Becoming an editor isn’t as easy a task as one may think. What’s even harder is venturing through the world of editors to find one that suit your needs. It may not necessarily be because you cannot find a qualified editor. Rather, because of the vast number of skill sets and styles that each editor is in possession of, leading you to search for one that is best suited for the task at hand. There is, however, a basic standard of qualifications that an editor must meet. If one is found to be lacking in this area, there is no doubt, that one’s services to those who seek an editor will be futile.
It’s important to have expectations when seeking an editor. However, you may now be wondering what realistic expectation should you have when attempting your endeavor. This is the exact question that this article is meant to answer. As you may have already noticed, attempting to address each and every desired and undesired qualification of an editor extends beyond the aim of this piece. For this reason, I seek to highlight the two most important qualifications I believe, as a publisher and writer, that one should look for in an editor.
It is obvious that an editor should in some capacity be versed in the many skill sets of editing: proofreading, editing grammatical mistakes, checking spelling errors, fact verification, the ability to reorganize thoughts and ideas in a comprehensible manner, as well as aiding in revisions. Undoubtedly, the list goes on. However, although competency in these areas are a given, not all editors have the same technique when editing. I find the diversity, in the way in which each editor utilizes their skill set, refreshing. The differences in skill techniques allows for publications, which may have similar content, to be worked from alternate angles. These angles then provide readers with alternate perspectives which work to enhance their understanding of the subject matter.
Due in part to the large emphasis on editors to have a solid skill set in the art of editing, there is an element that falls short of being recognized for its importance, although it is crucial. That is, an editor and author should be in sync. What I mean by “in sync” is the ability for an editor to seamlessly blend their editing skills into an author’s work in a way that does not take away from the authenticity of the author’s work. Working with other writers as an editor and publisher, I have come to learn about the sacredness of an author’s work. Alterations are necessary. But only to the point where it does not completely change the meaning of what is being said by the writer. You also begin to learn that there is a fine line between pleasing your authors and doing your job as an editor. This does not happen overnight of course, but this is where practice and open communication becomes imperative. Where there is a lack of communication, there opens up the possibility for expectations to be lost in translation, resulting in miscommunication between the two parties and subsequently a failed publication.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a step-by-step playbook guide which I could give you to help you perfect your editing rapport with each and every writer you meet. As with everything in life, it is always through trial and error. I know, as I can speak from first hand experience. You just need to learn to accept all the experience that comes your way. Work through it, and create passionately.
Ayan Ibrahim is a 23 year old Somali-Canadian who is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of Qurtuba Publishing House. She is a writer, aspiring photographer, and polyglot. Professionally, she is a practicing registered nurse. Her writings focus mainly on cultural, social, political, and health-related issues. She and her sisters Ilhan and Hodan were guest speakers at our Speakers Night in September 2015.