Editorial Professions

editing careers and editing professions

Copy Editor
A sharp eye and an almost unhealthy attention to detail are required to make it in this highly specific role. Copy editors work for magazines, newspapers, book publishers, websites and various other publications and media outlets. They are the final eyes that review all copy and give the print a “go"—the last line of defense between the publication and the public. While there may be some writing involved, a copy editor’s main duty is to make sure the publication is accurate, grammatically correct, clean and stays in line with the style of the publication. Another hat copy editors can wear is fact checker. News organizations trust that copy editors will catch errors (factual and otherwise) that could lead to libel/lawsuits. Most will keep a copy of the AP Stylebook or The Chicago Manual of Style on hand at all times, but their innate knowledge of grammar would put your English professor to shame.

Turning manuscripts into books Whether manuscripts are acquired from authors or their agents or they are commissioned, it is up to the book editor to shape the manuscript into a marketable and readable product. Nowadays this means juggling up to 15 to 20 titles at any given time. Some of these will just have been acquired. The rest will be at various stages in the editorial and production pipeline. Editors must handle tight schedules with firm deadlines, maintain contact with authors, cultivate contact with literary agents, negotiate contracts and handle contractual details pertaining to payments and manuscript delivery, read and report on incoming proposals and manuscripts, write jacket copy and sales and marketing materials, participate in editorial and sales meetings, and work closely with sales, marketing, art and design, and production departments. While the editor is responsible for the final line-editing of their manuscripts, they spend much of their time working with their authors on content issues and supervising associate editors, copyeditors, and proofreaders.

Editor in Chief
The head of editorial is responsible for the overall direction of the imprint and maintaining the highest possible quality standards. The acquisition of compelling new titles is a critical part of this job. Setting and hitting budgets, delivering products on schedule, and handling all human resource decisions for the editorial department (hires, fires, bonuses, etc.) are up to this departmental boss.

Editorial Assistant
First rung on the editorial ladder Editorial assistant responsibilities include proofreading, copyediting, and performing general administrative tasks. At trade publishing companies, going through the “slush pile” of unsolicited manuscripts looking for gems, and writing readers’ reports for promising texts, is a big part of the job. Writing editorial summaries that demonstrate an understanding of creative writing and insight into reader expectations is the surest way to move up the editorial ladder. Pay is very low, especially tough if your job is located in New York City. Most editorial assistants are either funded by their parents or their partner. Those editorial assistants without that financial cushion live with roommates and may do freelance work on nights and weekends.

Fact Checker
Entry-level journalism and English graduates know this job well. Many people looking for writing/editorial careers see being a fact checker as the gateway into the publishing world, despite the fact that there is little to no writing involved. That said, many people find happiness in fact checking as a lifelong career, as it entails research on a variety different topics (and thus, ongoing learning), closeness with writers and, of course, reading content before everyone else. A fact check is designated to, fittingly, ensure that the claims their writer colleagues (journalists, most often) make are true. This involves calling sources and other digging, and often requires a quick turnaround time to make a deadline. Most U.S. weeklies, monthlies and more infrequent publications employ fact checkers, but newspapers do not always use them for each edition, as daily reporters are typically responsible for their own research and verification.

Managing Editor
Managing editors typically function as the editor in chief’s right hand, ensuring that the operations from "the powers that be" get carried out. A managing editor can work for a book publisher, magazine, newspaper or other publication, and works closely with the writers, editors and freelancers in setting deadlines and coordinating projects. He or she may additionally act as a liaison between the production or development teams and is responsible for prioritizing the needs of the publication. A managing editor can also perform the regular functions of the other editors by writing copy and editing and reviewing work of the other writers.

Every company that publishes something, whether it's magazines, books or newspapers, has a publisher.In book publishing, the publisher decides which titles will be published and, of these, which will be pushed the hardest by the sales and marketing folks.A magazine publisher often manages a group of titles, and coordinates the publication of each edition, overseeing all elements of publication, from creation to sales, to distribution.Within each publisher’s operating unit, there is an organizational structure that includes the marketing, editorial, sales, rights and production departments.These equally important divisions report to a single publisher.The head of publishing (or publisher) is traditionally drawn from the editorial department, given the group’s emphasis on creating compelling editorial products, although the ever-increasing emphasis on sales has meant that more top executives now come from the sales side of things.

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