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How to Become a Book Editor: A Guide to Become Successful Book Editing Professional


Behind every well-structured book is an editor who dedicates themselves to resolving grammatical issues, typos, and lack of flow before the book is published. A professional editor dives deep into the nitty-gritty details of your story to ensure nothing would put off your readers.  If you’re wondering how to become an editor for books, you’ve come to the right place! Continue reading this blog to learn how to get a job as a book editor in 2023.

Who is a Book Editor?

A book editor is a person who fixes the manuscript’s formatting, overall structure, and punctuation, and edits the content to make it more readable and engaging. They pay attention to detail, do their research, and fact-check everything mentioned so that the book gets accepted by a publishing company. Thus, a book editor enhances a story and turns it into a captivating storyline for the author.

Also Read: Here’s How to Become a Published Book Writer

Responsibilities of Book Editors  

A book editor:

  • Acquires books to edit
  • Edits content to make it easy to read and error-free
  • Verifies facts
  • Delivers on time
  • Works alongside authors to develop voice, writing style, dialogue, prose, and the overall story 
  • Finalizes the formatting to make the book look professional and clean
  • Sustains a healthy bond with fellow editors, authors, graphic designers, book cover designers, etc.
  • Helps authors maintain their online presence and website
  • Signs up for conferences and seminars to keep up with the trending linguistic standards and the latest trends.

Typical Salary of a Book Editor

Becoming an editor, you must be wondering how much you would make professionally. At present, a book editor’s wage can range from $30,000 to $60,000. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, book, periodical, and newspaper editors make around $57,030 per year.

Since New York City is considered the hub of publishing, and living there can be pretty costly, getting an editing job in New York means hefty income. Working anywhere else in the US would be less paying.

How to Become a Book Editor

There are various avenues when it comes to book editing. You can become a proofreader, managing editor, copy editor, content editor, etc. However, the question of how to become a book editor still persists, and this guide will help you learn just that!

1. How to Break Into This Field  

To become an editor, you must have a bachelor’s degree in English literature. Your background and job experiences can also help you step into this industry. For instance, those who have worked as a journalist, a librarian, or in a publishing company will find it easier to start a job as a book editor. 

According to the Managing Editor at North Star Editions, Mary Kesselring, “I started an avid reader and fiction writer, which sparked my interest in publishing. In college, I worked on a literary journal and founded a club for creative writers. I had one writing internship and one editorial internship during college. Though I enjoyed both, I felt more drawn to editing as a career and writing as a hobby.”

Fortunately, academic requirements for a book editor aren’t limited to English, communication, literature, or acquiring a Master’s degree. There are several programs that you can enroll yourself in to enter the book industry. If you wish to edit an educational or technical book, you’ll have to have a firm grasp of the relevant fields to be able to improve your editing skills. Similarly, if you wish to become an editor of nonfiction or fiction genres, you must have an optimum grasp of grammar, vocabulary, and spelling.

Also Read: How to Get a Literary Agent for Your Book

2. Determine Your Expertise

Once you have the right knowledge and expertise to enter the world of book editing, it’s time for you to determine your niche. Choose the type of book editor you wish to become to connect with the relevant publishing houses. Focus on the genre or writing style you like to edit the most. You could become a developmental editor, a proofreader, a line editor, or a copy editor depending on your style and preference.  Hone your editing abilities and writing skills before applying for a job.

3. Look for a Job

Now is the time to start looking for a job as a book editor. Send your resume to different traditional publishing houses to be able to get a job there. You may also write a cover letter stating why they should consider hiring you. The cover letter should depict your skills, experience, expertise, editing niche, and the university you graduated from. This process may take some time so make sure your resume and cover letter have everything that a publishing company will need to evaluate you as an editor.

4. Look for Referrals

Perhaps, you know someone who works as an editor at a reputable firm and can get you an interview. It may be a colleague, a friend, or a family member who could vouch for your skills as a book editor. You can also look up internship programs or freelance work to make your portfolio stand out among the rest.

4 Things That Make You a Great Book Editor

Good communication skills, willingness to let go of their ego, directness, honesty, and years of experience in the publishing and writing industry are what makes a great book editor. That being said, just because you excelled in English literature back in high school does not mean you will ultimately find a job as a book editor. A lot of good writers can be horrible at book editing. The same goes for successful editors who wish to be an author. Editing and writing are two distinct disciplines, but you can master them both through determination and practice. Following are the four traits of a reliable book editor:

1. Self-Control

To become a professional book editor, you must be willing to make the author’s book better. Avoid twisting their style into your voice. Have empathy and self-control to ensure the book stays true to the author’s style and not yours.

Editing a book requires a great deal of self-control. After all, you have another individual’s work without forcing yourself into it. Thus, a good book editor must be able to edit and modify the content without changing the author’s voice. As easy as it may seem, it’s more complex than you can imagine.

You will find various examples on the internet where a book editor stripped an author’s work of its unique style and replaced it with their own voice. These are not professional editors but rather frustrated writers who feel insecure about their lack of success.

Remember, that a good editor understands the author’s goals and vision and edits according to their suggestions.

2. Humility

Some editors love pointing out the author’s mistakes and criticizing their work over and over. While this may give them an ego boost, it can ruin their image in the industry. A good editor must remain humble while giving authors feedback on their content. While giving feedback with humility might seem difficult, a good editor will eventually learn to master this technique. They should know that creating compelling prose requires a team effort.

Editors at Gnome Book Writing recognize that writing and editing are two different jobs. They are humble and kind when editing or giving feedback to clients. Gnome Book Writing only hires the best editors and writers on board to ensure 100% customer satisfaction each time.

3. Good Level of Communication

A great editor must be respectful when giving honest feedback. Thus, their communication skills must reflect maturity, willingness to compromise, respect, tact, honesty, and candor. Being a good book editor, it is your job to ensure that the book reaches its full potential. For this, you must give direct and honest feedback.

Unfortunately, many authors take it personally when editors give them honest feedback. So, you must prepare yourself for some sort of backlash. However, you must not lose your cool and be willing to back down or compromise to avoid any conflicts.

Good communication skills include respecting the author, not hurting their feelings, and pushing tactfully to include necessary changes.

Editors have to work alongside writers during the editing phase to produce a creative storyline. They must show passion and understanding for each other to proceed with the project. Thus, if you wish to become an editor, contextualize every suggestion by keeping in mind the bigger picture.

4. Excellent Writing Skills

Last but not the least, editors must master their writing skills. While a good editor doesn’t have to be a good writer, they must have sufficient expertise to not suck at basic things like grammar and punctuation.

You must have a good understanding of syntax and grammar and have hawk eyes for repetitive word usage or passive voice. Your social media posts and emails should also look immaculate.

Being an editor is, thus, a very demanding job. Any mistakes that slip past you will be out there for the world to read. This would not only ruin the author’s image but also affect your portfolio as an editor. Thus, know that the book’s success and credibility depend highly on your editing skills.

Types of Book Editors

As mentioned earlier, knowing the type of book editor you wish to become can help you a great deal in finding the right resources. Here’s a brief insight into the kind of work that each type of editor does to help you decide better.

The four major types of book editors are:

  • Developmental editors
  • Copy editors
  • Line editors
  • Proofreaders

1. Developmental Editors

Developmental editing looks out for logical inconsistencies, dropped characters, plot holes, and ways to enhance the overall storyline. As a developmental editor, you will have to identify unsupported claims, weak arguments, and structural deficiencies in fiction and nonfiction books.

Due to the extensive type of editing required, developmental editors are the highest-paid editors in the book industry. They make thousands of dollars editing a single book.   

According to a study, developmental editing starts way before the author writes the book. In fact, development editors work alongside the writers throughout the writing phase, providing effective suggestions and improvements along the way.

2. Copy Editing

The copy editor’s job is to improve the manuscript’s tone and style. They check errors in punctuation, formatting, dialogue, syntax, grammar, and spelling. Copy editors make sure the book is consistent, and clean, and features smooth transitions from paragraph to paragraph, and sentence to sentence. Most authors think of copy editors when looking for a book editor.

3. Line Editing

Line editing does not mean an editor will make changes line by line. Instead, they utilize an overall approach to editing a book. Line editing is similar to copy editing but done more extensively. They are something between copy editors and development editors.

4. Proofreaders

The final stage of every editing process requires a proofreader. Expert proofreaders ensure the book has no incorrect sentence structure, misspellings, or improper grammar. Proofreaders also go through the book’s formatting and ensure all headings and tables and bullet points are consistent throughout the manuscript. They are the ones who tell when the book is ready for publishing and printing. 

Proofreaders aren’t highly paid, which makes sense considering they don’t spend much time editing and finalizing a book. Most proofreaders use software and other tools to detect spelling and grammar mistakes. Also, you can search for a book editor job on a job board like Jooble, since there are a lot of relevant vacancies. Anchor

How Can Editors Develop Their Online Presence?

Being an editor in today’s digital era can offer you various advantages. For instance, you can use the internet to develop your online presence whether you’re trying to work as a traditional editor or as a freelancer.

Create your own website and advertise your work to let companies see your portfolio and avail your editing and proofreading services. Your website must depict the type of editing you do and the services you offer. Also, mention your charges for different genres.

A good website should entail promotional content to convince the visitors why they should hire you. Add images of your credentials, certifications, and degree on the website to prove your worth.

Websites are easy to set up and relatively cheap. Thus, hire the right website developers to make it clean and professional. Demonstrate your expertise, including an explainer video of why your services stand out and include samples of your work for reference.

You can even write blogs for your website, teaching authors different topics like ‘How to create a compelling story,’ or ‘X publishing tricks to learn,’ etc. Above all, you must be patient for you can’t become a successful author overnight. Try attending seminars and meeting people at conferences to expand your connections.

Social media is another great way to build your online presence. Use hashtags, create your own page, and post stories regularly to reach out to your clientele.


Becoming an editor can be very fruitful in today’s digital era. You can work remotely, independently, or with a publishing house to demonstrate your skills. Gnome Book Writing has expert editors, writers, and marketers on board. Authors who wish to find expert developmental editors should hire our services today!