The editing sector is broad, internally diverse and changing. It’s not enough to want to be an editor. You have to know what kind of editor.
Editors Canada say there are structural editors, stylistic editors, copy editors and proofreaders. That’s a useful place to start. I’d advise researching each editing level before deciding which you prefer.
Taking courses that provide the right amount of homework and instructor feedback will help you to learn your strengths and weaknesses.
I completed a certificate in copy editing with UC San Diego Extension. It’s a great course because the instructors are actively engaged and the workload is just right. It lasts from 9 to 12 months, giving the student plenty of time for reflection and growth.
The next step is to think about what materials you’d like to work on. I have a PhD, so wondered if I should edit academic books. Then my background in social media and journalism won out; I now specialise in public communication materials.
It seems everyone is training in editing these days. The best way to reduce your competition is to specialise in a niche such as a subject, genre or industry. Working in a niche has several advantages.
- You can deepen your knowledge of everything required to edit in the niche.
- You can market yourself by joining associations and online communities devoted to the niche.
- You might increase your chances of other kinds of work within the niche.
Finally, think about whether you want to be an editor or do something in a related field. A background in editing is useful for writing coaches, writers and communicators.
Once you have a fixed idea about what kind of editor you are, be prepared to forget it. Many clients simply want practical support tailored to their needs. As an editor there may be times when you are a coach, a writer, a proofreader or even a social media specialist.