Every so often I am asked what it takes to become a thriving editor. Often, I’m told “I could be an editor because I read so much!” My stock answer has always been, “No, reading books is great, but not enough for most people to become an accomplished editor.”
I always hedge the bet a little because I have never forgotten the movie I saw decades ago, called “The Great Impostor,” starring, if I recall correctly, Tony Curtis, which was based on the true story of a Canadian who became many things — including a Navy shipboard surgeon and a university professor — just by reading.
It has also been my experience that no matter what I would tell the inquirer, my advice was falling on deaf ears.
Louise Harnby, proofreader extraordinaire, faced a similar inquiry and wrote about it on her blog. Her article, Proofreaders-to-be: Loving Books Isn’t Enough, is excellent and should be read by everyone with an interest in becoming an editor or proofreader. It is comforting to know that I’m not the only one whose advice is sought and then ignored.
Louise has also written a book, Business Planning for Editorial Freelancers, that looks intriguing and has garnered very positive comments from colleagues I know and whose opinion I value. On that basis, I recommend taking a look at her book; I know I plan to. There is no such thing as knowing too much about one’s business.