Monday, March 16, 2015

Five 'Editors' Who Can Help an Author

Better to call them wordsmiths: What is an editor? The term is a bit slippery, but there are various categories. Here are the ones that make the most sense to me.
  • Ghost Writer: This is not really an editor at all, but I put the ghost writer at the top of my list because she actually produces the manuscript, though in collaboration with an author who should supervise the process. Some authors admittedly have no talent for writing; many others have no time. A good ghost writer is able to capture both substance of the author's story and his voice. 
  • Developmental  Editor: The developmental editor helps shape a book for publication. When I worked for Resource Publications, Inc. as its editorial director (aka editor-in-chief), I was responsible for developing book projects that would work for the company. Sometimes, I acquired manuscripts outright. More often, I shaped manuscripts that had been submitted to me or proposed an idea and then found an author to produce it. Today, I work with would-be authors to shape their projects so that they work for their own stated purposes. For me, developmental editing is about the forest rather than the trees of the manuscript. It is high value, but it does not take much time.
  • Substance Editor: Some folks consider the developmental editor and the substance editor to be different names for the same person. I separate them. For me, where the developmental editing is concerned about the forest, the substance editing is concerned about the trees (and shrubs), replanting them into more desirable locations. The substance editor rewrites in a way that affects the content, mainly by reorganizing it. Substance editing is time consuming, but it is worth doing for authors who have something to say but need help, for whatever reason, with the organization. 
  • Copy Editor: After the author completes what I call a publishable manuscript, the copy editor takes over. Ideally, copy editing does not affect the substance of the manuscript. It is about establishing consistent grammar, capitalization, spelling, word usage, and unnecessary words. To maintain the forestry metaphor, it's more about removing the underbrush and pruning the trees, not moving them around. Good copy editors make authors sound more like themselves. 
  • Proof Reader: It is important to avoid confusing the proof reader with an editor. In fact, some publishers refer to proof checkers rather than proof readers because the role is more about identifying errors than editing. Even so, proof reading is important because, without it, errors are frequent and can be embarrassing. Good proof readers are hard to find, but it is not necessary to be a professional. Good ones know the English language, have a passion for detail, and understand and respect the difference between proof reading and copy editing.The Publishing Pro

1 comment:

Rebecca Abrahamson said...

It is a privilege to work with Kenneth Guentert. He gives great advice, makes your book look professional, and his fee is very reasonable - there are many self publishing packages out there but with Ken you have a real pro with years of experience. I definitely recommend his ebook on authoring your own novel, gives very down to earth advice and helps you realize many people's dream - to really produce a quality book.