Are you looking to break into the writing and publishing industry, but aren’t sure if you should become a style editor?
Well, if you love editing and have an eye for detail, you might love this option as a career or even a sideline.
As a style editor, you’ll be in charge of editing writing before it’s published, making sure it’s polished and meets the publication’s editorial guidelines, which is what sets it apart from proofreading.
Proofreading and copy editing fall under the publishing umbrella, and if you enjoy editing your work, you might end up doing both.
However, text editing requires its own set of skills and rules, which we will cover in this article.
If you’ve been considering becoming a copy editor, this article will go over what they do, the experience you’ll need, some basics you need to know, and how to get your foot in the door.
What do copy proofers do?
Style editors have the primary goal of making sure that the “copy,” that is, the writing to be published, is as close to perfect as possible.
They spend a lot of time reviewing a piece. Not only do they need to make sure there are no obvious errors, but they also need to make sure the part works as a whole. That might mean adjusting it to the posting guidelines, fixing any loose ends that need to be tied up, making sure the parts are accurate, and making general suggestions throughout the article.
Copyeditors also work in a wide variety of writing industries. If you choose to become one, you could work in booksdocuments, business writing, magazines, articles, blogs and more.
Copy editing is different than proofreading or editing in general, as they often make sure publication guidelines are followed rather than just looking for punctuation or spelling errors.
Gain experience as a proofreader
Before you can start finding work as a copyeditor, you’ll need to work on your editing skills and learn the basics of which sentences and pieces of writing should be ready for publication.
If you haven’t checked in with editing rules for quite some time, you might want to get a guide on The Associated Press Style Book either The Chicago Manual of Style or some other type of editing guide. That will cover a lot of the basics you’ll need to know and have memorized to be successful as an editor.
Depending on who you work with, your client may also have specific requirements when it comes to citation rules, punctuation preferences, and the general format of published pieces.
You won’t know the specific rules until you start working with clients, but it would still give you a head start in finding out what the latest guidelines are when it comes to certain formatting rules.
If you go to school to write or edit, it will be easier to get experience, but keep in mind that you can still get it on your own with or without a degree.
What skills do you need as a copyeditor?
More than anything, it’s important for a copyeditor to be able to spot problems in sentences and suggest ways to improve the writing.
Everything else is just small details, but those are the most essential skills you’ll need and should start practicing before applying for any job.
Other things that style editors are in charge of:
- Making sure everything is legible and flows well
- Edit any and all grammar, punctuation, formatting, and spelling errors.
- Update the writing to match any and all style guidelines.
- Correct the headlines to improve clarity and intrigue
- Give feedback to writers so they can improve their writing.
- Verify all information on the part
Know that any publishing errors will fall on your shoulders, so it’s important that you can catch errors without letting them slip away.
In addition to basic editing skills, you’ll need to learn how to apply publication editing rules, be able to meet deadlines, and work well with people.
With every piece of work you edit, you’ll want to make sure the reader can clearly understand what’s being said. That means you may need to edit the tone and voice in the piece to make sure it works for your intended audience.
Can you work remotely as a copy editor?
In general, it will be up to the company or the client to decide if you can work remotely, but it is certainly possible to find remote work as a style editor.
Since editing is something you can do by sending files from the internet back and forth, it would be one of the easiest options as a remote work.
However, there are still quite a few publications, especially large ones, that require people to be in the office.
If finding a remote job is important to you, you’ll want to ask ahead of time or search for copyediting jobs based specifically on whether or not they can be done remotely.
How much do style editors make?
The average salary of a style editor is $74,700.
You can expect more or less depending on your experience and education, but that’s a good starting point for assuming how much you’ll earn.
How to become a proofreader
Let’s say you now have some experience to work with and are ready to start finding work.
For the most part, you have two clear options to choose from.
You can start to find some freelance work or you can work for a company.
Either way, you’ll need to start collecting your work experience and creating some sort of portfolio to show off to potential clients or employers.
Build your portfolio and testimonials
To build your portfolio, you’ll want to bring together all of your editing work and good testimonials that people have given for your work, all in one place.
This will give you something to show off to clients or potential employers and give you an accurate rundown of your skills.
Yes, you may also need to put together a resume and cover letter if you’re doing a traditional job, but a strong portfolio is your best bet for getting hired.
Decide what kind of work you want to do
Do you want to become a proofreader for newspapers? blog? Publishing companies? Journals?
Do you want to work for a certain industry?
You may need to try a few before you really find something you’re passionate about, but having a good idea of where to start can help you know where to apply.
Otherwise, if you scroll through any kind of job search site, you might be able to find some interesting-sounding jobs.
Keep sending your info and networking
While applying for a job is one way to get your foot in the door, nothing beats networking to get a job.
You may want to reach out to friends, family, alumni, and other professionals you know to see if anyone has a contact at a publisher. You may not find a job through that person, but it would help you understand what is required in the industry and how you can stand out.
Social media and blogging can also be a way to improve your reputation and reach, but it’s not always necessary to do so.
Either way, as long as you keep making yourself known, you’ll eventually find a way to work as a copy editor.
What to do next
Ready to build a writing career that will continue to grow and withstand anything?
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2 Copyeditor (how to become a copyeditor, explain what it is, the skills needed, where to find the job, how much it pays) – Jackie Pearce