Whether you aspire to become a copy editor or have stumbled onto it and are considering a change, editors are an essential part of the writing and publication team. From journalism to online articles, editors play a crucial role in producing polished, error-free content. But what is copy editing?
Copy editors take raw material from writers and look for errors throughout to correct. From spelling and grammar to possible legal issues in content and style, copy editors make sure that raw writing is molded into easy-to-follow and concise writing. If this sort of career is right up your alley, a few professionals in the field can offer a few pieces of advice.
Carol Saller, an editor with 30 years of experience, recommends buying a large style manual to read. She says that if you can read through this manual and remain interested in every point made, you have a full editing career ahead of you. As well, she recommends that editors should be kind and flexible with writers as well as willing to keep up writing news, trends, and updates.
Such editing style guides include The Modern Language Association of American, The Associated Press Stylebook, as well as books about Chicago, APA, or AMA styles of writing and reference. Remember that these guides change, so be prepared to keep up with trends in your preferred writing and editing style.
Often internships are necessary, as well as four-year degrees in writing, journalism, literature, or other related programs. Brian Colella, a five-year copyediting veteran, recommends enrolling in a certification program in editing or copyediting. These programs have little to the barrier to entry and teach you the necessary skills to become a copy editor.
Some editors have pursued programs that did not directly point toward a career in editing, but individuals such as Sonnet Fitzgerald have had successful freelance editing careers. With a degree in Spanish, she says that reading documents in a second language allowed her to pick up on minute errors, leading to a full-time career in the freelance editor. She recommends finding a niche to edit for and to not listen to those who do not believe that editing is a lucrative career.
Editors are an essential part of the writing process. While writers often get the credit for creating a bestselling novel – as they should, it was their idea – but special thanks should always go to editors. They can find last-minute mistakes that make writing truly polished and ready to be published and sold.