Working in Publishing & Editing

Questions & Responses:
Going rates for academic developmental and copyediting(6 responses)
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Work as a proofreader/editor

March 2011

I have previously worked as an editor and proofreader but have been out of the field for a while. Any ideas on how to start up again - preferably as a freelancer? thanks!

the bay area editors' forum is a good place to start - you may also want to try good luck. Dianna
I suggest joining the local Yahoo Group called Brain Exchange or BREX. Please do a search on it and email the group and you will get information for attending one meeting (free) on the 4th Thursday of most months, in El Cerrito. Then you will get answers from many women either at the meeting or subsequently, online, daily BREX messages. It is free to join. suzanne
1: Get on LinkedIn and make your profile stellar. Solicit (and give) recommendations. Join relevant groups.

2: Join local and national organizations for communicators/editors and any specific to industries where you may have a specialization.

3: Take advantage of any networking opportunities and reach out to family and friends.

4: Do pro-bono work for a charity to get references and build your resume.

5: Get listed on sites like Elance that are dedicated to connecting freelancers with jobs. Look into temp agencies. Good luck! Karen

Freelance Editing Work

June 2004

I am looking for information about working as a freelance editor. I worked as a writer about 8 years ago, I have a law degree, and editing has been an element of most of the work I have done since college, but I have no formal editing training. I have spent the last year at home with my two small kids. Should I take a course before trying to find work? (which one?) How much do freelancers generally charge? How do you build a client base? Do you need to pick a topic area and focus on that or can you be a general, all purpose editor? Is there as much demand for substantive editing as there is for copy editing? Any and all thoughts welcome.

I recommend some formal training. Editcetera in Berkeley offers excellent editorial (and other courses) for professionals. This group is also a network of experienced pro editors who've loosely banded together to get work. Our company has paid freelance editors (depending on experience, specialization, and whether the work is proofreading, copy editing, or developmental) anything from $16 to $30/ hour. Specialization (but not too narrow) is a good idea. Our company works with, for instance, a lot of cookbook specialists. There seems to be more demand for copy editing and especially good proofreading, but that's a special skill. Nicole
There is an editing program at UCB Extension (which I completed two years ago). They sometimes have little ''state of the job market'' type seminars. I can tell you from my own experience that without some sort of formal editing training or job experience, very few people will be willing to interview you for editing jobs (this is why I did the editing sequence at UCBex.) Sara

Careers in Publishing

April 2004

Hello, I periodically read messages here that recommend publishing as a career. I've looked into it superficially over the years, and had the impression that people were entering the field through unpaid internships or previous editorial experience. In the last couple of years, my line of work has pretty much dissolved, and people I respect have been telling me I should go into publishing. Yes, but how to go about it? I have a Ph.D. in the liberal arts, have published a lot of articles, and I grew up around writers and editors, etc.--but I have no editorial samples, for example, to submit for such a position, or practical experience in some components of the job. I also don't know where the job boards are for these jobs--there must be something more efficient than going to the websites for individual publishers. I will appreciate any guidance here--as I say, I've seen people write on this group who sound very knowledgeable about such work. Interested in Publishing

Although I wasn't really looking for a career in publishing I've kind of stumbled into the field of technical editing and reviewing. In my field, computers, there was, and maybe still is, a huge demand for people who both know the technical material and who how to edit for grammar and clarity. Most of the computer book publishers contract out this kind of work to freelancers. Maybe in your field there are textbooks or other kinds of material that need to be edited before being published. This isn't a true career but it can be a start. Jon

Becoming an editor

October 2003

I am looking for advice on becoming an editor in the publishing industry. I have a BA in journalism and several years of experience editing at a daily newspaper. I have this notion that I might enjoy publishing, but I really don't know anything about it -- and I am unsure how to find out more because I don't know anyone in the industry. I'm hoping there a members of this network who can help me. Among my questions are the following: Is it highly competitive? Is it youth driven (I am in my late 30s)? How should I start looking for a job? I'd love to hear whatever words of wisdom you have to share. Thanks so much. Book Worm

I have worked in book publishing in the Bay Area for almost 10 years. I think it is a wonderful profession, and the atmosphere in the Bay Area, as opposed to the big houses in NY, is very laid back and collegial.

You may want to explore marketing and publicity. Some people have the notion that editorial is the most exciting department, but I have always thought that marketing is much more fun, and if writing is what you like, you end up doing a lot of writing in the marketing department. I don't think that it is youth driven. I am in my mid-thirties, and recent hires in my company are older than me. In my company of 20 employees, a third is my age, a third is older (40s, 50s and 60s) and a third are in their 20s.

You mention you don't know anybody in the industry. A good place to meet people is in the NCBPMA (Northern California Book Publicity and Marketing Association) monthly luncheons on different publishing topics. These luncheons provide a great informal way to meet Bay Area publishing professionals. They publish a directory of Bay Area Publishers which is an excellent starting point to get the picture of how many companies are around and what they do. Check out their website

Good luck! In book publishing and loving it

The bay area is a great center of independent book publishers. There are a few wonderful organization in the bay area around book publishing:

1) Northern California Book Publicity & Marketing Association (

2) Bay Area Editor's Forum (not sure of the web address; there might be a link on the ncbpma site)

3) Bookbuilders West (focus on production issues)

The best thing to do is to try to hook up with one of these organizations and start going to their events to meet people in the industry. The NCBPMA website has a job board and others may too. There are also job postings in the back of Publishers Weekly magazine, the industry magazine. Kristen

I am perhaps not the best person to answer your post because I haven't worked in book publishing directly; I have worked with editors as an author and a translator, so I have some information gleaned from my contacts.

First, I don't believe one makes a lot of money in publishing. Many publishing firms struggle with the bottom line.

Second, there are many kinds of book publishing, and some of them may be more fulfilling to you personally than others. There are university and other non-profit presses that deal with academic and some literary works, there are presses that deal only with technical publication, and other very specialized presses. Some book publishers produce items that literature-lovers would scarcely acknowledge as real ''books.'' I would say that you would have to be comfortable with and interested in the type of book published by the press in order to be happy.

For academic publishing you should have some knowledge of one or more of the fields published by the press as well as editorial expertise. It helps with other types of publishing too to have some background knowledge in their specialization.

Working efficiently and accurately are important skills. My impression is that one often works in a kind of apprentice position (copy-editor, assistant editor) before moving into more interesting work. The pay at these starting positions is often low.

If you have additional questions I might be able to get a contact name and info for you with an academic publisher and a non-profit publisher.

Good luck! Linda

I've worked in the publishing industry off and on for many years. It can be wonderfully rewarding, and also very frustrating. Rewarding because the work and the people are terrific. Frustrating because it is an undervalued (in many ways) industry. You might start with one or two classes at either editcetera, a local editing consortium, or U.C. Extension. Both have wonderful classes and workshops that teach the basics and the finer points of book editing and the publishing business. Carolyn