By Helen Wakefield


The first thing that springs into people’s minds when they think of editing usually has something to do with grammar and spelling.

Editors and other writing experts know that an editor performs many functions at varying levels—from the structural level to hunting down those typographical errors.

But editors are more than word, grammar, and content experts. Each editor brings a unique set of interests, life experiences, and expertise to a project. Add these to the editing skills they’ve trained in and you get the sum total of the value they bring to their clients’ work.

Have you considered how your life experience adds to your value as an editor?

Imagine you have a client writing a book on parenting children with autism, and you also have a child with autism. In addition to your editing skills, your personal experience will help you understand your client’s point of view better than some other editors. You might also be part of the author’s intended audience and therefore better equipped to assess the relevance and clarity of the message.

Another example is if a client is writing a novel where the heroine is a single mother. If you’re a single mother, you’ll have great insight into the particular challenges this heroine will face. As an editor, you’ll be able to help your clients bring their work to a high level of authenticity—particularly if your clients haven’t had such experience themselves.

None of this is to say that you shouldn’t edit a novel if you don’t have a similar experience to any of the characters. Or that you couldn’t edit a book about birds if you’re not an avid bird watcher. But it’s good to think of our skill sets in a much broader sense and look for opportunities to incorporate them.

Your hobbies, interests, past jobs, and life experiences all increase your value as an editor. Have you traveled? Do you speak more than one language? Are you an expert on horses? Do you have a medical background? It’s worth mentioning these things on your bio as it just might be the deciding detail that sends a client your way. And hopefully, it’ll lead you to more jobs that you really enjoy.

In some cases, you may be able to utilize one of your additional areas of expertise to create a sub-specialty for yourself.

What other values do you bring to your clients? How can you use these to enhance your editing career?


Helen Wakefield is an Australian freelance editor specializing in fiction. A romantic at heart, she has a particular interest in Christian romance and sweet (clean) romance. She is passionate about helping writers create fabulous and engaging stories with dynamic and authentic characters. Proud of her millennial status, Helen understands what appeals to readers in the 20-35 year age bracket. She assists international authors create true-blue Australian characters and setting through her Authentic Aussie service. Connect with Helen on Facebook, Twitter and at