Where do editors work and what type of things do they edit?
Editors work in a variety of industries that involve print and/or electronic print forms (Mackenzie, 2011, p. 7-9). Freelance editors may work from home, whilst large publishing houses, newspapers and magazines can often have a range of different editors to oversee specific areas. Large corporations often employ editors, as do government departments, community groups and private sectors. The acceptance of online publishing and electronic printing has increased the potential for editors to be used for internet-based articles.
Freeman (2012, p. 4-5) list numerous types of text that editors may be required for. They may edit books, pamphlets, brochures, journal articles, blogs, and educational materials. Editors are required for press releases, manual and warranty information. Most commonly known for news/magazines articles, editors can also be responsible for web content, speeches, policy documents and reports.
Marušiæ & Marušiæ (2001, p. 113-5) note that there is a severe lack of persons skilled in editing within developing or less-privileged areas and this results in further work opportunities for editors. This deficit results in less recognition of journals and reports originating from these areas and may impact on the wealth of knowledge available to other scholars.
Editors may correct text using traditional pen and paper or newer computer mark-up tools and therefore need skills in both areas (Farkas and Poltrock, 1995, p. 110). This diversity echoes the variety found in their work locations and in the spectrum of the types of things they may edit.
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Outline a typical publishing process.
Publishing processes differ for each form of printed material (Mackenzie, 2011, p. 31). However, each type of document will follow a similar pathway before being available to the public sector. Authors will often submit manuscripts to publishers they have already written however, publishers may also commission authors to write a text. In this instance, concept development and market research are also part of the publishing process as they occur before the manuscript is written. Once a manuscript is accepted, it will undergo a manuscript appraisal and a structure overview as this determines how much work will be required before more intense editing. Meetings will occur between the publisher, author and editors to ensure all parties are in agreement on the project goals. These may include the needs of the reader, the style of language used, the use of the publication and the formats used for delivery (D.C.I.T.A., 2002, p. 26).
Once the budget, project goals and format are decided upon, the manuscript will be edited including proof-reading, layout and typography choices. Illustrations will be sourced and copyright issues, permissions and digital rights will be addressed. Finally, the document will be ready to be published, distributed and marketed (Freeman, 2012, p. 10).
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Provide a breakdown of the editorial process and describe the Editor’s role at each of the stages.
The editor is a liaison between the triad of the author, the publisher and the reader, acting as an aide, scrutiniser and supporter respectively. The first stage of development involves defining the project. This includes appraising the manuscript, deciding on the structural editing required and determining a budget. Meetings with the client (publisher), author and legal representation will ensure terms are agreed to and it is the editor’s duty in these meetings to outline the “responsibility, authority and accountability of each party” (Editors, 2001, p. 6). At this point, the manuscript is ready to be edited (including layout and typographical choices), and the editor must prepare and obtain any necessary permission for artwork to be included in the final project.
The author then reviews the suggestions made by the editor and makes any additional changes. Once the author’s corrections are returned to the editor, it is then necessary to make final updates to the manuscript and send it to the client. The publisher or typesetter will then create a proof of the document.
Proofs are then issued to both the author and the editor, with the author making any final changes and the editor proof-reading and comparing against the original manuscript. Following this, the editor consolidates all the corrections and changes onto one set of proofs. Finally, the editor edits the index and delivers the completed project to the publisher (Mackenzie, 2011, p. 34-35).
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What type of skills must an Editor develop?
It is fairly obvious that the most fundamental skill an editor must possess is an excellent command of language and communication. To effectively edit a text or publication, an editor must be able to quickly and fully comprehend an author’s meaning and refine the writing without influencing the message in any way (Mackenzie, 2011, p. 1). As such, all editors require excellent social skills to be able to interact with authors and other members of a publishing team. The ability to multi-task effectively is also vital, as an editor will usually be working on many projects or texts, often with completely different information and communication style, simultaneously (Mackenzie, 2011, p. 2).
Editors require the knowledge of different types of publications, the aim and their audience, the production process, the steps engaged in the publication process and the relationship between these (including editing, designing, formatting, proof-reading, navigation, indexing, print production, screen-based procedures and marketing)(Editors, 2001, p. 1-13). Editors also need the ability to balance time, cost and effectiveness to suit the purpose of a publication, and understand the technology and terminology for the industry.
Developed skills found in editors include: legal and ethical concerns, typography and layout, technology relevant to editing practice, management and liaison skills, project documentation and monitoring, document appraisal, consistency, integrity, the format and layout of illustrations and tables (Editors, 2001, p. 1-13).
An editor needs a diverse range of skills to be competent in their profession and this adds to their importance to the publishing industry.
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Why does editing matter?
Any document directly reflects upon the publisher and a poorly edited text can “diminish their organisation’s credibility” (Mackenzie, 2011, p. 3). It is also important that a document be edited for accuracy of information and clear expression of the author’s intent. Editing provides clarity to material ensuring it can be easily digested by the reader. It is also important for texts to be edited as clearer and more precise information is more likely to be disseminated among society, which perpetuates education and also preserves good use of language for future generations. Editing serves as a facet of social communication; as human beings we are naturally communicative and editing is a vital part of that ritual. People communicate their emotions and tell stories, and it is the consistency of meaning and fact that editing provides which makes information and experiences shared and relatable (Burgess and Klaebe, 2009, p. 159).
While it is tempting for many authors, and publishers, to save time or money by eliminating the role of traditional editors in lieu of computer spellcheckers and electronic ‘self-editing’, as (Boles, 1996, p. 198) states, this practice “does not bode well for exactness, clarity or literary quality”. In a similar vein, editing also serves an important function in a global society; where computers are often used to usurp traditional editing practices, translation of texts into other languages requires the accuracy and attention of a traditional editor (Eliot and Rose, 2009, p. 409).
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Bibliography & References
BOLES, J. 1996. Why editing matters. SOCIAL SCIENCE QUARTERLY-AUSTIN-, 77, 198-203.
BURGESS, J. & KLAEBE, H. 2009. Digital storytelling as participatory public history in Australia. Story Circle, 155-166.
D.C.I.T.A. 2002. Style Manual: For Authors, Editors and Printers, John Wiley & Sons.
EDITORS, C. O. A. S. O. 2001. Australian Standards for Editing Practice, Council of Australian Societies of Editors.
ELIOT, S. & ROSE, J. 2009. A Companion to the History of the Book, Blackwell Pub.
FARKAS, D. K. & POLTROCK, S. E. 1995. Online editing, mark-up models, and the workplace lives of editors and writers. Professional Communication, IEEE Transactions on, 38, 110-117.
FREEMAN, H. 2012. Week 2 The role of the Editor. Curtin University.
MACKENZIE, J. 2011. The Editor’s Companion, Cambridge Univ Pr.
MARUŠIÆ, M. & MARUŠIÆ, A. 2001. Good editorial practice: editors as educators. Croat Med J, 42, 113-20.