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Discussion: What Book Editors Do

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A few months ago, I read an interesting opinion piece on Publishers Weekly: "What Ever Happened to Book Editors?: A veteran editor gets back to basics" by Marjorie Braman,  Braman talks about her time as an editor, both in-house and as a freelancer. In short, she said in-house editors have to focus on acquiring over editing and agents have to focus on selling over the same. Which is part of why she became a freelancer, to have the freedom to dedicate more time to actual editing.

It's been a while, but this article left an impression. Being an editor was my dream job growing up. (It kind of still is.) The idea that there might be limited editing for an editor was kind of like telling a kid Santa's not real.

I bet the emphasis on acquiring v. editing differs depending on the company, imprint, genre, age group and even, or especially, individual editor. Same for the ratio of outsourcing to in-house work. Still, in an era of digital revolution and changing business models, it's not hard to imagine publishing companies changing and rearranging the roles and duties of all employees as they reevaluate how best to acquire and distribute new properties while increasing profit margins.

What do you think? Is editing becoming overshadowed by sales? More so than usual?

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