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Bartholomew
10-30-2006, 03:47 AM
I really do.

But I have no idea how to go about doing this. I've always pulled straight A's in English, and I help people with documents all the time. (Anyone who's been critted by me knows I do it through e-mail.)

Any editors want to chime in on how I'd go about getting an entry level editing position? What sort of degree do I need? How much of my volunteer editing, if any, constitutes experience?

Rane
10-30-2006, 06:08 AM
Good question. :) I've always been interested in how one starts out.

Ol' Fashioned Girl
10-30-2006, 06:25 AM
Man, I'm glad I voted for you for pope! Now, if I run into you as an editor, maybe you'll remember me!

Medievalist
10-30-2006, 06:28 AM
It depends on the variety of editing you have in mind.

Fiction editing for book publishers, generally involves an internship and then a job as an assistant. Not always, but there's certainly a tendency for that particular pattern.

Editing of other sorts often involves work as a proofer or copy editor (you usually have to take a test). There, for instance, editors for travel agencies, and PR firms and trade news letters . . .

Education doesn't really have much to do with it; one of my very favorite editors has a high school diploma and nothing past that. He, however, is absolutely brilliant.

Birol
10-30-2006, 07:09 AM
Start your own publication?

Bartholomew
10-30-2006, 07:31 AM
Start your own publication?

The most obvious, but sadly, most expensive. :)

Bartholomew
10-30-2006, 07:32 AM
It depends on the variety of editing you have in mind.

Fiction editing for book publishers, generally involves an internship and then a job as an assistant. Not always, but there's certainly a tendency for that particular pattern.

Editing of other sorts often involves work as a proofer or copy editor (you usually have to take a test). There, for instance, editors for travel agencies, and PR firms and trade news letters . . .

Education doesn't really have much to do with it; one of my very favorite editors has a high school diploma and nothing past that. He, however, is absolutely brilliant.

I want to edit fiction, yes. I want to lord over the slush pile--I want to help writers make their dream, and help the publishing house find the best authors out there.

Wow, I sound corny.

scottVee
10-30-2006, 09:26 AM
I usually echo the "Start your own zine" response, but it's not that simple. If you're not good with the business/sales end of publishing, then rushing into your own publication is just a long slow way to use up a lot of money. However, I rarely see any case where a small zine has a publisher and is in search of an editor. Typically it's one person who thinks they can do everything, or doesn't know better.

Can't say I really like the "lord over the slush pile" sentiment. It's work, and I never ever felt a "lording" sensation. It's nice when you can get someone a break, but I wouldn't blow it out of proportion. Even with years of experience editing small publications, I don't know where to find an open editing position of any consequence that won't demand that I move back to New York. Publishers Weekly, I'd guess. But I don't want that anymore.

Best wishes.

icerose
10-30-2006, 09:34 AM
For the bigger houses you would need to live in those areas. I would visit the website of whatever house you want to work for and check out their careers section, and ask about internships and editorial positions.

K1P1
10-30-2006, 03:12 PM
Bart,

From what I've seen and heard (no direct experience to relate at all) the thing to do is to get a job as an editorial assistant and work your way up. For a lot of publishing houses, this involves living in NYC, with very low pay and very high expenses. But I don't see why you couldn't do it with a publisher located elsewhere (my own publisher is in western Massachusetts, but they only publish non-fiction.)

I do have an old friend who is now an editor at one of the big NY publishers. He is a poet, worked for one or two literary angencies, and then moved over into publishing (although I'm not sure how he made the move). He teaches an intro to publishing at one of the NY colleges (CUNY maybe?), so there are programs out there that will allow you to educate yourself about the business.

Medievalist
10-30-2006, 11:19 PM
You work your way up to slush.

Seriously. You generally spend a fair amount of time photocopying, and filing, and such.

dclary
10-31-2006, 12:03 AM
I can speak for magazine editing, but it sounds like you're interested in book editing. I too wanted to do this when I was your age, but didn't want to move to NYC.

GL Bart.

Crinklish
10-31-2006, 01:40 AM
Bart,

From what I've seen and heard (no direct experience to relate at all) the thing to do is to get a job as an editorial assistant and work your way up. For a lot of publishing houses, this involves living in NYC, with very low pay and very high expenses.

You've got that right! I started as an editorial assistant at a Random House company after bailing on my Ph.D.--in every interview, editors would say to me, "You don't want this job. It's very secretarial. You don't want to photocopy for years, do you?" For good or ill, I did.

If you really want to do this, you need to be prepared to start at the bottom, enjoy a low salary (starting pay around $30K if you're lucky) and a very slow climb up the corporate ladder. And although there are some opportunities elsewhere in the country, the fastest route to promotion these days is to move from house to house--and that usually means moving to NYC.

FWIW, I went to the Radcliffe Publishing Course (now Columbia Pub. Course, I believe), and while I had a good experience, such a course is far from required. The most important benefit for me was meeting 80 other publishing newbies who were all moving to New York, so I had built-in friends when I came to the big bad city.

Good luck!

mistri
10-31-2006, 02:39 AM
My similar but British experience started at editorial assistant level as well. I'd been working in a bookshop, so I knew a bit about the industry (and read trade magazines that came into the shop). I applied to a bazillion assistant jobs in London, and eventually persistance paid off.

My role did involve a lot of admin (and was low-paid, naturally :D ), but I also moved on to reading a lot of slush relatively quickly, and was lucky enough to manage and edit published authors eventually as well.

I now work in magazines (after I moved away from London, the book publishing capital of the UK), but I very much enjoyed the experience.

Medievalist
10-31-2006, 06:26 AM
This is the start of the intern seeking season in New York. Were I in a postion to do so, personally, I'd hie myself to the Tor offices (after a visit to the Web site, natch), but that's just me.

Nakhlasmoke
10-31-2006, 08:25 AM
I get the Publishers Lunch email, and it often has listings for various openings in the publishing world. Maybe take a squizz there?

Moonfish
10-31-2006, 01:26 PM
My editor got into the business by getting a degree in publishing (I don't remember the real title) from Oxford. I am soo jealous, I didn't even know such a thing exists or I would've taken that course myself back in the day.

Carmy
11-02-2006, 07:17 AM
Jobs are often listed in Publisher's Lunch put out by Cader Books. http://www.caderbooks.com/

Provrb1810meggy
11-24-2006, 08:14 PM
Hey! I want to be an editor (well, and a writer) when I'm older. Right now, I'm in high school. English is my favorite subject, and I used to think I should be an English teacher. Then, I realized I'd have to teach such delightful things as citing sources and five paragraph essays and said, "Not for me!" What I'd love to do is be an editor.

What type of an education does an editor get? What would they major in in college? English, I presume, but are there any programs where you can specialize in publishing?

Misnomer
11-24-2006, 10:10 PM
I want to be an editor, too, but I already am older. ;)

Currently I'm a technical writer and editor: I've been doing this for 8 years (I've been working for 13), and I'm almost done with a master's degree in English (concentration: Professional Writing & Editing). I enjoy this work and have no plans to leave the field any time soon, but I have always had a desire to eventually focus on editing and get out of the IT industry -- to be an editor/copyeditor/proofreader for a magazine or newspaper or publishing house somewhere, somehow. I have it in my head that there will be some way to leverage my experience and education so that I don't start off at the very bottom (at less than half my current salary), but I'm aware that I'll have a lot to learn and won't be jumping right in to a senior position at what I'm making now. I guess I've been assuming that I could start in some kind of mid-level position.

Should I disabuse myself of that notion? Should I think of it as starting a brand-new career, and therefore 10+ years of technical editing experience won't be seen as any different than, say, retail experience? Will the master's degree also be useless, because I'll be seen as equivalent to someone who is just out of undergrad?

PeeDee
11-25-2006, 01:56 AM
In my case, the magazine approached me. So I have absolutely no idea. I'll be curious to see what our resident editors have to say.

Thump
02-02-2007, 07:42 AM
Hi :) I'm an English Major who also wants to be an editor :) Personally, my first step is going to be a summer internship *crosses fingers* I'm applying all over the place X-D

It's nerve wracking especially as I'd have to relocate to either London or NY for it and I've never been all by myself in the big bad world. Still, I got into the B.A in English to be an editor so if you catch me with a voodoo doll of you it only means that I'm trying to get rid of the competition, i.e. you ;)

/jk

veinglory
02-02-2007, 07:44 AM
In the 'where I started' talks (okay, I've only heard two of these) editors tend to talk about being readers (the lowest level of slush processor) to begin with.

katiemac
02-02-2007, 10:56 AM
FWIW, I went to the Radcliffe Publishing Course (now Columbia Pub. Course, I believe), and while I had a good experience, such a course is far from required. The most important benefit for me was meeting 80 other publishing newbies who were all moving to New York, so I had built-in friends when I came to the big bad city.

Good to know. I looked into that for the first time yesterday and gawked at the $6600 price tag.

Namatu
02-02-2007, 06:24 PM
There's also the Denver Publishing Institute.

I used to work for a big reference publisher (now I work for a smaller reference publisher). For a long time, interns practically had an automatic in to any new entry-level positions available. An internship gives you experience and your foot in the door.

I'm an editor and my degree is in political science. I took a lot of English classes in college, but nothing more. In reference publishing, at least, a degree in English isn't required. The important thing is that you're able to copyedit, proof, and write. Sometimes they prefer you have knowledge in a particular area, like U.S. history. Depends on what you'd be editing. I'm not sure how the fiction publishing world works, but I had to take proofing and copyediting test for my jobs, as well as a writing one for the first.

Jamesaritchie
02-02-2007, 06:37 PM
Sometimes editors start at the bottom, sometimes they start halfway up teh ladder, and sometimes they start very near the top. It depends who you are, what your qualifications are, who the publisher is, etc.

To be a fiction editor, English skills are not enough. You must first prove you know marketable fiction from unmarketable fiction. Quite often, being a professional writer is enough to move you into a top editing spot right off the bat. I've known quite a number of top editors who went directly from being a selling fiction writer to being the top editor at a magazine, or a highly placed editor with a publisher, with no prior experience at all.

Being a professional writer can be a huge, massive, remarkably fast shortcut to becoming a fiction editor.

Another "shortcut" is college. Those who work on college literary magazines, and those who work with various college book publishers, also get an editor's seat much faster than someone who has done neither. In my opinion, too many editors are now hired straight from college.

This is also the one area of the writing business where connections do help. Just like any other job, knowing someone on the inside does give you an advantage.

It used to be easier before publishers relied so heavily on agents. Many publishers had a fairly simple test for first readers, and once you landed that job, working your way up to editor was mostly a matter of being very good at pulling great novels from the slush, and rejecting bad novels.

Today, unless you have prior experience of some sort, or unless you're a professional fiction writer, or unless you know someone placed high enough up, becoming a fiction editor is usually a long road. You'll probably have to find an internship, and these are most often given to the young, and particularly to college kids who are majoring in the right areas.

Pomegranate
02-03-2007, 02:31 AM
Look for a volunteer position with an online magazine or a free local magazine. There are lots of little magazines that need help. It will give you some hands-on experience so you can see if you like it, and it will be good looking on a resume.

This isn't limited to fiction magazines. I used to write for a friend who published a bi-monthly Asian culture magazine. She was always looking for people to help edit. (She printed and distributed the magazine for free for two years, then went strictly on-line.)

Writing for freebie magazines is also a good way to get writing clips when you're starting out.

weatherfield
02-03-2007, 04:30 AM
I attended the Denver Publishing Institute and had a great time. It's pricey though, particularly if you're coming from out of state and have to pay room and board (I didn't, but the majority of students did).

Previously, I'd been an editorial assistant at a literary magazine, as well as getting my MFA in creative writing, so my background in English was already fairly strong and I still learned so much, both about editing and the actual business of publishing. I'd recommend something like that if you can afford it and are prepared to sit lectures pretty much 9-5 every day.

However, if you can get a position as an assistant somewhere, that will easily serve you just as well. The theory seems to be that going in with a degree from DPI will start you at a (slightly) better salary and you will have had the chance to meet a lot of important publishing people through the school, but ultimately it still comes down to ability.

I really liked DPI, but I get the impression that it's largely a condensed version of the material one would learn over the course of an internship or as an assistant. The advantage is, they educate you in every area at once, rather than focusing only on what you would learn as an editorial assistant, or only what you would learn if you had a marketing internship.

gerrydodge
06-04-2007, 10:57 PM
I'm a "newbie" and I just stumbled upon this thread. "Crinklish" said he went to the Radcliffe publishing course. That's where Gary Fisketjon went and also Morgan Entrekin. Gary Fisketjon just read my novel and turned it down, or at least he read part of it. He is a first-rate guy and so "Crinklish" comes from very good stock!

Jamesaritchie
06-05-2007, 02:47 AM
I want to edit fiction, yes. I want to lord over the slush pile--I want to help writers make their dream, and help the publishing house find the best authors out there.

Wow, I sound corny.

Trust me, slush piles are not the way to do this. No one really wants to read slush. At least not after they've really done it.

Jamesaritchie
06-05-2007, 02:50 AM
It's getting tougher and tough to land an editing job without some serious education. Many publishers that used to hired based on all sorts of things now hire editors straight out of college.

From my experience, the two best ways of becoming an editor without a serious college degree is to either start very small, on a low-paying magazine or very small print publisher, or to become a well-published writer first. This can open all sorts of editorial doors.

But do not expect to earn a living from it.

Pat~
06-05-2007, 03:59 AM
Hey! I want to be an editor (well, and a writer) when I'm older. Right now, I'm in high school. English is my favorite subject, and I used to think I should be an English teacher. Then, I realized I'd have to teach such delightful things as citing sources and five paragraph essays and said, "Not for me!" What I'd love to do is be an editor.

What type of an education does an editor get? What would they major in in college? English, I presume, but are there any programs where you can specialize in publishing?

My older sister got an editing job with Moody Press right out of college. She had a degree in Literature from Wheaton (Christian liberal arts college). I would guess a degree in any related field would be beneficial.