How do you become a freelance editor?

Editing, developmental editing in particular, is not an entry-level position, especially for a freelancer. You can’t just announce that you’re open for business and expect to do well and gain clients.

To succeed, freelance editors typically need a bachelor’s degree in English, journalism, communications, or a related degree along with writing and editing experience.

However, even if you don’t have a college degree, if you have a love of books and read a lot, you can still succeed—you may need to do some outside reading about the critical analysis of literary texts. (How to Read Like a Professor, by Thomas C. Foster is one of my favorites—it’s a straightforward introduction to what literary criticism is.)

In addition, unless you’ve worked in an editorial capacity for a publisher, you need training specifically designed for developmental editors. Knowing how to understand a novel’s meaning and how storytelling techniques create their effects (which Foster’s book and others like it will show you) is an important step but it’s just the first one. Next you have to understand how editors think and learn how to use editorial methodology.

Obviously I’d love it if you found that training at Club Ed, but there are other places. If you’re interested in learning copyediting (which is not our focus at Club Ed), the University of California – San Diego has an excellent program. (The Club Ed Resort Director used to teach in this program.)

Dip your toe into editorial waters with the self-paced Naked Editing and the instructor-led Beginning and Intermediate Developmental Editing of Fiction.

Earning the Club Ed Certificate in the Developmental Editing of Fiction can be a good way to reassure yourself (and your clients) that you’ve received sufficient training in developmental editing.

Join the Club!

how to become an editor

New to story editing? Begin at the beginning.

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