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pcmonkey's avatar

What is the future outlook for an editor?

Asked by pcmonkey (424 points ) October 5th, 2011

The median wage for an editor is about $25/h. That is about as much as a babysitter that is hired from some fancy company would charge. What is the future outlook for someone who is into the editing career?

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8 Answers

Jeruba's avatar

Better specify what sort of editor you mean. Publishing company acquisitions? newspaper boss? magazine executive? or lowly fixer of commas and policer of style compliance in the documentation group of a software house?

How about freelance manuscript consultant and checker of grammar, style, and consistency for a would-be author or a writer of dissertations? How about English-language cleanup for a foreign business wanting to sell in the U.S.? Or do you mean enforcer of format and verifier of coding for a technical or professional journal? or maybe the person who jazzes up copy for a website while making sure it complies with standard English?

And are you just asking about pay standards, or are you inquiring about likelihood of employment at any price and in any capacity?

pcmonkey's avatar

Editor meaning all of those things.. Typically editing magazines, newspapers, etc. And I mean positive outlook or negative outlook. Would this be a career that you could live on for years to come or would it be like a web designer who gets a certain amount of customers and may quit after a year

marinelife's avatar

There will always be editing jobs.

The rates vary depending on how technical the content is.

Jeruba's avatar

@pcmonkey, those are different jobs. It’s kind of like the term “agent.” Can you get a job as an agent? Well, the prospects are different depending on whether you mean an airline ticket agent, a real estate agent, or a secret agent.

A copyeditor might do the freelance jobs I listed, or some of them (maybe not technical, depending), but you can’t just up and decide to become the managing editor of a magazine unless you’re the founder of the magazine. And the path to that role would not be the same as the path to becoming an acquisitions editor for a book company

I’m just saying that if you tell us what you have in mind, you’re more likely to get a helpful answer.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@pcmonkey : I was a freelance copyeditor, manuscript consultant and checker of grammar, style, and consistency for many would-be authors—to use @Jeruba‘s words—for about 5 years and nearly starved to death. Computers are taking over the field. The trend these days is that authors submit content to magazines and newspaper, etc., and they go straight to publication. Authors are required to be their own editors.

In my opinion, the business is drying up, and if you are young, you may see the death of it in your lifetime.

Jeruba's avatar

@Hawaii_Jake, I wonder if you want to amend this for clarity: ”The trend these days is that authors submit content to magazines and newspaper, etc., and they go straight to publication.

I think what you mean here is that authors are expected to provide content that is already edited and clean because publishers no longer want to hire staffers and freelancers to do copyediting.

A person could misread your remark to think (as some do!) that all you have to do if you want to be published is just submit something. They talk about having their work published as if publishers were there to satisfy their desire for an audience. The idea of selectivity and competition doesn’t seem to enter their heads. As long as there is a publishing industry, somebody will be doing the evaluating and selecting (and rejecting) of content for publication, and those folks are editors too.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@Jeruba : Yes, thank you for your ever-watchful eye. I just woke up from a long nap after a very busy morning. Besides, I hung up my editing hat a few years ago now and rarely think in those terms of closely guarded description. What I meant is precisely as you elaborated.

I do want to add that there will be no shortage for the need of writers in the future. The difficulty will lie in the type of writing. Newspaper reporters are already seeing the need to freelance for many publications, and there’s very little call for steady writing for magazines. I only mention those because @pcmonkey brought them up. Those are the traditional realms of editors, too, but those days are sadly passing.

I know a technical writer who makes a good salary. The skies the limit on what can be done there. Most industries need good technical writers. The medical field is a big one.

@Jeruba did mention that there will still be editors who choose content worthy of publication. It’s simply my opinion, but there will be fewer of those as well. The rise of self-publishing and publishing-on-demand will drive many authors down a different road. I’m talking about fiction writers here.

@pcmonkey : I do not want to dissuade you in any way from following a passion. If you truly love reading all sorts of things, then follow that dream. You will be happier in the long run.

dreamwolf's avatar

You’re talking about the media. I’m sure your median has taken into account the thousands of local newspapers out there. Now that’s the small time. You get to the big time, say for NBC, CBS, New York Times as an editor 50$ an hour easily. Of course, most of the big time jobs are more on a salary basis.

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