How to Become an Editor: Practical Tips and Techniques You Need to Know
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 6 min read


1. Develop Strong Grammar Skills

2. Master Different Writing Styles

3. Gain Experience

4. Build Your Portfolio

5. Network with Industry Professionals

If you've ever dreamed of polishing written works and helping authors create their best possible content, learning how to become an editor might be the perfect path for you. In this guide, we'll explore practical tips and techniques to help you develop the skills needed to excel in the world of editing.

1. Develop Strong Grammar Skills

As an aspiring editor, having a solid foundation in grammar is essential for success. Improving your grammar skills will not only make you a better editor but also improve your ability to communicate effectively in writing. Here are some ways to develop strong grammar skills:

Study Grammar Books

Get your hands on some reputable grammar books and dedicate time to study them. Books like "The Elements of Style" by Strunk and White or "Eats, Shoots & Leaves" by Lynne Truss can help you master the rules of grammar and usage. Remember, practice makes perfect, so work through exercises and examples to reinforce your learning.

Practice Regularly

Consistent practice is key to honing your grammar skills. Write regularly, whether it's for personal projects or professional work, and challenge yourself to spot and correct grammar errors. You can also offer to proofread and edit written works from friends and family to gain more experience and improve your skills.

Join Grammar Groups

Participating in grammar-focused communities, such as forums or social media groups, can provide valuable insights and resources for improving your skills. These groups often share tips, discuss common grammar issues, and provide feedback on written work. By engaging with fellow grammar enthusiasts, you'll expand your knowledge and become a better editor in the process.

Now that you know how to strengthen your grammar skills, let's move on to mastering different writing styles—a crucial aspect of learning how to become an editor.

2. Master Different Writing Styles

Becoming a versatile editor means understanding various writing styles and adapting to the unique requirements of each. The more styles you're familiar with, the more opportunities you'll have to work on diverse projects. Here are some tips to help you master different writing styles:

Learn About APA, MLA, and Chicago

Acquaint yourself with major citation styles like APA (American Psychological Association), MLA (Modern Language Association), and Chicago Manual of Style. Each style has its unique formatting and citation rules, which you'll need to know when editing academic papers, articles, or books. Familiarity with these styles will make you a more versatile and sought-after editor.

Adapt to Various Genres

Explore different genres of writing, such as fiction, non-fiction, journalism, and technical writing. Each genre has its conventions, audience expectations, and style nuances. By understanding these differences, you'll be better equipped to edit a wide range of content effectively and help authors maintain a consistent voice and style throughout their work.

Understand Audience Expectations

When learning how to become an editor, always consider the target audience for each piece you edit. Different audiences have different expectations in terms of tone, language, and content. By knowing who you're editing for, you can ensure the final product appeals to its readers and effectively communicates the intended message.

With a solid grasp of grammar and writing styles under your belt, it's time to gain some hands-on experience to further develop your editing skills.

3. Gain Experience

Now that you've built a strong foundation in grammar and writing styles, it's time to put that knowledge to use and gain practical editing experience. The more experience you have, the more confident and efficient you'll become as an editor. Here are some ways to gain experience:

Start as a Freelancer

Freelancing is a great way to gain editing experience while building your portfolio. Many websites and platforms offer freelance editing jobs, allowing you to work on a variety of projects and genres. As a freelancer, you'll have the flexibility to choose projects that interest you and fit your schedule, making it an excellent way to hone your skills and learn how to become an editor.

Join Writing and Editing Groups

Participating in writing and editing groups can be a valuable way to gain experience and receive feedback from peers. These groups often provide editing opportunities or writing exercises where members can practice their skills and learn from one another. In addition, you'll be able to build relationships with other editors and writers, which can lead to more editing opportunities in the future.

Volunteer for Editing Projects

Offering your editing services on a volunteer basis is another effective way to gain experience and build your portfolio. Non-profit organizations, schools, and local community groups often need help with editing newsletters, grant proposals, or other written materials. Volunteering not only helps you develop your editing skills but also demonstrates your commitment to the field and your community.

With experience under your belt, you'll be ready to showcase your skills and accomplishments by building a professional portfolio.

4. Build Your Portfolio

A well-crafted portfolio is essential for showcasing your editing skills and attracting potential clients or employers. As you work on projects and gain experience, be sure to compile your best work and organize it in a way that highlights your abilities as an editor. Here are some tips for building an impressive portfolio:

Create a Website

Having a professional website is a must for showcasing your editing skills and making it easy for potential clients or employers to find you. Your website should include a brief introduction, a summary of your editing experience, and samples of your work. Additionally, make sure to include your contact information and any relevant social media profiles.

Showcase Your Best Work

Selecting the right work samples is crucial for demonstrating your expertise in different writing styles and genres. Aim to include a diverse range of projects, such as articles, essays, research papers, and creative writing pieces. This will show your versatility and ability to adapt to various editing tasks. Don't forget to obtain permission from the original authors before including their work in your portfolio.

Gather Testimonials

Positive testimonials from clients or colleagues can speak volumes about your editing skills and professionalism. Reach out to people you've worked with and ask if they'd be willing to provide a short testimonial or reference. Including these endorsements on your website or portfolio will help build trust and credibility with potential clients or employers.

With a solid portfolio in place, you're now ready to expand your network and connect with other industry professionals.

5. Network with Industry Professionals

Building relationships with other editors, writers, and professionals in the publishing industry can open up new opportunities and help you stay informed about the latest trends and best practices. Here are some effective ways to network and make valuable connections:

Attend Conferences and Workshops

Conferences, workshops, and seminars are excellent platforms for meeting industry professionals and learning new skills. Look for events related to editing, writing, or your specific niche, and try to attend as many as you can. Remember to bring business cards and engage in conversations with fellow attendees. This can help you make lasting connections and even find potential clients or collaborators.

Join Professional Organizations

Professional organizations, such as the Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA) or the American Copy Editors Society (ACES), offer a wealth of resources and networking opportunities for editors. By joining these organizations, you can connect with peers, access exclusive job boards, and participate in members-only events. These memberships can also add credibility to your resume and portfolio, as they demonstrate your commitment to the editing profession.

Connect through Social Media

Social media platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook can help you connect with other editors and industry professionals. Follow influential editors and writers, join relevant groups, and participate in discussions to expand your network. Sharing your own insights and engaging with others' content can also position you as a knowledgeable professional in the editing field.

By following these tips on how to become an editor, you'll be well on your way to building a successful career in the editing industry. Just remember, practice makes perfect, and the more experience you gain, the more your skills will improve. Keep learning, stay curious, and never stop growing as an editor!

If you're looking to enhance your skills in editorial submissions, be sure to explore the workshop 'Editorial Submissions: Shoot Development To Publication' by Jose Espaillat. This workshop will provide you with invaluable insights and guide you through the entire process of developing a successful editorial submission, from conceptualization to publication.