Intro to Editors is a series that explores what editors do in the context of solo and small business owners. Read the rest of the series here.
Last time, we looked at the core of an editor’s job, no matter what his or her specialty. Now that we’re clear on that part, let’s figure out where in the writing process editors fit.
First, let’s zoom in on the particular slice of the editor pie we’re interested in.
There are editors working in all kinds of fields. If a field involves writing, there’s most likely an editor who specializes in it. So clearly, as a small business owner, you don’t have to know about all of them! Let’s figure out which kinds you’ll want to pay attention to by cutting out the ones that don’t apply.
You’ve probably heard of newspaper and magazine editors. Many bigger blogs and websites have this kind of editor, too. They can be responsible for everything from deciding which content to publish to managing writers to writing headlines to copyediting articles. These types of editors really don’t apply to us small business owners. Unless you’re trying to write for a magazine, newspaper, or big website — in which case, that’s a whole other discussion!
You’ve probably also heard of the many kinds of editors who work for traditional publishing houses. Book publishers often employ the same kinds of editors we’ll talk about in later Intro to Editors posts. They have another kind too, though, which we’re not talking about today: acquisitions editors. These editors are responsible for finding new authors and may even see a book they found through the whole process, from submission to publication. But that’s not really what we’re after, either.
Of course, there are editors who work on fiction of all stripes. But as business owners, we’re more on the nonfiction end of the spectrum.
Since none of those types of editors really apply to our situation, we can safely ignore them here.
What’s left is the slice of the editor pie you’ll most likely encounter.
As a solo or small business owner writing ebooks, info products, blog posts, and webpages, you’ll probably be working with a freelance editor who specializes in nonfiction and/or web copy. So that’s the kind of editor we’ll be talking about throughout the rest of this run-down and the series posts that follow.
Next up? Locating where editors come in to the writing process.
Imagine the process of bringing a written project together, from idea to completion, as a spectrum. At different points along the way, different types of people can step in to help out.
To the left, before you even have a draft, are writing coaches. Coaches often help you through the process of getting that first draft completed. They may provide accountability, support, and feedback along the way, depending on their particular style and focus. Of course there are exceptions, but in my experience that’s generally a writing coach’s domain.
To the right, after the text is completely finished, are the people who make it look nice. That includes graphic designers, web designers, Kindle formatters, and so forth. They really have nothing to do with what the words say, beyond how the message informs the design.
Editors fill the whole space in between. Some start working on a text that’s still in very rough first draft form (developmental editing), some refine drafts that are further along (line editing or copyediting), and still others polish at the surface level when a text is just about finished or even after the proofs are done (proofreading). And, of course, some (like myself) offer a hybrid approach.
What about copywriters?
There’s a lot of confusion about the difference between editors and copywriters and where each one fits into the puzzle we’ve started assembling above. So much, in fact, that I wrote a separate post about it. Read it here!