Role of an Editor in Book Publishing

The role of an editor in the book publishing industry is very crucial. Essentially, they uphold a book’s reputation, clean up the original content, and ensure they are publishing-ready.

Editors help authors complete their books by providing critical insights on developing and polishing them before they are self-published. 

If you want to become an editor at Writat or need an editor for your self-publishing needs, understanding the roles and responsibilities of editors will make it easier for you to edit your book as per the latest book publishing standards. 

This blog will show how editors can help authors and their roles and responsibilities in book publication. 

What is a Book Editor? 

The basic job of an editor is to help writers create a bestselling book. 

In-depth, book editors evaluate a manuscript through research and fact-checking before accepting it. Once a book is approved for publishing, editors rewrite, correct grammar and spelling, and improvise the tonality for the target readers. 

They also provide suggestions on how to improve the story’s pacing, characters, dialogues, and the overall plot to make it more engaging. 

Whom Do Editors Work For?

There are different career choices for editors – professionals hired by book publishing companies, experts that work for editing services providers, book packagers (agencies that subcontract book publishing for larger publishers), associations, government agencies, and freelancers that work independently for self-publishing authors and others.

Book editors may also directly work with illustrators, graphic designers, and printers in arranging the book’s text or determining the book’s physical aspects. 

In the United States, around 50,000 editors work for book publishing companies, self-publishers, writers, newspapers, and magazine publishers.  

What are the Common Role and Responsibilities of an Editor in Book Publishing Industry

A second pair of eyes on your book can make a huge difference, especially if the individual is experienced to know what works and what doesn’t.

Common roles and responsibilities of book editors are as follows:

  • Perform acquisition editing to identify whether a book is worth publishing or not. Acquisition editors also manage the contractual elements of the book between the author and the publishing house. 
  • Eliminate and rewrite unsuitable and unnecessary content.
  • Rewrite scenes, plots, and characters and use their creativity to strengthen the loopholes. 
  • Convey the reason behind their elimination or removal to the author.
  • Follow the author’s writing style to improve the text. 
  • Follow the publishing guidelines of the book publishing company they work for, such as font type, spacing, paragraph alignment, font size, indexing, and crediting system. 
  • Work on multiple projects and follow different guidelines for different genres. 
  • Check and match facts across all chapters, scenes, and paragraphs of the book. Editors may ask the authors to rectify incorrect information. 
  • Refer to multiple online and offline materials, including history books, journals, newspaper clippings, and magazines, to ensure correct information. 
  • High-ranking editors establish editorial policies and guidelines for different genres for the publishing company. 
  • Based on their evaluation, editors may also suggest that authors conduct additional research and rewrite an entire piece of content. 
  • Create comparison reports of the edited and original manuscript for the author’s better understanding.

What Are the Different Types of Book Editors?

In the publishing industry, editors are divided into three main types: Developmental Editor, Proofreader, and Copy Editor. Each type works on a different element of the book before it goes for publishing.

Role of a Developmental Editor 

The development editor performs one of the most crucial tasks for the authors – they look at the bigger picture of the book and edit its broad aspects, such as the plot, characterization, themes, tone, language, and pacing, to develop its overall structure or story. 

The primary role of developmental editors is to work closely with the author and produce a polished, well-written, and engaging book, bearing the target audience in mind. They help authors clarify their writing goals, identify inconsistencies, story loopholes, and weaknesses, and suggest necessary changes. 

Their work begins early in the book publishing process before the book is sent for publication. 

Since the focus remains on the book’s bigger picture, development editors don’t normally address sentence-level errors, such as typos. 

Only when the manuscript is revised, albeit several times, reshaped, and developed, will it be ready for copy editing and proofreading. 

Role of a Copy Editor

The role and responsibility of copy editors are to spot and correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors. They make sure the book is devoid of inconsistencies, wordiness, awkward phrasing, and style and language incoherency in order to improve its clarity and readability. 

Copy editors typically work after developmental editing is completed and are responsible for making the book fulfill the highest standards of professionalism and accuracy. 

Some of the common responsibilities and role of an editor in book publishing are:

  • Correct spelling, grammar, and capitalization
  • Remove unintentional tense shifts
  • Fix inconsistencies in the description of locations, characters, and other elements in the book
  • Refine paragraph breaks and dialogue structure 
  • Improve text formatting (bullets, italics, font size, etc.)
  • Edit repetition, word usage, and language tags
  • Ensure the language and vocabulary are appropriate for the readers’ age group

For non-fiction, like The China Study, and historical novels, like Outlander, the manuscript is further revised by a Factchecker – a type of book editor who verifies the accuracy of the information cited in the book, such as the dates, real-life incidences, nutritional information, etc. 

TIP for Authors: Shortlist developmental and copy editors based on your book’s genre. An editor who performs developmental editing for non-fiction authors may not be the perfect choice for managing your romantic thriller. 

Role of a Proofreader

A proofreader meticulously reviews the final version of the book before it goes for publishing. They catch any remaining errors or typos that might have been missed by the developmental and copy editors, such as misspelled words or incorrect punctuation.  They generally pay close attention to the sentences to identify inconsistencies and offer the final touches. 

Proofreaders, however, don’t provide any creative input. Rather, they work in conjunction with the copy editor to make the text readable. 

Editors For Self-Publishing 

If you are self-publishing a book, you can still hire a freelance professional book editor to improve your writing. No book should be self-published without shaping it for the audience. 

Read this blog to learn how to edit if you plan to self-publish a book.

Editors For Traditional Book Publishing 

Book editors working for book publishing companies know how the entire process works and what publishers look for in their writers. They stay with you until the end and ensure the manuscript is attractive enough to gain a place in the publishing rat race. 

Making the Self-Publishing Process Better for Writers

We understand that it is difficult to look at your own book critically. But we also know that publishing a book the traditional way is impossible for many authors. It is expensive, tricky, and confusing. And that’s why, Writat has come up with budget-friendly standalone solutions, including book editing and cover designing. You can add any of the services mentioned to your cart to customize a cost-effective book publishing plan.

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