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I don't only mean to the author. You have to listen to what you're reading. An editor must not only be proficient in grammar, spelling and composition, but must also have the ability to. Editors come from a variety of backgrounds, but they are all skilled at developing effective communications tools by identifying the most appropriate structure, format and content for each audience and purpose.

Ultimately, editors are people who think, and they do so on behalf of both the writer and the reader. Editors can be found everywhere. They work in publishing, sales and marketing, manufacturing, government, law, education and many other fields. Editors can be specialists who, for example, edit only scientific or medical documents, or they can be generalists who work on all kinds of content.

Technology has changed the nature of editing. Editing used to be done with a red pen. Today it's done with a keyboard and mouse, if not a digital pen and tablet. Editors receive and share documents with other team members electronically. Jobs can involve working with advanced software and publishing platforms. Many editors now need to be skilled at using multimedia software and interactive technologies that combine the written word with graphics, audio, video and animation.

With the constant evolution of the Internet and computer software, editors must be adaptable and flexible. Editors are team players, often working with others to reach a common goal. The best editors have a broad understanding of the communications and publishing industries and work effectively with writers, publishers, web developers, designers, artists, photographers, project managers, printers and other editors.

Editors do acquisitions, manuscript and project development, research, structural editing, stylistic editing, rewriting, fact checking, copy editing, picture research, proofreading, indexing, layout and production editing. Professional Editorial Standards describes a number of these key roles.


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I didn't choose a freelance career so much as it chose me. After getting my MA in English, I spent a couple of years fiddling around, including teaching a university grammar course. It eventually dawned on me that maybe I could apply what I'd been teaching, so I decided to give editing and writing a whirl. A friend of a friend offered me a dream job: a federal government editing position. While waiting and waiting for the job to come through, I told everyone I knew that I was looking for short-term contracts.

The work trickled in and by the time I realized the dream job would never materialize, I was hooked on the variety and independence of freelancing. Every day was different; I worked when I wanted; I called the shots. It was perfect. It still is. People pursue careers in editing from many different starting points. Some study professional writing, communications or journalism in university, and then move right into full-time editing careers. Others work in completely unrelated fields, and then, their interest piqued, combine that experience with an education in editing to move into new positions.

Choosing between freelance self-employed and in-house part- or full-time editing work comes down to two key questions: How important is a regular paycheque? A freelance editor's flexible schedule can be ideal for night owls and parents of young children. Freelance editors can choose their colleagues and clients, to a degree. They can also focus on marketing their services to industries that interest them. I've heard that few editors originally set out to become editors.

I did. I'd recently graduated with an MA in English and was working as a tutor, and I was thrilled to find another way to use my skills. I joined the Editors' Association of Canada Editors Canada , took every course available, read widely and voraciously, and discovered a new world of style sheets and editing marks. Manufacturer warranty may not apply. Learn more about Amazon International Store. No customer reviews. Share your thoughts with other customers. Write a customer review.

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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon. Verified Purchase. This book is a series of some three dozen essays written by prominent editors on various aspects of editing. Their reflections range from the thoughtful to the occasionally lighthearted-comments on what makes a successful editor, the history of editing in America, the ethical and moral dimensions of editing, how books are chosen, how editors schedule their work, the editor as negotiator, copy editing, line editing, etc.

There are also a number of essays about editing various genres of writing: Christian literature, crime fiction, children's books, mass-market paperbacks, fantasy, reference, romance, and so forth. While the title of the book indicates that it is written for writers, it is every bit as useful, if not more so, for aspiring editors. Yes, it is a great help for writers who want to work with editors. But there are too few books on the craft of editing. This one will give you an excellent introduction to the subject.

Coming from thirty-some authors, it will give you a balanced view of how to be a great editor. This is a clear conflict of interest. If the agent or publisher can make money from selling you editing or critiques, how can you be sure that the recommendation is in your best interest? Some questionable literary agencies require you to buy a critique as a condition of representation.

Some dubious publishers make you purchase an assessment as part of the submission process.

How to Become an Editor: A Comprehensive Guide for Writers

Again, this is a conflict of interest, allowing the agency or publisher to increase its profit margin by charging you for extra services—which may or may not be of professional quality. Nor will they claim that an edit or assessment will improve your chances of selling to a major publisher. Assurances that agents and publishers prefer manuscripts that have been professionally edited. Dishonest or ignorant editors sometimes prey on the anxieties of aspiring writers by saying that agents and publishers give preference to manuscripts that have been professionally edited.

This is false on two counts. Most traditionally-published writers do not use freelance editors. See above. Your manuscript needs to be as perfect as you can make it—finished, polished, and properly presented. But no one will hold it against you if you accomplish that yourself. Expert editors and assessors have areas of specialization that reflect their experience.

The skills required to edit or critique a romance novel, for instance, are quite different from those needed for a work of narrative nonfiction. Independent editors or assessors may maintain websites or advertise in industry journals. Be wary if you encounter resistance in any of these areas.

Editors should be willing to say exactly what they will do for you. Reputable editors get paid by the word or the hour or the job, and should not make claims beyond that. Any book acquired by a reputable publisher will be edited in-house.

Editors on Editing: What Writers Need to Know About What Editors Do

This is part of the publication process—the author should not be charged for it. Most freelance editors offer different levels of editing. Manuscript assessment or critique provides a broad overall assessment of your manuscript, pinpointing strengths and weaknesses. The editor flags specific problems—structural difficulties, poor pacing, plot or thematic inconsistencies, stiff dialogue, under-developed characters, stylistic troubles, flabby writing, and the like—and makes detailed suggestions for addressing them.

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Line editing provides editing at the sentence level, focusing on paragraph and sentence structure, word use, dialogue rhythms, etc. Copy editing focuses on the mechanics of writing: common errors grammar, spelling, punctuation , incorrect usages, logic lapses, and continuity problems. Provide a magic fix.

Editors on editing : what writers need to know about what editors do

Ensure a traditional publishing contract. Make literary agents and publishers more likely to look at your work. Literary Consultancies and Manuscript Assessment Services More common in the UK and Australia than in the USA, literary consultancies and manuscript assessors provide critique and editing services, focusing on strengths and weaknesses and offering suggestions for improvement.

Vetting Editors There are plenty of expert freelance editors. How to avoid unqualified or questionable editors?


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A few common-sense guidelines: Be sure the editor is qualified. Be sure the editor has experience appropriate to your work. Verify that the editor really is independent. Get references, and use them. Ask to see a sample critique or assessment.

How To Edit: Copy Editing Tutorial #1

Before making a final commitment, speak or correspond with the editor.