How to Become a Freelance Developmental Editor: Are You Qualified? | iWriterly

How to Become a Freelance Developmental Editor: Are You Qualified? | iWriterly

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If you’re looking to launch your very own
freelance book editing career, learn the steps to becoming a professionally-qualified developmental
editor in this iWriterly video. Heya, book nerds! I’m Meg LaTorre, and on this episode of
iWriterly, I’m going to answer one of the most popular questions I receive from you
guys in my private messages, which is: “How can I become a freelance editor?” This question is often then followed by: “I’ve
worked as a critique partner for a few manuscripts… how hard can it be?” Harder than you think. Before we get into today’s content, hit
the subscribe button and ring that bell if you haven’t already. Here on iWriterly, we create videos about
how to be a successful modern-day author and we fangirl about books. If you missed our previous video in this BOOK
EDITING series, What is a Freelance Developmental Book Editor?, I’ll leave links in the description
below and in the cards so you guys can check those out. Here are the seven qualifications you’ll
need to become a quality developmental editor. 1. Patience Writers are an emotional lot. The stories we create, often referred to as
“book babies,” are our beloved manuscripts, and any suggestions to make changes can often
be met with resistance from the author–perhaps even with tears or a few harsh words. Just like you would for beta reading or working
as a critique partner, always highlight the things the author does well while also offering
suggestions on areas of improvement. In addition, be sure to phrase it as a SUGGESTION. Never tell a writer what to do with their
creative work. You could also simply make a note of: this
spot here didn’t make sense. Or, this is what I interpreted from this scene;
is that what you were intending? Be patient with writers, who may need time
to see the gaps in their stories, plots, or characters. And employ the compliment sandwich whenever
possible: compliment-critique-compliment. 2. Knowledge and Love of Books This may seem obvious, but if you don’t
like books, then you probably wouldn’t make a good developmental editor. All editors need to be avid readers and lovers
of books. You need to be reading a LOT, and ideally
books that were published within the last five years so you’re up-to-date with the
latest publishing trends. In addition, editors tend to specialize in
age groups and genres. Therefore, if you’d like to edit in certain
genres like fantasy, for example, you need to be well-versed in the books that are being
published in this genre. 3. Formal Study of the English Language While you don’t need to have studied English
in college or have an MFA, it is important to have some formal study of the English language. This could mean an online course or courses
at a local college that are specifically-geared toward writing and publishing. If you considering taking these courses, take
a close look at who the instructor is and what their experience is with writing and
editing (are they a published author, did they work as an editor at a publishing house
before, etc.). Often, courses taught by authors, editors,
or agents on editing are the easiest to access online (vs. in person). Also, keep an eye out for certifications provided
with these courses, and ask around to see what other courses developmental editors you
look up to have taken. If you want to be a copy editor, which is
separate from developmental editing, I would recommend checking out courses on grammar,
sentence structure, etc. 4. Basic Knowledge of Grammar Even if you’re not a copyeditor, you should
have a basic knowledge of grammar, sentence structure, comma usage, etc. While most developmental editors won’t line-edit
as well, if an author is consistently making some grammatical mistake, it’s good to point
it out once or twice so they can address it throughout the rest of the manuscript. Personally, I often refer to The Elements
of Style by Strunk and White. 5. Familiarity with CMS/AP Style Handbooks In addition to having a basic grasp on grammar,
sentence structure, and so on, you will also want to be knowledgeable in The Chicago Manual
of Style and/or the Associated Press Style handbooks. Think back to college when you had to know
APA, AMA, or MLA for writing and editing papers. In publishing, Chicago and AP are most frequently
used. Personally, I lean more heavily toward Chicago. There are print and digital versions of each
of these handbooks, which are usually updated yearly or every few years. 6. Industry Experience In my opinion, industry experience is absolutely
essential. In order to understand the publishing world
today, you should be working at ground-level to see what it’s actually like. What stories are writers often submitting? Are there consistent mistakes these writers
seem to make in their submission package or manuscripts? What books are readers frequently buying? What are editors at publishing houses interested
in purchasing? Are there topics, stories, or trends that
are currently out of favor in the market? What is the writing style readers seem to
prefer in today’s publishing marketplace? Internships are usually the best option to
attain this. Literary agencies, small indie presses, publishing
houses, literary magazines, and more are common examples of places that offer internships,
though they are usually unpaid. If you aren’t a student, there are many
literary agencies and indie presses that are open to interns of any age (and some of these
internships are remote). I, for one, interned remotely at the agency
when I was out of school and working full-time. Keep an eye on places like for
the latest internships in the publishing industry, and don’t be afraid to throw your hat into
the ring. 7. Platform Once you’ve studied up on writing, editing,
and publishing courses and you’ve gotten some industry experience, next is to get yourself
out there. How will people know about your editorial
services if they don’t know who you are? All editors should have: Website, including a
page that lists your editorial services and pricing
Social media presence (primarily Twitter, in my opinion)
Newsletter Think of yourself as a brand. You want to create a home-base for you as
an editor on the internet where you’re easy to find. In addition, it’s important for people to
get to know you and know what you can do for them. Personally, I’ve found that sharing my knowledge
for free through mediums such as guest blogs, interviews, and YouTube videos has helped
to show prospective clients that I know what the heck I’m talking about. That, and you always want to be a resource
to the writing community! Consider creating a newsletter as well, where
you can email your list when you have special sales going on, new videos or content about
the craft of writing or editing, and more. Thanks for tuning into this episode on iWriterly,
how to become a freelance developmental editor. If you liked what you saw, give the video
a thumbs up. It lets me know you like this type of content
and want more. If you’re new here, welcome! Consider subscribing. I post writing- and bookish-related videos
every Wednesday. If you have questions about anything we covered
today, leave those in the comments below. Be sure to connect with me on my other social
media platforms, including Twitter and Instagram. I also have a monthly newsletter, Book Nerd
Buzz, which includes exclusive insiders and giveaways for subscribers. When you subscribe to the newsletter, you’ll
receive free copies of the How to Format Your Manuscript for Submission template as well
as a querying checklist. All of the links are listed below. That’s it for today. As always, keep writing!

13 thoughts on “How to Become a Freelance Developmental Editor: Are You Qualified? | iWriterly”

  1. If you're a freelance developmental editor, what has your experience been in becoming one? Did you do other things to hone your craft as an editor? If you're looking to become a developmental editor, what did you guys think about our list? Any questions? Let's share the knowledge in the comments below!

  2. Not the kind of video I usually see from the youtube writing community on here. Nice! It's refreshing to both see something new and get details on an area rarely discussed on the platform. Thanks! I must be getting old. In the past the person would need to move to New York City for work like you describe. That or maybe Chicago.

    And now…speaking of APA and MLA Style, I need to get back to my black leather bag full of student essays and get editing first drafts for them.

    sigh Really all I want to do is watch Season Three of Daredevil.

    Thanks again for the helpful video.

    Take care and have a fun weekend.


  3. Very informative.

    I haven't checked (coz I'm not sure what phrase to use) but have you done a video on what the ideal relationship between developmental editors and authors would look like? When have you been the happiest and what are the characteristics of the authors that made the relationship good, and the book a success?

  4. This was really intesting! It's good for writers too to know what exactly the developmental editor will be doing, and the qualifications they need 😉

  5. How did you get into editing? I'm trying to figure out what I want to study in college (I'm 16 and a junior in high school) and I know I still have time, but I feel like becoming an editor could be a good fit for me. I'd love to know how you got into this field of work and the steps you took in your education. I don't know if you've made a video like this yet, but I think that would be a HUGE help. Basically, what inspired you to go into this profession (not sure if you're an editor, but whatever profession you're in)? What did you major in in college? How did you apply for internships and such? I know you probably won't see this comment, but if you do it would be a ginormous help to me to get some answers on your process of education, especially in the college range. Thank you!

  6. Thanks, Meg! Great video. I am very seriously looking for a career change. I have a lifelong love of reading and I have done a little bit of writing as well. I want to become a developmental editor. Looking forward to the new career direction. Thanks, again!

  7. Generally, how many books per month does a developmental editor edit? I'm just trying to get a sense of the pace at which developmental editors work.

  8. I enjoyed your video. I'm a freelance editor (textbooks mostly, but some fiction and nonfiction, too) based in Hong Kong and am planning to relocate back to the U.S. I'm looking for info on setting up my freelance gig there as a business – that is, whether it's best to set up as an LLC or sole prop or whatever. Have you tackled this topic? I'm sure it's different state by state though, but general thoughts would be really welcomed. Thanks, and keep up the good work!

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