Set Yourself Apart as an Editor
Kim Bangs, senior acquisitions editor for the Bethany House and Chosen divisions of Baker Publishing Group, was a workshop leader at The Christian PEN’s editor convention, “Keys to Successful Freelance Editing.” Her talk about how to “Set Yourself Apart as an Editor” was informative and motivating. Here is a summary of the helpful tips she shared on how to become an editor for a publishing house.
The publishing industry is always changing. It used to be that the publisher was in charge. Now the author is in the driver’s seat. It is becoming more about “partnership.”
As an editor, you can set yourself apart with these two tips.
1. Prepare to step in
- Take small jobs to grow your experience.
- Produce quality work all the time—no matter how small the job is.
- Continually develop your skill level.
2. Realize that freelance editors are like …
- Midwives—They deliver great, excellent products.
- Photographers—They need to learn Photoshop to enhance a product.
- Mentors and teachers—They mentor writers and teach throughout the publishing process.
- Dentists—They know when a general cleaning or root canal is required.
You can also set yourself apart as an editor in the following ways:
Ask about the author’s style guide.
- Visit the author’s website to learn more about him/her.
- Ask about any issues on an author’s previous book(s).
- If you have worked with an author before, ask if he/she was happy with your work.
- Be careful to maintain the author’s voice.
- Suggest call-outs.
- Put takeaway points at the end of the chapters.
- Pull out text from the manuscript for Facebook and Twitter posts. Help make the author marketable.
- Provide an annotated Table of Contents.
- Write cover copy.
- See yourself as a partner with the author and the publishing house.
- Keep in mind that one person the book is for.
- Don’t undersell yourself, because a low price implies you have low-quality work.
- Don’t just do work—find partnerships.
- Have a “WE” mentality.
Tips to being a great EDITOR:
Educate = Educate yourself about the author.
Dentist = Know the three levels of editing.
Impress = Impress the in-house team with your willingness to do additional writing (such as back-cover copy).
Trends = Keep up with changes in publishing.
Opportunities = Make the most of every job.
Reputation = Do excellent, thorough work every time.
And most of all—focus on providing excellent, biblically correct, life-changing content.
Kim Bangs has served in the Christian publishing industry for twenty-four years. Beginning as an editor in the Children’s Curriculum Department at Gospel Light, she also worked as the Publishing Director for Regal (the book division of Gospel Light). She has currently been appointed as the senior acquisitions editor for the Bethany House and Chosen divisions of Baker Publishing Group. In 2012 Kim was honored by AWSA as Non-Fiction Editor of the Year. She can be found at several writers’ conferences, doing all she can to inspire and encourage writers to write their passion and keep pressing on. She enjoys baking, gardening, Disneyland, and sports…but loves Jesus and His church.