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» Hiring an Editor

Types and Jobs of an Editor

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There are many types of editors. Each will focus on specific aspects of your work. Here are some examples of the different types of editors that a writer may encounter:

  • Copy Editor: This is the person who edits the manuscript material submitted by the author. They will focus on correcting grammatical irregularities and inconsistencies, and looks to ameliorate any punctuation, spelling, usage and style errors.
  • Developmental Editor: Someone who deals with the overall organization of the book’s manuscript. A developmental editor may also address issues of reordering whole sections of text, with the tone and voice, with the addition or deletion of material, and the transitions between paragraphs or chapters of the book.
  • Line Editor: Someone who performs an edit that is heavily focused on voice, tone, and phrasing. This type of edit tends to be much more in-depth. For a work of fiction, line editing considers the work’s pacing, character development, the handling of details, and the vocabulary of the place and period where the novel is set and the naturalness and effectiveness of the dialogue. A line editor also deals with spelling and grammar.
  • Production Editor: The production editor deals with the final aspects of the work as it goes from manuscript form to published material. This type of editor is in charge of typesetting, artwork, and budgeting for the project. The production editor is usually the final person to review a work prior to publishing therefore they are in charge of ensuring that quality is met in all areas.
  • Acquisitions Editor: This is the first editor that a manuscript meets after being sent in for review. The acquisitions editor is the person who decides whether a manuscript will be beneficial for the publishing house. This editor is in charge of communicating between the writer and the publisher, for the budgeting, marketing and contracting of the project.

The Roles of an Editor at a Publishing House

  1. Choosing the book
  2. They negotiate the contract terms with the author and/or agent
  3. There are many different steps to editing a book. The editors are in charge of this, ensuring that the end product is the best it can be.
  4. An editor will work with copy editing, design and production
  5. They work with the other artists involved in your project (art direction of the jacket)
  6. Advocate for the sales of your work and perform marketing duties
  7. They can be a writer’s link into the publishing process, providing updates and keeping them informed as to what the publishing house is doing in regards to the author’s work.

Steps to Hiring an Editor

  1. Evaluate your work and decide what skills you will need in an editor. There are many different kinds of editors, each with their own area of expertise. By identifying which area you would like your editor to focus on will help you to decide who to hire.
  2. Establish a business plan for your work, outlining the budget and schedule.
  3. Do some research. Make a list of possible editors that you may want to work on your project. Your research may take you to websites such as the Editors’ Association of Canada (EAC) or to various industry magazines that provide information for writers and industry professionals alike.
  4. Narrow down your list. Choose only the editors that will best suit your specific needs.
  5. Contact the editors. A writer may contact an editor by telephone, email, or even by land mail. Generally, editors will outline how they would like to be contacted.
  6. When you have made contact, it is time to ask questions. Ask to see samples of their work, and ask how long they have been in the industry, their availability and fees.
  7. Make the choice, hire your editor. Remember that when entering into any business deal it is important to have a written contract drawn up. Your contract with your editor should outline a timeline and what is expected from each party as well as commission and expenses. A contract is required under the new Arts Professions Act, and will protect both parties involved.

For information on how to find an editor see:
The Editors’ Association of Canada (EAC): This site provides detailed information on what to look for in an editor, freelance template contracts, and lists of editors in all parts of Canada. The association has contacts in Saskatchewan and provides a link to their website.

What to Expect from an Editor
Editors play many different roles in the publishing process and although a single editor may not be in charge of all aspects of editing, there are certain industry standards of knowledge, ethnics and business practices that a professional editor is expected to adhere to. Remember that when entering into an agreement with a publishing house you may not have a choice of which editors you will be working with. If you are working on a self-publishing project you will have some choice in who you hire.

A writer, hiring an editor should expect:

  • The editor to have a good basic knowledge of the publishing process. They should understand the various stages of the publishing process and be able to guide a writer through the process. This includes a basic understanding of the design and production process.
  • Professional editors should understand the importance of the audience and the purpose of your material. The editor is able to work with the author to outline/identify the correct audience for their work as well as the expectations of the material (they should understand why the material was written and what can be expected from specific works).
  • The editor should know the scope of the project. Between the writer and the editor a business and production plan should be outlined. The editor will be able to outline the level of editorial intervention required and establish a budget, and timeline for the work.
  • The editor should be comfortable with the medium (electronic books, textbook, novel, etc…) in which they are working with and what general form they should take.
  • An editor is expected to understand and know the legal and ethical requirements of the publishing industry and can help a writer to navigate through the many processes. They are expected to identify and address any legal or ethical problems that may arise.
  • An editor should set and maintain a plausible schedule for the publishing of a work.
  • The editor is the one to identify and define the appropriate editorial intervention required for each unique work.
  • There should be clear communication about edits so that they are properly applied and captured in the production process.
  • An editor should try to never introduce new errors to a text.
  • For a detailed outline of what a writer should expect from an editor at each step of the editorial process see (EAC website).

The cost of editorial services varies with each editor. Most commonly, editors will charge by the page, manuscript or hour.

What is a proofreader?
An editor and proofreader are two different people. The editor deals with a work from the manuscript stage through to production, dealing with everything from spelling and grammar to consistency and format. A proofreader is the final set of eyes, as a work is put into print. The proofreader looks for blatant errors that happen during the process of transforming an electronic file into the physical book form. The process deals with looking for last minute spelling errors, missed punctuation and spacing issues. The proofreader does not communicate with an author. The proofreader is hired by the publisher and deals only with the proof of the work.

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