In Part 1 we looked at the skills and education necessary to be a professional editor. In this article we look at where to go next.
Let’s assume you’ve passed the test—you’ve got all the necessary skills. (1) You have excellent English skills, (2) you love writing and words, (3) you understand how words work together (that’s not the same thing as #2), (4) you have a colllege degree in communications, and (5) you are constantly learning more about writing, editing, or both to stay on top of your game.
Now where this article goes next and how it applies to you depends on who you are: whether you are (1) someone fresh out of college who is looking for an editing job and is willing to relocate or (2) someone who feels he or she has the skills needed to be an editor from home. Because those are two entirely different planets, we’ll deal with both cases separately.
Can you, someone fresh out of college, start editing for a publisher of some kind? Most likely (though God has the ultimate word). Start looking for that job, send out resumes, and be prepared to relocate. If you someday want to work from home, this is the path to take first.
Some publishers are on the lookout for young, bright recruits who are just cutting their teeth in the editing world. These young people have classroom education but no real experience in editing. But that’s okay—this is where anyone who eventually wants to work from home as an editor should start.
Can someone who possesses the skills listed above and a communications degree of some kind start editing from home right away—cold turkey? It’s possible but not likely. Most publishers wishing to outsource their editing are looking for seasoned editors who have an impressive resume that promises a background with plenty of experience.
Actually, due to the recession and a general cutback on full-time jobs, there are more of these job opportunities than most people realize. We are cheaper labor—no full-time salary, office, equipment, or health insurance to provide. Yes, you can Google all sorts of publishers and inquire about their need for someone to edit their books from home. I have. The answer is usually the same (if there’s any interest to begin with). The contact will first request a resume.
How to Build That Resume
So whether you are a fresh recruit just out of college or someone else who feels he or she has the necessary skills and education, the answer is the same: to be a work-from-home editor, you’ll first need to build up that resume. So what are publishers looking for?
I can only speak from experience. I’ve been editing from home for seven years now, but my journey may not fit everyone, though I think what I advise is pretty universal in this industry. For me, getting into the editing-from-home profession occurred after I had worked as an editor for two companies for fourteen years.
One company was Awana (Streamwoood, Illinois), a publisher of Bible curriculum for a church-based Bible club program. I worked there as an assistant editor for four years and gained invaluable experience in writing curriculum for several age levels, editing, proofreading, using house style, collaborating with other editors, working alongside graphic designers, adhering to a production calendar, and observing the full-blown production of a product—from planning the product to holding the finished, bound book from the printer (with that special aroma of new paper and fresh ink—you can’t beat it).
Then God led me to another religious organization, Northland International University, where I served as both editor and sometimes publications department director for a decade. Working with a production calendar and a small team of designers and a student editor or two, I edited all sorts of promotional brochures, posters, academic catalogs, yearbooks, magazines, journals, and the list goes on.
This is what I mean by getting experience, by building that resume.
When God laid me off from Northland in 2006, I had a total of fourteen years of editing experience I could put in my resume. Also, several parties who had heard about my impending layoff and knew about my experience wanted to hire me to edit their publications right away.
Only then in God’s timing and with His divine orchestration did I begin working from home (coupled with FedEx for eight months). If I hadn’t had those publishing connections and the power of word of mouth due to my experience, I doubt the gig would have ever gotten off the ground.
Then the Lord opened the door for me to publish two Christian novels. That experience gave me instant credibility as a fiction editor. In fact, fiction editing is probably 80 percent of what I do now.
That’s my experience, but it may not be what God has in mind for everyone. I do believe that working from home as an editor is possible, especially in these changing times, but one must first build that resume and hone one’s skills in the work force.
Even with my twenty-one years of editing experience, working from home hasn’t been void of challenges now and then. In the next installment I’ll talk candidly about how I found work from publishers and what day-to-day life for a work-at-home editor is like. You can forget about a steady, consistent paycheck every two weeks, but if it’s the life God has called you to, it can bring great joy and freedom.
What about you? Do you have what it takes to work from home as an editor?
Read Part 3.
- Remembering Delores Forsmark
- How Can I Be an Editor Too? Part 3