What Does it Take to Become a Book Editor?

Dr Oscar John Ma
3 min readFeb 3


What does it take to become a book editor? Generally speaking, you need a bachelor’s degree in English or communications. Experience in the publishing industry is a plus, as are familiarity with different style guides and subject matter expertise. Some scientific and textbook publishers, for example, are more interested in editors with a specific knowledge of their field.

Those interested in becoming book editors need a bachelor’s degree in English literature, journalism or a related field. Many also pursue an editing certification, though this isn’t required.

Getting an internship or entry-level job at a publishing company can help you build a portfolio and get your foot in the door with larger firms. It’s also a great way to boost your writing skills, which will be a valuable asset if you decide to go freelance.

There are four main types of editing in the industry: copy, line, developmental and technical. Each type focuses on a different part of the manuscript.

Whether you’re interested in editing for a living or just learning more about the field, it’s important to understand what it takes to become a book editor. There’s no single answer to this question, but you can set yourself up for success by establishing strong connections in the writing and publishing worlds and getting experience under your belt.

Also, hone your skills by training yourself on the most popular editing and publishing software. These include programs like Adobe InDesign and Microsoft Publisher, which are often used by editors in their day-to-day jobs.

Start by gaining real-world editing experience, either through internships or small freelance projects. Having work experience in your resume can make you look more credible and help you secure a job.

As a book editor, you’ll have to build your network and social skills. You can do this by joining professional associations, attending local events, and networking online through social media platforms.

As you build your portfolio, it’s a good idea to include projects that show your knowledge of the writing industry and your ability to read books from different genres. This will help you stand out from other applicants.

You should also be able to communicate with your clients at all times. It’s important to let them know if you’re going to be busy or if you have any questions about the project.

Networking is a social activity, but it can be difficult for people who are shy or introverted to engage in. Luckily, there are many approaches to networking online that make it easier for people who don’t enjoy socializing in person.

The basic skills that you need to be a book editor include good writing, attention to detail, and the ability to communicate clearly with authors. You also need to have a strong knowledge of the genres in which you want to specialize.

You can pursue this career as a freelancer, or in an editorial department in a publishing house. In the latter, you’ll have an opportunity to work with a variety of writers, including those who self-publish books. However, you’ll need to be prepared to work a lot of hours on the job and to have good interpersonal skills to cultivate and maintain relationships with your clients.



Dr Oscar John Ma

Dr. Oscar John Ma served as Professor and Chair of Emergency Medicine at Oregon Health & Science University between 2007- 2019.