Many students dream of being an editor. The usual image that pops up in their mind is that of a glamourous magazine editor in a flash office going over glossy pages in a trendy mag and liaising with celebrities. But in reality, editors do far more than that! They work in a variety of industries and cover a range of duties and services.
Here at EHLION we employ editors along with many other language professionals. Visit our website and reach out to us to find out what opportunities we have to offer!
There are different ways to becoming a trained, qualified editor and succeeding in the job. Let’s take a closer look at the occupation of editor and what exactly it entails!
Responsibilities and duties of an editor
You might be wondering, just what do editors do? Fundamentally, editors review and polish pieces of text such as articles, stories, or books. Editors typically work on first drafts rather than final document versions. They are one of the last people to go over a manuscript before it is ready for print and examine the document for inconsistencies in style, theme, and factual information.
Editors’ daily activities vary, depending on whether they work for a publishing house, a magazine, a newspaper, or another type of media outlet. But editors always cast a critical eye over the written pieces they are reviewing and direct their focus in a particular direction to ensure they align with the publication’s submission guidelines or style guide.
The typical editor job description involves going through every word of a text in front of them, cutting out redundant parts that don’t support the storyline, and making suggestions on how to improve other sections that they don’t feel are quite right.
The duties of an editor also include commissioning stories in line with production schedules and editorial calendars, and then reviewing and curating the content to fit their publication requirements. At a language service provider like EHLION, editors may also be tasked with arranging for source texts to be reviewed prior to translation as part of our ‘review of source text’ service. This can involve managing editorial assistants or assistant editors, overseeing external freelance writers and proofreaders, and liaising with in-house departments such as desktop publishing teams.
Freelance writers often pitch ideas and drafts to editors, who are then responsible for checking the content and either accepting or rejecting submissions. It’s common to be working on multiple projects at the same time.
What does an editor-in-chief do?
The editor-in-chief is the highest-ranking member of a publication’s editorial team. They have the final say on what gets published, and they determine the look and feel of the publication and manage its operations and policies.
The editor-in-chief is also typically in charge of developing budgets for the departments under their wings. An editor-in-chief is sometimes also called a managing editor or executive editor.
Here at EHLION, the editor-in-chief is responsible for the look and feel of our Magazine and the corresponding style guidelines, schedule, and budget, for example. You can explore the final product here on our EHLION Magazine page.
Fields of work
Editors work in a variety of different industries and fields. The most common ones are small and major publishing houses, newspapers, magazines, journals, or digital publications such as blogs and websites. But you’ll also find editors in sales and marketing departments, manufacturing, government, and the legal and education sectors.
Traditionally, editors have been associated with large publishers and major literary works, but nowadays their opportunities are much broader. With online publications becoming increasingly popular, for example, there is no shortage of work for editors in this segment.
There is also a big market for self-employed freelance editors. These are often hired by writers to go over their written work before it is submitted to publications.
Types of editors
Given the wide variety of industries in which editors can work, it comes as no surprise that an editor typically specializes in a particular field. Common types of editors you will come across include:
- Medical editors: review medical research papers and documents
- Scientific editors: review scientific language for clarity, usage, and flow
- Academic editors: review journal articles, research papers, scholarly books, and theses
- Technical editors: review technical documentation, and check for technical accuracy and adherence to style guides
- Journal editors: evaluate manuscripts that are submitted to their journal, select suitable ones for peer review, and make a final decision on what gets published
- Web editors: publish, curate, and manage online content on websites
- Social media editors: manage a company’s social media presences and devise social media strategies
- Commercial editors: review business-related and commercial editorial content for companies
- Fiction editors: review stories for technical issues of grammar, spelling, and punctuation, and identify story issues, e.g., with the plot or characters
Differences to related jobs
Be careful not to confuse an editor with a proofreader or copywriter. At first glance, these occupations may look similar, but they are distinct jobs. An editor is not any of these:
- Proofreader: performs a surface-level check on the final draft of a document to detect spelling errors, grammatical mistakes, incorrect or missing punctuation, and typos; may also review the source text before translation
- Copywriter: creates sales copy designed to convince readers to take action; mainly for brochures, ads, and landing pages
- Content writer: creates content that informs, instructs, educates, or entertains readers; mainly for websites, blogs, and social media
- Translator: translates an original source text into a different target language
So professional translation services, proofreading and content writing are generally not tasks of editors.
Skills and qualifications
What skills do you need to be an editor? Although you don’t need a formal editing qualification to apply for work as an editor, a vocational qualification or bachelor’s degree in subjects like journalism English or communication are desirable and a definite advantage. Definite musts are attention to detail and the ability to verify facts.
If you come from a different professional background, don’t worry! You can still become a successful editor if you can demonstrate excellent writing skills and subject-matter expertise in fields related to the industry in which you’re applying. So, if you’re keen to work as a fashion editor, for example, you should try and gain some work experience or formal training in fashion first.
Find out how to become an editor.
Career prospects for editors
Some editors worry that the rising number of self-publishing authors might make them redundant soon, but the contrary is actually the case! Independent writers will especially want to rely on the expertise and careful attention of editors before self-publishing their work.
What’s more, translators often work according to the ‘four-eyes’ principle, which means they have their work reviewed by an editor. And marketing departments will always want to produce the best-quality content, so they’ll keep investing in editors to win over customers and generate sales.
What salary can an editor expect?
So how much do editors make? The typical editor salary varies, depending on whether they work as a freelancer or are employed by a company or publishing house.
The average editor salary in the United States, for example, is currently USD 61,370. In the United Kingdom, editor salaries range from GBP 19,000 at smaller organizations to GBP 44,000 at more renowned publishing houses and blue-chip companies, averaging around GBP 28,000 per annum.
|United States:||USD 61,370 (average)|
GBP 19,000 (minimum)
GBP 44,000 (maximum)
Freelance editor salaries obviously vary widely depending on subject matter and years of experience. The feast and famine periods typical of freelance careers are also a factor to bear in mind. Generally though, the ceiling is wherever you want it to be if you choose to go down the freelance route.
So is editing for you? Here’s a recap
The profession of editor is clearly a very versatile and varied role. Identify your skills and interests to see which industry segment and which type of editing are your cup of tea. Next, investigate what qualifications you need and already try to get practical experience under your belt; for example, by volunteering or through an internship at a publishing house or company, not least to get your foot in the door. If you know you have skills needed to be an editor—among them solid writing skills and a keen eye for detail—you already have an advantage!
One thing is for sure: being an editor never gets boring, given the variety of texts, topics, and styles you’ll get to work on!