Edit This Mailbag: Questions on Writing and Editing
A student reached out to us recently asking if we'd be willing to answer a few basic questions about the world of writing and editing. A soon-to-be high school senior, this young lady shared that she wants to edit books someday and possibly work for a publishing company.
Naturally, we were happy to help and tried our best to give some quick on-the-spot answers in e-mail form without getting too wordy. Below are three of the questions she asked. I'm sharing in case you've considered jumping into the industry and need some quality advice.
Q: I'd like to look into book editing. Do you know anything about the career or the pathway?
A: That's a fantastic career path. While I don't know the exact steps to help you jumpstart your career in book editing, I imagine it's really not much different than the path I chose. Small, medium, and large book publishing companies are interested in people who have a degree in writing, editing, or English and have a strong portfolio to showcase their work. I think it's important that, while you want to go more toward the "editor" side of things, you create as diversified a portfolio as possible for yourself. That means taking on writing assignments of all types and getting your foot in the door with newspapers, magazines, authors, and other entities that need strong writers and editors.
Not only does this make you more valuable as an employee or freelancer, but it will help you as you transition to editing content for a living. I do know there are quality publishing companies in the DFW market and, of course, countless more across the nation. I'm in the process of writing a book, and it is currently with a publisher in Dallas right now with a scheduled publish date of late September or early October. They've been instrumental in helping me take my manuscript to an entirely new level, thanks to their team of editors – many of whom are former writers themselves. On a smaller level, I have also done book editing and offered support to future authors through my writing and editing business.
That's the cool part about being a writer and editor – there really are limitless possibilities for what you can do in life.
Q: What does your job entail? What work do you do?
A: I have more than 24 years of experience in writing and editing. I got my degree in broadcast journalism from the University of North Texas in 1999 but ended up falling in love with the writing piece of the industry. I have worked for various newspapers and magazines ever since (Dallas Morning News, Denton Record-Chronicle, Murray Media Group, Cross Timbers Gazette, Living Magazine, etc.) and currently own a business called Edit This®. With Edit This, I do just as much freelance writing and editing for those same newspapers and magazines, but a growing part of my business is offering content writing and editing services to small businesses.
This includes everything from blog writing for businesses to writing website copy, press releases, newsletter content, and other marketing materials. I try to be all things to all people to help give their business a voice. So if someone needs me to write something from scratch for their business, then I do that. If they have written something and need me to spice it up and make it better, then I can do that, too. I also work with individuals who need help with resumes, term papers, college admissions essays, creative writing consulting, and more. I would say my work life is an even split between producing written copy and editing what others have written.
Q: What should I study in college to help me best with the editing career?
A: Speaking for myself, I thought it was important to get into the journalism department and then see where my career took me from there. I also think it's important that you become well-versed in the English language and understand every nuance of grammar, spelling, how to improve flow and transitions in writing, etc. Buy copies of the Chicago Manual of Style and AP Styleguide and study those intently so that you can follow those rules depending on who you work for. If your college or university offers creative writing courses, how to write and/or edit books courses, etc., I'd suggest taking them.
Beyond college courses, outside creative writing courses and groups are a fantastic way to get around other writers and editors and improve your craft. Basically, find a way to immerse yourself in anything that has to do with writing and editing. Again, I believe that to be the best possible writer or editor (or both), you have to understand, appreciate, and have earned your stripes on both sides of the table.
If an opportunity presents itself, don't be afraid to take it – even if it's not quite where you see yourself in 20 years. It's about gaining experience and having fun with what you do!
Need some sound advice? Call Edit This
We've been doing this writing and editing gig for more than 24 years, and one of the perks of doing what we love for a living is being able to share the knowledge we've gained. We love being approached by other writers, especially the younger generation. Many are just starting out and have a lot of questions running through their mind. If we can answer a few of those questions and be a helping hand as they choose their career path, we're happy to do so.
And for those of you who need a good writer and editor, we can help with that, too. We bring more than two decades of content writing and editing experience to the table. That means we've been in your shoes. We take great pride in ensuring our copy looks great, and we want the same for you and everyone in your organization.
Our writing and editing services cover clients nationwide but are local to anyone in Denton, Corinth, Lake Dallas, Shady Shores, Hickory Creek, Lewisville, Flower Mound, Highland Village, Argyle, and the rest of DFW.
*STEVE GAMEL is the President & Owner of Edit This, a writing and editing services company located in Denton, TX. Steve handles anything involving the written word. Give him a call today to help give your business a clear voice.