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Have a way with words, an eye for details, and a love of making things better than they were before? Editing could be just the career for you!
Read on to learn more about what editing entails, what types of jobs are available, and where to find the perfect one for you.
What is Editing?
Editing is the process of taking a piece of writing and making it better. An edited piece of writing should be well-organized, devoid of any errors, and perfectly polished so it can be published. This is typically a collaborative process between the editor and the writer and, as you’ll see in a minute, involves everything from major content changes to nitpicky grammatical details.
How to Edit
If you’ve never edited anything before, it can feel like a daunting process. As with any creative endeavor, becoming a great editor is mostly achieved through plenty of practice along with reading lots of well-polished writing to understand why it works.
When editing a piece of writing—be it a book or a blog post—start by reading it through once or twice to ensure you have a strong grasp of the core message the writer is trying to get across. Then, work your way through each of the types of editing outlined below.
Types of Editing
The editorial process consists of several types that focus on different aspects of a piece of writing. Most editors will do some combination of them, though some roles may have you focus on just one stage.
Developmental or Structural Editing
All editing should start at a high-level content, making sure the story or argument makes sense, that it’s organized in a way the reader can follow, that there isn’t critical information missing. Content editing may involve major content cuts, reorganizing or restructuring a piece, or asking questions to the writer to help pull out more details or fill in gaps.
Next, you’ll want to hone in on the writing at a sentence level. Line editing is all about making sure individual paragraphs or sentences sound as good as possible. This can involve simplifying sentence structure, adjusting word choice and cutting out jargon, and making sure the writing is enjoyable to read—without changing the author’s voice.
Copy Editing or Proofreading
Copy editing or proofreading is the final line of defense to get rid of any errors before a piece of writing gets published. Copy editors are correcting spelling or grammatical errors, making sure the piece aligns with any style guide a publication is using (such as APA, MLA, Chicago, or a house style guide), and occasionally doing light fact checking. (If you’ve ever wondered, “What is mechanical editing?” it’s essentially another name for this style.) Proofreaders are typically the very last set of eyes on a work.
Apps for Editing
Need a little help polishing up your grammar to prepare you for a life of in the field? Apps like Hemingway and Grammarly can double check your proofreading while you shore up your own skills—but are no replacement for a real editor.
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Types of Remote Editing Jobs
Any business that creates written content—from major publishing houses to sales orgs whipping up PowerPoint presentations—may decide they need an editor at some point. But here’s a smattering of the most common jobs you’ll see, many of which you can now do remotely.
Book Editing Jobs
Love literature? Book publishers are always looking for editors to focus on everything from content development to copy editing. If you’re excited to tackle long writing projects that can take months to complete, working as a book editor could be a great fit. When you’re just starting out, you’ll likely want to look for editorial assistant positions.
Magazine or Newspaper Editing Jobs
Whether they’re digital or print, magazines and newspapers need tons of editors to help them deal with the steady stream of content they’re producing. If you love a fast-paced environment and the opportunity to work on a variety of stories, this might be the gig for you.
Web Editing Jobs
Publishers aren’t the only ones creating content these days. Everyone from major brands to individual influencers needs editors to help them make their online presence great. As a web editor, you could be working on everything from perfecting website copy to polishing up a blog.
Freelance Editing Jobs
Can’t decide? So many of these jobs are available as freelance roles, so you can mix and match multiple types of projects. Many freelance editors also have the opportunity to work with smaller businesses and individuals who can’t afford a full-time editor but still need a little writing support.
Editor-in-Chief or Managing Editor
Even though they have editor in their title, these roles don’t focus on improving individual pieces of writing. Instead, they work on the high-level needs of running a publication: setting a vision and strategy, managing writers and other editors, creating a publishing schedule, and project managing to keep everything on track. At book publishers, these roles are sometimes called project editors or acquisitions editors.
Get Started Today
Whether you go full-time in-house with a publisher or work for yourself, working as an editor can be a fulfilling way to tap into your creativity while also helping others to produce their best work. Best of all, it’s an easy career to do from anywhere in the world!
Which Type of Editing Will You Pursue?
Writing Editing Masterclass—Content Editing, Copy Editing, and Proofreading