5 Tips for New Professionals in Editing

As a college student, one of the main focuses shoved into our heads is "what you want to do for the rest of your life"--The same question you were asked a thousand times as a child, what do you want to be when you grow-up? Only  "grow-up," has been replaced with "graduate." Some of us, even as seniors, are still undecided (and that's okay--because let's be honest, careers change all the time). Likewise, some of us have decided--we know that we'll be business oriented or crafters, artists or engineers, etc. My answer to that question, currently, is that I want to be an editor. Not sure what kind, but I certainly want to be one and so I've been attending a lot of panels and workshops lately in the hopes of learning about the field. From this experience, I've come to learn of a few tips that professionals from Mary Norris to Ruthanne Salido recommend to future editors. Of the many recommendations, the 5 tips I have shared below stood out as being repeated the most: 

1. READ. Read a lot. Read as much as you can. Read constantly.

        Reading is the best way to improve your editing skills because it opens your mind to different styles of writing, different vocabulary, and different opinions.

2. Get acquainted with Strunk and White's The Elements of Style

        When asked what book editors would recommend to new editors entering the field, Strunk and White's The Elements of Style is at the top of the list. Of the many editors, professors, and other professionals in the literary field that I have met with and spoken to about improving your grammar and writing skills--nearly all recommended The Elements of Style as a source they've continuously turned to (these were in addition to the stylebooks for their particular field, like APA/MLA/AP guidelines). If you can, get the latest edition. 


3. Join the ACES.

        The ACES are the American Copy Editors' Society. 9 out of 10 professionals have recommended the ACES as a helpful source, especially for those new to the field. People have recommended the mentoring programs, workshops, quizzes and all the other helpful sources available through the society which leads me to believe that the whole of what they offer is something that aids in a number of ways. Why else would so many recommend it and all have different parts they find the most helpful?  

4. Join as much as can (that is related to your field). 

        Are you a journalist too? It's recommended that you join the Society for Professional Journalists (SPJ). Are you an academic focused on E.M. Forster? You might want to join the International E.M. Forster Society. Believe it or not, these societies are important resources for your field. Think of them as the Greek Life of the professional world--only this time, you should join two or three. The literary world seems to be all about connections--and even if you are very personable and friendly, unwilling to join a faction to move forward, you might want to consider it. However, don't just join any society. Review the societies in your field carefully. As you enter the field, search around. Talk to your mentors and review what you can about what they offer versus their dues. Does the society require 5 hours of devotion weekly with promises of networking that never comes? It's probably not the society for you. 

5. Start RESEARCHING your field!

        If you're reading this article, you've already begun researching your field. You're looking around and wondering. Now keep going! If you look at business magazines or any magazine for a hobby or profession, you'll see a common theme. The most successful people are the ones that have done their research. This was one huge recommendation that was given to me by a counselor when I had just decided the field I hoped to enter. She told me first to be sure and second to be well read on the subject. Attend panels, look up editorial theories, and aim for experience via school publications or internships. Ask questions, listen, take notes, show an interest and sure enough, the information will begin coming in by the truckloads.

Happy Hunting!