ed∙i∙tor \e-də-tər\ n (1649) 1. A person who prepares literary material for publication or public presentation
Editing is both a science and an art. It is a combination of training, experience, and natural ability. You should be comfortable with your editor and confident in her decisions. The following are characteristics that all good editors should have (and qualities I think I can bring to your project):
1. Broad knowledge base
A good editor has both wide-ranging and specialized knowledge to be able to pick up factual errors. She has to be a bit of a Renaissance person (or polymath)—and she is usually a really good Trivial Pursuit or QuizUp player.
A good editor has an almost infinite capacity for detail. She requires a great sense of quality and possesses high standards of accuracy. She questions everything and applies a critical eye to the tiniest detail in order to recognize patterns and locate inconsistencies. You could use the word obsessive, but I prefer meticulous.
3. Loves language
Not only must a good editor love the written word, but she must also have flawless knowledge of grammar and style. Or at least be able to look it up if she is not sure. She is often a bit of a grammar guerilla: tiny mistakes in the newspaper seem to immediately jump off the page. She has an appreciation for the Oxford comma and knows that despite what we were taught in school, it is not a mortal sin to leave a participle dangling. She also knows that when the right words are put together properly, they can be as beautiful as a work of art.
Telling an author that there is a major problem with the manuscript that they have devoted months or years of their life to creating is like telling a mother that her child is funny looking. Tact is vital. So is humility. A good editor acts as a coach to her writers. She is able to be encouraging while still pointing out the areas that need correction.
5. Able to meet deadlines
Publishing is rife with deadlines. If you are late in one stage of the process, it causes a chain reaction everywhere else down the line. A good editor has to be able to estimate timelines and meet deadlines. She also needs to be flexible because there will be an inevitable bump in the road with almost every project.
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Happy Adventures in Editing!
I am freelance copy editor, proofreader, and instructor based in Toronto. Enjoy my adventures in editing! (Note: I transferred my blog over and lost my comments along the way, unfortunately. Please add new ones.)