve got onerous abilities past enhancing. Totally different from freelance tasks, most workers editors do greater than edit copy. Employers need to know you perceive website positioning, headline writing (together with for the online), content material administration programs reminiscent of WordPress; and dealing with multimedia, together with enhancing graphics, choosing pictures and inserting meta knowledge in media and internet pages. Doing any of those in your personal weblog is perhaps sufficient to showcase your know-how.

You’ll be able to edit for a web based viewers. Everybody desires digital expertise, and surprisingly few skilled editors have it to the diploma they want. Present that you may write a headline that’ll catch consideration on Fb and select sturdy anchor textual content, along with reducing an extraneous em sprint, and also you’re in.

Do you need to be an editor?

Every spring, lots of of editors collect someplace within the U.S. for the annual ACES convention, three full days of speaking about phrases and the way we use them. It’s my favourite factor all yr, means above Christmas and even the Feb. 15 sweet gross sales.

I like being surrounded by individuals who care that the “Related Press Type Information” determined in a 2019 replace that the p.c image is OK and we don’t want hyphens in each compound modifier. I like having discussions in regards to the historical past of phrases and the best way we write, as a result of the best way we write shapes who we’re as a society.

If that doesn’t hearth you up, enhancing most likely isn’t for you.

If it does, take into account including enhancing to your repertoire so as to add a layer to your relationship with writing and broaden your profession alternatives.

Picture by way of GuadiLab / Shutterstock 

In regards to the Writer: Dana Sitar

Dana Sitar has been writing and enhancing for digital media since 2011, with bylines together with Inc., the New York Instances, Slate and extra. She shares recommendation for writers, editors, college students and educators on how you can write properly at

Web site | @danasitar

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