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What is editing?
Earlier, I talked about some pretty basic things editors should keep in mind when preparing a resumé. Let’s talk about something more interesting and more important this time. I think, as editors, we can agree that what editors do is not fully understood— particularly by people who need editors. From the different types of editing (e.g., copy editing, structural editing), different types of editors (e.g., production, technical), different specialty and niche areas (e.g., academic, graphic novels), and different components of editing (e.g., indexing, fact-checking), there is a perpetual fog patch that obscures our profession.
So let’s talk about what makes an editor an editor.
As with all disciplines, there are professionals, and there’s everybody else. But it’s harder for people to make that distinction in editing. I think it’s because when people edit their own writing, it typically involves checking for typos and other such peccadilloes, and they think that’s all paid editors do—not true. People also think an aptitude for language is all it takes. That is, if someone is “nitpicky” when it comes to grammar or a “word nerd,” ta-da, that person is qualified to edit—also not true. Having a high degree of literacy or having a degree in English, linguistics, philosophy—these are all excellent foundations. But what makes an editor a true editor? I think, very simply, it is being dedicated to editing, taking the discipline seriously, working full-time at it, and always building your knowledge (this includes unlearning, which is equally important). And with resumés, this is where the problem lies. (more…)