- Wedding: November 2019 - City, State
Fun thread! 🙂
What’s your job title?
I’m a book editor.
What kind of environment do you work in?
I own my editing business so I mostly work from home, and I have my trusty laptop so I can work while traveling as well. But I do also work for an industrial supplies company doing indexing and other linguistic analysis, so I’m in their office a few days a week as well.
What is it that you do, exactly?
I do copy editing, developmental editing, and manuscript evaluations for all sorts of different books. Lots of different fiction genres, as well as a good chunk of nonfiction. There are a lot of different types of editing that all have separate purposes and functions, so honestly a lot of my job is also making sure that authors know what kind of editing they need and understand what it is I’ll be doing with their book (and NOT doing). I also offer side services to evaluate and edit agent query letters, synopsis letters, etc.
Are you full or part time?
Uh….it depends on how much work I have, haha. I suppose I’ll say “part time” since I have another gig, though.
What do you love most?
A lot of people think editing is just fixing commas and grammar and it’s inherently really boring, but there is SO much creativity involved with it. Pondering things like word choice, syntax, pragmatic choices, organization and flow, character development arcs, etc. are all REALLY fascinating to me. It’s also really just so fun to see what kind of stories people come up with. It doesn’t happen often, but when someone writes a book that really surprises me, it’s SO much fun to read and to work on it. I love getting to see “the inside of people’s heads,” if you will. Their thoughts, wildest visions, issues that are emotional or meaningful to them, etc. You learn a lot about a person from the stories they write.
What do I hate most?
I’ll be frank: a lot of authors suck. There are a lot of ignorant, tone-deaf, or otherwise untalented people out there who think they’re going to become millionaires with the terrible book they’ve written. Some people are just hopeful dreamers and that’s fine, but some people are convinced their book is AMAZING when it’s one of the worst I’ve seen in years. Unteachable people are mega annoying and honestly I often reject their books because they’re not worth the time or money. They don’t understand that I don’t get paid to compliment people; I get paid to tell you (politely) all the things that are wrong with your work. There are also a lot of amateur writers who get hung up on stupid things, like they’re terrified I’m going to steal their idea and write it into my own book before they can publish theirs. Trust me: we don’t want your idea.
Advice for anyone interested in this field?
Know what you’re doing, and know your strong points. If you’re not really strong in character development, then do not try to make your way into developmental editing. If you’re really good with the technical side of editing but not the creative one, then don’t go into working with fiction. There’s nothing wrong with being a technical editor only (someone who works on manuals or textbooks); there’s actually a lot of money there. If you don’t have the knack for something in particular, then don’t try to force it. For example, I am not fond of proofreading. The teensy nitty-gritty details, the pressure of it being the last round, etc. are not my favorite things, so I don’t proofread. I don’t enjoy it and I’m not the best at it, so I don’t offer it as a service. I have a friend that does not touch fantasy or scifi books because she doesn’t get it. It’s not her jam and she thinks they’re weird, so she rightly sets a professional boundary for herself because she knows she can’t do them justice. Also, a lot of people who want to go into editing think it’s just being good with English – editing is not just knowing good English grammar and common homophones. You have to have in-depth knowledge of the writing process, an appreciation for individual language use, and a host of other things. You have to be VERY flexible, not prescriptive.