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Proofreading, Editing, Critique

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What Editors Do For You – And What They Won’t Do

Editors play a vital role in the success of your work but what exactly do they do? And, perhaps more importantly, what won't they do?

What They Do

Manage Submissions and Acquire Work

The editor's role will vary depending on who they work for but most have the job of going through piles of manuscripts to look for work that meets their publication specs. Some at entry level will be given the job of reading unsolicited work to determine if it is worthy of consideration while high level editors may be in a position to make a publication offer. Publishing house editors may also meet with literary agents to find new work.

Edit and Revise

High level editors who work for an independent press will often give the author ideas on layout or making changes before publication. They are also responsible for the overall design, layout, typesetting, and art for a magazine. They may be tasked with writing the Foreword in literary journals.

Editors who work for a publishing house may make suggestions to the author on improvements to the manuscript. However, bear in mind they are not line editors, that is someone else's job. They generally look at a manuscript for pacing, form, characterization and so on. They may also be asked to proofread although, at larger publishing houses, this is generally done by a separate proofreader.

What They Don’t So


Unless they work for a small independent press, editors normally don’t get involved in publicity. They may work closely with an author on an 'as and when needed' basis but usually, publicity and promotion are done by a separate department. Editors who have their own publishing houses may be a little more hands-on.


If you are lucky enough to get your book with one of the big publishing houses, your editor will most likely not have any final say over the book’s artwork but they will be a liaison point between the writer and the art department. At the smaller publishing houses, they are likely to be more hands-on and flexible.


Editors do not revise the author’s work but they may make suggestions for you to make revisions. If your work does get accepted for publishing, be aware that there may be a lot more work ahead of you based on what the editor suggests.

The Future of Editors

There is quite a bit of speculation about what role an editor will play in the future. Self-publishing has almost made them redundant for some writers because these books get published anyway, irrespective of editor input. But there are others who say the editor will be even more important in the future because their expertise and their attention to details will play a vital role in getting high-quality content published.

For now, the role of the editor is pretty safe. With more and more people turning to publishing houses and literary magazines, the editorial role is always going to be an important one, the real difference between publishing quality or rubbish.


Written by Readers’ Favorite Reviewer Anne-Marie Reynolds