How to become a book editor

A book editor’s responsibility is more than just checking for grammar and spelling errors. An editor is the go-to point of contact for the author to get their manuscript ready for pitching to publishing houses. Generally, any publishing house will avoid paying attention to a manuscript that’s not been edited by someone known or a professional.

It’s surely a great job to have. But not everyone can edit. Let’s see if you fit the bill!

Let’s first talk about the qualifications you need

A book editor must hold a respectable degree in English. Publishing houses or agencies might hire graduates but the journey will be long and perilous if you don’t have at least a master’s degree even in that case.

A master’s degree in publishing or media also works.

Apart from a degree, you also need a solid comprehension of the written word.

Is it hard to become a book editor?

Pretty difficult, but also straightforward.

Editing a book is hard work. Consequently, becoming a book editor is also hard. The job of an editor is to maximize the potential of a book or novel.

It’s part of the job of an editor to read a lot.

If you wish to specialize in editing technical writing or more nuanced subject matters then things become even harder.

What’s the pay for a book editor?

The pay usually ranges from $10 to $30 per hour. However, it’s not rare to find more experienced book editors that charge in the range of $50-100. Thankfully for the author, they are also faster than less proficient ones.

Editing technical text or specialized subject matters is more expensive.

The editorial independence

Historically, editors are respected for and expected to have a certain independence and decision-making upper hand. They work with little supervision. Sure, that’s not the case when you’re just starting out, especially if you join an agency. But that is the endgame. That’s what you should strive to be like.

Minimal supervision might sound cool at first but it also means you have a heavy burden on your shoulders. You can make or break books, authors, and as a result, entire careers.

That’s a lot to deal with.

Hopefully, the stage where you’re supposed to take decisions and have creative freedom in your editing comes at a point when you’re well-equipped to handle such matters.

The demand of editors

Editors are always in healthy demand. The primary reason behind that is the fact that more and more authors are always cropping up. An ever-increasing number of books, novels, and stories are being written. Countless authors are working on their manuscripts as you read this article.

Long story short – editors always have a great demand in the market and it’s not going down anytime soon.

As long as humans have literature and people pioneering the art of the written word – whether traditionally on paper or digitally on an ebook – the demand for good editing talent will always exist.

Though indeed the demand is good, it also means that the competition for the job role you’re eyeing is also likely to be intense. Be prepared and be sure to have done your homework. Understand the responsibilities of an editor inside out and know the game before you jump into the field.

Professional editors are also highly regarded in the literary society. That’s a reward in and of itself. You can make a name by editing books, but only if you do it right.

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