A hard copy editor is a very challenging profession, also a job that is quite in demand these days for newspapers, magazines and other book publications. Being a copy editor requires loads of skills in order to be qualified, given that hard copy editors are in charge of the final stage of any piece of writing.
Copy editors are the ones that correct typographical errors found on a written material including spelling, grammar, word usage and even the writing style. The writing style and the words used in an article are mostly examined by copy editors with discretion, since publications have different guidelines and requirements for content's consistency.
Proofreading is also a part of a copy editor's duty, which at times adds pressure to their work, for copy editors will have to take a second look for technical and typographical errors after revising an article once.
Copy editors for reading materials have also the power to revise the contents of articles submitted to them. Most publications allow their copy editors to rewrite articles that contain plagiarized contents, misleading or inaccurate facts, as well as libelous contents to prevent legal proceedings.
Qualified hard copy editors are usually journalists, reporters or graduates in journalism. But if you can prove that you have the appropriate skills for the job, then maybe you can pursue this career without having a college degree in journalism. Here are some steps to help you become a hard copy editor.
Search for vacant job positions. You can start your search for job vacancies in local newspaper's classified ads or over the Internet. It's best to start with newspaper companies located within your city. There are also other non-newspaper editing jobs where you can use your enthusiasm to start with.
Start small. If you feel that you're still lacking editing experience, you can start applying to small publishing companies or non-profit organizations other than newspapers. Try to work with them to develop your skills and to test yourself if you're really prepared for this profession. Starting small will also benefit you, since this will help build up your resume. This is a good way to learn and practice before letting yourself out in the open.
Get acquainted with someone that works in a newspaper company. Having connections will definitely be an advantage for you, as they can inform you of job openings and they can also give you advice on how you can complete your application successfully. If you don't know anyone that works at your local paper, then find a way to get acquainted with someone. Try calling their office after working hours and try to talk with the copy desk chief. Once you have reached him, explain to him why you are calling and try to be as friendly as you can. Also try to meet up with him, if he's not busy, offer to buy him a drink or dinner in exchange for mentorship or advice about how you can be a successful copy editor like him.
Prepare for a copy editing test and interview. This is the most important part, because if you pass the test and are successful in the interview, you should indisputably land the job. The editing test includes AP style, grammar, spelling, punctuation and general knowledge.
Be competitive. It is important to keep yourself updated when it comes to general information and computer software programs. As you would expect, checking factual details is a big part of your job, it will be handy if you're already knowledgeable of the contents you are reading. Knowledge in computer applications that make page layouts such as QuarkXpress and Adobe InDesign is also a plus.