How to Pick the Right Editor for Your Project
Specialist or generalist? I am a generalist proofreader and a specialist editor. You get different things from each one. A specialist, they're in tune to what you're writing. They're more likely to find factual errors. They're gonna be able to review the strength of the arguments in a deeper way. They're familiar with jargon and its acceptable use. I edit aeronautics and astronautics. I know if a term is being used the right way and if its use is appropriate there. Oftentimes, jargon is perfectly acceptable because it's speaking to that audience. But just as often, it's not because it's speaking to a general audience. A specialist is gonna be more familiar with these terms and when and how to use them. They're attuned to specific research and concerns. They're gonna be on top of what's new in your field and what's relevant. Then as a generalist, they're more likely to be able to give you a general reader response. If you're writing for a general audience, a generalist editor will be ab...
le to give you a fresh point of view that helps you narrow in what you can fix for that reader. Training and associations. Editing is one of the few fields that doesn't have established training. There are courses that are being built and there are a number of very good ones but they're all relatively new. Most editors who've been working for a while actually came from journalism. They worked for a paper. They worked on a copy desk and then they branched out on their own as things became more digital. They can have academic training or they can have years of experience or they can have both. They're equally qualified. It's up to you to determine which you'd prefer. Would you like to have someone who's edited for 25 years sit down in front of your project and say, here's what I see. Or someone who's a recent graduate from an editing program but well-trained. Both are good, it's just really your personal preference on what you'd feel most comfortable in. Are they part of associations? It's not necessary but a lot of very well-trained editors have associations that they're part of. I am on the board for the Society of Editing. I'm a member of the Council for Science Editors and the Editorial Freelancers Association. These groups help editors stay aware of current things in the field. For example, there's conferences that talk about how language is changing, how we should do things differently. Rules that we use and why we use them. Being part of an association implies that they may have further knowledge. It might be in your specialized field. Finally, views on editing. Like the quote I shared, there's always gonna be a point of view that you feel will resonate best with your writing view. I would ask an editor just to share their views on what they feel editing is. For some people, it's very personal and your writing project becomes like their child. They wanna care for it. Asking them how they relate to the editing process is a very effective way to determine compatibility and insight into their processes.