Why you should consider a career in Editing
- September 6, 2019
- James Linton
You have a degree in English and you don’t want to be a teacher, develop brand campaigns or write for a newspaper. How about editing? Why not consider a career in editing? Use the skills you’ve been taught in your degree to work in an editorial office.
Editing exists across a broad spectrum of fields and industries. These extend to poetry, scientific journals, academic papers, government reports, blog articles, corporate magazines, television shows, and movies.
Editing was always my plan after I graduated, and I succeeded by becoming an Editorial Assistant at The Grooming Guide. To learn more about a typical day within editing, you can read my article here.
What is Editing?
Have you proof-read an essay before? Corrected the spelling errors on your friend’s tweet? Rewrote some copy on the outgoing press release? Guess what? You’ve edited. You’ve changed a completed piece of work for the better.
The most common form of editing is content editing, which is also known as big-picture editing. An editor will look at a completed product and try to spot the wider issues. For example, in fiction, they will see if your pacing is correct, your characters are developed enough and whether you have any plot-holes.
In academic papers, they will see if your argument is persuasive throughout or if you’re missing any key evidence. They may also suggest sections you can shorten. Television and film editors usually acquire hours upon hours upon hours upon hours of footage which they must cut down to a particular length.
After content editing, you get copy editing. While content editing concentrates on the big picture, copy-editing focusses on the nitty-gritty. Your spelling. Your grammar, syntax, sentence structure and word choice.
Meaghan Summers from The Odyssey Online went into editing because she loves language and writing. She loves her work because she loves reading and writing. This was the same for me. I want to be a writer, but as that isn’t the most stable career, editing is a sensible backup option. I get to write and learn as much as possible about the industry.
Career Prospects are also big within editing. Although you’ll begin in an entry-level position, you could soon rise through the ranks to a management position where you’ll be the one calling the shots. Rather than spotting spelling errors, you could have serious input on what content you’re publishing.
Alternatively, you could move from publishing house to publishing house building up experience and contacts along the way.
If you feel ready, you can start freelancing. Begin by editing anything just to build your portfolio. Although this will take time, once you have regular work, you can begin to specialise. Contact local businesses to see if they require any editing. Websites like Fiver, Upwork and Freelancer offer a healthy commission for editing work.
It may take time to find have regular work, but once you have you can start to specialise.
What skills do you need for editing?
Editing is great for those studying English because you’ve been prepared with the skills you need to succeed. You’ve spent three years writing cogent arguments. You have the patience and dedication needed to work on long projects.
When it comes to persuasion and precision, you’ve experience of that in spades. You also know what is essential to your argument and what can be deleted.
Good spelling, punctuation, and grammar are also requirements. If you’re looking to correct somebody’s work, you need to know where to use commas and apostrophes. To be able to spot these errors, you will require brilliant attention to detail. Punctuation errors are small and easily missed.
If you’re freelancing, you should be self-motivated enough to complete your work. To make a living from editing, you’ll have a big workload. You need to manage your time well enough for you to meet these deadlines.
Having a passion for learning new things helps too. In editing, you could very well come across a scientific study on the different geological strata in Cyprus. If you’re aware of this, then good, but if not, prepare to study up on this subject. If it isn’t easily understandable to the average reader, it’s your job to make sense of this complicated information.
So, if you think you have strong grammar, a logical mind and a passion for reading and writing, then editing is the career for you.
James Linton is a graduate of English Literature from Newcastle University. He is a poet, short story author, copywriter and is battling through the second draft of his novel. He’s been published in a handful of small publications. Check out his Blogspot and WordPress.
See our editing and content roles on our job board. If you’d like to discuss your job search, please get in touch on 0207 279 6144.