Why you should check your editor’s training

Anyone can be an editor. Anyone can be a proofreader. That’s why you need to check carefully to see if your chosen editor or proofreader has undertaken training.

If you are in the market for an editorial professional, there’s a few things that you should look out for. Things like specialisms, backgrounds and ensuring that your chosen editor offers the right editorial service for you.

One of the most crucial things to look for is an editor or proofreader’s training. What courses have they taken, in what skills and when?

Unlike in other trades, such as gas engineers or electricians, there is no authority or standard that oversees editorial work. That’s down to you, as the client, to ensure that the person you are hiring is up to job.

What can you look out for when choosing an editor or proofreader?

Have a look on any editorial professional’s website. There are two things you should be looking for.

The first is evidence of membership of a professional association. Organisations, such as the Chartered Institute for Editors and Proofreaders or the Editorial Freelancers Association, don’t police freelance editors and proofreaders but they do demonstrate, through membership, willingness to abide by codes of conduct and upholding professional standards. Some, such as the CIEP, recognise a member’s activity through different levels of membership.

The other thing that professional bodies can do, and the second thing you should look for, is training. While this might not only be done by a professional editorial association, checking out a freelancer’s training is essential when you are choosing who to work on your words.

Look for training in the job that you are hiring your editor to do. Copyediting is very different to proofreading, which is completely different to developmental editing. If you can’t find evidence of training, you can ask.

It’s not just associations and organisations that offer training. Editors often train other editors in unique and niche skills.

As someone looking to hire an editor, evidence of training should give you confidence. You should feel that the person you task with looking after your carefully crafted manuscript will treat it with the attention to detail and the love that it deserves.

You can find out more about my training on my About me page, but here’s a brief summary of what training I have completed so far:

  • CPD Certificate in Proofreading and Copyediting.
    This was my initial introduction into the world of editing and proofreading and was tutor assessed. It taught me some of the fundamentals of the job, including marking up text, identifying errors and inconsistencies and gave me a core skill set on which to build.
  • Proofreading 1: Introduction
    This course, from the CIEP, is the introductory course to proofreading. Although similar to my initial training course, it was good to reinforce my learning as well as learn newer skills in PDF mark-up.
  • Copyediting 1: Introduction
    Another course from the CIEP, this time strengthening my core copyediting skills and knowledge.
  • Developmental Editing: Fiction Theory
    Another editor, the wonderful Sophie Playle, offers this self-study course for developmental editing. Through looking at story craft, this course has given me further skills in developmental editing and hints for further improving manuscripts.

This year, I am planning on undertaking further courses, including more tutor-assessed courses, in order to really hone my professional development. Watch out for updates this year!

As I write this, I am an Intermediate member of the CIEP, the next stage, through training and experience, is Professional member. I don’t expect to get there this year. Rushing is no good for learning. I need time to digest courses and then put into practice the learning. While there may be no big changes, the continual professional development will continue.

Each new project comes with opportunities to learn. I wonder what your manuscript could teach your editor!

Nick (he/him) is an editor and proofreader, specialising in LGBTQ+ writing. He is an Intermediate Member of the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading and a member of PEN, the Professional Editors Network.

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Published by Nick Taylor | Editor & Proofreader

Editor and proofreader specialising in LGBTQ+ writing, both fiction and non-fiction.

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