I am editor. Hear me roar!
Knowing—believing in—who you are is the foundation of your core self. How you perceive yourself colors nearly everything about you as a person, including your confidence, choices, and the ways you choose to interact with others.
For me, a life-long reader now editing professionally, settling on who I am has taken me on a roundabout—you might say Da Vincian—journey through myriad paths and skill sets. I’m a Renaissance woman, and that’s what makes me a good developmental editor. That’s how I feel now, but let’s step back to when I first considered editing for pay. That’s when it starts to get scary, right? If you’re asking someone to pay you for a service, then don’t you need official qualifications and certifications and experience first? If you too are doubting whether you are “qualified” to follow your passion, here’s where I came from and how I built my foundation…
I didn’t have any formal training in editing—aside from my general better-than-average knowledge of the English language, unless you count my 12-year sentence in the Texas public school system and a 6-year stint in Civil Engineering at Texas A&M University. I wasn’t making my living solely as a working editor and didn’t have many opportunities to work with authors, but…
What I do have is a passion for fiction and an eye for catching the mistakes in punctuation, grammar, word-usage, content incongruities, and story flow that I inevitably find as I cut a sizable swath through my never-ending To-Read list.
I also have the drive to become more than I am, to never settle for less than I know I can be and to seek true happiness in my life.
I committed to changing my career path and embarked on a journey which has guided me through acquiring the technical skills I needed to build confidence in my abilities. (Looking for online editorial classes? Check out UC Berkeley Extension’s Professional Sequence in Editing!)
So what are you?
Are you an author… or do you just jot down those silly stories in your head?
Are you a cover artist… or do you just fiddle around with PhotoShop and photography?
Are you a publicist… or do you just chat with your friends (and everyone else who will listen) about the books you love?
If you are an aspiring… anything… here’s how to make your dreams your reality:
- Remove the word “but” from your vocabulary. “I want to call myself an editor but I don’t have any formal training.” That’s self-defeating and the two are unrelated. I deserved better than to let my lack of “official” editing experience when I started out deflate my self-image as an editor. Don’t give away your power!
- Stop making excuses for why you “can’t” be what you want. “It’s too hard to be an author. Most people never make it. I would just fail.” There is always a market for quality everything, so find your niche and monopolize on your strengths without apology or excuse.
- Identify where you want to be in two years, then create a game plan. It can be as simple as a bulleted list with 3 things on it. What it looks like or where you keep it doesn’t matter. What matters is getting started. Now you have something to build on and commit to.
- Seek out and commit to training. Ambition and desire will take you far, but training is still essential. I began by collaborating with authors as a beta reader giving free developmental feedback, then worked my way through UC Berkeley’s Professional Sequence in Editing of my own volition—not because someone told me I should, but because when I read about the program, it felt right. Don’t be ashamed to educate yourself, whatever that means for your chosen field.
- Be persistent and stay positive. You’re going to have challenges and you’re going to fail. Look at each challenge as an opportunity to stretch your limits and each failure as an opportunity to learn something new. Never burn bridges as you work through your challenges. Word of mouth can be your most powerful ally as you build your reputation.
What and who you are already lives inside you. Embrace it, celebrate it, commit to it, and follow your dreams!
So, I’ll ask again…