If you’re considering a career as a freelance book editor, you’re probably wondering what type of editing is right for you.
This is a question we often get from aspiring book editors. They’re interested in bringing their talent with words to the world of book editing, but they’re not sure what editing role to pursue. After all, there are seven editorial roles, and they can be quite different from each other. Where one editor is comfortable mapping out a complicated story grid, another might prefer to scour a book for typos. Both activities fall under “book editing,” but they’re usually done by editors with different passions, interests, and talents.
After lengthy discussions with our students and based on our knowledge of the editing landscape, we identified the four distinct editor profiles that we see in this field: Bookworm, Teacher, Grammar Guru, and Detail Lover.
Why We Created the Editor Profile Quiz
You can find out your distinct editor profile by taking our Editor Profile Quiz. We developed the quiz because we wanted to help our students match their passions and talents to one or more of the seven editorial roles.
It’s like taking a personality test to learn which type of job would capitalize on your strengths. Do you like to work in groups? Are you adept at detailed work? Are you a leader?
Your answers to the questions in the Editor Profile Quiz reveal what is exciting to you about working with books. The quiz then tells you which editor profile you are — in other words, which profile matches your passions. Once you know that, you can home in on the specific role (or roles) that are the best fit for you.
The Four Editor Profiles
The four different editor profiles all love to work with words and books, but each has a different passion and different skills.
Bookworms love to read and can remember plotlines and characters, as well as grasp the overall structure of a book. They were often English majors in college because they’re fast readers who aren’t intimidated by a high page count. They might not mind working with authors, but they’d rather just read and write up their impressions.
Bookworms love to read.
The Teacher profile, which could also be called Coach or Guide, fits those with good people skills who like working directly with authors. Teachers understand the basic elements of storytelling and can hold the “big picture” vision of a book. Teachers feel empathetic not only toward the author, but also toward the book itself, grasping what the book is really about. They have a lot of compassion and patience, but they are also clear about their knowledge and don’t shy away from standing up for their position.
Teachers are happy to instruct authors on how to improve their book.
Grammar Gurus fit the stereotypical editor image. They always seem to find spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors in emails, in menus, on signs, and anywhere there are words. Grammar Gurus tend to love rules and order; they are more planners than seat-of-their-pantsers. They might enjoy talking with authors about their manuscripts, but it’s more rewarding for Grammar Gurus to work alone, with their style manuals and dictionaries close at hand.
Grammar Gurus remember – and care about – language rules.
Detail Lovers not only excel at finding errors, they actually enjoy it. Detail Lovers are often visual as well as text-oriented and might also work as graphic designers. Like Grammar Gurus, they work better in well-ordered environments. They prefer working behind the scenes, perhaps even more than Grammar Gurus. They have “sticky” minds for details and can recall (sometimes useless) facts with little effort. They are also wedded to accuracy and take great pride in bringing truth and clarity to the manuscripts they work on.
Detail Lovers enjoy looking for errors.
Your Editor Profile Points to Your Editorial Role
Let’s take a look at how the editor profiles match up with the seven editorial roles.
- Bookworm – Beta Reader, Manuscript Evaluator
- Teacher – Book Coach, Developmental Editor, Line Editor
- Grammar Guru – Line Editor, Copyeditor, Proofreader
- Detail Lover – Copyeditor, Proofreader
You can see that the roles tend to bunch together under the editor profiles. For example, a Grammar Guru is going to be good at line editing, copyediting, and proofreading, but not necessarily beta reading. However, you might be strong in more than one profile. You could be a Grammar Guru and Detail Lover, or a Teacher and Bookworm. Or, you could be equally strong in all four!
Which Editor Profile Are You?
As you can see, book editing is not one thing and one thing only. There are different types of book editors, and they draw on varied strengths and passions.
Find out where you fit by taking our Editor Profile Quiz. Let us know what you got in the comments below!