DEFINITIONS OF EDITORIAL SERVICES
Coaches and consultants work with clients to develop, refine, or complete works in progress. This amorphous field covers everything from inspiration and encouragement to practical advice. Coaching is often done at the beginning of a project, to get things off the ground, or midway through a stuck project to get things going again. The term “consulting” often also applies to the help clients receive in navigating procedures and processes related to publishing, printing, or production.
The role of the copyeditor is as broad as it is important. Copyeditors correct spelling, grammar, usage, and punctuation; check cross-references; and prepare the style sheets that guide consistency and accuracy across the manuscript. A copyeditor reviews all aspects of the manuscript at levels of response that vary from light (making a notation to the author) to heavy (revising the text). Copyediting may also be performed in concert with line editing.
Educators and producers of educational materials hire curriculum developers to help organize these materials for use in the classroom. Ideally, those working in curriculum development have training and experience in education at the relevant grade level and knowledge of applicable curriculum standards.
Developmental editors deal with content, organization, and genre considerations. In a typical developmental edit, the developmental editor provides a revision letter, also called an “editorial letter” or “edit letter,” that outlines the big-picture issues to be addressed in revision. The editor may also include some line or copy edits in the manuscript to show the author how to revise effectively. A developmental editor may instead provide a manuscript evaluation, which is an overall critique of the content that focuses more on describing the problems than on proposing solutions for them. Book doctors are also usually considered developmental editors. They not only provide editorial feedback but also make changes by rewriting and reorganizing passages. Their work is similar to that of ghostwriters, but unlike ghostwriters, they edit existing text rather than create it from scratch.
NOTE: The terms “developmental editor,” “substantive editor,” “structural editor,” and “content editor” overlap and are sometimes used interchangeably for editors who identify and/or implement different large-scale strategies for improving a manuscript. For the purposes of the survey, please consider them part of Developmental Editing.
Designers work with clients to “put things on the page” and create a visual representation of the project. Design work may be highly graphic or primarily text-based. Designers may develop the design concept only or create print-/production-ready files for clients. Book designers may create the interior of the book, the book cover, or both.
Indexing is usually performed at the second proof stage, when the page numbers of the book have been finalized. The indexer works from proof pages to create a back-of-the-book index, an alphabetical list of references to important terms and concepts in the text. While indexing is traditionally done for nonfiction print books, indexing for ebooks is becoming more prevalent.
Line editors work at the sentence or paragraph level of a project. Like copyeditors, they correct errors, but their main focus is on improving the language and style of the text. Line editing may be performed as a separate service, in conjunction with developmental editing, after big-picture issues have been addressed, or in conjunction with copyediting.
Marketing and promotion specialists work with authors to publicize their work. This may include developing marketing and promotion strategies; creating press releases, media kits, and the like; or producing marketing collateral such as print and electronic ads, postcards, and bookmarks, coffee mugs, and other swag to give away. These specialists may also help authors develop their public platforms through work on websites, social media, blogs, and podcasts.
Permissions editors verify the copyright status and ownership of works requiring permission to republish (written material or images whose copyright is held by someone other than the author) and either advise the author on how to obtain these permissions or acquire the necessary permissions on behalf of the author.
Project managers focus on projects that are already in the production workflow (as opposed to those still in the initial or developmental stages) and work to push the project toward completion. They may supervise and coordinate the editorial process and, when necessary, hire copyeditors, proofreaders, indexers, and other editorial professionals. In some fields, this position is referred to as “managing editor” or “production editor.”
Proofreaders check the text of a project for errors, including typographical errors and problems with typesetting specifications and page makeup. They often compare the latest stage of the project to earlier stages and make sure changes have been made correctly.
Fact checking is performed by going through a manuscript and confirming the veracity of each statement that is claimed as an assertion of fact. While incidental fact checking may occur during the editing process, this is a deeper level of scrutiny. Research and fact checking are particularly important and common in journalism and historical writing (especially in fiction and narrative nonfiction, as opposed to scholarly writing).
Transcriptionists listen to audio recordings, such as interviews, speeches, phone meetings, and dictations, and convert them into long-form text. They are often responsible for reviewing their written work for accuracy, spelling, and grammar. In specialized fields, transcriptionists might convert medical or legal records into written reports.
Translators re-create a work, published or unpublished, from one language into another, checking for consistency of tone and accuracy and ensuring that the original meaning is maintained. They may also review an existing translation. Unlike interpreters, who paraphrase the spoken word, translators focus on the written word.
Sensitivity readers review a manuscript for statements, portrayals, or perspectives that might offend, upset, or misrepresent people from a given group. Sensitivity reads are generally performed by members of the community referenced within the work. The purpose is to avoid misrepresentation of groups and the perpetuation of harmful stereotypes.
Writers produce the text of anything from short articles to annual reports to book-length projects. Freelance writing categories include magazine and journal articles, advertising and catalogue copy, speeches, technical manuals, and web copy. Writers may create original material, rewrite or rework existing material, collaborate with others, or ghostwrite.