First, think about the various roles in editorial: when I was an acquisitions editor, I traveled quite a bit because a part of my role was to find authors for my books. In many publishers (like mine), the acquisitions editors wear many hats; they manage budgets, assist with marketing and promotion, develop the market, serve as the main point of contact across the entire process, coordinate with the various members of the publishing team, and even serve as emotional support for the authors. These tend to travel a great deal. Some acquisitions editors barely travel at all because their niche allows them to do this remotely, or their roles are more focused. This range of travel is true of fiction and non-fiction editors as well. When I worked with business non-fiction authors, there was a lot of travel. Not so much with self-help. Titles also matter. At some publishers, higher level editors (senior editors, executive editors, etc.) travel more.
A copyeditor is frequently a freelancer and does what most people *think* editors do--correct grammar and syntax, look for typos, etc. Typically, they don't travel, and many do not even work on site. Production editors don't travel, as their roles are heavily focused on scheduling and coordination (and are usually considered production, not editorial). Assistants very rarely travel.
Another important aspect is the financial management and business objective of the publisher. Some publishers have very small travel budgets for editors, especially if they are smaller or independent. Self-publishers almost certainly do not have the funds for traveling. Other publishers have very large travel budgets. Often, they are bigger and more established, though there are exceptions here too.
Travel varies widely across media and topics as well. Editors in magazines, books, newspapers, and all sorts of media have very different roles and responsibility, and therefore very different travel expectations. My friends in politics travel quite a bit, for example; my friends at entertainment news sources tend not to travel. Editors in academic book publishing typically travel quite a bit, while those working in smaller markets seldom do.
A better way to think about this is to ask these questions:
1. What kind of publisher would interest you? Books? Academic? News? Magazine?
2. What business purpose would travel serve? Travel is expensive; if you're in a role where travel can be avoided, then most businesses will avoid it
3. Most importantly: ask yourself what is driving you to ask this question. If it's because you know you don't want to travel much, then this matters a lot. I would go back to the previous two questions and answer those to figure out where you belong. If the answer is because you do want to travel, then I would worry about this less. If you land in a role that has you staying local a lot, focus on what career path will get you to a place where you can travel on your own. I've been on both sides of that coin, and I can tell you that personal travel is a lot more fun.
Once you've done this, you can start figuring out what type of editors travel by looking at job posts. Often, an editorial job that requires that will say something about that in the job post. If travel is not mentioned at all in the post, this often means the role does not require travel. Bookjobs.com or Publishers Lunch are good places to spot this for book publishing. For other media, LinkedIn, Glass Door, Media Bistro, and other such sites will have plenty of posts for you to comb through. You'll also start learning what types of editors do, which will help you figure which roles appeal to you. Mostly, remember that "editor" means a lot of different things to a lot of different people; what is true of one editor may not be true of another. So make sure you ask editors, and make sure you remember that there are a lot of answers.
I hope this helps!
Nadina recommends the following next steps:
- Ask yourself what is motivating you to think about how much editors travel, then use that to find your place
- Ask yourself if you put the travel aside, what is it that you want out of your career and your life
- Remember: if you chase your dreams, the other things will follow...even if it takes a while
- Look at job posts for various editor positions to learn what they do and how much they travel