How to Become a Book Editor in 2023


Now if you have decided to become a book editor, you’ve made a great choice as there are many advantages and many successful editors.

You know an editor is the one who crafts the book so well that the readers should be able to read a book properly.

Editing is not just limited to spelling check, proofreading, etc. But editing is a far more important aspect of a book before publishing it.

That’s why all publishing houses assign an editor for the book just after receiving the manuscript.

And thus editing is necessary.

Due to that, there is immense scope for the editor in this industry.

So before I answer you how you can become a book editor, there are few questions that I will answer first.

Becoming a book editor
Becoming a book editor

Is book editing a Good Career choice

Well, this will be your next question before you start your career as an editor.

So if you have ever seen a good editor you already know the answer.

Yes, book editing is a good career choice.

If you choose to be a book editor you can make a handsome amount of money per month.

And your work will not be limited to just book editing in any book publishing industry.

You can also work as a freelancer.

You can even do the editing work for some blogs, newspaper agency, article editors, etc.

And all these can be done working from your home part-time .

The earning potential is not measurable here.

But if you work full-time with some book publishing companies and part-time as a freelancer then you will be able to make more than $10,000 per month.

How Much Do Book Editors Make

There is no limit to the earnings of a book editor.

But as per the U.S Bureau of Labour Statistics current industry book editor salary range is $98,430 a year and an average of $47.32 per hour.

According to the Editorial Freelancers Association, a freelance editor, on average, makes $45-55 per hour.

As an editor, you should know how much to charge for book editing.

Steps To Becoming a Book Editor

Now you know the advantages of becoming a book editor.

But to become a good book editor you should know the correct steps to get there.

1. Get an Education and Earn a Degree

Many people were asking me if a degree necessary to become a book editor.

Yes, a degree is necessary to become a book editor if you want to work in any editing industry.

All those book publishing companies hire only professional people who have a Bachelors degree in English, communications or journalism.

Although if you have previous experience in the editing industry some companies may hire you. But the chances are reduced.

But if you do freelance work as an editor then you may not need to have a bachelors degree.

Still in freelancing, some clients may ask for your educational qualifications before giving you any project for editing. The will most definitely want to see other work you have completed.

So it is always recommended to get a proper education and earn a degree before you join the editing industry.

PS: From personal experience, I have a bachelor degree in mechanical engineering and I have done editing work for a few authors. But I was only able to get this work because I already had published my own books. So it provided me credibility.

2. Learn the Basics of Editing Software

Teach yourself to use the latest editing software.

There are many editing software packages like Adobe InDesign or Microsoft Publisher. There are more editing software available but these two are more famous among the editors.

Using this software will increase your productivity and accuracy as well as help keep track of your work.

And in today’s digital age, you will not only get a paper manuscript but will also get digital manuscripts as well.

More of the work will be in digital format.

So knowing about some editing software will be advantageous for you.

While applying for editing jobs you can also showcase these software skills on your resume.

3. Read and Write more

You should read a lot of books, magazines, newspapers, etc to be familiar with the writing style and the use of new terms.

The more you read the more you will get exposure. This will also help you with editing any book, article, etc.

Click here to read: The Importance of Reading books.

You should also keep reference manuals of the respective regions.

Refer to these manuals often as you write or edit to improve your grasp of spelling, punctuation, and stylistic rules.

As an editor, you will not be doing much writing. But you should, whenever time permits, write something.

Using this technique you can understand the situation a writer wants to describe as some writers intentionally make mistakes, put unnecessary punctuation, use some words which are not even present in the dictionary, etc.

So as an editor you may think it is a mistake. And if you edit these mistakes you may change the picture of what a writer wants to present to their readers.

But if you read and write something you will be clearly able to understand such situations.

4. Join Proofreading Groups and attend Proofreading Seminars

Try to join one-day seminars in your area or live webinars teaching some of the proofreading tips, tips on using editing software, and to write proofreading remarks, etc.

There are many Facebook groups for editors where people share many new ideas and techniques to help an editor.

These seminars or webinars will also be effective for people who are out of practice or not doing any editing work after graduation.

In these Facebook groups, you may also find new clients for book editing or for editing some other documents, articles, etc.

This will help you gain some experience and you will have exposure to new people and you will learn new techniques.

P.S: People usually try to pitch their product or services in these kinds of seminars and webinars. So don’t fall for such products and services at the initial stage.

5. Become an Intern of a Professional Book Editor

Working with a professional book editor is the best and easy way to get editing experience.

Many professional editors have an assistant or some intern to look after their work. So you can also apply to some professional editors and become their intern or assistant.

Professional editors work with the big publishing houses. So you may see the work of famous authors there too.

And even you can work independently with some authors at some point in time.

This is because those high profile editors take many projects and they may give you some of their projects when they don’t have time.

6. Becoming Freelance Book Editor

Working as a freelancer is also a good choice to make money as an editor and be your own boss.

This is also important because of the competition in entry-level jobs is so high.

After completing your degree you will not always get a job.

So if  this happens, becoming a freelance editor will help you make your living as an editor.

This is important because you will also gain excellent experience working for other people’s projects.

And when you get a job as a full-time editor in a book publishing company then you may leave this freelance editing career if you so choose.

My suggestion is to continue freelance editing alongside your full-time editing job.

This will help you to make more money as well as you can start your own business someday with pre-existing clients from your freelance work.

7. Network with other Editors

You should meet new people such as writers, editors, authors, bloggers, etc.

Meeting and building a network is the best marketing strategy for everyone and every business out there.

For you, its never too late to attend book launches, book fairs, open mic, book clubs, etc.

You will definitely meet someone who will be interested in your work or maybe some author who needs an editor or maybe they know someone who will be important to get your talent and business to the next level.

Networking is not just meeting people offline at the events targeted for the publishing industry and authors, but it is also important to build a network online.

As offline you will be limited to places only, basically locally or in your country.

But online you can reach people globally and thus it can boost your reach.

So try to network as much as possible whether offline or online.

8. Build Your Online Presence

As I told you that you should be building your network online to reach a wider audience, you have to take few steps in order to do that.

Be active on social media

Social media has a huge contribution to growing a business online.

Every industry uses social media to increase their brand awareness, make sales, help others and make money.

So you can also leverage social media to increase your reach.

To do that you need to be active on social networking sites especially for authors and writers.

You can even follow your favorite authors on these social sites and engage with them.

Provide insights on their work, ask for review copies, pitch new authors your services, get reviews copies even before publishing.

And on your profile and on your Facebook page you can showcase your services also.

My Personal recommendation is to use GoodReads, Facebook and YouTube to grow your influence.

Create a Blog

As an editor, you may have to have a blog or website at some point in time.

As social media doesn’t always work for all people and businesses, free traffic from Google is something you should be considering.

You should have a blog where you can provide informational content from your industry.

Some examples are like:

  • Tips and tricks for fast proofreading
  • Editing software every editor should use
  • Best books for the editor to use for reference
  • Etc…

If you can rank on Google then you can expect a free audience to your blog and some of them will convert to buy your services also.

Having a blog /website gives you more credibility and you can claim yourself as a business, which later you can expand.

So try to set up your website as soon as possible. If you are looking for a good website hosting company, I use SiteGround.

Be helpful

It’s not always that you have to sell your products or services to whoever you meet, whether online or offline.

Rather than promoting your services, you should also make sure to help people who need it.

If people are asking questions on a Facebook page or group and you know the solution then you should be willing to help them for free (if the task is easy or small), rather than pitching your service.

The basic marketing rule in social media is to HELP, HELP & HELP… Then ASK. 

Learn to Market Yourself

You should know as an editor to market yourself.

Marketing can be done both online and offline.

So you should gain proper knowledge on how you can market yourself with both free and paid means.

And you should be ready to pay something for marketing purposes, especially at the beginning of your journey.

Paying is not always necessary but it will help you to get success at a much faster rate.

My Final word

If you follow these steps properly you will become a beginner to an advanced book editor in no time.

So always have patience and work hard.

Becoming an editor is not so tough even in this competitive market if you have proper education, some experience, and networking capabilities.

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