Really an Editor? What is the Role?

Edit by fapro CC0 Public Domain from Pixabay

If you’re an edi­tor, then you should do every­thing in your pow­er to help writ­ers, not tear them down.” ~ Scott Bid­dulph Two Drops of Ink


The Role of an Editor?

Scott is of the opin­ion that writ­ers and edi­tors should work togeth­er for the ben­e­fit of the pub­li­ca­tion to which they are both con­tribut­ing. I agree. It is clear many edi­tors see them­selves as a guardian in the pub­li­ca­tion process. They should see them­selves as an enabler. A part­ner both of the pub­lish­er and the writer. Under­stand­ing the needs of both is key. Scott made these com­ments large­ly because of the frus­tra­tions he expe­ri­enced as a writer, try­ing to get pub­lished. He is also an edi­tor, so he is well aware of the challenges.


His view is that edi­tors should be eas­ing the pub­li­ca­tion path for the writer. Of course there will always be things that do not fit the pub­li­ca­tion, or need a mas­sive re-write. Yet even if the writer’s sub­mis­sion is too poor for pub­li­ca­tion, then an edi­tor should pro­vide some guid­ance. Is that always the case?


Content Needed


I edit­ed a quar­ter­ly mag­a­zine at one time in my career. My role was as much to work with the pub­lish­er to look at the con­tent we need­ed for the next edi­tion as it was to edit sub­mis­sions. I had to do a lot of work with some writ­ers, bring­ing their sub­mis­sions up to the stan­dards we required for pub­li­ca­tion. Those hav­ing the most trou­ble were spe­cial­ists in a spe­cif­ic field. It was clear they were experts, but writ­ing was not their forte. Often the best approach was a re-write. When that was nec­es­sary. I would send a copy of the re-write to the author, telling why the re-write was necessary.


Writ­ers bring ideas to the table. Edi­tors need to make sure those ideas get pre­sent­ed in the best light. They must con­sid­er the needs of the audi­ence, Indeed they should know that much bet­ter than the writer who is pre­sent­ing a sub­mis­sion. The rela­tion­ship should become much more a part­ner­ship. They should offer ways the author can alter their work to present it in the best light. Edi­tors should not enter a war of words with writers.


They are always in need of con­tent and writ­ers to pro­vide it.


The Good Editor

Scott Bid­dulph makes the point “A good edi­tor ‘dreams the writ­ers dream’ by hav­ing the skills to do not only copy-edit­ing but also devel­op­men­tal edit­ing. A good edi­tor must know and see gram­mar mis­takes like a hawk”. I agree, it is their job to cor­rect the faux pas made by the writer and ensure the pub­li­ca­tion ben­e­fits from the writer’s knowl­edge. They should be able to see where a sto­ry needs more devel­op­ment and encour­age the writer to per­form fur­ther research.


How they treat the writer is all important.


Take a look at the rest of the asso­ci­at­ed arti­cle on Two Drops of Ink.

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