Yes, I know it seems vain, but I received this questionnaire from a well-meaning high school student, and I thought the answers my interest all. I also felt it would be a good jumping off point for discussions. So, here it is. It's slightly abrideged since I left out the gory details of just how poorly paid I am.
- Are you ever on call?
- What are your typical work hours?
Since I don't work at a traditional press, I don't have traditional work hours. However, I attend one editorial meeting a week for 2 hours on Weds. nights.
- What can a starting editor expect to make? After 20 years?
At a traditional press, $18000 the first year, maybe $50-60k in 20. However, you don't start as an editor. You start as an unpaid intern, then editorial assistant, then assistant editor, then editor. It can take up to 7 years to make editor.
As senior editor at the press I work for, I do not make anywhere near starting salary for an editorial assistant.
- What are some of the benefits offered?
Where I work, none except free books.
- What kind of extra curricular activities would help someone who wants a career in editing?
Writing clubs and reading clubs. To be a great editor you have to be a decent writer and an excellent reader. Writing classes are useful because they teach you how to really critique other people's writing.
- What is your favorite thing about being an editor?
Seeing a book go from a rough draft to its finsished form. There's a huge amount of satisfaction to know that you helped bring that writing out.
- What are some of your dislikes about being an editor?
Having to do a book's marketing because our house is so small that everyone has to help the marketing department.
- What would you say is the stress level of this career on a scale of 1-10?
It varies. At the moment, 9. We're trying to get the catalog out, the fall books, ready for the printer, and get ready for a conference. After next month it'll go back down to a 7.
Yes. Anytime I have access to email I can be reached about the books I'm working on.
I know that from my answers I don't make editing sound very appealing. In truth, I do love my job. I love that I get paid (sort of) to read and read and read. And there is nothing like walking into a bookstore and seeing the books you worked on the shelf. I suspect that the only thing that tops that feeling is to have actually written the book yourself. I would reccomend editing as a career for any creative individual, especially shy ones. I just want to caution that editing is not the fast track to big money. JK Rowlings might have bust out with her book and made a fortune, but her editor is still salaried. (Although her editor got to start his own imprint and I would assume is now enjoying a much larger salary. I'm thinking of the Chicken House guy.)
And that's it. In a perfect world, I would have put Kay's interview on top, but unfortunately, I had already posted it.