ASK EM — Breaking into Editing

Keyboard with Tips and Tricks Button.

This question comes from Harlie:

How did you break into the world of actually working for a publisher in editing? I’m published, an experienced RWA judge for the last three years and have been a beta reader for several best-selling writers and no one seems to take me seriously. Any advice would be helpful. Thanks Em!

Some people start out with English degrees. Some people go to the school of Hard Knocks. The latter is me.

My first experiences with editing were actually successful critiques for other authors. I had 2 friends who were published right out of the gate after taking my suggestions. At that time, I realized that editing has a lot to do with your gut instincts. Sure, I didn’t know where to place commas, but I knew what would take the story to the higher level it needed to sell.

I started to read more and more about grammar and punctuation. My break came when I took an editing test for a small publisher and passed! At that point, I had a style manual in my greedy little hands, and I was able to learn more. I worked my way up to Sr. Editor and directed others as well as took on some major bestselling authors.

It was only after I had about 3 years of editing under my belt that I began to freelance edit. And I’m still learning. I have to look things up and ask questions of those I trust and respect. Now I know comma placement, but I still go with my gut.

I didn’t outright answer Harlie’s question and instead told a little tale. But I hope you can see there is potential in finding another route to becoming an editor besides shelling out thousands for a degree. Lots of practice and a few small breaks will get you into publishing houses. Then you can climb your way up if you’re determined. 🙂

Thanks for reading!



3 comments on “ASK EM — Breaking into Editing

  1. Thanks for sharing. It’s inspiring.

  2. And Em, you’re an awesome editor. I’ve had you both through a publisher and contracted editor.

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