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This One’s For The Editors

copyediting

Outside of ghostwriting, copyediting has to be one of the most thankless jobs in the writing and publishing industries.

I’ve worked briefly as an editor in the past, and I’ve worked with copyeditors my entire career, and those guys and girls rarely get any love.

To me, copyeditors are the last line of defense.

They’re like the dudes at the top of the castle who swat back all the grunts climbing ladders. Throw that comma splice to the ground! Slice the neck off that split infinitive! Cut the ear off that run on sentence!

Writers, we kinda, sorta get grammar. We know enough about it to get by and fake our way through an article. But the editors are the ones who really get it. They’re not just parroting what their high school English teacher said—they actually know why she said it.

Do we realize how valuable a good editor is? (Remember, none of us are above editing) They make our content shine. They catch all the crap—the typos, the clunky sentences, the unnecessary punctuation, the content holes, the exaggerations, the contradictions.

A good editor catches all those things. When a writer turns in his/her work to a really good editor, their fatty content loses about 15 pounds and transforms into a svelte, polished, work of art. Their content starts as something good and turns into something great…and publishable, hopefully.

Now, believe me, I’m definitely not implying the life of a writer is glamorous. In fact, the life of most writers might rival the life of an editor in terms of obscurity. Many writers peck at the keyboard for hours on end with maybe, at the most, a few hundred people ever seeing their work.

But when a book or a magazine article or a print piece gets published, when the writer finally receives a little love, you’ll see the his name right at the top or on the front cover. If the editor’s lucky, they might (MIGHT) get a mention on the credits page.

That sucks, but it’s also the life of an editor. It’s inherently a behind-the-scenes job. Most editors realize the nature of that role when they take it.

And here’s the thing:

Most of those people out there who read our content might not think about the editor, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t. Most of our writing would be mediocre, at best, without them. Producing content really is a team effort.

So have you hugged your editor today? Have you simply said “thanks” for catching all those typos and fixing your questionable grammar and identifying all those weird inconsistencies?

There’s nothing worse than being an underappreciated editor.

I edited content for someone for more than two years, never got a “thank you,” and was rarely acknowledged at all. I’ve been there, and I know what it feels like. It sucks.

So whether you work at a job with an editor who sees your stuff, or whether you’ve just got a friend or family member who looks over your work, make sure you say thanks.

Just a little thank you every now and then can go a long way.

So thank you editors. We might write the words, but you make our words so much better.

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19 Comments Post a comment
  1. Now, I might be a little biased (Yes, I admit it: I am an editor), but I think this is a great post ;-)

    Like

    October 16, 2013
  2. And, gosh, so do I! Editing is a thankless job, indeed, but it always makes me feel better seeing copy that I improved whether the writer notices or not (OK, I love when they notice it’s better).

    Like

    October 16, 2013
  3. As a reader, I’m always thankful for good editing, even if I never know the person’s name. Nothing takes me out of a story faster than seeing a typo, or a contradiction, or a strange turn of phrase. A book is more enjoyable when I don’t have to stop and think about what the writer meant to say in a particular sentence.

    Like

    October 16, 2013
  4. JD Blom #

    Great reminder! My wife is gracious enough to be my editor so it is easy to take for granted all that she does. It will also make a big hug of appreciation a little less ackward.

    Like

    October 16, 2013
    • Haha. And an appreciation kiss even less awkward.

      Like

      October 16, 2013
  5. A generous post – always good to say thank you.

    Like

    October 16, 2013
  6. Aw, now i want to go hug my editor. It’s great to hear another writer admit that, as writers, we kind ‘sorta’ get editing and grammar rules. I totally don’t. I’m just really good at mimicking and following directions :)

    Like

    October 16, 2013
    • Me too, mostly. I know a lot of rules but I don’t know why they’re rules.

      Like

      October 16, 2013
  7. Won’t argue. I’m a content editor. :)

    Maybe it’s because I work for a small pub, but my job doesn’t feel thankless. I’ve made friends with most of the authors I’ve edited. Sure, I have to battle their belief that I’m obsessed with the shirt colors of characters with all of 2 lines, and that I hate all adverbs, but that’s okay. But I also know they learn to trust me, and seem to look forward to working with me again.

    Like

    October 16, 2013
  8. Copy editing for sure. I’ve been one. Or even the “lowly” proofreader. But you should see the reverence writers have for Ann Close, Alice Munro’s editor. She presided over one of my workshops at Squaw where there was no shortage of adoration. The vast majority, however, never achieve such fame.

    Like

    October 16, 2013
  9. Heck I’m ready and willing to give an editor all the love, if I could just find one. Great post! Cheers!

    Like

    October 16, 2013
  10. I’m not a writer!
    But you’re right!It was an insightful post!

    Like

    October 17, 2013
  11. lanielodia #

    I love this post. People seem to forget that because credits usually go to the author’s, the work is his/hers alone. Most forget that it’s also a collaboration. Love love LOVE this post.

    Like

    October 17, 2013

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Are you a good writer? | EasyAsLife
  2. Six Things Your Copyeditor Just Won’t Do (and a Few More They’d Love To) | The Editor and the Beast
  3. Giving Literary Thanks, Year 2 | 101 Books
  4. 9 Times An Editor Would’ve Helped | 101 Books
  5. Giving Literary Thanks, Year 3 | 101 Books

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