This week’s Ask Bethany House question seems straightforward at first: “What does the job of an editor at Bethany House involve?”
Of course, my first response to this is: “What kind of editor?” Yes, it makes a difference, and to add to the confusion, publishing companies don’t always use the same terminology to refer to each type of editor.
If you’re interested in the perspective of an acquisitions editor, check out this Q&A. Today on the blog, we’re chatting with Elisa, one of our copy editors, about the work she does on Bethany House books.
Amy: If you were explaining to someone totally unfamiliar with publishing terminology what you do as a copy editor, what would you say?
Elisa: I work to make a book consistent and polished so that the author’s vision is clearly expressed to the reader. People usually associate copy editing with grammar and spelling, which are certainly a large part of the job, but it also includes keeping character descriptions consistent, tracking timelines, verifying sources and references to real people and places, making sure all necessary pieces are included, and following the first rule of copy editing: Do no harm. It’s not my book, and in a sense I aim to make my work invisible so that the author’s message is cleanly delivered to the reader.
Amy: Interesting—I don’t even know that I would have thought of all of those areas. So, then, what three qualities would you say are most important in someone who wants to be a copy editor?
Elisa: A copy editor should be attentive, cooperative, and patient.
Amy: Someone reading this might think, “Yes, I am all three of those things.” What practical advice would you give a person interested in a career in editing?
Elisa: Find as many possible ways to gain experience now. This could include working on a school newspaper or literary journal, doing freelance proofreading for a local magazine (this is how I started), volunteering as a writing tutor, proofreading newsletters for an organization or ministry, doing an internship or informational interview in the industry, and taking editing, proofreading, and writing classes. When you are first starting, also look for opportunities to develop the skills you will need as an editor, even if the tasks may not seem to directly correspond to editing. In college I worked for over two years as an assistant to our band director and managed our music library, learning about Excel, data entry, organization, and how to manage stacks and stacks of paper all around you (all of which are still applicable in my job today).
Thanks so much for joining us, Elisa! And readers, watch the blog for more behind-the-scenes interviews with Bethany House employees in the coming months!
What question do you have about what goes on behind-the-scenes at Bethany House? We may cover it in a future blog post!