To become an editor you need meticulous attention to detail and a passion for words.
As an editor, copy-editor or proofreader, it is your job to ensure that written material is consistent, grammatically correct and easily readable.
You may work on newspapers, magazines, books or websites. Whatever the medium, it will be your responsibility to impose discipline and structure on text.
Editors can be employed by publishers, businesses and public bodies, but many are self-employed freelancers working with several clients.
You might begin your career working in journalism or publishing as a copy-editor, editorial assistant or production trainee.
Here at City, University of London you can prepare for a career as an editor. We have strong industry connections and a central London location on the doorstep of world-leading media organisations.
Our range of media and journalism courses reflects the ever-changing nature of editing and offers routes to both traditional and emerging roles.
What can I expect as an editor?
There are many entry points to working as an editor but a typical first editorial role is working as an editorial assistant at a publishing company. In this case you would provide administrative support to the publishing team.
Your duties in such a role might include taking minutes, calling authors, scheduling meetings and checking that proofreading and copy-editing amendments have been made.
Another common first job in book publishing is that of production trainee. Here your tasks would involve purchasing, scheduling and checking print work.
Your general activities will depend where you find yourself working, but may include:
- Correcting spelling and grammatical errors
- Sub-editing text written to ensure a consistent house style
- Liaising regularly with authors and publishers by phone and email
- Checking authors have provided all required material
- Resolving queries directly with the author
- Design coding manuscripts for the production team
- Creating artwork briefs
- Ensuring illustrations are correctly captioned
- Producing style guidelines to ensure consistency
- Monitoring new and evolving language.
Most publishers are based in towns and cities, with the highest concentration found in London and Edinburgh. But freelancers can work from all over the UK and overseas.
Related courses at City
Whatever your level of interest in becoming an editor, City's courses can help you take one step closer to a career, develop specialisms that'll set you apart from the field or broaden your horizons with study in related subjects.
Who can I work for as an editor?
Most copy-editors and proofreaders are self employed and work as freelancers. In-house positions exist with large publishers but competition is fierce.
You might target educational and academic publishers as well as children’s book publishers and scientific publishers.
Academic publishing companies often value a first degree and a postgraduate research degree more highly than a specific publishing degree.
The corporate publishing market is another to consider, with large commercial organisations producing staff magazines, newsletters and publicity materials. They may be open to contracting freelancers.
Freelance working can be hard at the start of your career. Those with experience of working in-house for publishers can find the transition easier after building up a network of contacts.
What about editorial work experience?
Relevant work experience will always be desirable, but it is not easy to gain. Even work experience in a publishing environment can be competitive.
Working on university newspapers, magazines or websites can offer positive experience, as can working in bookshops or libraries.
You might be able to think of unique ways of gaining experience in editing and proofreading for businesses. This could all be useful when it comes to applying for work.
What are my prospects as an editor?
As an editor you tend to begin a career working with text on a basic level, before progressing to more complicated and better paid editing.
You might start freelance work in a preferred subject area like science or food, seeking publications and publishers and plotting your path from there. Depending on its nature and subject, your work could also take on elements of project management.
Working in-house as a copy-editor you are likely to move between jobs at the start of your career. This can give you a good breadth of experience and strong industry contacts. Building a network is often your most valuable asset when it comes to seeking work and advancing your career.
Industry membership bodies are worth researching and considering. They can provide opportunities alongside general career support in what can be an isolated profession.