I’ve decided to make today interview Tuesday. I’ve already put up Kay’s interview, and now I’m going to add one done by . . . me.

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.

  1. Are you ever on call?

  2. Yes. Anytime I have access to email I can be reached about the books I’m working on.

  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. What are some of the benefits offered?
    Where I work, none except free books.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.

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.

© Copyright 2006-2011 Madeline Smoot. All rights reserved.
May be excerpted and duplicated for educational purposes.
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