Editing is not some “easy side gig if you like to spot typos.” Editing is a craft that takes time to learn, apply, and refine. Most editors I know are kind people, and the editorial community readily embraces those who put in the work. Please research how to become an editor before approaching someone for advice; anything less is considered disrespectful and lazy.

I do understand being confused about where to find reliable information about becoming an editor. I hope this post can be a helpful launching point for your research.

  • This must be said: If you have not trained to be an editor, you should not be hanging out your shingle to work as an editor. If you do not know how to train to become an editor, join the Business + Professional Development for Editors group on Facebook or look through Katharine O’Moore-Klopf’s Copyeditors’ Knowledge Base.
  • Do not contact other editors asking to “pick their brain” for career advice. Do not ask for their trade secrets. Do not ask them to send you “any extra work” that comes their way (especially if you are an unknown or unproven entity to them). A coffee date is not a fair trade for that kind of information or help.
    • There are a lot of resources out there to teach aspiring editors how to find clients or how to get a publisher’s attention, and it should not have to be the job of another editor—a competitor with a busy schedule, trying to find and keep their own clients or job—to do that for someone else.
    • Query established editors about consulting services if you can’t find the information you need via Google. Respect those established editors as professionals, and pay them for their time spent advising you.
  • Consider finding a mentor. If your relationship and experience with your mentor is good, they may be able to refer work to you or help you find jobs on occasion.
    • Some excellent mentoring programs are available through Editors Canada, SfEP, IPEd, and ACES: The Society for Editing.
    • Keep in mind that the mentor-trainee relationship is meant to be mutually beneficial. Mentors might be paid for their time by the mentee. Sometimes mentors list the mentoring experience on their résumé, as it demonstrates their ability to train and teach others.
  • Set up job alerts on or through specialty sites like MediaBistro, Copyediting.com, and more to find gigs that might work well for you.
  • If you have a degree, reach out to your alumni association for job leads. Ask old professors if they need a copyeditor for academic editing. You will have to go through the university’s vetting process before you can take on any academic projects.
  • Attend local chamber of commerce mixers and events to meet other business owners and representatives. All industries require company literature, internal documentation, or marketing copy of some sort. Find a way to pitch yourself to local businesses in these business-oriented settings.
  • If you find value in belonging to professional associations that offer conferences, networking opportunities, and professional development/continuing education, consider joining one that has a directory of members for people looking to hire editors.
  • If you want to specialize in something like medical editing, science editing, or technical editing, look at getting proper certifications to help build your credibility and connect you to those industries. Both AMWA certification and BELS certification are important to many employers.
  • Look up popular literary magazines and contact them to ask if they need a copyeditor or if they are willing to take on an editorial intern. Some of these jobs may be unpaid labors of love, but for some people that may be the kind of thing they need to build up their résumé. To each their own.