How To Become An Editor for Books

POSTED ON Jul 24, 2023

Jackie Pearce

Written by Jackie Pearce

Home > Blog > Editorial, Writing > How To Become An Editor for Books

If you've ever wondered how to become an editor for books, you've come to the right place. Editing is a wonderful career, and even makes a great side hustle for writers. Book editing is easy to do from home, incredibly interesting, and makes use of those OCD grammar-correcting tendencies.

So, if you are interested in editing, it's important to learn how how to become an editor for books. Luckily, at, we help you not only with publishing, but how to be a better writer and editor, too.

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We will be going over the basics of what editors do, what skills you will need to improve, how to become an editor, and why editing is the perfect job for authors who are looking for a stable side income stream.

So before we dive deep into how to become an editor for books, let's discuss a bit about what editors do in the first place. After all, if you don't understand an editor's job inside and out, how can you know if you want to learn how to become an editor?

What Do Editors Do?

“Editing” is a general term for a LOT of responsibilities. In general, once you learn how to become an editor for books, it will be your job to make sure an author's work is error- and issue-free, flows well, and is sure to sell big with their target audience.

Depending on where you work, or the clients you work with, how in-depth your editing will be is up for debate.

You might only be catching grammar errors and checking that the entire book is in the same perspective (for example, first or second person POV).

Or you might be deeply involved with re-ordering the story for the perfect flow.

You may need to tell authors to scratch characters, events, or points of view from the story altogether to improve their book's marketing potential.

You can become a general editor, or you can choose to specialize in a few different areas or genres (see this list of book genres to get some ideas). You may also only focus on one type of editing, such as copy editing or proofreading.

At the end of the day, when you learn how to become an editor for books, it's your job to ensure authors have high-quality, page-turning content that is ready to publish. And sometimes that can be stressful or thankless work. Just think of how you felt when teachers marked up your papers at school. Now imagine how an author protective of THEIR BABY could react.

Which brings us to the next point – the type of person you need to be to excel as an editor. Let's discuss some of the skills that would benefit you once you learn how to become an editor for books.

Skills needed to be an editor

While a college degree in English, communications, or journalism can help you as an editor, a degree is not always a necessary requirement for how to become an editor for books. So what is?

What you DO need is knowledge of all the grammar rules – and the basic rules of what constitutes a good book.

You should also have excellent attention to detail and stellar communication skills. You need to be able to convey your edits in a thoughtful and compassionate way, and not take offense or back down if you get pushback from authors. Because if you don't work respectfully with authors, there is a good chance you won't get many repeat customers.

Lastly, you need a strong foundation in writing, which is why so many authors turn to editing as a side hustle or full-time career.

Is editing a good side hustle as an author?

If you're here on this website, there's a good chance you are interested in book publishing. If you are an author, editing on the side can be a great way to make extra money and improve your writing skills.

When you can easily spot errors and problems in other people's writing, it's easier to edit your own writing. It also gives you the chance to connect with other writers and possibly meet new people in the industry.

If you choose to do some editing on the side, you'll find it much easier to write your books when your circle back to them. And you might even pick up some new techniques and skills to take your writing to the next level.

So, now that you have a better idea of what editors do, and if you might be good at the role, let's discuss how to become an editor for books.

How to Become An Editor for Books

If you have the right skills, learning how to become an editor is easy. All it takes is some thought and persistence! Here are the six basic steps for how to become an editor for books:

1. Brush up on style guides & grammar rules

Before you become an editor, it's important that you have a solid (and I mean SOLID) understanding of grammar. If you make grammar mistakes as a new editor, it can make it EXTREMELY difficult to succeed in your career.

2. Pick your niche

Once you're feeling solid about grammar, it's time to think of what type of editor you want to become. Choosing a type of genre or writing style to edit can help you stand out as an editor.

This is not a required step for how to become an editor for books, as you can absolutely be a general editor. But it IS something to consider. You can usually ask for higher pay if you are well-known in a particular niche.

3. Get some experience

To become a successful editor, you need to get your foot in the door.

You might want to find an internship, do some freelance work, or join a social media group full of authors and volunteer your services. Creating a profile on freelance job boards like Upwork or Fiverr can be a great way to get started.

You can also reach out to professional editors to get a feel of what they do day in and day out. This can give you a deeper understanding of what the profession requires and what you need to do to improve your skills.

Last, consider signing up for an editing class or attending a workshop to learn more about what it takes to be a successful editor.

4. Network

Whether you're just freelance editing on the side or learning how to become an editor as your full-time career, you need to network.

When starting out, clients will rarely come to you. You need to get out there and find them.

Start by asking people in your current social circle if they know anyone who needs an editor. That is where you will likely get your first clients. You can also join writers' groups and job boards for freelance editors online to put yourself out there.

5. Keep track of your work

As you start to work with clients and gain experience, you will want to keep track of the projects you work on. This will help you build up a portfolio to entice future clients to work with you.

When possible, ask clients to review how working with you went. Future clients will love to see not only past projects but also how writers felt about working with you.

6. Continue learning and growing

To become the best book editor possible, it's important to keep up-to-date with new techniques and the latest happenings in the editing industry. Sign up for workshops and challenge yourself to become better and better at this rewarding career. Trust me, your clients will thank you for it.

Calling All Writing and Editing Enthusiasts!

Now you know exactly how to become an editor for books, so it's time to get out there and put that knowledge to work. Of course, if you would like to learn more about how to edit, write, or publish books, our team has you covered. You can sign up for our classes and learn everything you need to know to successfully market the next best seller.

And, if you are a writer who is currently searching for an editor, we have vetted editors to refer you to. Just reach out!

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