5 answers

What personality traits make successful editors and publishers?

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I'm a brutally honest person. A lot of people don't like that but I have a feeling it will come in handy in a career in editing or publishing.
#editing #publishing

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5 answers

Marie’s Answer

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In general, being a good editor takes an eye for detail, a lot of patience, and diplomacy. You need to be willing to do similar tasks for long periods of time and you need to be able to give advice -- that can often be suggestion quite dramatic changes -- in a way that will be most likely to be taken. The client is not obligated to take your edits, but as an editor you generally want them to. If you have a confrontational relationship with the client/writer, you will not be a successful editor. Additionally, people tend to be quite sensitive about their writing, and if you are editing books, this could be a project they have been working on for years, so even diplomatic suggested changes are sometimes hard for clients/writers to take -- they might come in feeling a bit on guard. That's why editors are always taught to give good feedback as well (honest feedback) , often utilizing what we call the "compliment sandwich". If you have a tough criticism to levy, you say some positive things around it.

This may seem over the top, but it is tried and true. If you only say negative things, clients will resent you and your relationship will deteriorate. Certainly, being honest is crucial, but learning how and when to levy your criticism is equally important of you will be unable to keep your clients.
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Nadina’s Answer

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Hi Ray,

You have a lot of great answers here, so I'll keep mine brief. In short, you do need to be nice to your writers. Anyone who is too "blunt" (which can be code for rude or unprofessional to a manager) will not likely make it very high up the food chain. If you can be direct but polite and constructive, then that is the ticket.

The thing I would add that hasn't already been said is that editors are bigger picture thinkers. They don't just fix mistakes on a page or help the writer see their blind spots. They have to think about everyone who is a part of the process and work with the writer to make sure their piece can progress through the workflow. They have to think about their readers--who are they? What what do they want? What do they need? Will this deliver? They have to think about the business--will this sell/lead to enough clicks? Is this staying in budget? They have to think of the other stakeholders--what will the marketing manager need? Is this the sort of thing that is in line what this publisher does, or does the piece belong elsewhere?

In short, editors are detailed-oriented and masters at giving constructive criticism. They're the sort of people who can develop close relationships with their authors and build a level of trust and mutual respect with them. But they also have to be the jack of all trades. They're the person who knows every aspect of the process and knows how to communicate between the different roles--and they need to be able to communicate clearly and professionally.

Nadina recommends the following next steps:

  • Look for editorial internships
  • Consider a job in the writing center
  • Practice communicating your points in a way that is friendly and encouraging
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Paul’s Answer

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Hi Ray:

I currently work in the freelance world of writing, editing, and publishing and have developed some very good relationships with people in the industry.

One thing that I can tell you is that they are definitely honest individuals. If I submit a piece of and if they do not agree with the way it is formatted or the subject matter, they will let me know their opinions. This can sometimes cause some creative differences, when it comes to my writing submissions, but I have to say that this honesty has made me into a better writer and editor.

There are a few other personality traits that I have observed. One is that they are very detail oriented. It one paragraph or comma is out of place, they will catch it and let me know about it. If they want changes in a piece of my writing, they will send it back and have me do it over. They definitely in my opinion have really good visual senses and an eye for details.

I have also observed that they have excellent leadership abilities. Their responsibilities include managing and overseeing a large number of writers, so they need to be able to diplomatic, but they also need to be fair and equitable in the way they communicate with people.

They also seem to have some great imaginations and creative abilities. For example if they feel one line of a submission would be more clear by being written another way, then you will need to find a way to meet their expectations in that particular piece.

They also tend to have a high amount of energy. They need to work with several categories of people when they are looking to publish a paper or a book. They review all the submissions, edit and send back any for changes, contact and send all the submissions to the printers, and maintain the company website.

Overall, there are several requirements that are needed to be a good editor and publisher. You will need a large amount of expertise in the subject matter you are managing, you will need to have a good grasp and command of the English language, you will need to be detail oriented and have a good eye for editing submissions, you will need to be a good mentor and leader to the writers you are managing, and you will need to be diplomatic and able to work through criticism and adversity. Yes, honesty is one of the best characteristics you can have. Sometimes I feel that I really gave it my best when it came to writing a particular piece of work. But if the editor and publisher feels like I can do better, then I will write it again and eventually reach a compromise with them regarding what they want. In the long term it has worked out for both sides, and has made me into a much more creative writer, and has helped me to write stories and poetry that I thought I could never do.

I hope this has been helpful. Thank you for your question.

Paul G
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Stefania’s Answer

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Hello!
Great question. Honesty and forwardness is definitely a good trait to have in business in general. However, diplomacy is even more important. Editing work is wonderful, but you have to remember you are judging someone else's work - and they are allowing you to. With that comes great professional, and to a degree, personal responsibility.

1) Detail orientation - as an editor, you will be expected to catch glaring errors and will be providing the writer with peace of mind that content and grammar are where they should be. Detail orientation comes with great patience as you will have a lot of different types of content to go through. Depending on what type of editing you do, this will vary both in terms of work and platforms. For example, a content editor focuses more on ensuring the words on a page are purposeful and get across the most essential information. You may take lengthy papers and condense them into limited amount of space. As a copy editor, you may be looking for grammatical errors above all and responsible for submitting impeccable work. As a content editor on social media platforms, you may be responsible for other knowledge such as category trends or SEO, etc.

2) Diplomacy and Emotional Intelligence - As an editor, you are judging someone else's work -- and they are allowing you to. You want to make sure you provide for positive feedback and constructive criticism in a manner that is approachable and helpful but doesn't feel deragatory. The editor-writer relationship has to feel like a good match.

3) Creativity - You often have to find different ways to say the same thing and having a creative side that can think out of the box can be very helpful.

4) Interpersonal skills - As an editor, you often work with other people and being a good team player is always a good skill, in any environment.

Best of luck!

Stefania
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Rachel’s Answer

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In addition to the above advice, I'd throw in that it's important for the editor to help the writer achieve the best version of their own voice. I've had editors in the past change my pieces so much it no longer sounded like me. Not only does that take away the author's sense of ownership, but it breaks the trust with the writer. The editing process is collaborative. Honesty is key. So is being able to nurture a story in the author's image, not your own.
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