What Editors Do is the title of a forthcoming book from University of Chicago Press, edited by Peter Ginna. There are several advantages to this book over the few previous titles that have attempted to explain what editors do. Primary among those is that it’s written by more than two dozen experts in the field, not just one person whose experience (by comparison) is limited.
A second advantage of this book is that it’s exceptionally well written. The prose is authoritative, entertaining, and informative. Each chapter is written by a leader in that topic’s realm.
A third advantage is the breadth of topics afforded by gathering those experts. In addition to the trade book and scholarly fields addressed in other books that attempted this topic, this one includes children’s books, illustrated books, genre fiction, and memoir-related fields. Self-publishing is present as the focus of two chapters, and diversity is addressed by the head of a major imprint that focuses on underrepresented voices. This book covers the breadth of the book publishing endeavor from acquisitions, through editing and on to promotion, including independent publishers and self-publishing.
It also includes an entire section on work life: from starting out as an assistant, to freelancing. (The freelancing chapter is written by our own Katharine O’Moore-Klopf.) The future of the editor’s role in publishing is in here too, keyed by the well-known thinker in that field: Jane Friedman. (All the authors are name-dropping worthy, so I’ll stop now.)
What this Book is Not
This book is not a practical guide. It will not train the reader in the skills it addresses. Nor does it address niches outside of book publishing, such as news media, magazines, or corporate environments. In that way, this book is still a bit romantic; these days there’s more publishing work happening outside of publishing than in it, I dare say. It does not present a definitive guide to the minutia of the jobs but does give a delightful overview of “a day in the life.”
About the Authors
The author list is a who’s who of the editing world—27 in total. If you like a chapter’s content or writing, you can likely look to the author’s other titles on the subject for a longer treatise on the matter.
Who Should Read This Book
Editors veteran in one field, and new editors alike, will want to read this book to gain a breadth of viewpoints. They’ll even learn about tasks in publishing that don’t involve getting neck deep in the language of a manuscript: acquisitions and promotion. And those veteran editors who know it all* will read to hear the familiar voices of their compatriots, like reminiscing around a cozy fireplace.
What Editors Do will be available from University of Chicago Press in October 2017.
*Veteran know-it-all editors don’t exist. By virtue of the profession, the longer you’re in it, the less you feel that you know it all. Log in to leave a comment, or join the discussion over on Facebook or Twitter.