Reading List: Starter kit for freelance editors

Reading List: Starter kit for freelance editors

This blog now has dozens of posts that will help the new starter. Click the Starter Kit for Editors category to see them all, or start with these essentials:

Finding Work | Office Essentials | Background Skills | Is Editing for You?How to Become an Editor | Estimating Your Pace | Setting Fees | Starter Kit for Editors category


Before you edit for pay, learn the ropes:

1. Read these

cover of Meeting Professional Editorial Standards, from Editors CanadaMeeting Professional Editorial Standards
Editing exercises with solution discussions created by some of the most experienced editors in Canada; covers the gamut from restructuring to proofreading, and blogs to academics.
If you’re not studying for certification exams, the older editions are wonderful as well; they just don’t match the new standards. Called simply Meeting Editorial Standards.
Harnby book.jpgBusiness Planning for Editorial Freelancers
Follow the advice in this book and you’ll be off to a great start. Also recommended for existing freelancers who are feeling either stuck or ambitious. Or both, even.
Read my review.

This sets out what tasks editors should do when performing various stages of editing. There are no standards in “the industry”, but this is a terrific starting place, and they are gaining some ground. (2017 update)

Quick Fixes for Business Writing: An Eight-Step Editing Process to Find and Correct Common Readability Problems

This is the print version of EAC’s most venerated seminar. An excellent system that provides order and sense when faced with an insurmountable edit. Available in print, as an ebook via Google Books, and in poster form from EAC. Seminars held across Canada or by request.
So, you want to be an editor.
A quick guide to what makes an editor, where they work, and what the career is like. Available free online, as a webpage or PDF, or at any EAC event.

2. Read more

You’ll need to learn at least one general purpose style guide, and any that is specific to your subject or client group. For example:

Chicago Manual of Style

Editing Canadian English (ECE)

The Canadian Style (and online: The Canadian Style)

The Canadian Press Stylebook, plus Caps and Spelling

Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association

Scientific Style and Format

And complete the exercises in The Copyeditor’s Handbook.

3. There’s more

Read my original post about how to become an editor. The above just gives you a glimpse at the tip of the iceberg. KOKedit has compiled a much longer list of resources. I’d even call it comprehensive.

Read about the temperament that makes a good editor — one of reason, not hyper-correctness, according to James Harbeck (Sesquiotic).

Read the blogs of a variety of editors. Their insights into daily life and challenges — and their advice — will give you a good sense of what you’re in for and maybe even help you avoid some of the mistakes they’ve made. Start with this here blog, of course, and

Also, watch the Editors Reads blog, which sets out to review books about editing. I’m certain you will find more resources there to help you on your journey. Add your favourites in the comments.

Leave a Reply