Archive

Archive for December, 2009

Desk editor

December 25, 2009 Leave a comment

In-house editor who assists the commissioning editor and often undertakes copy-editing, proof-reading and related work (though increasingly such work is outsourced these days). In small presses this person might also carry out the work of the production editor.

This definition is extracted (and expanded on) from the book Getting Published: A Companion for the Humanities and Social Sciences by Gerald Jackson and Marie Lenstrup. It was first referred to in the blog Getting Published in a post on different editorial staff.

Advertisements
Categories: Uncategorized

Editorial assistant

December 25, 2009 Leave a comment

Publisher’s employee who assists (and often works as an understudy to) the commissioning editor as well as undertaking some of the work typically the responsibility of a desk editor.

Typically, editorial assistants get to do a lot of the things that other editorial staff would rather avoid. Handled correctly, the situation ensures that the assistant learns her job from the bottom up and in due course graduates to a commissioning editor’s job. That is the assistant’s dream, one that is often realized due to the tendency of commissioning editors to burn out, have babies or move to a better-paying job.

This definition is extracted (and expanded on) from the book Getting Published: A Companion for the Humanities and Social Sciences by Gerald Jackson and Marie Lenstrup. It was first referred to in the blog Getting Published in a post on different editorial staff.

Categories: Uncategorized

Commissioning editor

December 25, 2009 Leave a comment

In the US often known as an acquisitions editor. A person who acquires the titles making up a publisher’s list, by active commissioning of new projects and/or selecting from among the book projects submitted by authors. This key person in a publishing house may also take on the role as publisher.

Contrary to popular belief, commissioning editors do not spend their days in soft chairs surrounded by big piles of manuscripts. Indeed, they rarely read entire manuscripts submitted for publication, relying instead on advice received from peer reviewers. Nor do they spend their evenings in cosy restaurants chatting up prospective authors, not least because money is tight these days and the good presses receive far too many book proposals anyway.

The work of a commissioning editor can involve a certain amount of travel and hustling for authors, hence why some people find the job glamorous – and why editorial assistants left behind at the office put up with so much drudgery in the hope of promotion to this job (nor are these hopeless dreams given the burn-out rate for commissioning editors).

Attending academic conferences and calling in on different university departments is part of the job. It is also the commissioning editor to whom authors offer material, and it is she alone who assesses both solicited and unsolicited book proposals and manuscripts to decide whether to take a book project further through the formal review process to potential acceptance for publication.

When a proposal is accepted, usually it is the commissioning editor who negotiates the author contract, provides advice during the writing process, discusses any changes that are necessary either as a result of the peer reviewers’ recommendations or for financial reasons, and ensures that the final text when submitted lives up to the standard that has been agreed (or delegates such unpleasant work to another – more about that in my post on the Style Nazi).

After final submission, the editor often remains active as the author’s go-between in relation to all the other staff at the publishing house. She also plays a starring role at the book launch.

Note my use of ‘she’ throughout. The vast majority of editors (commissioning and otherwise) are women, and paid badly as a consequence.

This definition is extracted (and expanded on) from the book Getting Published: A Companion for the Humanities and Social Sciences by Gerald Jackson and Marie Lenstrup. It was first referred to in the blog Getting Published in a post on different editorial staff.

Categories: Uncategorized

Production editor

December 25, 2009 Leave a comment

Also often called production manager, managing editor, desk editor, etc. The person who coordinates the transformation of an unedited manuscript into a printed book ready for sale. While much or all of this work is done outside the press, generally the production editor is located in-house.

The role of the production editor cannot be understated. Although the publication process looks to be a reasonably straightforward one, it involves quite a range of people undertaking about a hundred distinct tasks. Making sure that everything is done (and done at the right time) requires superb organizational skills and/or a strong set of procedures in place. The central role of the production editor in this process is crucial. Some presses are renowned within the industry for their well-oiled production machines (and others for being utterly chaotic), much of this due to the abilities or otherwise of their respective production editors.

This definition is extracted (and expanded on) from the book Getting Published: A Companion for the Humanities and Social Sciences by Gerald Jackson and Marie Lenstrup. It was first referred to in the blog Getting Published in a post on different editorial staff.

Categories: Uncategorized

Copy editor

December 25, 2009 Leave a comment

Editor who carries out the copy-editing, often a freelancer.

Copy editors are special people. Those who are brilliant at their job may be treasured by their press but not necessarily appreciated by every author. As noted in my post on different editorial staff, many authors think their copy editors are anal-retentive types, nit-pickers able to spot an error or inconsistency at 50 paces but incapable of appreciating what they are reading, right under their nose.

There may be a grain of truth in this assessment; certainly, it takes a special type of person to filter a screed of text written over many months (if not years) and bring to it a uniformity and correctness as if it had been written with the wave of a magic wand. This is a superhuman role that, not surprisingly, few copy editors are able to live up to.

On the other hand, many authors have a warm relationship with their copy editor, singling her out for especial praise in the book’s acknowledgements. Perhaps this is because the author realizes that the only person actually to have closely read his text is the lowly copy editor. A key factor, too, is just how this copy-editing is carried out (hands-off or interactively).

This definition is extracted (and expanded on) from the book Getting Published: A Companion for the Humanities and Social Sciences by Gerald Jackson and Marie Lenstrup. It was first referred to in the blog Getting Published in a post on different editorial staff.

Categories: Uncategorized