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Career: Editor

 
A Day in the life of a Editor

For people who love the written word and know they have the ability to plan, organize, and see printed material through its several stages of production, editing may be the ideal job. A critical link between authors and the reading public, editors control the quality and nature of printed material, working with authors on rewrites; correcting grammar; and smoothing out inconsistencies. Editors have significant input in the final product. They analyze work for quality of content, grammatical correctness, and stylistic consistency. This requires patience, thoroughness, and an ability to keep in mind both small details and the big picture simultaneously. Editors must be able to work closely with writers, diagnose problems, and offer advice on how to avoid them in the future. This requires a keen, analytical mind and a gentle touch. An editor meets frequently with others who are also working on a publication, including artists, typesetters, layout personnel, marketing directors, and production managers. In most areas of publishing, the success or failure of a product relies on continuous and open communication among different departments; a snag in any one may throw off the scheduling of another. As links between departments, editors must be able to handle personality issues diplomatically; be comfortable with the rigorous scheduling and economics of publishing; and coordinate and communicate their requirements clearly and effectively. Editorial positions are available in many types of companies, from established publishing houses to online service companies. A magazine editor has a different schedule and handles matters distinct from those of an acquisitions editor or a newspaper editor. Interests, opportunities, and luck lead editors to an area of specialization. People who wish to progress in this field nearly always read manuscripts in their spare time or stay late to do extra work. Competence is rewarded, and lateral and upward mobility within large houses is common. More than 40 percent of our respondents registered discontent with their current jobs, but more than 80 percent recorded pleasure with the choice of career and lifestyle. The 15 percent a year who leave the profession do so because their expectations of immediate impact and recognition remain unmet by this competitive and underpaid occupation.

Paying Your Dues

No specific academic degree is required, but most editors were English, communications, or journalism majors in college. A history of editorial positions on college newspapers or literary magazines is important. Most employers require potential editors to take wordprocessing and proofreading tests before hire, so it’s a good idea to be familiar with standard word-processing programs and proofreading symbols. Familiarity with publishing software and graphics systems is extremely helpful. Some find it beneficial to take a six-week publishing seminar to enhance their resumes, but no employers require it. Because of the relative paucity of entry-level editorial positions, many people enter publishing firms,magazines, and newspapers in advertising, marketing, or promotion departments, and parlay these jobs into editorial positions.

Associated Careers

Individuals who leave editing usually do so because of the lack of mobility and low pay. Editors can apply their skills in business, human resources, and governmental administrative careers. Others go into noneditorial aspects of publishing, such as subsidiary rights or production.


 
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