What is the daily life of a copy editor or editor like?

Before enrolling in the Editing and Publishing course at Texas Christian University, I considered myself a superb editor; I corrected every misspelled text message I received and Facebook comment I stumbled upon, and questioned every missing s” and additional ed in every form of publication. Friends constantly nagged at me to read over their papers, and my mom even frequently called me questioning the correct uses of their and there. I thought I was a great editor, and then came the life changing day when I enrolled in English 40283, Editing and Publishing. Needless to say my dreams of someday living in a big sky rise in the heart of New York City, and working at a premier editing company, were somewhat shattered within a matter of months. Not only was this because of the fact that I prematurely had only edited peer’s papers and text messages, but because of what the daily life of an editor entailed.

What it is not

The best description I can give from what I have learned about the daily life of an editor is that it is downright intense. It is not (in most cases), the pretty, desirable, job that everyone yearns for as portrayed in movies, such as The Devil Wears Prada. In addition, I think it is important to understand a copyeditor’s daily life by listing a few important characteristics of the editors themselves, and what they are not.

Two of the most crucial things I learned about editors and how they perform on a daily basis were stated by Joanna Schmidt, former editor of the Ooligan Press: good editors cannot be procrastinators and the best editors do not generally enter the profession as aspiring writers. Although many times writers are decent editors, and editors decent writers, the two professions greatly differ, which I can also conclude simply from finishing a semester in Editing and Publishing class.

What it is

In order to truly get a feel for the daily life of an editor, I will use Meg Schneider and Barbara Doyen’s (who are writers and editors themselves) piece, A Day in the Life of an Editor, for timely insight.

  • 8 a.m. – Many editors arrive at their offices before their official shifts even begin. An editor browses through emails and, If he has time, he may go through dozens of queries, requested proposals and manuscripts, and unsolicited proposals and manuscripts that each day’s mail deposits on his desk (Schneider and Doyen).
  • 9 a.m. – When the clock strikes 9, most editors are entering the daily routine of meetings (Schneider and Doyen). Editor’s days are filled with meetings, sometimes barely scavenging enough time for lunch.
  • As afternoon quickly approaches, the editor has, more meetings to attend and more messages waiting for him (Schneider and Doyen).
  • 5 p.m. – The end of the traditional work day soon rolls around, but an editors job is not nearly done. As stated by Meg Schneider and Barbara Doyen, It isn’t until after the office closes for the day that the editor has time to read through the stacks of queries, proposals, and manuscripts that have accumulated in his office, and if an editor is lucky, he will finish reading through all of the material a few hours before midnight.
  • And tomorrow, he’ll run the same marathon all over again (Schneider and Doyen).

As summed up by Lori Fradkin, editor at AOL, The job has its perks-an accumulation of random knowledge, for instance-but it also has its side effects when you unintentionally drink the copy Kool-Aid. Once you train yourself to spot errors, you can’t not spot them. You can’t simply shut off the careful reading when you leave the office. You notice typos in novels, missing words in other magazines, incorrect punctuation on billboards (157). For many people, editing becomes a natural process of daily life, you cannot stop spotting errors. An editor’s job is commonly unappreciated and underpaid, but if it is something you love doing, all of the stress and struggles are far worth it.

For more information:

Image source: http://morguefile.com/archive/display/55386

By Rebecca Adkins, Advertising and Public Relations major/ English minor, Texas Christian University

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