Sunday, October 26, 2014

What does an Editor do?

by: Stephanie Burkhart

As a writer, I can honestly say there's no reason not to treat an editor with kindness and respect. There's several different types of editors, but everyone of them have the same goal: to make the author's novel or story shine.

Publishing a novel of any genre is a team effort and the editors involved are vital members of the publishing team.

When it comes to publishing a story, there are several (or should be) types of editors involved:

The Acquisitions Editor

Writers and agents submit their work to this editor. This editor finds new authors and promotes writers that will be profitable for the publishing company. This is the editor that tells the writer that the publishing company will offer them a contract.  Ideally, this editor will have read the entire manuscript.

The Developmental Editor or Substantive Editor

This editor reads the manuscript and focuses on helping the writer improve the book. They look at plot, characterization, dialogue, order of scenes, word choice, setting, point of view, character voice, syntax, pacing, and sentence construction. Generally, a structural editor and author will go through several drafts/edits before producing a polished manuscript.

The Copyeditor

This editor reads the polished manuscript specifically looking for grammar, spelling, punctuation, checking facets, word choice, repetition, and consistency. An author may only have one or two drafts/edits with an author.

The Proofreader

This is the last person to check the manuscript. Their job is to make sure the work is completely free of errors.

Love words.
Have a good eye for detail.

Biggest Myth:

Many authors think that editing involves only correcting spelling and grammar. There's much more to it.

Authors Behaving Badly:

Don't reply to an editor with irate comments about how they are "butchering" your baby. Be professional.

Don't reply to an editor with cuss words. That just shows you have no respect for the teamwork required and the hard work an editor does.

Question for you: As an author, what have your interactions with editors been like?  Do you have any comments or feedback to share?

Author Bio: Stephanie Burkhart is a 911 dispatcher for LAPD. She loves chocolate, adores coffee, and likes to walk. She's also the den leader for her son's cub scout den. Her 4RV releases include "The Giving Meadow," and "First Flag of New Hampshire."


  1. I find that by listening to my editor, I learn and improve my writing skills. I am blessed with an editor that is working with me to improve my work and make it shine. :)

  2. I've always looked at editors as another source of feedback, one which has an inside track on what will fly with readers and what won't. If you aren't willing to at least listen to your editor's ideas, you're being a prima donna, and most of us aren't great enough to assume that mantle. Sorry if this is a repost. Seems like my other post got eaten.

  3. I'm happy that my editor is also a published author, so she understands the editing process from the point of view of both the writer and editor.

  4. Hi Stephanie,
    I've learned so much from editors over the years. Some gave me some gentle advice on how to improve the manuscipt and some weren't so nice. Both kinds reminded me of English teachers. There were both kinds in school, too. Whichever, I learned a lot. People should always listen to them and take their advice.

  5. Editors & authors are a part of a team, different roles, but hopefully, both want to see a better book.

  6. I had a wonderful relationship with my editor. There were times when she would suggest a change only to discover when I sent the draft back to him/her that I had already made it. That's what I call teamwork.

  7. As an editor, I enjoy working with authors who are respectful. I love cleaning up the clutter in stories, whether they are mine, or someone else's. But, I sometimes have to offer suggestions I don't really want to make. Even when it might not seem like it, most of us do have a heart. In the end, our goal is to help you make your story the best it can be. (If it sells well, it also looks good on us, right?) I am currently working with an author who has been very good to work with. I feel blessed.

  8. I have wonderful editors and have helped authors polish their work myself. I love getting other people's ideas and support with my writing. It's so solitary that feedback, good and bad helps me grow. Thanks for showcasing such an important piece to creating a quality story!

  9. This is an excellent article regarding editors.I was searching website related to creative writer and I find your article.I must say you shared a precious information.Thank you.
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  10. Stephanie, great breakdown of editing categories. Being on both ends of the editing process I can appreciate how necessary editors are.