Writer? Why Not Editor, Too?

Writers are in much higher demand than all those people who sneer at an “impractical” English degree believe. In the media age, people are hungry for content. Editing, though, is arguably in even higher demand. By editing, I mean any form: proofreading, copy editing, or substantive editing.

The Average Joe often wants to write his or her own content to make sure it comes out in his or her own words without outside interference. However, the Average Joe doesn’t always remember the comma rules he or she learned back in elementary school or recognize the difference between “effect” and “affect,” “your” and “you’re.” That’s where editors come in. Editors polish the surface until it shines, and your Average Joe client will love how professional that site, article, or memoir looks.

Why All Writers Should Try Their Hand at Editing
    1. Improve Your Own Writing: When you edit, you must pay close attention to all those nit-picky rules that you usually blow over when you are powering through that first or even second draft. However, I have found that since working as an editor, I catch more of those grammar and punctuation mistakes the first time around, saving me time during rewrites. Also, when you go through an article or manuscript with a fine-toothed comb you start to notice cliched or amateurish habits that bug you. For instance, I noticed one author using “in his mind” over and over again. It drove me insane! Now, every time I’m about to use that phrase, I sit back and come up with a better way to show the reader that the events or dialogue are taking place in a character’s mind.
    2. Quicker Turnaround: Editing takes less time than writing (unless you are editing something nearly illiterate, which will happen), so you can take on more jobs at once and get paid faster.
    3. Never Run Out of Jobs: If you’re looking for an editing job, you’re going to find one. Why? All mediums need it, from social media, to big companies, to students writing academic papers. Also, most people would rather not bother with relearning those old grammar rules or learning the difference between MLA and APA. If you know those things, you will always find clients willing to pay you to care so they don’t have to.
    4. Editing Rates are More Attractive: It’s usually less expensive for someone to hire an editor than a writer. This is actually to your advantage. You can break into editing much easier than writing because you can charge less since the time spent and effort put in is significantly lower than with writing jobs. You can start out proofreading at $1 per 500 words or make a fixed rate up to a certain number of pages, and those prices are much more attractive than a $4 per 500 word entry level rate for writing the same content. My first editing gigs were for students at my university. My two recurring clients were dedicated students, but their skills were in science or math, not English writing. They wanted that A, and they didn’t want to hit below that mark just because of some comma errors. Even on college student budgets, they were able to pay my entry level editing rate.
    5. You Get Paid to Read: You can hardly be a writer without being an avid reader. So, if you love to read, editing is a cushy gig. Yes, you will edit some duds, but even with academic essays you can learn something new. My personal favorite is editing manuscripts. I recently proofread a book that I absolutely adored, and I got a free copy of it for my efforts (along with a nice paycheck). I’ve also edited some manuscripts that weren’t expertly written or exactly my cup of tea, but I never opened up my laptop to start working on them and felt like groaning, like I did every time I stepped through the front doors of the restaurant I used to work at.


Editing is writing’s beloved first cousin. They complement each other, each helping to improve your skills in the other. If you are a writer, editing should already be a part of your life. Why not edit someone else’s work, too, and get paid for it?

If you are interested in becoming an editor, stay tuned for more posts on the different types of editing, where to look for editing jobs, the challenges of editing, and editing resources still to come.

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