Book Editors: How to Refresh and Revitalise Your Career

A line illustration of an editor sitting at their computer, their arms raised above their head joyfully. Opposite them, a bar graph is seen going up as their satisfaction and revenue grows.

This is a sponsored post paid for by the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (CIEP).

There comes a point in most editors’ careers where they’re great at what they do, they’re working with rewarding clients or employers, and everything is going smoothly. 

Perhaps you’re at that stage? You like what you’re doing but have been doing it for a while, and things are starting to feel a little predictable and repetitive. 

Whether you’re employed or self-employed, continuing professional development (CPD) can help you to move forwards and expand into new areas, invigorating your work and giving you a metaphorical spring in your step. 

Here are four considerations to help you beat the boredom in your career and forge a new way forward.

1. Expand or change your specialisms

Is it time for a pivot? Most editors specialise in a few subjects – intentionally or because of the way their work has evolved. By adding a new specialism into the mix, you can revitalise your interest in your work. 

The CIEP short guides to editing (free for members) are a great way to explore whether fictionscientific research or cookery projects, for example, might work for your skills and interests.

There are also ways to build on the specialisms you already have. If you’re working directly with authors, consider honing your querying skills; if you spend a lot of time reference wrangling, look to gain a deeper knowledge of referencing systems and software.

If you specialise in textbooks, why not try branching out into prescriptive non-fiction? Expanding or moving specialisms allows you to retain your existing skills and enjoy the challenge of something a bit different.

If you work solely on books, you could investigate shorter form projects, like articles or newsletters. Or, if you never edit something longer than 1,000 words, try seeking out some longer pieces. The editing basics are the same whether you’re working on print or digital projects, so you can move confidently from one format to another, widening your knowledge as you go.

2. Develop your skills

If you’re mainly proofreading, you could look at adding copyediting or picture research to your skills portfolio. If you’re copyediting, what about finding out about developmental editing or editorial project management? The CIEP’s resources and courses can help you build your knowledge in preparation for applying for a new position or offering additional services to clients.

If you love editing and want to become even better at what you do, invest some time to find out more about efficient editing practices, including making the most of Microsoft Word’s in-built tools. 

Learning more about writing can inform your approach to editing. Try refreshing your grammar knowledge or reading craft books on how to write to help illuminate this new perspective.

As you expand your specialisms and develop new skills, don’t forget to tell people about what you’re doing. Update your CV, your entry in any online directories and platforms and, of course, your website if you have one. Share your success on completing training on social media – you never know who’s reading, and they might just have the perfect opportunity to offer you!

3. Identify new opportunities

It could be time to search out new clients or a role with a different employer. Every organisation approaches publishing content in a slightly different way, so you’ll always learn something new when you start to work with someone different. It could be a different content management system, publication process, style guide, terminology, or business priorities. 

Browse the job boards (whether employed or self-employed) – and keep an open mind about what might spark your interest. BookMachineIPG and the Bookseller advertise opportunities across the publishing industry. 

Taking a little time to seek out work that engages you can pay off in terms of revitalising your approach.

4. Get networking

The editorial community is well known for being supportive. In recent years, many editors have formed accountability groups. You can use an accountability group to discuss your career goals, help you make decisions, and then take any actions that come out of those decisions. They can be made up of editors at a similar stage in their career, or across the entire experience spectrum, and can provide a wide range of insights as well as motivation. Some groups even share work opportunities.

Get along to some BookMachine events, local networking groups, or the CIEP’s annual conference! Meeting other editors and publishing professionals helps you make connections to strengthen and expand your network. It can spark new ideas, give you encouragement and a community that recognises and supports your skills development. 

Going to business networking events is also a powerful way of developing your business skills, such as pitching and marketing your services. You may also meet businesses and organisations who publish lots of content – they need your editing skills too! 

Whether you decide to explore a new specialism, add to your skillset or search for new opportunities, you have more options than you might think to rejuvenate your editorial career.

So, what will your next step be?

The CIEP is working to ensure that we have courses and resources to support you no matter what stage you’re at in your career. Our member forums are a vibrant, supportive space, as are our local groups and special interest groups.

If you’d like to keep up with the latest in language, editorial process and publishing workflows, and the CIEP’s latest resources, courses and events, including free focus papers and articles, you can sign up for our free newsletter, Editorial Excellence.

The CIEP’s information team works with contributors across the globe to create guides, focus papers, fact sheets and blog posts for the editorial and wider publishing community.

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