Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Writer Wednesday: So You Think You Can Edit?

Yeah, I'm cringing at that post title too. ;) You all know I like to amuse myself though, and that's what my brain concocted for the question submitted for today's Writer Wednesday. What is that question? Check it out:

"How does someone go about becoming an editor and how you know how good you are at editing?"

Okay, well answers for this are going to vary, so let me share my journey. First, I went to college to become an English teacher, which is exactly what I was for seven years before switching careers. So, I have a degree in English. While I loved literature, some of my favorite classes were actually grammar courses. Call me crazy but I love grammar rules. Yes, I'm the girl who corrects people's grammar on a regular basis. No, I'm not sorry about it. I love grammar.

From teaching, I moved into proofreading (for a school district actually). That's when I discovered I love to edit. So I set up a page on my website to offer my services, and then I blogged about it with a very special offer. I'd edit up to 10 pages for free so people could try me out. I offered that for one month, and I picked up my first clients. Luckily for me, they were happy with my work and I still work with many of them today, years later.

Once I'd been editing for a while, I started working for several small presses, which looked good on my resume and landed me more freelance clients. That pretty much brings us to today, where I'm in the fortunate situation to have a healthy list of regular clients. I'm busier than ever and even have to turn people away at times because I tend to book months in advance.

As far as how to know how good you are at editing, your clients will tell you. Repeats are happy customers. I can say that in order to be a good editor, you must live on Merriam-Webster and Chicago Manual of Style. I check everything against those sites.

That's my journey. A love of the English language, a degree, some free trials, and now more editing jobs than I could ever fulfill. :) 

*If you have a question you'd like me to answer from the other side of the editor's desk, feel free to leave it in the comments and I'll schedule it for a future post.

30 comments:

  1. Got a degree in English too but I was not the grammar girl as you put it. I was even worse in linguistics. But I've always been good at spotting errors and correcting them that I've gotten the nick name 'eagle eye.' Even when I'm reading for the joy of reading, I can't help but to hone in on a mistake and auto correct it in my head. Thanks for sharing your story on how you got into editing and for doing what you do. A good book can become better thanks to editors like you.

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    1. You're welcome, Lidy. I can't read for enjoyment without noticing errors either. It's kind of a curse sometimes.

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  2. I love to line/content edit for CPs and such, but the idea of doing it professionally always scared me a little. I think it's great when an author can write his/her own books, while offering such a fantastic service to others.

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  3. I love to edit, but I'm lousy at editing my own stuff. I just correct every mistake in my head, but not on the page.

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    1. Self-editing is nearly impossible. You can't do for yourself what you can do for others.

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  4. I hear you! I found out I love to edit by the fact I edit my own pieces TO DEATH. And when I started correcting other people's blog posts, tweets, texts, etc in my head, I knew I was in trouble. I think content editing is my favorite though, finding what's not working with characters and plot and figuring out how to fix it. Problem solving skills + writing? Now that's a win, right?

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  5. I'm alright at editing my cohort's work. You wouldn't know it by looking at my own MSS though! That's awesome you can parallel your writing career with editing gigs. I currently teach a writing workshop, and I plan to teach after grad school. I'm not sure i could swing it as an editor. Great post!

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    1. Editing definitely isn't for everyone. People tend to be grammar nuts or hate grammar. ;)

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  6. I think being a writer helps too. I personally won't use a freelance editor who has never written.

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    1. I know some editors who don't write but are still very good editors. They're avid readers too.

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  7. You are gracious to share the gift of grammar with others for whom you edit. What you wrote in this post convinced me I was not made to be an editor. Grammar is something I have learned, but never get excited about.

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    1. I don't know why grammar is fun for me. I'm just weird. ;)

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  8. It's wonderful to be working at a job you enjoy. I think liking to edit makes you very good at it. Interesting story. Thanks.

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  9. Honestly, I know I can't edit. I rely on crazy people like you to help me polish. I'm so thankful for you grammar (and punctuation) nuts!

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  10. What an interesting post! I give editors a lot of credit. I know quite a bit about editing, but not enough to be an editor! Editors make our writing sparkle. :)
    ~Jess

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  11. So that's why you're so good at it. You certainly have the experience!

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  12. Do you know how many times over the years my freelance writing clients have just assumed I can edit because I write. I always say that's not one of my skills. I can beta read and make suggestions and even do some corrections--but I prefer to leave the editing up to the professionals.

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    1. Yes, there are those who assume writing and editing are skills that go together. They really don't have to though.

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  13. Thanks for sharing Kelly! Great insights from other side of the desk!

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  14. Sounds great, Kelly. I can (and love) content-editing but still lack confidence in line-editing. Reckon I don't have to do both and just offer one service. :) Plenty of clients out there looking for different services!

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