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How can I get experience in the publication field?

I want to become a book editor, but I live in a place that doesn't have much opportunity to break into that career. #bookworm #opportunities #workexperience

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Jasmine’s Answer

Hello! There are several important steps and things to keep in mind if you want to become a book editor (but are geographically limited). Many companies are switching to using freelance or in-house editors, so you could look for positions on websites like LinkedIn and job sites that allow you to work remotely. Having a LinkedIn profile that highlights your passion for editing will help recruiters find you even as you are looking for them. Depending on where you are in your education (high school, considering college, graduating from college), consider what you are most interested in studying or what skills you want develop to be a competitive, unique professional.


Your first job in the field might not be actually editing. Be open to any position that will get you in the door and help you learn about the industry. Even being an administrative assistant will help you learn names, faces, and how everyone interacts. These are important things to know!


Here are a couple articles that might be helpful:

  • https://thesyp.org.uk/how-do-i-get-a-job-in-publishing/
  • https://www.theguardian.com/careers/2016/feb/15/by-the-book-six-ways-to-break-into-publishing

Jasmine recommends the following next steps:

Create a LinkedIn profile (or review it and make sure it shows your passion for editing)
Explore online job postings to see what editing work is available remotely
Thank you comment icon Keep in mind...you really can’t get a book editing job as a freelancer or remote employing without years of experience on-site. A lot of this advice is good for publishing broadly, but books is very niche. Nadina P
Thank you comment icon When looking for jobs in linked-in/indeed: There are volunteer jobs and internships that you can do online, from home (remote work) and you may even filter your job search to Entry Level or Internship. This can help you get experience and practice whenever you want (: Make connections! Sometimes reaching out to professionals can be a little scary but more often than not there are many professionals willing to help and give you advice! Just reach out, be kind, and sincerely ask for a moment of their time- ask about what kind of editing they do, what they like about it, and don't like about it. This way, you can also start to develop your niche, and select what you want to specifically write in (entertainment, e-sports, games, anime...etc.) Best of luck Kimberly! (: Paulina Camacho Calderon
Thank you comment icon Thank you! In the same predicament as the asker; this was really helpful! :) Would you say that the same or similar criteria applies to copywriters, as well? Olivia Moore
Thank you comment icon Great response! Gabrielle Fisher, MBA
Thank you comment icon That’s a great piece of advice Jasmine Chinwuba Anthony
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Nadina’s Answer

Hi Kimberly,


I've been a book editor for 9 years, and I was in a similar position to you when I was in high school. I signed up for anything writing related. It's great that you're pursuing some work for a blog, but I would also consider a school newspaper or volunteer opportunities.


Book editors generally have college degrees, so if moving away for college is an option for you, I strongly urge you to do so. New York City is hands down the best place to go for this, as that's where almost all of book publishing happens. There's a very healthy magazine and newspaper publishing presence here as well. If it's possible for you to work your way into an internship in the Big Apple, you absolutely should do that. It's very difficult to land a book publishing job otherwise, if that's what interests you, and other types of publishers like to see a New York City gig as well.


Many universities have publishing programs; expensive ones include NYU, Columbia, and Yale. However, don't be dismayed; Hofstra University in Long Island has an excellent one, and they're close enough to New York City that you can still gain valuable internship experience while you study. And if none of these options are possible for you, do not despair; many of my colleagues entered the field through other colleges, studying English, marketing, and other valuable disciplines. It means you might have to work a little harder to get noticed, but it can be done.


If you are at a school that has a writing center or have the option of studying somewhere that does, the best piece of advice I can give you is to get a job there. Not only will you be paid for such work, you will really stand out when you're looking for internships. A writing center is a phenomenal place to learn how to work with writers. If you can't work in a writing center, look for volunteer work that's similar. I volunteered with a local homeless shelter and another domestic violence shelter to help the people there write resumes and cover letters. If there is a cause of this nature that is important to you, bring your greatest skills to the table to make a difference. Every little bit counts.


The final thing you can do--and possibly the easiest--is to spearhead your own work. Do you know how to use WordPress? If not, are you willing to learn? The world has really changed, most especially in publishing. If you want a future in this industry, you have to show that you are willing to change with it. Many publishers really value these technical skills.


But don't stop there: use your WordPress site to write and showcase your work. Use Medium to do the same thing. Write about anything. Showcase anything you do--create links to your work from other sources; if you do end up working on that blog, that's a great example of something that should go on your personal page. Build a strong portfolio of the work you can be proud of to demonstrate how motivated and talented you are, and you will definitely catch someone's eye.


And finally, don't be afraid to build a network! I'm personally always happy to give advice or lend a hand where it's needed. The fact that you've already reached out to this community is an excellent start.

Nadina recommends the following next steps:

Look at school newspapers
Consider volunteer opportunities
Try working in a writing center
Set up your own blog or medium account
Build a network
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Sarah’s Answer

Hi, Kimberly - My answer is based on my five years of experience as a freelance writer and editor. Being freelance means I don't work for a company. I work with lots of different individual clients. While I have never been a full-time book editor, I have helped some of my clients edit their books.


If you want to become an editor, the most important thing to do now is simply to read a lot and write a lot yourself. Put a lot of energy into your English classes. Get involved in an extracurricular activities (like student publications) that give you opportunities to write or edit. If you have friends who write Wattpad stories, volunteer to edit their stories for them.


I'm betting there are more publications businesses in your area than you realize. For example, is there an academic press? Is there a business that helps self-published authors? These could be great places to intern. You would probably not be editing as part of these internships. But you will learn about an editor's job and form professional relationships with people who can open doors to future opportunities.



Sarah recommends the following next steps:

Read lots of different kinds of books and other publications. As you read, think about what you like about that book, article, etc., and what you don't like. How would you advise the author to make it better?
Join the staff of student publications at your school.
Excel in your English classes.
Research whether there are publishing -related businesses in your community — for example, academic presses or businesses that help self-published authors. These could be great places to intern.
Search LinkedIn for profiles of people who have jobs like the one you want in the future. What kind of skills and experience do they have?
Thank you comment icon Sarah I found your comment very very helpful. I applied for a blogger through my school and they say they will find something for meet. But it has been a couple of weeks since I've heard from them. What can I do for this one? I've read several different kind of books and articals. I live in a small town and there is no publishers academic press here in my town and I will look through LinkedIn for some jobs. Annalisa
Thank you comment icon Hi, Annalisa - Good for you for seeking out blogging opportunities at your school. Since you haven't heard back from anyone, it's perfectly fine to follow up and see what's going on. Keep reading books and articles as you have been. Take electives that will help you build writing skills. See if any of the clubs or organizations at your school need help with writing and communications. Keep reading different kinds of books and publications. Sarah Beckham
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Martha’s Answer

I can only add a little to Jasmine's excellent advice. Do consider any position in publishing to get your foot in the door. If there are not very many opportunities in your area, you can always try online possibilities. However, to get experience consider volunteer opportunities in your area and, if you are still in school, be sure to look for opportunities to gain experience with newsletters, yearbooks, literary magazines, etc. You might also look into the website Goodreads.com. Many promising authors are looking for Beta readers. You would be able to choose the genre of books you are interested in and gain experience that way.

I'd also suggest since you love to read that you consider writing book reviews of books you've read for online sites and possibly a local newspaper. Study book reviews in magazines and newspapers to see how they are written and make notes while you are reading books to get started writing reviews.
Thank you comment icon I agree with Martha's advice to volunteer, anywhere you can. I have also found that many editors are also writers, so find opportunities to practice your writing skills. Jillian Reiten, CD
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Mark’s Answer

Kimberly,

Develop good technical skills: Adobe Photoshop, Adobe InDesign, web coding - you can find classes online or in your community. Writing/editing skills, software skills, and a can-do attitude will improve your chances at finding work in publishing.


Use some of the online tools available to create a publication - zine, blog, website, book. Share your work in an online portfolio. Find work that inspires you online or in your community. Reach out to those people and organizations that inspire you. It takes time. You'll be ignored. Don't lose hope. Work is out there.


Here's a link to the 6-week Columbia Publishing Workshop: https://journalism.columbia.edu/columbia-publishing-course. This type of training gives you skills but also provides contacts within the industry. Networking and building relationships will help you move forward in the industry.

Mark recommends the following next steps:

Identify and create a portfolio of publishers, illustrators, writers, graphic designers, artists, videographers, podcasters who create work that inspires you.
Create a portfolio of creative work to show your abilities and interests. Use your work to start conversations and to apply for internships or entry-level jobs. Here are some tips: https://www.clippings.me/writing-portfolio-how-to
Ask for help. Share your interests with others. Don't give up!
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Tim’s Answer

Kimberly, I have been in publishing for over 30 years, the last 20 as a book acquisition editor. I have worked my entire career in medical publishing, part of the publishing universe known as STM, short for scientific, medical and technical publishing. Some are adding scholarly to the mix today.

Let me first encourage you in your pursuit. I have loved almost every day of my career.

My first piece of advice, be a great communicator. Can you write a good email? Can you call someone on the phone and have an intelligent conversation? That one is critical, all communication can't be via email and text. Are you comfortable speaking with people one on one? Publishing is a people business. All the technical skills in the world won't help you, if you can't communicate well.

My major in college was journalism, and I think it was the perfect preparation for a career in publishing. You learn to write, you learn to ask questions, and you learn to be curious.

Do not put yourself in a box when it comes to editing or publishing. One place I saw numbers said over 2.2 million books are published around the world each year, over 300,000 in the USA. Yes, a lot of publishing happens in NY, but a lot more happens in the other 49 states. Your profile says you are in Salt Lake City, so is the University of Utah Press. Check out the wed site and find positions that interest you. Email or call the person and ask for an informational phone interview. My bet is they will jump at the chance to speak with you. See if they have an internship program. When I Googled book publishers in Salt Lake City, 30 publishers returned. Maybe a few of them publish books on topics you are really passionate about. Do not limit yourself right now to just books. There is another universe of journals that is worth learning about.

A great first position is editorial assistant. Marketing assistant is a good option as well. Sales is also a good option. Do not kid yourself, publishing is a business, and it requires sales to pay the editors and everyone else in the industry. You should be as much an expert in Excel as you are in Word.

A little bit about what I do. As an acquisition editor, I am responsible for all the content my publisher produces in a given specialty. Content includes books, but more and more electronic content and delivery are part of the mix. I identified topics I wanted to publish books on, and I went out and found authors to write them. I also responded to authors who approached me about a topic they were interested in. The most important thing I think I did was help get projects started in the right direction. I negotiated agreements to publish content. I supervised the development of the books as they went through the editorial development process. I celebrated with everyone involved when a new book published. I have been responsible for publishing over 350 books in my career. I have never copy edited one. I have proof read a few chapters in a pinch. I rarely read the books. Most were on how to perform surgery. I have no expertise on the topic. I do work with some of the most amazing authors in the world. I help produce amazing content. I had no idea that medical publishing existed when I graduated college and started my job hunt. It just kind of happened. I was open to it and grateful I was. I have never dealt with an agent.

I have worked perhaps half my career from home. Do not let geography limit you. Publishing is very friendly to remote work.

My hobby is woodworking. One of the biggest woodworking publishers is located in Litiz, Pennsylvania, population 9,458. Who knew? Publishing happens everywhere.

Books and publishing is am amazing business that I am so happy to have made my career in. I hope you may have a long and wonderful career in it as well.
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Cyndi A.’s Answer

You've already gotten some excellent advice on this site, so I'll keep mine brief:

1. Perfectionism is a virtue in the editing world. In your original question headline, the word "field" was misspelled (it's now been corrected). Any editor will disregard a poorly edited application. Be diligent and relentless on that.

2. Apply for volunteer and assistant opportunities. Many platforms allow you to work remotely.

3. Keep your professional online profiles (LinkedIn, CareerVillage, Upwork, etc.) current on your experience, achievements, software proficiencies and the position you're seeking; and your personal profiles (Instagram, Mewe, Facebook, etc.) peppered with what you're reading!

4. Showcase your work on your WordPress blog/website, preferably in a before-and-after format.

5. Keep a running list of target employers, get to know their styles and teams, sign up for Indeed notifications with their keywords, don't be afraid to reach out (repeatedly)...and don't give up. Best wishes to you!
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Geoffrey’s Answer

Hi, Kimberly,


I've been a book editor for twenty years. If you want to work as an editor for a book publishing company, you will need to live near one. While most publishers are in New York City or Nashville, there are book publishers all over the country. Many of them are looking for interns. I recommend you search for any book publishers in your area.


If you ever are ready to move, I recommend you look at a book publishing program, such as Denver Publishing Institute or Columbia's Publishing Course. They will give you a leg up on the competition. Whether you want an in-house editor position or if you want to try to get freelance editing jobs, you will need to be familiar with the Chicago Manual of Style. It's a hefty style manual available for an annual subscription or in a print edition. This is the bible of book publishing.


Hope this helps.

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Tammy’s Answer

Rather than focusing on one particular field, explore other options that are similar and could be easier to gain experience. Volunteer locally if there's a local newspaper. Or volunteer online to help with social media. Is there an animal shelter that needs help sharing its available cats and dogs? You could offer to help with that. Is there a boys and girls organization that would appreciate help spreading the word about its mission? Look around for opportunities so you get experience. You may find a field that interests you just as much. I have been a newspaper editor and reporter but spent half my career in insurance communications -- and it's the best job I ever had. So don't focus on the end goal when you're starting out. Focus on learning about writing, editing, PR, etc. Good luck!
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Ann’s Answer

Starting off with equipping yourself with the necessary certificate and tools for becoming a book editor.

Since there are not much opportunities in your area, you can dive into working remotely . This will help you fulfill your dream .

You can decide to relocate after working as a book editor for some years to locations of viable opportunities.
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Sara’s Answer

Editing is editing is editing, to some extent. Work on student publications if you haven't already. Lots of small magazines work on a shoestring budget and need volunteer editors. Do that for a little while and you can parlay that into a paid position, either with a magazine or book publishing company. Don't forget to look for small book presses as well.

Also do some freelance editing. Start with editing shorter pieces on a per-word or per-page basis. (Getting a job in your school's Writing Center is a good way to start). Combine all of the above and you'll have a resume built up before too long.

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Rachel’s Answer

It's fantastic that you have identified an area that you're so passionate about. There are so many ways to reach your goal. After college I went to get my master's in Publishing and Writing from Emerson College in Boston. It was an excellent program which helped me get internships and my first job as an editorial assistant. Programs like this are a great option, but there are other ways of getting additional education in this specific field such as certificate programs which are shorter and less expensive. Online programs can also be beneficial if moving is not an easy option for you.

But even before you think about a degree, build a strong foundation for yourself. Your coursework is important, as well as being involved with student organizations such as a writing center, newspapers, yearbook, or literary magazines. This type of involvement is great for your own experience as well as for your resume. Learn as much as you can.

Consider starting to write on topics which interest you and sharing them via a blog or website. You can work on a portfolio which can help you with jobs later on. Freelance writing can be a great way to get started, and to do that you need samples of your work to share.

Network, network, network. Use LinkedIn to search for internships and jobs, but also to review profiles of people in the industry to see what kind of experiences someone in your ideal job has. There are groups for professionals you can join to ask questions and make connections.

Look for any type of publishing going on in your area, as well as online. There are local newspapers and small independent presses everywhere. Search them out and apply for internships. Even asking to help write and print a local town newsletter is great experience! Even small jobs can lead to greater opportunities. Don't be afraid to walk into a local place and ask if there is a way for you to get involved! There are many online student publications that you can volunteer for. In college I worked for our literary magazine, but I also volunteered for an online student literary magazine where submissions (and editors) came from all over. There are so many online options available.

There are more opportunities around you than you may realize, and every one increases your knowledge and creates additional opportunities for your future.

Rachel recommends the following next steps:

Join any relevant student organizations.
Search for any local writing or publishing option and ask if you can get involved.
Start writing to create your own portfolio of work on topics that you're interested in.
Use LinkedIn to search for internships or remote positions, and to network in your area of interest.
Thank you comment icon Wao...this is interesting, thanks for this Roseline Chima
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Julianna’s Answer

Hi Kimberly,

From personal experience, I've found that reaching out to companies or individuals who are professionals in the field help to expand my network, and create new opportunities (even where it is geographically limited).

A great place to start is what's called an "informational interview." You would do this by contacting an editing professional (I'll include a link on how you can do this) - on LinkedIn or a 'Contact Us' form on a company website - expressing your interest in the field.

Remember that everyone you talk to knows somebody, who knows somebody, who knows someone else! Who knows, maybe that could open the door to a career in your city or elsewhere.

Note: After an informational interview, send a thank-you note (electronically is fine), and keep in touch with your new contact! Some great ways to do that include:
- Sending articles that may relate to the conversation you've had
- Sharing industry news you find interesting
- Any questions you may have

Here are some helpful links:

- How to request an informational interview (Step #4): https://career.berkeley.edu/Info/InfoInterview

- Informational interview questions: https://career.berkeley.edu/Info/InfoQuestions

- Publishing Companies in Utah: https://writingtipsoasis.com/top-book-publishers-in-utah/

Best of luck!
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Drenusha’s Answer

Knowing what career objective you are interested in pursuing means that you are already on the right trajectory of reaching your goal. Congratulations!

Having a big goal is a wonderful thing, but most of the times we undervalue our small daily goals – these are as easy to do as they are not to do.

As a first step, I would suggest researching professionals on online platforms in the likes of LinkedIn. What are these people doing for a living? How long have they worked in the industry that you are interested in pursuing? What kind of work have they done previously that inspires you? What would you like to learn from them? When you have the answers to these questions figured out, then you can focus on reaching out to each and every single one of them for advice.

Begin by writing a short introductory description of yourself together with a personalized note of why you appreciate their line of work, what inspires you about the work they have done, and explain how you would like to learn more about the area in question. Most of the time, people are more than willing and able to give advice to those who are genuinely interested in their line of work.

You never know where an introductory note of this sort might take you, it might gain you a mentorship, a traineeship, an internship or a lifelong friendship – but one thing is for certain, most of the time it is a small step that makes a huge difference and most definitely takes you out of your comfort zone.
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Elizabeth’s Answer

Hi there!


So the first thing -- love books!! I served as an editor for a small publishing company for years, and while it's a lot of reading at work, I would still come home and dive into novels. It also helps to know what is popular with readers right now, not just to follow the trend, but to see where things could go. Be passionate about what you want to do, and also cognizant of what others are doing around you.


My path to becoming a book editor was unconventional. I have a Bachelor's degree in Literature (okay, that part's straightforward, haha) but I've held jobs in a lot of different industries. For example, my first job out of college was as a purchasing assistant for a cheese importer. Was it my dream job? No (also you smell like cheese every day so there's that too). But it all helps for experience. I learned office tasks and how to put together newsletters. That lead me to a job as a reporter and analyst for a food trade magazine. Then I was in sales and did coding before I found a job as an assistant editor. Each job will help you and teach you in ways you don't expect, and can be amazing experience for jobs down the road.


As the previous comment states, your first job in publishing will probably not be editing. But again, that's okay! Keep your chin up! It'll be something to get your foot in the door. Plus, even if your first position is fact checking or as an office assistant, when the time comes for an assistant or associate editor to be hired, they'll be more likely to consider you if you've worked there and understand how the company works. This happened all the time at the publisher where I worked.


You mentioned not having any publishing houses nearby. Would you be able to commute or relocate? I know when I was an editor, it was imperative to be in the office. I had to not only read manuscripts, but test out recipes (we published mostly cookbooks), maintain author relationships, help with design/layout, liaison with copy editors, proofreaders and indexers, assist in marketing, write back cover copy, tip sheets and other sales material... There's definitely more to the position than just editing, and it's not something a lot of employers would hire a freelance position for, especially without prior experience.

Elizabeth recommends the following next steps:

Look for local publishing houses and check out their career/jobs pages often. Be open to any jobs as they'll help get your foot in the door and will help as experience down the line
See if you can help out/get an internship at a newspaper or magazine, or get a job at a bookstore. Be around books/publishing in any way possible!
Don't give up!!
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