People sometimes ask me how I became an editor, and the first thing I usually say is by getting involved in an editing community.
You can form an editing group in any way you’d like, and sometimes smaller is better. You can create a more organic group or you can join a professional association. Put yourself out there and see what’s right for you!
Here’s why I think an editing community makes all the difference in your career as a book editor:
An editing community provides technical editing and stylistic help.
If you have questions about a rule in The Chicago Manual of Style or how to improve a sentence, you can immediately bring your questions to a group of like-minded individuals. If you’re just starting out, it’s such an invaluable tool to have a group of experienced editors at your disposal.
Having access to other experts is a great way to dig into the details. It’s actually pretty fun to agonize over whether a word should be capitalized or not with a group of other editors who actually care about the right answer.
An editing community provides the encouragement and validation you need to keep moving forward.
There’s nothing better than going to a group of editors who know the challenges and can celebrate the victories with you, and when freelancing gets hard and you have a difficult client or a frustrating project, it’s so nice to talk with people who get it.
People who can share their advice because they’ve been in similar situations. People who can cheer you on from the side lines. Editing—really freelancing in general—can be so isolating, but it doesn’t have to be.
An editing community can help you with job leads.
I’ve gotten a lot of work simply by being a part of a professional association with private, members-only job listings. I’ve also gotten to know other editors who so generously passed on work to me. Starting out as a freelancer, it’s easy to have a scarcity mind-set when you’re bidding on jobs. But I’ve found that freelancers are more successful when they share the love, and this is just one reason why an editing community is so worth it.
All in all, the wisdom and camaraderie of fellow editors is worth the pursuit. If you’re a freelancer, particularly an editor, tell me what you look for in an editing community!
An editing community can help you problem solve.
A group of editors can be not only an incredible source of encouragement and wisdom but a wonderful sounding board when you need to solve problems.
If you’re experiencing a particular technical challenge, common but frustrating problem with a client, or anything else that you’re bound to bump into from time to time as a freelance editor, it’s helpful to run your ideas past other editors and hear what worked for them.
An editing community can help you better understand your industry.
When you join any professional group, it’s true that you learn to practice your communication skills in a professional setting. But there’s something incredibly valuable about having regular conversations with people in your industry.
You start to care more about current trends, changes in the publishing landscape, issues that pop up from time to time in your field—you name it. Learning from other editors means you always have a pulse on an ever-changing industry, and this can help you (a) continue your education, and (b) gain confidence in your career path.
Being a freelancer can be an experience that happens in a silo, but regularly contributing to an editor group, creating a mastermind group, or simply reaching out to other editors and creating a more organic community can dramatically enrich your day-to-day work.