5 Tips to Become a Copy Editor

I have been asked by one of my readers ( I love you!) on some suggested tips to becoming a copy editor. Now while all of you know, I am no master Copy Editor just yet. Though I can tell you what classes I DON’T recommend….*cough*….*mediabistro cough*. I had a large email ready to send to her when I thought of others out there that might have the same questions. So here was her question:

“As someone who’s also looking to break into the field, I wondered if you had any advice for me about where to look and what to do to get started.”

This reader already had a BA in English mind you. So here are my top 5 tips for gaining, at the very least, some great, honest experience copy editing to nail that dream job.

1. Internships!!!

This often means “free labor”, but this also means real experience. After only looking for a little over a month I scored an internship editing short stories. I did it from home, in my spare time, and emailed with questions. It was easy and I was gaining real experience with a real publishing company. My recommendation: Internships.com

2. Current Place of Work

Even your current job can help you with your dream endeavors! I work for an online company, so I knew they have a website and also produce literature/brochures for people. I offered (for free) to proofread their work. I only proofread their outgoing literature before I was given a query letter to proofread/edit and asked if I could help write their online content and fliers. So it got my more writing work too, but I was able to prove myself.

3. Current Printed Material

Interested in editing magazines/newspapers or brochures/fliers? If you are interested in marketing materials or newspapers, a very direct route is by purchasing a news paper (or finding) or grabbing those free fliers/brochures at the store. You sift through it with your red pen, circle any mistakes and input your corrections. Then you mail it back (preferably if you can find the name of the editor) simply with your contact information/business card and the corrected printed material. I haven’t tried this method yet, but that’s because I want to edit books, fiction books specifically.

4. Books

The library can be a breath of knowledge for you, just lurking on those dusty shelves. One or two books on grammar can oftentimes provide you with the exact same knowledge as a college course….if you quiz yourself. (Trust me, I’m in the classes now!)

5. Classes

There are free and paid classes all over the Internet, not to mention plenty of quizzes. Google “proofreading quizzes” “proofreading practice” etc. Substitute “proofreading” for editing, grammar and punctuation. After taking my own classes, I do feel that I already knew a lot of it from these websites and quizzes.

So just get started anywhere and you’ll be surprised how fast it takes off and how much your skills are needed.  You don’t need to spend a penny if you don’t want to! Post if these work for you! Good luck!