I’ve had a few people when finding out I’m an editor ask how they can become an editor too. Whether you want to be an editor or agent, an internship is a good way to get your foot in the door. It’s how I got my start in editing via an internship with Digital Manga, Inc. Internships have been on my mind again now that I’ve spent the last month applying to ones with literary agencies. I’ve decided to try my hand at that route and landing an internship isn’t much easier with 3+ years of editing experience under my belt than it was when I was in college.
Some places offer remote internships while others are in-office positions. You really just have to see who offers what. Some hire college students only while others accept other applicants. Most of them are unpaid while some in-office internships offer small stipends. Since I can’t afford to live in NYC for a few months and don’t want to live there, I’ve stuck to applying to remote internships which unfortunately does limit what I can apply to.
How to Find an Internship
There are sites out there like bookjobs.com that post jobs and internships. Sometimes even the job page on Publishers Marketplace will have internships on it. However, know that houses and agencies often get flooded with applications so it can be hard to stand out. You are going to want to really sell yourself and try to get related experience to the field. Another way of finding internships is to go directly to the websites of any literary agencies or houses you are interested in working with. They often post their openings on their sites in their blog or on a jobs or career page. Chances are you’ll want to find a house or agency that works with genres you are interested in, and if you knowing which ones you’d like to work with can help narrow down places you want to apply to. However due to the amount of applications received, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Getting a spot is hard so you’ll want to apply to any that interest you to increase your odds.
Why an Internship is Important
An internship will give you experience, something you’ll need to land a paid position somewhere. However, it gives you the chance to be mentored, which means you’ll be able to ask any questions you have and get them answered. That’s something you’ll want to take advantage of to get as much out of the opportunity as you can. And who knows when the next time you’ll get a chance to get all your questions answered. Getting experience in the field also means discovering whether you like the work or not. You might discover editing or agenting isn’t what you chalked it up to be and decide to switch gears to another field, or you might realize you love it even more than before.
Some Hard Truths
Like many other fields, agenting and editing are packed with people trying to get in, especially editing. Freelance editing is full of new and experienced editors competing for clients or spots in houses. And now some authors are turning to editing for extra cash, increasing the competition. It makes it hard to get clients of your own when competition is fierce. A lot of editors edit as side jobs or for extra cash. Until you get enough clients of your own you might not be able to afford to edit as a day job. It’s not uncommon for editors to have other day jobs. Small houses can’t afford to pay much and large houses may not have much work at any given time for freelance editors. And when there is an open editor spot, a house can easily get a few dozen applications if not more. On the agenting side you will have to work your way up to being an agent and it will take time to build your client list.
The publishing industry is a field you enter and stay in due to passion and dedication, not money, just like writing.