The Vine: May 8, 2013
Perusing the FAQ about the site, I noticed that you offer proofreading services. I've been looking to make a move from my current career to something involving more writing and editing, so I wondered if there's formal training I would need to get into the world of copy-editing, proofreading, etc.
I have a college education (and majored in English), and I know I have a knack for writing and catching mistakes. The last time I really had any kind of real education in grammar, though, was way back in middle school; I couldn't say with total confidence that I know all the particulars as well as I should.
Do you have any advice for somebody who wants to get into editing but doesn't have specifically relevant experience (other than a couple decades of being persnickety about grammar)?
I could have sworn I addressed a variation on this question at some point, but since I can't seem to find it…it's the old "how do I get experience when I don't have any experience" question. If I had it to do again, honestly, I would take a course — in a specialized area like legal proofreading that has 1) specific guidelines and 2) a regular supply of work. The courses cost money, but if you have a medical-editing credit, you get the medical-editing work, which bills higher.
It's probably not what you had in mind, but honestly, copy-editing isn't…going to be what you have in mind, probably. It's not like victoriously spotting a transposition in the New Yorker, which I still do and enjoy; you're slogging through 500-page industry manuals. On a Saturday, because it's not a day job, really, not anymore. But if you want to do a wider range of things — application essays, first chapters, et cetera — put it out there to your friends and on your LinkedIn, and take whatever work you can for free for a while. Do that for a while, and get recommendations in lieu of money. Put those gigs and recs on your c.v., and hope they generate other gigs and recs, paid ones.
It's one of those things you have to do to do, regardless. Browse around for a course or a webinar that will brush up your skills and give you something to point to, qualifications-wise, but also use that course to decide for yourself if it's a field you want to get into. And be real with yourself, because it's kind of like being a Mets fan — if you don't genuinely love the game, it's going to be a long slog.
Tags: grammar workplace