The Basics: Truths About Editing

There are certain realities about editing that you don’t learn until you’re knee-deep in the trenches. Today, I’d like to discuss a few.
  1. Most editors do not and cannot edit 8 hours a day. The editing process is incredibly taxing on the eyes, hands, bottom, and brain. Even if you take frequent breaks, you still hit a point where it becomes impossible to focus, and if you don’t walk away from the computer, you begin to make careless mistakes.
  2. Not every project is thrilling. In fact, many are downright dull. The way to get through those, especially in book publishing, is to remember that you’re holding someone’s dream in your hands and that it deserves your best. Corny? Yes. But true.
  3. There’s more to editing than spelling, punctuation, and grammar. I’m speaking, of course, about the joys of fact-checking, formatting citations, and captioning charts, tables, and illustrations.
  4. Different types of publications require different editorial strengths. News sites, for example, require a fast turn-around time and attention to SEO.
  5. You will come across plagiarism. How you handle it depends upon whether you work as a freelancer or for a company. Either way, try not to take it personally.
  6. There is no such thing as perfect. Editing choices can be quite subjective, and everyone makes mistakes. It wasn’t until I saw an error in an updated edition of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone that I finally let go of the idea of perfection in editing.