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I am an editor at the University of California Press and author of the first full-length handbook ever published on the subject of developmental editing.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Clients Call It Copyediting, But They Want DE

Entry 1: June 1, 2009

By Anonymous

I was hired as the “editor” of a small Southern California-based medically oriented academic press in 1983. In essence, I was the Editorial/Production chief. I asked for and received the title of managing editor.

I hold a B.S. in Journalism, having been graduated with honors in my subject. In addition to taking courses in editing, I was an editor for the campus student-written newspaper and broadcast news. My training as an editor included proofing, style, spelling, punctuation, and other routine copyediting. In addition, sense, organization, and content cohesiveness were, to me, vital aspects of “just” editing. I find that the final list is now, more often than not, considered developmental editing.

Before 1983, I had worked as a community newspaper reporter and editor and was a local publicist for 10 years as an account executive for an agency with clients in medical, financial, and entertainment fields.

Before joining the academic press, I spoke with a senior editor with the local office of a major trade/academic publisher. A close paraphrase of his response to my journalism degree. “Forget about it. I am grandfathered in. They don’t want people who know and care about written language communication anymore. They only hire editors who are only knowledgeable in subjects.” The same week at a community potluck dinner, I met a recent physics graduate who was thrilled to no longer have to write school papers. She had just been hired as an editor with the local office of the major trade/academic publisher.

My eventual employer had been criticized for poor editing by its board of directors just before I walked into the door.

I thought I was copyediting. I was really developmental editing. My work was highly praised and not well-paid. Eventually, I left the staff and became a freelancer. The small academic press continues as a major client.

I primarily write indexes. I have just been talked back into editing. Clients call it copyediting, but they want developmental editing. I am somewhat better paid now than when I exchanged an emphasis on editing to one of indexing. Indexing still pays better.

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