I'm waiting for the inevitable typo to appear in the body text.
November 17, 2010 2:39 PM   Subscribe

After previously having worked in an editing capacity for four years, I miss the experience of editing and what it does for me as a writer. I'm interested in opportunities and ideas for part-time paid or perhaps even volunteer opportunities in the Philadelphia area doing editing.

Since I graduated from my undergraduate institution this past May, I've been involved with the editing process of university-level journalism. I also did a fair amount of peer-editing of academic papers. Now, as a recent college graduate, I miss the work of editing. My "real" job oftentimes has long stretches of downtime where I could conceivably be editing things on the side, and I have a fair amount of free-time otherwise that I often don't know how to fill. I'm interested in hearing from the MeFite community as to suggestions as to how I could scratch this itch in Philadelphia, PA.

Plainly, I find satisfaction in editing. I also find that the work of editing keeps my own writing sharp in a very particular way for a very particular reason: it's far easier for me to observe the flaws, gaps, and potential of the work of others' than it is to see the same in mine. I also enjoy picking up bits and pieces of general knowledge from whatever piece it is I'm working with.

Are there any organizations in the area (specifically, I live thereabouts University City/West Philly) that could use a semi-skilled, enthusiastic editor to do some work? I also have memories of fliers offering informal editing services at the state universities from my home state (Virginia), but don't think I've seen any of those at the University of Pennsylvania campus, here. Does anyone have experience using or providing those types of services? Another question: is CraigsList (e.g. "Hey y'all, I edit things for $$$, send me yr papers") a viable option for this sort of thing?

Even your most abstract or broadly-hewn advice would be welcome, y'all!
posted by Keter to Work & Money (5 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: And, the typo appears, right on cue! I am not _currently_ editing university-level journalism, but rather did when I was actually attaining my undergraduate degree.
posted by Keter at 2:42 PM on November 17, 2010

There are two key places to check with any university near you. One is the writing center, which may maintain a list of editors for students who come in wanting that help. If you can get a copy of the list and if it has the per hour rates of the editors, try to low-ball it a bit to get those first few jobs this way. Then you'll get recommendations from students' friends after that. Most of the work I got this way was for international graduate students in the hard sciences, which brings us to the second place. Figure out whether there is an international center that maintains a list of editors for non-native speakers. If possible, you may also want to contact the secretaries for each grad-level science department, too, to see if they could pass your name along. Most of the time, you'll end up working with international students doing MA theses or PhD dissertations. Their committee chairs don't have time to do line-editing for them, but it needs to be done for them to pass. Hiring an editor is cheaper than paying for another semester of tuition, so it becomes a good option for many students in that situation. You may also have success by posting fliers in these departments, especially at the end of the semester.

The downside to editing grad-level work is that you may have no idea what they are writing about and may have to ask for clarification on certain points. I always included an hour of consultation work after my editing to go over some of these questions. Also, many are under tight deadlines at the end of the semester, so you'll have to work quickly. However, once you become known in a department as a reliable editor, you'll generally have business every semester from referrals. I've helped the same types of students with job applications, green card applications for their US employment, and other documents, too, so if you're at all interested, connecting with large international student populations may get you some work.
posted by BlooPen at 3:16 PM on November 17, 2010

Target faculty in the science, engineering, and other technical departments. They tend to be terrible writers, but can afford to pay someone to polish their journal papers.
posted by Jacqueline at 6:18 PM on November 17, 2010

Just emailed you.

Also, if you feel like volunteering your skills, I'm sure most colleges have a tutoring center where students in need of help with papers can come in. Of all the places that I've done tutoring, the students at community college are the most interested in working, learning, and grateful for your assistance. (That's not to say that students at other institutions are less hardworking, but rather than the cc students may have less access to resources like an english tutor to help them improve their essay-writing skills)

Another thought is working with foreign exchange students who are attending local colleges and universities. This can be volunteer or paid. I did this once, and the exchange program essentially paid for us to have coffee once a week and go over the student's homework assignments (to make sure she understood the directions) and help her with ongoing writing projects, editing for content and clarity.
posted by RachelSmith at 9:20 PM on November 17, 2010

If you want to help English language learners write better, you can try visiting correctmytext.com which has plenty of random passages for you to edit.
posted by tastycracker at 11:43 PM on November 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

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