1. MaillouxB

    MaillouxB New Member

    Dec 31, 2012
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    Editor/Writer Relationship

    Discussion in 'Self-Publishing' started by MaillouxB, Jun 19, 2013.

    (Feel free to move this if needed)

    I've never really quite understood how an editor works in the publishing business, barring newspapers and magazines- when it comes to editors for authors, what role do they actually play? Most writers (I would hope) are capable of writing well enough that their work doesn't need to necessarily be looked over by a professional third party to spot any errors past second/third draft.

    I've done a quick search and from what it looks like, most editors tend to be 3rd-party freelancer-type people, no real ties to companies, but taking in work as it comes; I've considered this as a possible career choice to shoot for during college, but do most writers usually go through an editor? Or is it a profession meant for more news-related areas?
  2. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

    Mar 9, 2010
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    My understanding is that an editor in a book context goes beyond finding errors - that they improve the work at a level beyond spelling, grammar, etc. But I have no personal knowledge; hopefully someone else will.
  3. thirdwind

    thirdwind Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

    Jul 17, 2008
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    Magazine editors and those working for publishing companies aren't going to be checking for grammar, etc. I believe a good editor is one who helps bring out the writer's style and voice. In fact, I remember reading a piece by the fiction editor at the New Yorker, and she said the exact same thing. So an editor is going to work closely with the writer on stuff like phrasing, flow, etc.

    All writers who go the traditional route do.
  4. EdFromNY

    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

    Jun 13, 2010
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    Queens, NY
    The editor will not be looking for SPaG errors. Writing that contains such errors typically does not make it to an editor's desk. The kinds of errors an editor focuses on faults in the structure of the narrative, weaknesses in style, eliminating nonessential plot points or making changes to some of the characters. (s)he might point out an action that hasn't been properly explained (or too thoroughly explained). In his novel, The Novel, Michener describes in some detail the functions of an editor.
  5. shadowwalker

    shadowwalker Contributor Contributor

    Jul 27, 2011
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    It depends on the kind of editor (a trade published book will have several). But the overall objective is to help the writer make the story the best it can be. They shouldn't have to hold the writer's hand, but they shouldn't be running roughshod over them either.
  6. mammamaia

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Nov 21, 2006
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    Coquille, Oregon
    if you are referring to the ones authors' publishers assign to their books, they scan the ms for typos, errors in grammar, punctuation, etc. and missed glitches in timeline, subplot connections and other such goofs the author may have overlooked... the relationship can become very close and personal, especially with successful authors of multiple books published by that house, who work with the same editor over a period of years...

    not so... no one is perfect and not even the most successful author will always turn out a ms that is 100% goof-free...

    that's an entirely different kind of editor... i've been both... having edited authors' work as magazine editor and been a free-lancer taking on 'private' clients... the first is more restrictive, since house rules have to be adhered to, though having a steady salary may be some consolation... the second requires being constantly on the lookout for clients, if you want to make a living at it, but can be very lucrative, if you're exceptionally good at it... and you can pick and choose who you want to work with and what you want to work on, unlike working for a publishing house and having to take on whoever and whatever you're assigned...

    seasoned writers wouldn't waste money on an editor and don't need to, since they can edit their own work well enough for it to be submission quality... the main reason is it's money down the drain, since what the authors can expect to make on the work won't begin to equal the editing fees... and even more so, since even the best edit possible won't guarantee the ms will ever be published...

    journalistic editing is another ballgame altogether... and probably requires a journalism degree or its equivalent, if you want to work for an established media entity... unless you're closely related to the boss...

    if you're looking for work to provide tuition, etc. during your college years and have good editing skills, i suspect you could really 'clean up' on campus, since most college/university students these days are horrible writers, sad to say, having come out of high school just barely literate... so a large percentage of them would welcome spending some of daddy's/mommy's bucks on an editor who can turn their gobbledygook into decent grade-earning prose... there's a moral/ethical drawback, however, since the work they will turn in won't be entirely their own, will it?... and the consequences can be dire if you cross the boundaries of campus rules in re such 'help'...

    the only mora/ethical/licit alternative, therefore, is to advertise your services to new writers whose aim is to have their writing published and who won't mind if they can never recoup what it costs...

    hope this helps...

    love and hugs, maia
  7. Anthony Martin

    Anthony Martin Active Member

    Apr 18, 2013
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    San Diego
    I recently worked with the editor at a small literary magazine. After accepting my piece for publication, he sent me some recommendations for improvements to narrative, identified areas where "a little more" was needed to round out an idea, etc.

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